MLS Week 31: A Look Ahead

EddieJohnsonSeattleSounders1-LA Galaxy (SeattleSounders)

By DAN KARELL

The Supporters Shield, and with it, a coveted place in the CONCACAF Champions League, are up for grabs on Sunday evening when the New York Red Bulls travel to the Pacific Northwest for the second time this season to face the Seattle Sounders.

Though the Red Bulls won’t have Thierry Henry or Jamison Olave in the squad and Clint Dempsey will likely be on the bench for the Sounders, there’s still plenty of talent on the field to give fans in attendance an entertaining match. The Sounders are unbeaten in six games, while the Red Bulls are on a four-game winning streak. Considering the two clubs’ current form, we could see them meet up once more in the MLS Cup final.

Elsewhere around MLS, Caleb Porter and the Portland Timbers welcome Bruce Arena and the LA Galaxy to Jeld-Wen Field, FC Dallas look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they host the Columbus Crew, and two teams battling for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo, put everything on the line in Foxborough, Mass.

Here is a rundown of the Week 31 slate:

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Friday, 8pm, NBC Sports Network)

After a week away, the Union return to the field looking to end a scoreless streak of 310 minutes, a new club record. Conor Casey and Jack McInerney, once regulars on the scoresheet, have lost their form in a crucial moment of the season.

The teams last met on the opening day of the season at PPL Park, which ended up as a 3-1 victory for Sporting KC. The hosts will be without Paulo Nagamura this time around, while Oriol Rosell is questionable. Keon Daniel is the only injury worry for the Union, listed as questionable with a groin strain.

TORONTO FC vs. D.C. UNITED (Saturday, 1pm, TSN/RDS)

Two struggling teams meet at BMO Field for their third meeting of the season with TFC hoping to give its fans something to hold on to late in the season.

TFC will be without Jonathan Osorio and Steven Caldwell due to league suspension and red card suspension, respectively, while a weakened D.C. United side won’t have centerback Daniel Woolard or Dennis Iapichino due to injury. TFC hasn’t won in eight matches, while D.C.’s winless run extends to seven matches.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 7pm, TSN2/MLS Live)

Coming off a surprising two defeats in a row, RSL can still regain the top spot in the Western Conference this weekend with a win against the Whitecaps and a favorable result in Seattle.

RSL star forward Alvaro Saborio could make his return from yet another calf injury as he’s listed as questionable on this week’s injury report, while Kenny Miller is a doubt due to a left adductor strain. The Whitecaps need to win, as they sit four points out of the final playoff spot in the conference.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Saturday, 7:30pm, MLS Live)

The Revolution and Dynamo are neck-and-neck in the race for a place in the playoffs, with the Dynamo holding a slender three point lead.

Juan Agudelo remains questionable for the Revolution, while the Dynamo still have to worry about Calen Carr, Andrew Driver, and Eric Brunner, who are all questionable as well. The last time these two teams met, Adam Moffat scored two goals, though he is now in Seattle.

CHICAGO FIRE vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Saturday, 8:30pm, MLS Live)

The Impact are coming off a stunning 3-0 defeat at home last Saturday to the Whitecaps, and they’ll have it all to do at Toyota Park on Saturday without midfielder Felipe Martins, out due to yellow-card accumulation.

The Fire meanwhile sit one point outside of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, and it’s a game that we could potentially see in the playoffs if the Fire make it. Neither team has new injuries, though the Fire will be without starting centerback Bakary Soumare due to a red card suspension.

PORTLAND TIMBERS vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Sunday, 3:30pm, NBC)

A nationally televised audience is about to witness what could be a terrific match between two coaches and teams that don’t like each other.

The last time these two teams played, Andrew-Jean Baptiste scored a stoppage-time header at home to give the Timbers a win over the Galaxy, but this time through the game could be a little bit different due to injuries. Landon Donovan is still a doubt with his ankle problem, while the Timbers have five players listed as questionable, including Diego Valeri and Jack Jewsbury.

FC DALLAS vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Sunday, 8:30pm, MLS Live)

For the second straight week, FC Dallas lost on an own-goal as its playoff hopes slip away. The club has won just twice in its last 16 games, sitting five points out of fifth place in the Western Conference.

While FC Dallas is in perpetual struggle, the Crew have played very well since parting ways with Robert Warzycha and replacing him with Brian Bliss. The team has won three of their last four, and Josh Williams is nearing his return to full fitness after a concussion. Williams and Danny O’Rourke are both listed as questionable for the Crew.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Sunday, 9pm, ESPN)

A top of the table clash and potential MLS Cup final match awaits when the Red Bulls show up to face the Sounders. However, both teams will be missing some star power.

Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave didn’t make the trip out to Seattle, while Bradley Wright-Phillips is out with a hamstring strain. Lloyd Sam, who is expected to play, is listed as questionable. For the hosts, they’ll be without Zach Scott due to his red card suspension, while Clint Dempsey will likely start from the bench and defender Leo Gonzalez will likely miss the match due to injury.

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10 Responses to MLS Week 31: A Look Ahead

  1. ben says:

    PLEASE let MLS cup be Seattle v NYRB in seattle. I want to see what Henry does then.

    • Fredo says:

      It’s gonna be NY v LA at RBA.

      • ben says:

        Just what the don and tv execs would want.

      • sadbuttrue says:

        I really freakin’ hate that you’re probably right about that.

        Seattle’s just about ready for its annual midfield-crippling late-season injury. For all the blah blah blah about Seattle’s depth, they’re always beatable by the better teams in this league and they have two fragile, irreplaceable players – Alonso and Rosales. Lose either one of those and Seattle’s completely cooked. Seattle *might* beat NY tomorrow (unless said injury occurs then) but they’re not winning the shield unless they back into it. Watch it happen, they’re not both staying healthy for six (or eleven) more matches. No way. No way they beat Portland or LA or even Dallas away when they’ve lost either their offensive or defensive keystone. They’ll make the playoffs and get run out in the semis after laying an egg during the first match, probably against LA.

        LA is going to back into the playoffs again as a low seed, and tear through the west again because they are essentially unbeatable in this league when they are at full strength – at least in a two-legged series. Back to back matches against LA? No team in MLS wins both, or even wins one by enough to offset the other loss. Best case for anyone is extra time and PKs, and that’s the only way LA’s knocked out (as long Keane, Donovan, and Gonzalez are all healthy.) Even that’s unlikely.

        NY should take the shield even if they lose on Sunday, just by being the only team in the East looking competent enough not to drop points to the Revs, Houston, or Chicago at the moment. Metro fans will learn the unfamiliar sensation of finally winning something but can take some consolation in remaining firmly on the MLS Cup schnied. LA will absolutely dismantle them in the final.

        • Jeter says:

          Write my name down. $5 says the Houston Dynamo win the cup this year.

        • Cobi says:

          Keep dreaming,,.. nothing is a lock for LA this year.. REd bulls are good at coming up short. SSFC have a better chance of stumbling in to the SS and MLS cup Final

        • Steevens says:

          sadbuttrue: Your unnecessarily long tirade was certainly sad, but not at all true.

          You clearly don’t understand the odds of the Sounders winning the SS. If the Sounders win 3 of their remaining games (let’s say the 3 home games), draw 1 and lose two they still have a 84.4% chance of winning the SS given the current standings.

          This is based on the statistical analysis and simulations found here: link to sportsclubstats.com

        • Travis says:

          I’m not sure if I would call Alonso fragile, and the Moffat signing definitely helps that situation if he does get injured.

          Mauro is a bit fragile, but the depth in the midfield is much better this year than past (and did you see Evans at RM last week?)

  2. Bean says:

    The NE vs HOU match is huge for both sides. Houston win will give six point lead, and a NE win will put the Revolution ahead of Houston due to goals.

  3. WK says:

    Yo Dan! you forgot SJ-Chivas. its all in the details, man…