MLS Week 14 Preview: Rocky Mountain Cup, more

Image, Coloradorapids.com

With the USMNT involved in European friendlies on Friday and Tuesday, several Major League Soccer teams will be without key players this weekend. The thirteen games from Wednesday to Sunday are marked by key matchups out west. Seattle goes to Kansas City, Vancouver visits LA, and the Rocky Mountain Cup resumes on Sunday.

DC United vs. Chicago Fire, Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

DC United hosts the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium tonight. Crumbling RFK will likely be United’s home for another two years after this, with delays befalling their plans for a new stadium. But a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests the team has considered ditching the stadium they fought so hard for and leaving the District for a quickly-built stadium in suburban Virginia. That seems like a dumb idea!

Chris Rolfe will be suspended against his former team for kicking out at Vincent Nogueria last week.

Philadelphia Union vs. Columbus Crew SC, Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

The Crew won 4-1 when they played the Union at Mapfre Stadium in April. Now Philly gets their chance to host the black and gold and make amends for a particularly ugly performance. A win for the Union would jump them up to fifth place in the East, albeit with the most games played of anyone. Michael Parkhurst is suspended for Columbus after his handball red card from last week.

Montreal Impact vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Wednesday at 8 p.m.

These teams will meet twice in August, well after the Women’s World Cup, to determine the Canadian Championship and a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. The stakes are somewhat lower for tonight’s regular-season match. Montreal has beaten two Western Conference sides at home, and will be looking to add a third scalp to their collection.

Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls, Friday at 9 p.m. on UniMas

The Red Bulls make their second Friday night to trip to Texas, this time to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The Dynamo are coming off an uneasy draw at Yankee Stadium, but have the better form of late. The Red Bulls have won just once since April 17th, a seven game stretch that has earned them just six points.

Philadelphia Union vs. New York City FC, Saturday at 7 p.m.

While other teams have yet to meet in 2015, the Union and NYCFC will play their third and final game against each other on Saturday. Philly hosts the match, like they did in April, when Vincent Nogueira scored a stoppage-time winner. City is hoping that they can grab some revenge and finally snap their 11-game winless streak.

DC United vs. Toronto FC, Saturday at 7 p.m. 

Something good appears to be building in Toronto, but now TFC has to take that on the road to the top team in the East. Michael Bradley, of course, will not be available to the Reds due to being on the USMNT squad. As for the hosts, this will be their fourth game in ten days. Ben Olsen has managerial work cut out for him if he’s to keep up DC’s habit of piling up points.

Columbus Crew SC vs. Montreal Impact, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Montreal Impact have played four road games so far this year, and they’ve yet to score. Will that change Saturday night in Columbus? The Crew have been pulled back to a draw late in each of their last two games.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

No team has more points in MLS than the Seattle Sounders. No team has more points over their last five games than Sporting Kansas City. Those trends collide in Kansas City on Saturday night. SKC is undefeated so far this year at Sporting Park. The Sounders will be without Ozzie Alonso, who was suspended for a challenge he made in Sunday’s game.

Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Kaka comes to Chicago for the first time with Orlando City on Saturday. Entering the week, the Lions and Fire are level with 14 points; Chicago’s extra win has them in a playoff spot with Orlando looking up. Brek Shea will be missing for Orlando, as he’s in Europe with the USMNT.

LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

Montreal to LA in three days. That’s the schedule for Vancouver this week. A game between two of the Western Conference’s best will undoubtedly be affected by that travel, namely in how Carl Robinson chooses his lineup. The Whitecaps’ dominant win against the Galaxy earlier this season  in Vancouver was their best performance of the year, but it feels long ago now. Gyasi Zardes, who scored last week against New England, will be absent due to international duty.

Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution, Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

Quietly, New England hasn’t won any of their last five games. Four draws in that span have kept the Revs in second place, but in all four of those games, they scored first. Eventually they’ll have to find a way to hold onto results. Against Portland, they will be without Juan Agudelo, who has been called up to the USMNT. For their part, the Timbers must be jealous of the second-place struggles of their visitors.

Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPNews

The Rocky Mountain Cup gets relegated to ESPNews on Sunday, making room for college baseball in the usual ESPN2 spot. There was a time when this was one of MLS’s premier rivalries, but this week it’s a duel between the bottom two teams in the West. RSL has won the trophy in seven of the last eight years, and swept the three games they played in 2014. Kyle Beckerman, who has been on both sides of this, has USMNT responsibilities abroad.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas, Sunday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1

On one hand, FC Dallas is third in the Western conference, with 21 points, off to a largely good start to the year. On the other, they’ve lost two games by 4-0 margins, the largest blowouts in MLS this year. So it’s hard to know what to make of them as they head to Avaya Stadium to take on the San Jose Earthquakes. When they met earlier in the year, Dallas eked out a stoppage-time victory at home.