For fans out there itching for some soccer in their post-World Cup existence, the MLS is calling. And Week 20 promises to be a good week to catch up with the United States' domestic league, as there are several intriguing matchups to see and international stars to follow.
From high-scoring teams to top-of-the-table matchups, there should be something for everyone. Let's break down the table, fixtures and preview some of the interesting games on tap.
|4||New England Revolution||23||18||7||9||2||24||29||-5|
|5||New York Red Bulls||23||19||5||6||8||31||30||1|
|1||Seattle Sounders FC||38||18||12||4||2||35||24||11|
|2||Real Salt Lake||28||18||7||4||7||27||24||3|
|9||San Jose Earthquakes||16||16||4||8||4||16||18||-2|
|Week 20 Schedule|
|Friday, July 18||11 p.m.||Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids|
|Saturday, July 19||6 p.m.||Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy|
|Saturday, July 19||7 p.m.||New York Red Bulls vs. San Jose Earthquakes|
|Saturday, July 19||7:30 p.m.||Columbus Crew vs. Montreal Impact|
|Saturday, July 19||8:30 p.m.||Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union|
|Saturday, July 19||9 p.m.||Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC|
|Saturday, July 19||9 p.m.||FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution|
|Saturday, July 19||10 p.m.||Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver Whitecaps|
|Sunday, July 20||8 p.m.||D.C. United vs. Chivas USA|
Without question, the game of the week is the matchup between Sporting KC and the LA Galaxy. The game will match two of the league's top scorers in Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer (14 goals) and the Galaxy's Robbie Keane (nine goals, six assists). But will either be able to find the net in this one?
That remains to be seen, as these teams also happen to have the two stingiest defenses in the league. The Galaxy have given up just 14 goals this season, while Sporting KC have conceded just 17.
But the Galaxy come into this game on fire, having gone unbeaten in their last eight games. And Keane finally broke a four-game scoreless streak, notching a brace against the New England Revolution in the Galaxy's 5-1 win on Wednesday.
“There's never a doubt in our minds that Robbie will produce goals for us, whether it's directly from him or assisting,” Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena told Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times.
They'll certainly need him doing so against a tough Sporting KC side. Of course, Matt Besler and company might have something to say about that.
While that is clearly the premier matchup of the week, there will be some other exciting games to take in.
The Philadelphia Union facing the Chicago Fire might not appear to be one of the noteworthy matchups of the week, but there should be goals. The Union have become one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch on a nightly basis, both because they score regularly (32 goals, second in the MLS) and they give up just as many (34 goals allowed, second-worst in the MLS).
The Chicago Fire don't find themselves in as many goal frenzies as the Union do (25 goals, 27 conceded), but they aren't exactly a squad renowned for its top defense, either. Three players on Chicago have five or more goals (Mike McGee, Harry Shipp and Quincy Amarikwa), so they aren't to be taken lightly.
Meanwhile, Toronto FC is always worth a watch, led by Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe (11 goals, two assists). They'll be expected to handle a Houston Dynamo side that has just 18 points in 19 games—Toronto beat them 4-2 last time these teams met—but after a 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the outlook is a touch bittersweet for Toronto.
From the Canadian Press, via the CBC:
The game may prove costly for Toronto, which lost fullback Mark Bloom (knee) and Jackson (hamstring) to injury. [Toronto manager Ryan] Nelsen's side is already without captain/centre back Steven Caldwell (quad tear).
Toronto, which has lost just once in its last nine games (4-1-4), has now gone 11 straight MLS matches without being held scoreless, a franchise record.
It's doubtful Houston will end that streak.
Real Salt Lake versus the aforementioned Whitecaps should also be a good one. The Whitecaps currently find themselves mid-table in the Western Conference, sixth on the table, but trailing second-place Real Salt Lake by just two points. In general, the Western Conference remains bunched, as teams two through eight on the table are separated by just seven points.
While the Seattle Sounders are running away with the conference—they're 10 points up on Real Salt Lake in first place—they're also facing a lengthy break in action. This week, the rest of the Conference will be jockeying for position as everyone looks to catch up to Clint Dempsey and company.