By KEVIN KOCZWARA
The Supporter’s Shield is on the line in Seattle this weekend as the New York Red Bulls, who are currently leading the race for the best record in Major League Soccer, head to Seattle to take on the Sounders, currently just one point behind New York but with a game in hand. The Red Bulls, who come into the weekend after beating FC Dallas last weekend thanks to an own goal, head to the most raucous stadium in the league with a bit of injury trouble, though.
Reports have both Thierry Henry and defensive stalwart Jamison Olave likely missing Sunday’s game in Seattle. Henry, who rarely plays on turf, reportedly has a chronic issue with his achilles. According to coach Mike Petke, Henry’s injury will more than likely force him to miss the game. Olave has a knee issue and Petke told reporters he could play the 90 minutes but at the risk of aggravating the injury and missing the rest of the season.
Another concern for New York will be the status of Bradley Wright-Phillips, who suffered a right hamstring strain in last weekend’s win over FC Dallas. Wright-Phillips will probably also sit out the game. New York will have to look to Fabian Espindola to lead the line and for Tim Cahill to step-up and add to his goal tally.
Last week was tough for the Union. As their Eastern Conference opponents fought and clawed in the battle for an Eastern Conference playoff spot the Union were sitting at home watching it happen. As New England jumped into fifth and Columbus drubbed Chicago, Philadelphia was waiting for their chance to get back on the field and try to keep pace in the hunt.
Philadelphia has five games left and needs to turnaround the recent form that has seen the team go 0-3-2 in its last five games. The turnaround won’t be easy, though, as Philadelphia gets back onto the field on Friday with a home game against Sporting Kansas City.
Philadelphia may have to start their turnaround it without Keon Daniel. As of Monday, the midfielder is listed as questionable with a left groin strain.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Midfielder Oriol Rosell and forward Claudio Bieler both sat out last weekend ‘s 2-1 win over Toronto FC and both are still questionable for Friday night’s home game against Philadelphia.
Rosell missed his first game due to injury this season last weekend with a left quad strain, which he picked up in last week’s CONCACAF Champions League draw with Real Estelí of Nicaragua.
Bieler has a groin strain that he picked up in training late last week, but reports have him closer to returning to the Kansas City line-up than Rosell.
It’s been a wild week for the Impact.
Montreal beat CD Heredia, 2-0, at Stade Saputo on Tuesday, but the team still saw its chances of advancing out of Group 5 dashed because the team was unable to score the six goals they needed. The game came after the Impact’s 3-0 loss to Vancouver on Saturday, which saw two Montreal players booked and both teams fined because the team’s violated Major League Soccer’s confrontation policy in the 38th minute of the match when referee Jorge Gonzalez pointed to the spot for a Montreal penalty but later withdrew the call and called for a corner instead after speaking with his assistants.
The Impact were fined $10,000 and head coach Marco Schällibaum was fined $2,000 because this is the club’s third infraction.
The Impact head to Chicago to take on the Fire this week while new grass is being planted at Stade Saputo in time for Montreal’s next home game on Oct. 12.
Bakary Soumare has been a stalwart defender for the Fire since re-joining the team earlier this year from the Philadelphia Union, but this weekend Frank Klopas will need to look for someone to step-up in the Malian international’s spot because he is suspended for this weekend’s game against Montreal after being sent off in the 29th minute of the Fire’s 3-0 loss to Columbus on Saturday.
Reports have Jeff Larentowicz and Hunter Jumper as two potential replacements for Soumare.
The Crew continue to inch closer to a playoff spot and last weekend’s 3-0 win over Chicago really put them into good contention. This week the crew host Dallas and hope to continue to press the teams in front of them in the Eastern Conference.
The team will likely be without Josh Wiliiams, though, as the defender continues to recover from concussion symptoms after being struck int he face by a stray shot during training on Sept. 3.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
If the New England Revolution get into the playoffs for the first time since 2009 it will be in large part because of the play of its defense and the play of 18-year-old Diego Fagundez.
Fagundez, who scored his 11th goal of the season on Saturday in the Revs 2-1 win over D.C. United, is the only teenager in MLS history to score 10 or more goals in a season and the youngest player in league history to score at least 10 in a season.
The Revs jumped back into a playoff spot with the win on Saturday, thanks to Fagnudez’s goal and a Lee Nguyen penalty, and this weekend they have a chance at home with the Houston Dynamo in town to solidify a spot with only five games left in the regular season.
There are no breaks in Toronto. They will be without coach Ryan Nelsen this weekend as he was ejected at the end of Toronto’s 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend and is now suspended.
Danny Koevermans will be out for the rest of the season after only making four appearances in 2013. The Dutch forward has been battling back from an ACL injury he suffered in July of 2012 but looked set to return last week before a calf injury ruled him out. Now that same calf injury looks to be Koevermans undoing, according to what Nelsen told MLSSoccer.com, “it is going to be right and hard for him [to get fit again before the season ends.]”
The Dynamo are sitting pretty in their CCL group after a 2-0 win over W Connection on Wednesday night. But they’re still in the playoff mix in the East. Three points separate the Dynamo and their Saturday opponent, the Revolution, and with the midweek game this could be one where the Dynamo get caught out if they’re not careful.
There is an emotional boost heading into the closing weeks of the season for Houston, though. Team legend Brian Ching announced on Tuesday that he would officially retire at the end of the 2013 season. Ching has been Houston’s talisman since the team moved to Houston in 2006. He is the team’s all-time leader in goals with 69 and has two MLS Cups with the Dynamo (2006, 2007) in addition to the one he won with the San Jose Earthquakes before they moved to Houston.
It’s U.S. Open Cup or bust for D.C. With the MLS Cup playoffs long out of site, D.C. is focusing on the Open Cup final against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1
But that doesn’t mean the team is ignoring its MLS games because if United, 3-20-6, doesn’t win or wins one of their remaining five games it would end up with the worst overall record in league history. D.C. needs to win two of their final league matches to avoid tying the MLS record for fewest victories.
Midfielder Jared Jeffrey returned to training on Tuesday. Jeffrey suffered an ankle sprain against New York on August 31.
What do you think of these notes? Do you see New York struggling in Seattle with so many injuries? Who would you put in Soumare’s spot in Chicago?
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