Righting the ship will be the narrative surrounding MLS Week 21. A pair of Western Conference powers can no longer afford to sink with it.
The mid-week action picked up late Wednesday night.
The Colorado Rapids rallied back from an early 1-0 deficit to capture a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution. Down a man, Chivas USA captured a one-goal victory of their own. Erick Torres—with an assist by a Toronto FC deflection—netted a game-winner in his MLS debut to snap Chivas' 14-game winless streak.
Eight matches will follow this weekend.
But with so much action on tap, what warrants your attention in Week 21?
Read on to find out.
Note: Unless otherwise mentioned, credit all statistics to the official MLS Press Box Stats and Standings.
Which match will you—the fan—be watching this weekend?
Before we delve into the featured storylines for this weekend's action, here is the complete schedule and guide for Week 21. The results from Wednesday's action are posted as well.
The Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes are idle.
Colorado Rapids 2-1 New England Revolution
Chivas USA 1-0 Toronto FC
Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 4:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids, 4:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Montreal Impact vs. FC Dallas, 7:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Chicago Fire vs. DC United, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
What happens when a stoppable force meets a moveable object?
Yes, you read that correctly.
Dallas and Montreal haven’t been models of dominance lately. Both teams once sat atop their respective conferences. Both teams have since entered a downward spiral during the summer months.
An embarrassing 3-0 loss in Week 20 extended Dallas’ winless streak to seven games. Not to be outdone, the Impact were equally dominated at Red Bull Arena. A poor showing from the opening whistle resulted in a 4-0 loss and extended the team’s winless streak to four.
Fortunately for Dallas, there are some reinforcements en route to Montreal, Quebec.
According to the club's official website, George John has trained fully with the club this week. Head coach Schellas Hyndman reiterated the importance of the 26-year-old defender to the media following practice:
When you look at our back four, Jair [Benítez] is not vocal, Matt [Hedges] is not vocal and Zach [Loyd] is not vocal. [John] comes in and coordinates everybody together and some people thrive off of that and…play better because of [the leadership]...What he also brings in is a little bit of intensity and he’s a little bit more vocal.
But can he help bring a victory?
Both teams enter Week 21 in dire straits. Only one will right the ship this weekend.
`It’s been 349 minutes since DC last scored a goal in league competition. That woeful streak currently ranks as the fourth-longest drought in MLS this season.
|New England Revolution||394||3/09/2013||4/20/2013|
The last time the team celebrated anything in league play was in Week 17. A penalty from Chris Pontius lifted United to a 1-0 victory over the Earthquakes.
The Black and Red haven't just been bad this season, they've been astronomically bad. You have to go all the way back to Week 12 to find a DC goal scored in the run of play. According to Mike Donovan—a columnist for SoccerByIves—United are on pace to score 14 goals this season.
That would be the fewest goals scored ever in a season since...DC United in 2010.
The Black and Red only scored 21 goals that year. At least they had the excuse of a 30-game schedule to fall back on.
But there's no excuses this year. DC are 46 minutes away from sitting atop the most anemic statistic in MLS.
We have now entered the knockout stages of the 2013 Gold Cup.
Fortunately for Will Johnson, he won’t be subjected to anymore Canadian embarrassment this summer. There are more important club matters to address.
Now, international duty wasn’t the only thing keeping Johnson off the pitch in recent weeks. Captain Canada returned before the end of the Gold Cup group stages to recover from an undisclosed stomach illness.
(To be honest, who wouldn’t be sick to their stomach after an embarrassing 1-0 loss to Martinique?)
Fortunately for the Timbers, that will no longer be the case this weekend.
According to John Canzano—a columnist for the Oregonian—the club’s captain will be available for head coach Caleb Porter on Saturday.
The news bodes well for Portland.
Statistically, Johnson’s importance to the Timbers can be found in the passing game. The statisticians at WhoScored have calculated the midfielder’s completion percentage at 86.5 percent this season.
Among players who have attempted a minimum of 900 passes, only his teammate Diego Chara ranks higher (87.6 percent).
With a cross-country trip to Philadelphia in the cards for Week 21, Johnson’s return to the lineup will be a much-welcomed addition.
For the Sounders, they giveth and they taketh away.
Zero fine. Zero suspension.
The news provided a much-needed boost for an injury-depleted roster.
Then, Jurgen Klinsmann happened.
With the knockout stages of the Gold Cup scheduled for this weekend, Klinsmann decided to make the most of his opportunities. An adjustment to his roster included the additions of Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Alan Gordon and Eddie Johnson...Sounders forward Eddie Johnson.
Confirmed by CONCACAF’s official website, only the United States made such changes. Mexico, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago only made one each.
Klinsmann is determined to bring the Yanks their first Gold Cup trophy since 2007.
But for the Sounders, that determination cost the club one of its potent strikers ahead of a pivotal match against the Rapids. Sitting six points behind Colorado in the standings, another loss could be problematic for Rave Green.
The club must now rely on the partnership of Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins to secure the victory.
The MLS standings want you to believe this is another East versus West showdown.
But geographically, the match between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City is a battle for Midwest supremacy.
Both teams sit atop their respective conferences. Both teams are separated by just four points in the Supporters’ Shield standings.
Unfortunately for the Claret and Cobalt, the tale of the tape shows that Kansas City holds a serious advantage.
Due to the continuation of the Gold Cup, Real are still devoid of some key personnel. Nick Rimando, Alvaro Saborio, Tony Beltran and Kyle Beckerman won’t be walking onto the pitch this Saturday. The club must rely on depth and the fervent faithful at Rio Tinto Stadium to neutralize a gap in talent.
That depth added another serious contributor on Wednesday. In a shrewd move, the team announced the arrival of defender Brandon McDonald from DC United.
The much-needed addition comes in the wake of a depleted center back situation for Salt Lake. Real defenders Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Chris Schuler and Carlos Salcedo are all currently out injured.
Both teams will look to deliver a statement in Week 21.
Only one message will be delivered loud and clear.
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