Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The Los Angeles Galaxy couldn’t have asked for a better time for star forward Robbie Keane to return, as the defending champions look to get back to winning ways when they host the one-loss Portland Timbers on Wednesday night at the newly christened StubHub Center.
While there is a top-five matchup on the West Coast, an equally compelling game is taking place in Montreal, when the Impact host the Houston Dynamo. The Chicago Fire takes on a weakened Colorado Rapids side missing their head coach and two starters due to suspension, and the Vancouver Whitecaps host Chivas USA, the first match under new manager Jose Luis Real.
Here is a rundown of the midweek Week 17 slate:
LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Wednesday, 10:30pm, MLS Live/Direct Kick)
When the Los Angeles Galaxy and Portland Timbers take the field on Wednesday night, it will be a match of teams moving in different directions.
The defending MLS Cup champions are winless since May 26 with Keane and centerback Omar Gonzalez leaving the team to join their respective national teams. In addition, the Galaxy have lost five of their last seven matches since the start of May, dropping them all the way to fifth place. On the other side, the Timbers are undefeated since mid-March overall and haven’t lost on the road this season, as Caleb Porter has found a successful formula with the likes of Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, and Will Johnson starring consistently.
Although Keane has returned to the Galaxy, Gonzalez won’t be available after starting and going the full 90 for the U.S. Tuesday night in Utah, while Timbers midfielder Rodney Wallace will be traveling back from Costa Rica.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Wednesday, 8pm, MLS Live/Direct Kick)
The Montreal Impact see the return of head coach Marco Schallibaum and defender Alessandro Nesta as they try to build off a defeat on Saturday to the Columbus Crew.
After three weeks away from league play, the Houston Dynamo return with a fresh squad as numerous players continue to come back from long-term injuries. Omar Cummings may be just a week or two away from returning to the field in a match.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Wednesday, 8:30pm, MLS Live/Direct Kick)
The Colorado Rapids begin a three-game road trip with a visit to the Chicago Fire, but they’ll have to play Wednesday’s match without head coach Oscar Pareja and starters Hendry Thomas and Atiba Harris to suspension. In addition, the Rapids traded captain Pablo Mastroeni to the Galaxy, so they’ll be without a bit of experience in the midfield.
Since trading for Mike Magee, the Fire have seen an uptick in the offense, averaging two goals per game since May 26 in all competitions. The Fire should carry the confidence from their last league match, a 2-2 draw against the Timbers where they came back from a two-goal deficit.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. CHIVAS USA (Wednesday, 10pm, MLS Live/Direct Kick)
It’s been 11 matches since Chivas USA has recorded a win, but the last time they did so was against the very Vancouver Whitecaps that they’ll be facing Wednesday. The Whitecaps are a different team though since March 30, as Kenny Miller has hit into form and the team is scoring at win, as evidenced by their four goals last Saturday.
Jose Luis Real makes his managerial debut for Chivas USA after assistant coach Sacha van der Most took control of the side’s last match, a 2-0 defeat to Seattle. The team is ditching their 3-5-2 formation for a more defensive 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation, which could lead to better results for the Goats.