The Western Conference Roundup is a series of weekly articles dedicated to taking a look around a very competitive Western Conference as the race for Playoffs begins to ramp up. With this strong conference separated by only a few points in many areas of the standings, every match increases in importance as we steam through the second half of the 2016 MLS season.
FC Dallas took a break from MLS play last week and captured a 2-1 victory over Real Esteli FC from Nicaragua in CONCACAF Champions League match play. They will face off against Western Conference foes LA Galaxy in an Open Cup matchup on Wednesday, Aug. 10 before heading back home for a MLS clash with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Colorado continued to put pressure on conference leaders FC Dallas with a 2-0 victory against the Whitecaps at home with goals from Marlon Hairston and Dominique Badji. They will look to continue their unbeaten streak this season against the LA Galaxy with an away clash at the StubHub Center on Saturday. With a win and a FC Dallas loss, Colorado could see itself tied atop the standings by week’s end.
Real Salt Lake rebounded from a close road loss to Toronto FC earlier in the week with a big 3-1 home win against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. Javier Morales recorded his first brace of the season to draw RSL level with rival LA Galaxy in the standings. RSL heads to Seattle for the first time this season on Sunday, hoping to avenge their recent loss to the Sounders in Open Cup play.
The Galaxy came back from a 2-0 deficit to force a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls at home on Sunday. Late goals from Mike Magee and Ashley Cole extended the Galaxy’s unbeaten streak to eight games. They continue their three-game home slate with an Open Cup clash against conference-leading FC Dallas on Wednesday and a MLS match with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday that could see the club close in on second place in the conference.
Sporting KC suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Portland Timbers last week in a match that included both teams going down a man. Sporting KC gained an advantage early in the match when Diego Chara was handed a straight red in the 12th minute, but the advantage was short-lived as their own Soni Mustivar was sent off a mere 27 minutes later. Sporting KC will continue their tough road slate with a clash against FC Dallas on Saturday, which could see the club level with either third place Real Salt Lake or forth place LA Galaxy in the packed Western Conference standings.
Portland secured an important 3-0 home victory against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday to stay in playoff contention. After going down a man just 12 minutes into the match, they rebounded with three second-half goals to put pressure on Sporting KC in the standings. The Timbers head on the road for a two-game away slate starting with a clash against D.C. United on Saturday.
Dancing below the line of playoff contention, Vancouver Whitecaps FC fell to the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on the road on Saturday. They will look to rebound against the San Jose Earthquakes at home on Friday in a match that could see them break through and put themselves into the playoff picture.
The Earthquakes continued their four-game unbeaten streak with a scoreless draw against New York City FC on Friday. San Jose managed to hold the Eastern Conference leaders without a goal for the first time in their last 11 matches. The Quakes will get the opportunity to eclipse Vancouver in the standings and inch closer to playoff contention with a win on the road Friday.
Seattle snapped a four-game winless streak with a big 3-1 win on the road against Orlando City on Sunday. Clint Dempsey recorded his second career hat trick and first of the season as the Sounders captured an important three points heading into a two-game home slate. Facing off against Real Salt Lake on Sunday, they hope to capitalize on home field advantage and start a potential run towards a playoff berth.
The Dynamo continued to struggle on the road, giving up a late goal and falling to the Montreal Impact 1-0 on Saturday. Houston will look to rebound at home in a matchup with Toronto FC, as they look to climb out of the bottom spot in the Western Conference standings.