September 22, 2012
A look at the upcoming games
Houston Dynamo (12-7-10, 46 pts) @ Philadelphia Union (7-14-6, 27 pts), 3:00 pm CT (FSH+, WPVI)
The last time the Philadelphia Union hosted the Houston Dynamo was last October, in the MLS Eastern Conference semifinals. When the teams meet again at PPL Park on Sunday, the Dynamo are again very much in the postseason mix, while the Union are staggering to the finish of a tumultuous and disappointing season, the playoffs a rapidly fading hope--a loss would officially eliminate them. Both teams played at midweek, the Union falling to DC United 1-0 in the homecoming match for recently-traded forward Lionard Pajoy, who scored the game-winner against his former team, and the Dynamo shutting out CD FAS in a Thursday night CONCACAF Champions League match. Cam Weaver led the way with a goal and two assists. Shutout losses are becoming the norm for the Union, who are 0-4-4 and have scored only four goals over their last eight games. Dynamo netminder Tally Hall, meanwhile, is one clean sheet away from breaking Pat Onstad’s franchise record of 11 shutouts in a season.
Chivas USA (7-14-7, 28 pts) @ DC United (14-10-5, 47 pts), 6:00 pm CT (CSNMA, Galavision)
DC United escaped by the skin of their teeth – and Lionard Pajoy’s talented right foot – against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, surviving a nightmare performance by goalkeeper Bill Hamid to emerge with a 1-0 win that lifted them from sixth to fourth place in the MLS East. But that was on the road. On Sunday, they return to the cozy if shabby confines of RFK Stadium to host Western Conference bottom-dwellers Chivas USA. United have lost only once in 15 home games (10-1-4), and have held their own since losing 2011 league MVP Dwayne De Rosario to a knee injury two weeks ago. Wednesday’s win was their second straight, after a 2-1 comeback victory over New England last Saturday. De Rosario’s injury has hastened the return of Brazilian Maicon Santos to DC’s starting 11, and he set Pajoy’s scoring play in motion from United’s side of midfield on Thursday night. Although he has been complaining about his lack of playing time, DP Branko Boskovic’s dead ball skills will be important to DC’s stretch run, especially against a Chivas defense that has developed a sudden vulnerability to free kicks. Chivas’s brief late-season East Coast swing got off to a disappointing and costly start with Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Columbus. Justin Meram’s 89th-minute goal extended the Goats’ winless streak to eight games. Yellow cards to Oswaldo Minda and James Riley pushed both over the threshold for suspension against DC, but veteran Shalrie Joseph will return from his own league-mandated banishment to plug up the Chivas midfield against DC.
Colorado Rapids (9-18-2, 29 pts) @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-12-7, 37 pts), 6:30 pm CT (Alt, SNET-Pac)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC coach Martin Rennie has promised an attack-oriented strategy for Sunday’s crucial Western Conference faceoff against the Colorado Rapids at BC Place. And if his team is going to hand on to a playoff berth in the MLS West, they’re going to need it. The Whitecaps have scored only once in five games, all losses. It’s a testament to their strong start to the season that they are still in fifth place, but FC Dallas is only one point behind and closing fast. The seventh-place Rapids are also within reach. One key to Vancouver’s hoped-for offensive resurgence is rookie Darren Mattocks’ return to the starting lineup. If he can keep his production up and his temper under control he could be a difference-maker for the Whitecaps. Vancouver has beaten the Rapids twice this season, both by 1-0 scores, and once (July 4) on a goal by Mattocks. Colorado has dropped a team-record nine straight games on the road, and have not taken a point away from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since May 6.