MLS Week 26 Preview: International Week

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RYAN BRISTER

Major League Soccer continues its practice of allowing teams to play during international breaks. There are six games this week (one already having taken place), which is six more than many people think the league should be playing. The teams in action will be without some of their best players as a result.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. New York Red Bulls, Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Red Bulls travel west to face a Vancouver side in desperate need of a win. The Whitecaps are winless in seven, and have fallen to ninth in the Western Conference. Due to international duty, Sacha Kljestan and Kemar Lawrence will not be available for the Red Bulls. Vancouver will be without Kendall Waston, Blas Perez, and Giles Barnes.

New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

New England and Colorado may well be fighting for a single goal on Saturday night. The Revs have failed to score in four straight games, and Colorado has by far the league’s staunchest defense. Jermaine Jones will not get a chance to face his former team; he’s rehabbing from injury. Tim Howard is with the USMNT, and for New England, Kei Kamara is with Sierra Leone.

Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

This is the third and likely final game of the year between these sides; the home team won in each of the first two. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake is with Jamaica on international duty.

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers, Saturday at 9 p.m.

With seven games remaining, Dallas is the front-runner for the Supporters’ Shield. They’ll try to keep up that pace against Portland, who knocked them out of the playoffs last fall. Dallas loses Maynor Figueroa, Carlos Gruezo, Tesho Akindele, and Kellyn Acosta due to international duty. Alvas Powell, Jermaine Taylor, and Darlington Nagbe will miss the game for the Timbers.

LA Galaxy vs. Columbus Crew SC, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

LA hosts Columbus in the final game on Saturday night. The Galaxy haven’t won since July, while Crew SC has only started sputtering towards life of late. The Crew are particularly hamstrung by international duty: Waylon Francis, Tony Tchani, and Justin Meram are all out. It’s the injury bug that plagues LA; they will be without Gyasi Zardes, Jelle Van Damme, and Steven Gerrard.