September 18, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
Sporting Kansas City (15-7-6, 51 pts)@ NY Red Bulls (14-7-7, 49 pts), 6:00 pm CT (KSMO, MSG+)
First place in the MLS East is within reach of the New York Red Bulls when they host Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night. Led by reigning MLS Player of the Week Thierry Henry, the Red Bulls have not lost at home this season, winning 10 of their 13 league games at Red Bull Arena this season, and are unbeaten in their last five. Sporting, meanwhile, has the league’s best road record at 7-4-2, its best defense with only 25 goals against, and a six-game unbeaten streak. However, their conference lead shrank to a single point after last weekend’s 1-1 comeback draw against Houston and big wins by second-place Chicago and the Red Bulls, who beat up on Columbus 3-1 behind Henry’s two-goal, one-assist performance. The Frenchman is now tied for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot race with 13 goals. His Red Bulls teammate Kenny Cooper is tied for second with 14. And if the Red Bulls get position on Sporting at midweek, they can leave them in the dust by the end of the month. New York closes out September against postseason washouts New England and Toronto, while Sporting take on more formidable conference opposition in Chicago and expansion upstarts Montreal, and return to RBA once more before the end of the season.
Chivas USA (7-13-7, 28 pts)@ Columbus Crew (12-10-6, 42 pts), 6:30 pm CT (Prime Ticket, FSO)
Home field advantage looms large in any game between the Columbus Crew and Chivas USA – the visiting team has not won in the series since 2005, and the Crew, who host the Goats Wednesday at Columbus Crew Stadium, are unbeaten in their last five home games (4-0-1). Columbus is scrapping for a playoff spot in the nip-and-tuck MLS East, and three points on Wednesday would at least temporarily move them past DC United into fourth place in the conference. But the winning touch provided by newcomers Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta over the past month has deserted the Crew recently. The team dropped their second straight last weekend, 3-1 to the New York Red Bulls. Chivas, beginning a two-game Eastern swing that concludes Sunday at DC United’s RFK Stadium, are winless in seven straight after falling 2-1 to Seattle and 2-0 to San Jose last week, and have sunk to the bottom of the table in the West. They will be without midfielder Shalrie Joseph and head coach Robin Fraser, both suspended. Higuain, sidelined for most the game against the Red Bulls because of a still-healing foot injury, is expected to see considerably more time against Chivas, which can’t be good news for a defensive corps that has surrendered 22 goals over the last seven games. Before his injury, Higuain had racked up three goals and six assists in six games. Arrieta, who set the table as Milan Mirosevic scored the only Columbus goal against the Red Bulls last weekend, has three goals and two assists over his last eight games.
Portland Timbers (7-14-7, 28 pts) @ San Jose Earthquakes (17-6-5, 56 pts), 9:30 pm CT (KPDX, CSNCA)
The San Jose Earthquakes are riding a season-long three-game winning streak heading into Wednesday night’s home tilt against the Portland Timbers at Buck Shaw Stadium. They lead the league with 56 points, and Chris Wondolowski opened up a five-point lead in the Golden Boot race with his 19th goal of the season in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Chivas USA. San Jose also is unbeaten in their last 12 home matches. Overall, the Quakes have more than doubled Portland’s offensive output this season, racking up 58 goals to the Timbers’ 28. However, two of Portland’s goals came against San Jose on July 3, when Danny Mwanga and Jack Jewsbury lifted the second-year team to a 2-1 upset win over the conference leaders. On Wednesday, however, Portland will face the Quakes without either starting netminder Donovan Ricketts (separated shoulder) or backup Jake Gleeson (hand injury). Central midfielder Diego Chara also is expected to sit out, with a groin injury. Third-string ‘keeper Joe Bendik is expected to man the net against San Jose as the Timbers search for their first road win of the season.