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This Week in MLS – August 14, 2012

I-95 Rivalry Heats up Sunday on NBC Sports Network
If the playoffs were to start today, D.C. United would be in and Philadelphia Union would be out.
 
On Sunday, Philadelphia will look to bounce back from their two-game slide and make up ground in the standings against I-95 rivals D.C. United (NBC Sports Network, 5:00 p.m. ET).
 
This season, clubs will not only look to capture a spot in the playoffs, they will be gunning for the top spot in their conference as higher seeds will ride home-field advantage all of the way through the playoffs, including MLS Cup on Dec. 1.
 
With two games in hand, D.C. United (11-8-3, 36 pts.) are looking to put pressure on the top three in the Eastern Conference—Kansas City, New York, Houston – each of which has played 24 games.
 
The Union (7-12-2, 23 pts.) have plenty of time, 13 games to be exact, to pick up points in the back-half of the season but are currently trailing D.C. by 13 points for that fifth place spot in the standings.
 
D.C. United may again be without standout Dwayne De Rosario, who missed United’s last match due to a shoulder injury. If he returns to action, De Ro would be in a position to hit the century strike mark as he currently sits at 98 goals scored in regular season MLS matches.
 
48 MLS Players Called Up to 14 National Teams for International Friendlies
 
Ahead of international friendlies today (August 14) and tomorrow (August 15), 48 MLS players were called up to 14 different national teams. Thirty-five of these players will represent either Canada, Honduras, Jamaica, or the United States.
 
MLS contributed the most players (10) of any league to the United States’ 23-player roster for the squad’s match against Mexico. Three of these players - Matt Besler, Steven Beitashour, and Alan Gordon - are seeking their first caps with the full national team.
 
Click hereto view a full country-by-country breakdown of MLS players selected to international friendly rosters.
 
Tuesday, August 14
San Marino vs. Malta, 8:00 p.m. ET
 
Wednesday, August 15
Albania vs. Moldova, 6:00 a.m. ET
Estonia vs. Poland, 2:45 p.m. ET
Portugal vs. Panama, 4:00 p.m. ET
Puerto Rico vs. Spain, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Paraguay vs. Guatemala, 6:15 p.m. ET
Boca Juniors vs. Honduras, 7:00 p.m. ET
Mexico vs. United States, 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Univision)
Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 8:00 p.m. ET
El Salvador vs. Jamaica, 8:00 p.m. ET
Costa Rica vs. Peru, 8:00 p.m. ET
 
MLS Week 24 – National Broadcasts
Wednesday, August 15: Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy, 7:00 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network)
Wednesday, August 15: Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS)
Wednesday, August 15: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. FC Dallas, 10:00 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS2)
Saturday, August 18: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4:00 p.m. ET (TSN2/RDS)
Sunday, August 19: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 5:00 p.m. ET (NBC Sports Network/TSN2/RDS2)
Sunday, August 19: New York Red Bulls vs. Portland Timbers, 7:00 p.m. ET (Galavision)
 
AT&T MLS Goal of the Week (Week 23) – CLICK HEREto vote
  • Dane Richards (VAN)
  • Jair Benitez (DAL)
  • Chris Rolfe (CHI)
  • Sanna Nyassi (MTL)
  • Juninho (LA)
 
Check it Out
Chicago Fire: Burning Questions
Real Salt Lake: Chasing the Crown Part 1
Real Salt Lake: Chasing the Crown Part 2
Sporting Kansas City: Gameday Superstitions
 
MLS Week 24 Previews
(Home team listed first; all times Eastern)
 
Wednesday, August 15
Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy, 7:00 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
  • Helping Hand: Landon Donovan became the fourth player in MLS league history to record four assists in a game, setting up each one of the Galaxy’s goals in their 4-0 victory Sunday vs. Chivas USA. The last player to achieve this feat was Dwayne De Rosario, then with Houston, in the Dynamo’s first-ever game (April 2, 2006).
  • Backs are Back: For the first time this year, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was able to start the MLS Cup winning back four of Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant in last week’s 4-0 win.
  • Galactic Divide: The Galaxy have won the last four meetings between the teams, over the last two seasons, including a pair of 1-0 victories last year. Columbus last defeated LA Sept. 29, 2009, a 2-0 win at Crew Stadium.
  • Stacked Stats: With 11 assists on the season, Landon Donovan is now only one goal away from his first “double double” MLS campaign since 2005. Donovan has climbed to fourth on the all-time MLS assists leaderboard with 105.
 
Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. (TSN/RDS)
  • Road Woes: The Portland Timbers’ two goals on the road is a League-low, a 22-strike difference from category leaders, the LA Galaxy.
  • New Territory: TFC coach Paul Mariner will be looking for his club to snap a two-game losing streak, something he’s experiencing for the first time after taking over as head coach.
  • Johnson Jonesing for Goals: Toronto’s Ryan Johnson has scored two goals in the last three league games – three in the last four in all competitions, including a goal in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage win vs. C.D. Aguila of El Salvador.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. FC Dallas, 10:00 p.m. (TSN/RDS2)
  • Shooting at Will:FC Dallas has allowed 197 shots in the second half of games, more than any other team.
  • Systematic Mattocks: Among players who have started at least 10 games, Vancouver striker Darren Mattocks ranks fifth in goals per 90 minutes, only trailing category-leader Chris Wondolowski by 0.11.
  • Unwelcomed Visitors: FC Dallas have lost 10 of their last 11 MLS matches away from FC Dallas Stadium.
  • Bright Spot: Camilo scored his first goal since May 19 to send Vancouver on its way to a 2-1 win Friday vs. Real Salt Lake. He also added an assist, his third assist in the last four games, all since returning to the starting lineup
 
Saturday, August 18
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4:00 p.m. (TSN2/RDS)
  • Starting Strong:The Sounders have the best winning percentage when scoring the first goal, having gone 10-0-1 for a .955 mark.
  • BC Heartbreak: The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Seattle’s Fredy Montero scored the tying goal in the 90th minute to once again dash Vancouver hopes, leaving the teams in a 2-2 draw, May 19 at BC Place.
  • Playing Favorites: Sounders FC midfielder Mauro Rosales has assisted on each of teammate Eddie Johnson’s last four goals.
  • Rookie Heavyweight: Darren Mattocks recorded his first MLS assist in Whitecaps FC’s 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake, to go with his six goals, leading all rookies.
 
Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4:30 p.m.
  • Testing the Keeper: Sporting KC’s Kei Kamara leads MLS in shots (91) and is tied with New York’s Kenny Cooper for most put on target (36).
  • BMO Bubble: TFC haven’t lost to Kansas City at home since 2007, when the then-Wizards came away with a 1-0 win in the first ever game at BMO Field on April 28. Toronto FC have won two of their five home meetings since, with three draws.
  • Sporting Streaking: Sporting have won back-to-back games for the first time since May 27-June 16, after wins vs. New England and D.C. United.
 
Montreal Impact vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 7:30 p.m.
  • Offside Again and Again: The Impact have been flagged offside 82 times, ten more times than any other team in MLS.
  • Sky’s the Limit: San Jose has 14 wins on the season, a new high for the team since rejoining MLS in 2008. The all-time club record is 19 wins, set in 1999.
  • Montreal’s MLS Mark: The Impact have won three games in a row, their longest winning streak in MLS, after the 1-0 victory Sunday at New England.
  • Active Alan: With nine strikes on the season, Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon is the sole contender in the Budweiser Golden Boot race whose goals total exceeds the number of games started.
 
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution, 8:30 p.m.
  • Shut it Down: The Fire lead MLS with the least amount of goals conceded in the final 15 minutes of play (7); the Revs trail this mark by only one (8).
  • Back in the Groove: Chris Rolfe scored a pair of goals, his third and fourth since returning to MLS and giving him three in the last three games, in the Fire’s 3-1 win at Philadelphia. It was the fourth multiple-goal game in MLS for Rolfe, the last when he scored a hat trick vs. New York on Oct. 23, 2008.
  • Fearless Feilhaber: Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber has suffered a League second-highest 61 fouls. Feilhaber finished out the 2011 campaign with the No. 2 rank in fouls suffered, with 71.
 
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas, 9:00 p.m.
  • Saving the Best for First: Real Salt Lake are the sole remaining team who have not conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes of play.
  • Rimando Record: Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando is one clean sheet shy of 60 career shutouts for the Claret-and-Cobalt.
  • Goal Glee: David Ferreira scored his first goal since his return after missing more than a year with injury, netting the winning goal in Dallas’s 3-2 triumph against Colorado on Saturday evening.
 
Colorado Rapids vs. Chivas USA, 9:00 p.m.
  • Better With Age: Brian Mullan recorded his seventh assist of the season in the 3-2 Colorado loss at FC Dallas. It’s the most assists the 34-year-old has had in a season since 2004, when he had eight for the San Jose Earthquakes. His single-season career best is nine, in 2003 (with San Jose).
  • Inconsistent:Chivas USA is tied for the worst home record at 3-3-2 (.333), but has the best road record at 4-2-3 (.611).
  • Can’t Stop Them All: Colorado’s Matt Pickens leads the League with 82 saves, but has lost 15 games, the most of any goalkeeper this season.
 
Sunday, August 19
D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 5:00 p.m. (NBC Sports Network/TSN2/RDS2)
  • RFK Fortress: United have not lost an MLS match at RFK Stadium since their home opener on March 10, a 0-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City; the club have averaged three times as many goals as the amount they have conceded in this home undefeated stretch.
  • Still Warming Up:Philadelphia has a League-low one goal in the first 30 minutes of play this season; no other team has scored fewer than four during the same interval.
  • PPL Déjà vu: The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Chris Pontius – who was later named MLS All-Star Game MVP with his performance vs. Chelsea FC at Union’s PPL Park – scored the game’s lone goal for D.C. United’s win on June 16 in Chester, Pa.
 
New York Red Bulls vs. Portland Timbers, 7:00 p.m. (Galavision)
  • Clever Cahill: Making his second start for the Red Bulls, Tim Cahill played a part in both goals in Friday’s win vs. Houston, recording his first two MLS assists.
  • Early Bird Gets the Worm: New York is 39-0-15 in its last 54 matches when scoring the first goal, an undefeated streak that dates back to 2008.
  • Bouncing Back: The Timbers are returning to action after a weekend off, after a Jack Jewsbury goal gave them a 1-1 home draw with FC Dallas, snapping a five-game losing streak (and three-game goalless streak). Portland last won on July 3, a 2-1 victory vs. San Jose.
 
Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew, 9:00 p.m.
  • Hometown Glory: The Dynamo’s +14 goal different at home only trails conference rival D.C. United’s mark (+15).
  • Still Shooting:Despite taking 42 shots on goal, Columbus’ Emilio Renteria has only put 11 on target, giving him the worst percentage of the team at only 4.8.
  • Streak Snapped: The Dynamo saw their five-game winning streak and eight-game unbeaten run come to an end in the 2-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls, the teams splitting their home-and-home series over successive Fridays.
 
Quotables
 
“… if you compare Red Bulls Stadium to Goodison Park you realize while Everton's ground has character and loyal fans, New York's surpasses Premier League quality. It is honestly what Everton deserve in their future."
-- New York Red Bulls DP Tim Cahill, to ESPN.com, on the superior quality of MLS pitches
 
“As a coach, I can’t remember the number of times I told him he wasn’t good enough to make the 11 and he just never accepted that answer. He would always just ask me, ‘What do I need to do?’ And then he would turn around and work so hard that he would do it.”
-- Philadelphia Union Interim Head Coach John Hackworth reflecting on coaching Kirk Urso for the U.S. U-17s
 
“Last night's win over the Seattle Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup was a big, bright, flashing, neon sign: Sporting Kansas City has arrived.”
-- Kansas City Star scribe Charles Gooch on the significance of Sporting Kansas City’s U.S. Open Cup hardware
 
“The character of the team hasn't changed since day one, it's only gotten stronger. I think everybody's surprised that we keep on wearing teams down and then scoring at the end, but that's who we are.”
-- San Jose Earthquakes striker Steven Lenhart, after yet another late game-winning goal in a 2-1 win against Seattle on Saturday night
 
“Landon was really focused on playing well tonight. When he wants, he's as good as any player in this league.”
-- LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena on Landon Donovan, who tied an MLS record with four assists in the 4-0 win Sunday vs. Chivas USA
 
“I liked the last one from [Jaime] Castrillón. They are very competitive, great kids, good footballers and good people. We always send [MLS] the best. When these things come against you though, you don't enjoy them too much.”
-- Colorado Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja – from Colombia himself – after four Colombians scored goals in the FC Dallas 3-2 win Saturday
 
"I have been on the other side at the Vet, cheering for the Phillies and Eagles, and told every player on the opposition they were the worst player."
-- Chicago Fire defender Dan Gargan, to the Philadelphia Inquirer, on his Philadelphia roots
 
“He, in my opinion, has been one of the best probably 10 or 15 players in this league for a long time now.”
-- Landon Donovan on new Chivas USA player Shalrie Joseph ahead of the SuperClasico on August 12
 
Sweet Tweets
 
 
@MLS_Analyst– August 13
Best part about this Gordon call-up: It sends a message to every journeyman player that MLS form is the way to the USMNT.
 
‏@DaxMcCarty11– August 9
Crazy to think that #USWNTtrainer Rick Guter was #RBNYtrainer just last yr. Now hes rocking a Gold medal. Congrats to him and the ladies!!
 
@JimmyConrad_com – August 8
Guess who got me to come out of retirement? That's right. The "Special One." Look forward to being teammates @Cristianohttp://pic.twitter.com/svB6iUhg
 
@SportingKC– August 9
8 years ago, KC won the #USOpenCupin front of 8,819 fans. Tonight's attendance at @LIVESTRONGPark: 18,863. Thank you, #SKCNation.
 
@ColumbusCrew– August 8
Moment of Silence for Kirk Urso at the #USOCFinal. Thank you @SportingKC.
 
@rioferdy5– August 7
@usainboltif you want that trial at Man Utd shout me, I'll speak to the boss!! Well done in 100m, waiting for you to smash the 200m now!
 
@SachaKljestan– August 9
PS- Wife is reading Fifty Shades trilogy and just showed me paragraph where Seattle Sounders, Kasey Keller and Real Salt Lake are mentioned.
 
@RyanSeacrest– August 12
I had dinner with soccer legend @Pele, got a pro tip: don't eat steak after 6pm and you'll sleep like a baby.
 
@robertjonas– August 11
Wondolowski and Lenhart continue to have a good time at the expense of the #SJEarthquakesStarting XI photographer http://twitpic.com/aif1uz