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Thursday, July 8, 2010
MLS WEEK 15: Galaxy, Chivas on the road


The Galaxy looks to put wins together again and Chivas USA hopes to halt a long unbeaten streak Saturday on the road. The Galaxy plays at New England and Chivas USA at Kansas City.



L.A. (11-1-3) maintains a nine-point lead on Real Salt Lake atop the Western Conference after a 3-1 victory Sunday over Seattle in Landon Donovan's and Edson Buddle's returns from the World Cup.

Both sat out Wednesday's loss to Seattle in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal, and Donovan is expected to stay home as L.A. heads to New England, one of four teams with just 11 points, for Saturday's game with the Revolution.

A victory would give L.A. 39 points. One of three teams with 40 points last year made the playoffs. Nobody collected more than 49.

Chivas USA is one of the quartet with just 11 points after a 1-1 draw with another of the group, Philadelphia, ended a six-game losing streak. Kansas City has just 12 points and, like the Goats, is struggling mightily.

This week's games (all times Pacific):

THURSDAY, JULY 8
Chicago Fire (4-4-5, 17 points) vs. Real Salt Lake (8-3-3, 27 points) at Toyota Park (Bridgeview, Ill.), 6:30 p.m., ESPN and ESPN Deportes
Real Salt Lake has been MLS's best side the past month, maybe two; the Utahns take a nine-game MLS unbeaten streak to Chicago in which they've surrendered just four goals while scoring three in a game twice, four once and five in last weekend's laugher against New England. Nick Rimando (Montclair HS/UCLA) has shutouts in his last four starts and was MLS's Player of the Month for June. Chicago's four wins this season have come against struggling sides; the Fire has underperformed, and GM Frank Klopas is looking to bring in midfield talent when the transfer window opens next month. Serbian Bratislav Ristic is possible, and American Jeremiah White is less likely after making unreasonable contract requests.

SATURDAY, JULY 10
Los Angeles Galaxy (11-1-3, 36 points) vs. New England Revolution (3-9-2, 11 points), Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.), 4:30 p.m., FSN Prime Ticket (with 11 p.m. replay)
L.A. doesn't want to take any game lightly, but this is a good opportunity to get Landon Donovan some rest -- he's almost certain not to make the trip to Massachusetts -- and maybe give Leonardo another MLS start, with Omar Gonzalez serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation. The Galaxy has won just twice in its last five competitive matches, but they'll be huge favorites here. The Revs have goalkeeper Matt Reis (Santa Margarita Catholic HS/UCLA) and midfield general Shalrie Joseph in the lineup, but it's not helping. They've won just once in 14 games since April 10 (that includes U.S. Open Cup and two friendlies) and have been shut out in eight of the last nine encounters. Last week's loss was the worst of the season: a 5-0 disaster against Real Salt Lake. New England's injury woes are unrivaled, but defender Darrius Barnes is expected to be back, but that's not going to turn things around.

Chivas USA (3-9-2, 11 points) vs. Kansas City Wizards (3-7-3, 12 points), CommunityAmerica Ballpark (Kansas City, Kan.), 5:30 p.m., KDOC/Channel 56
The Goats snapped a six-game losing streak with the tie against Philadelphia, and with moves coming -- an announcement on Venezuelan forward Giancarlo Maldonado should be made soon -- things could pick up for L.A.'s No. 2 team. They couldn't get much worse. Paulo Nagamura will certainly add to midfield depth, and Jonathan Bornstein figures to see more time attacking from the midfield flank, which he prefers to left back. K.C. has won just once since shutting out D.C. United and Colorado in its first two games this season, and the Wizards haven't scored in three of their past four games and in two of their past three home games. The backline benefits from the addition of former Chivas/Galaxy defender Shavar Thomas, acquired in a trade last week.

Toronto FC (5-4-4, 19 points) vs. Colorado Rapids (6-3-4, 22 points) at BMO Field (Toronto), 9 a.m., MLS Direct Kick
Both teams coming in with a pair of streaks, good ones. TFC is unbeaten in its last seven and 4-0-3 at home this year. Colorado is unbeaten in its last six. Both sides have tied their past three games. The Reds are missing midfielder Julian de Guzman and defender Amadou Sanyang, who were red-carded against Houston last week, and new signing Mista, a Spanish forward who has played for Tenerife, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruņa, won't be eligible until next week. Colorado's defensive depth improved with the return of Kosuke Kimura, who had been out two months with an ankle injury, but they'll be without Moroccan midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, who has a longstanding paperwork problem that prevents him from leaving the country.

Philadelphia Union (3-7-2, 11 points) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (5-4-4, 19 points) at PPL Park (Chester, Pa.), 3 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel (live) and Fox Sports en Espaņol (delayed, 11:30 p.m.)
Sebastian Le Toux and rookie Danny Mwanga are developing into a nice forward tandem for the Union, who have gotten positive results in three of their past five games and head into this one, the opener of a four-game homestand (with six of seven games at home the next five weeks) off a win over Seattle and tie last weekend at Chivas USA. San Jose hasn't won since May 22, and coach Frank Yallop swapped goalkeepers -- Jon Busch for Joe Cannon -- although the real problems are on offense. The Quakes have scored more than one goal just once since a 4-0 win over New York on May 5, and not even one in three of seven games since then.

New York Red Bulls (8-5-1, 25 points) vs. D.C. United (3-9-2, 11 points) at Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.), 4:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick
Juan Pablo Angel has three goals in two games since MLS's World Cup break ended, and he had one in the friendly against Cruzeiro just before that. The Red Bulls' defense, with Carlos Mendes making a huge contribution, has been tight, too, in a four-game MLS unbeaten streak. D.C. is slowly making things right -- it's 2-1-2 in the last five league games -- and the transfer-window dealing will strengthen the roster. Salvadoran winger Christian Castillo has been waived, and young Argentine forward Pablo Hernandez and Montenegran midfielder Branko Boskovic will officially join up next week.

Houston Dynamo (5-7-3, 18 points) vs. Columbus Crew (8-2-3, 27 points) at Robertson Stadium (Houston), 5:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick
The Dynamo have tied their past two games, which is better than the previous three, and throw in Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup loss to Chivas USA and they've gone seven competitive matches with just one victory. Defense remains a trouble spot, and Brad Davis' hip-flexor injury isn't helping, and now Joseph Ngwenya is suspended for a red card. Columbus' depth took it to four wins in 11 days -- two of them shutouts and two 2-1 wins -- and back atop the Eastern Conference and into the Open Cup semifinals. There appear to be three outstanding teams in MLS at this point: the Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and the Crew.

SUNDAY, JULY 11
Seattle Sounders FC (4-8-3, 15 points) vs. FC Dallas (5-2-6, 21 points) at Qwest Field (Seattle), 7:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick
FC Dallas has won three in a row, the last two on penalty kicks by David “El Torito” Ferreira, and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman (Peninsula HS/UCLA) has been pivotal, with big saves in all eight of his starts. The Sounders have lost three straight MLS games and four of five (with the lone win against sinking New England), but they beat the Galaxy in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal Wednesday with great efforts by several reserves. It's time for Torrance's Sigi Schmid to shake things up a bit: Expect Nate Jaqua and Miguel Montano to step into the lineup.