By RYAN TOLMICH
Fresh off of a 3-0 victory over the Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders, the LA Galaxy will have yet another chance to make a nationally televised statement when they take on the Portland Timbers Saturday.
Both sides enter this weekend’s clash on a high note, as the Timbers boast back-to-back victories ahead of Saturday’s matchup at StubHub Center. The two sides have met twice before this season, with both meetings ending in draws.
In other MLS action, the Sounders take on the San Jose Earthquakes in the debut of Levi’s Stadium, Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids collide in the latest Rocky Mountain Cup contest and the Houston Dynamo take on D.C. United with the expected debut of DaMarcus Beasley looming.
Here is a rundown of the Week 21 slate:
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Friday, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Network/TSN 2)
The Eastern Conference league leaders are the hottest team in MLS and look to continue their strong run of form when they host the Union on national television.
Benny Feilhaber has taken a huge step forward this summer carrying his side, scoring two goals and adding two assists on the team’s seven game unbeaten run, while Graham Zusi scored his first MLS goal since May. Sporting KC will be without centerback Matt Besler as he serves a one-match suspension for a red card, while both Cristian Maidana, who scored vs. Sporting KC earlier this season, and Zack Pfeffer are questionable for the Union.
LA GALAXY vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., NBC/TSN)
The Galaxy and Timbers have played a few epic battles in the past and Saturday’s matchup should be no different.
The Timbers have won two in a row and have five goals in that span but they head to the StubHub Center to face a Galaxy defense that has returned to its lofty levels with Omar Gonzalez back in his rhythm in the lineup. Injuries for either side shouldn’t be an issue, with both Maxi Urruti and Fanendo Adi vying for a starting role up top.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 5 p.m., MLS Live/TSN)
Toronto FC have a chance to gain some more confidence when they visit the hapless Impact on Saturday evening in the Canadian derby.
TFC are winless in their last four games, with Jermain Defoe only scoring once in that span. The Impact proved against the Timbers that they could score but defensively they’ve been poor, giving up 37 goals on the season. Defoe and/or Gilberto could have a big evening at Stade Saputo.
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)
In the last meeting between the two teams, the New York Red Bulls knocked off the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium for the first time in a decade. When the two teams collide Saturday, the Revs will be looking to break a streak of their own.
The Revs haven’t won at New York since 2007, three years prior to the opening of Saturday’s venue, Red Bull Arena. The visitors snapped their eight-game losing streak with a midweek victory over the Colorado Rapids, but the Revs will now be tasked with stopping the always-threatening combination of Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry, who lead MLS in goals and assists, respectively
CHICAGO FIRE vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MLS Live)
Saturday’s matchup between the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew could go a long way towards a playoff push for either side.
The Crew enter the weekend sitting in fifth-place after finally snapping a seven game winless streak with back-to-back wins over the Montreal Impact and the New England Revolution. Meanwhile, the Fire sit just five points behind the opposition for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. With both sides in the thick of the playoff hunt, Saturday’s clash has the potential to be a springboard towards a postseason spot.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 9 p.m., MLS Live)
With just three points separating the Rocky Mountain Cup Rivals, Saturday’s contest between the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake has major implications in the crowded Western Conference.
RSL, who won the earlier meeting between the two teams by a 2-1 scoreline, head into the weekend having already picked up a midweek draw with the visiting New York Red Bulls. Meanwhile, the Rapids return to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on the heels of a 3-0 loss to the New England Revolution. However, the Rapids will now have a chance to make strides towards their second straight Rocky Mountain Cup after ending RSL’s six-year reign last season.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
Fresh off of a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of the LA Galaxy, Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders have a chance to get things back on track with the opening of the Bay Area’s newest stadium.
Saturday marks the debut of Levi’s Stadium, with the San Jose Earthquakes set to hold the stadium’s first event with this weekend’s matchup with the Sounders. For their part, the Quakes head into the weekend fresh off of a 5-1 beatdown of the Chicago Fire. The Quakes will now look towards opening the future home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers in style by taking down Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and the Sounders.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. D.C. UNITED (Sunday, 8 p.m., Univision Deportes)
For the first time 2004, DaMarcus Beasley will take the field wearing an MLS jersey.
The four-time World Cup participant is set to make his MLS return Sunday, when his new team, the Houston Dynamo, host D.C. United. The Dynamo will have enjoyed an eight-day break between Sunday’s matchup and their June 26 friendly loss to Aston Villa. Meanwhile, D.C. United take the field for the second time in five days after picking up a 3-0 midweek win over Toronto FC.
CHIVAS USA vs. FC DALLAS (Sunday, 10 p.m., MLS Live)
With the team in the midst of an eight-game road winless streak, FC Dallas will take the trip out to Los Angeles to take on the electrifying Erick “Cubo” Torres and Chivas USA.
Torres had a streak of six straight games with a goal snapped June 25, as Chivas USA were defeated 3-0 by the Colorado Rapids for their second straight loss. Meanwhile, FC Dallas enter Sunday’s matchup riding a six-game-unbeaten streak that has carried them to fifth in the Eastern Conference. However, FC Dallas will need to find a way to stop Torres, a 2014 MLS All-Star, if they hope to end their road woes.