MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: Portland Timbers vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: MLS Playoffs Knockout Round – Portland Timbers vs. Sporting Kansas City 

Venue: Providence Park – Thursday, October 29 – 22:00 ET (02:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Portland Timbers 5/6 – Draw  5/2 – Sporting Kansas City 100/30

Match Preview

Portland Timbers face Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference knockout round on Thursday night in the final game from the opening round of MLS Cup Playoff games.

Separated by just two points in the regular season, Portland come into the game with the worrying stat that they haven’t scored in all three matches with SKC this season hanging over them.

Remarkably, Portland’s home form has been worse than their away form this year. So an away win for SKC is definitely not out of the question.

Portland Timbers’ 2015 MLS Record: P34 – W15 – D8 – L11

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

This will be just Portland’s second MLS Playoff campaign. They made it to the Western Conference finals in 2013 as Sporting Kansas City went on to lift the MLS Cup.

Sporting Kansas City managed to win the last meeting between the sides on October 4 so they have the advantage in that respect.

They come into this game off the back of a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy on Sunday and will hope that a poor second half of the season can be put behind them now they’ve made the playoffs.

Sporting Kansas City’s 2015 MLS Record in MLS: P34 – W14 – D9 – L11

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With just three wins from their last twelve, they are fortunate to have made the postseason and can be thankful for their very good start to the season.

These sides met three times during the regular season, with just one goal being scored over the 270 minutes as two 0-0 draws were followed by a 1-0 SKC win in Portland at the start of October.

Team News

Portland Timbers are without Ben Zemanski who is still recovering from an ACL injury, while Will Johnson is still a doubt with a leg injury.

Sporting Kansas City have four injury concerns. Ike Opara, Roger Espinoza, Seth Sinovic and Amadou Dia are all set to miss out as Peter Vermes may go with an unchanged team to the one that won on Sunday.

Key Points

Portland Timbers’ last five: W/L/W/W/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: D/W/L/L/W

Key Stat: Portland Timbers haven’t beaten Sporting KC in any of the last four games between the two sides. There has only been a total two goals in those matches.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – The USMNT midfielder has been the outstanding player in this SKC squad this season and if they are to progress he will need to play a huge part.

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Score Prediction

Portland Timbers 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – With the better form, Portland are favourites for this one. Although in a one-off playoff game, anything can happen. Sporting Kansas City will be in good spirits after Sunday’s win over the Galaxy but we’re edging more towards Portland than Kansas City here.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

Competition: Major League Soccer Regular Season – Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls 

Venue: Toyota Park – Sunday, October 25 – 19:00 ET (23:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 23/10 – Draw 14/5 – New York Red Bulls 1/1

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host New York Red Bulls on Sunday night in the regular season finale. The Fire will regrettably finish bottom of the Eastern Conference regardless of their result on MLS Decision Day.

Their position in the table is justified down to the fact they are the only team in MLS to have a points-per-game ratio of under 1.00.

With one win in eight, this season has ended on a sour note and they will be hoping to at least give their fans something to cheer about on the final day.

Chicago Fire’s record in MLS: P33 – W8 – D6 – L19

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New York Red Bulls have run away with the Eastern Conference this year after consistent performances throughout this term.

Currently battling FC Dallas for the Supporters’ Shield, a prize they won in 2013, the Red Bulls know that a win would more than likely see them lift the silverware due to a superior goal difference.

And with three wins in their last four, New York will feel extremely confident of securing their second Supporters’ Shield in three years here.

New York Red Bulls’ record in MLS: P33 – P17 – D6 – L10

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Team News

Chicago Fire are without Adailton, Eric Gehrig and Sean Johnson who have suffered season ending injuries. Ty Harden is a doubt with an adductor strain but could feature.

New York Red Bulls are missing three senior players with Chris Duvall, Roy Miller and Anatole Abang all missing through injury.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: L/L/L/W/L

New York Red Bull’s last five: L/W/W/L/W

Key Stat: Chicago have won only once in their last eight matches in MLS.

Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The USMNT star has been a standout addition to MLS this season and has transformed the Red Bulls’ midfield. Expect him to be key on Sunday.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 0-2 New York Red Bulls – The Red Bulls are hunting the Supporters’ Shield and Chicago are confined to last place in the MLS standings. We can only see one outcome.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: Gillette Stadium – Saturday, October 17 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: New England Revolution 10/11 – Draw 13/5 – Montreal Impact 14/5

Match Preview

New England Revolution host Montreal Impact on Saturday night only needing a point to secure their place in the Eastern Conference playoffs, with Montreal needing all three to guarantee theirs.

Without a win in three, the Revs have stuttered and supporters will feel they should probably be sitting in second in the Eastern Conference instead of in fourth.

Winning seven of their last eleven has helped to keep them in the playoff slots but they need to get over the line now and a win, or even draw on Saturday will see that happen.

New England Revolution’s record in MLS: P32 – W13 – D8 – L11

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Montreal Impact have been the surprise package of this season’s MLS season and deserve a slot in the playoffs as a result.

Orlando City’s win on Friday night means they are only a point clear of the Lions coming into the last two fixtures. They have won four of their last six and could secure the last playoff place with a win on Saturday.

A special mention has to be made for Didier Drogba, who has been little short of amazing so far in his short Montreal career, acting as a catalyst for the side and also adding valuable goals to their cause.

Montreal Impact’s record in MLS: P32 – W13 – D6 – L13

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Team News

New England Revolution are only without Darrius Barnes for this one as the defender is set to miss the rest of the season.

Montreal Impact are without Cameron Porter, Kenny Cooper and Andres Romero as all three remain out. Justin Mapp and Kyle Bekker are both doubts.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s last five: W/W/L/D/L

Montreal Impact’s last five: W/W/L/L/W

Key Stat: New England Revolution are unbeaten in their last six home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Didier Drogba – The Ivorian striker has had a sensational impact on Montreal (no pun intended) and looks set to fire them into the playoffs this year.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 1-1 Montreal Impact – Both sides have had good seasons, although New England will feel they should have done better. But with the playoffs in sight for both, we think a score draws seems most likely. Montreal need the point more than the Revolution at this stage.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer Regular Season – FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Sunday, October 4 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 3/4 – Draw 15/4 – Houston Dynamo 100/30

Match Preview

FC Dallas look to push for the Western Conference and continue their hunt for the Supporters’ Shield on Saturday night as Houston Dynamo visit Toyota Stadium for the third Texas Derby of the year.

With two losses in a row, Dallas have lost control of top spot in the Western and need to get back to winning ways quickly to stay within contention with just three weeks to go.

However, their recent form suggests they are prone to a slip up, having lost five of their last eight in MLS and winning the Supporters’ Shield may now be a bridge too far.

FC Dallas’ record in MLS: P29 – W14 – D5 – L10

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Houston have lost both previous meetings in this season’s rivalry, with a 2-0 loss and a 4-1 drubbing leaving them without a chance of claiming El Capitan in 2015. The Dynamo have remarkably lost 2-0 away from home five times this season, so scoring on the road is no easy task for Owen Coyle’s men.

And with just three wins in their last eight they have remained short of the form necessary for a playoff berth.

Houston Dynamo’s record in MLS: P31 – W11 – D8 – L12 

They are, surprisingly, only three points off Portland in the race for sixth in Western Conference and so a playoff spot is still theirs to play for as we approach the end of the regular season.

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Team News

FC Dallas have two first teamer’s doubtful as Dan Kennedy and Bakary Soumare missed the loss to LA Galaxy and may miss the visit of Houston.

Houston Dynamo will be without Jermaine Taylor who has a right quadricep tear and will miss the trip. Kofi Sarkodie has a bruise on his right knee but should be fit to feature.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: W/W/W/L/L

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: FC Dallas have won six of their last seven at home in MLS.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The sensational winger has proven once again this season what an asset he is to Dallas and MLS. The Columbian has become the main man for Dallas and as such we believe he will inspire another home win.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 2-0 Houston Dynamo – After an impressive stint at home and with the playoffs edging closer, we expect Dallas to ease to victory, probably earning a clean sheet in the process to seal this year’s Texas Derby series with a 100% record.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders 

Venue: Sporting Park – Sunday, September 27 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle Sounders 2/1

Match Preview

Saturday night sees fourth play fifth in the Western Conference as Sporting Kansas City host the Seattle Sounders at Sporting Park. Sporting KC come into the game in a dismal run of form with just one win in seven.

They have been imperious at home, however, managing to only lose once as they remain strong contenders for the MLS Cup, so long as they can hold on to their playoff spot.

It’s interesting to note that SKC boasted the best points-per-game record in MLS earlier in the season and looked to be on course for the Supporters’ Shield title this year.

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They may not be battling at the top end now with four weeks to go but a US Open Cup final is in store and they will be planning for a successful playoff run too.

Sporting Kansas City’s record in MLS: P29 – W12 – D8 – L9

Seattle have had a whirlwind season that has been hindered by injuries. Star men Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are seemingly back to full fitness and ready for the playoffs now. Their absences have cost Seattle dearly but with them both in the side, the Sounders are a real force.

At one point it looked like the Sounders wouldn’t make the playoffs but they remain three points behind the Western Conference leading Vancouver Whitecaps and are putting some solid form together now.

They remain a strong outfit in MLS and should be a force to fear in the playoffs, providing their key men can stay fit.

Seattle Sounders’ record in MLS: P30 – W14 – D3 – L13 

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

Team News

Sporting Kansas City are still missing Ike Opara with a ruptured achilles tendon, while Roger Espinoza is also out with an ankle fracture. Amobi Okugo and Tim Melia are both doubtful.

Seattle Sounders are without three players through injury. Roman Torres, Andres Correa and Andy Craven are all set to play no part through respective injuries.

Key Points

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Seattle Sounders’ last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Seattle have failed to score in the two previous meetings between the two sides so far this year.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – Easily the most influential player on the pitch in terms of his vast experience and eye for goal this season. As well as ten goals, he also has ten assists. It’s been an impressive season for Feilhaber and we expect him to be key on Saturday.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Seattle Sounders – Should be an entertaining game providing a lot of attacking play as both sides tend to not be afraid to get forward. A low scoring draw is what we’ve gone for.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New England Revolution vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union 

Venue: Gillette Stadium – Saturday, September 26 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: New England Revolution 4/6 – Draw 3/1 – Philadelphia Union 15/4

Match Preview

New England Revolution host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night and will look to recover their imperious form after suffering a 3-0 loss to Montreal last time out.

New England’s current form sees them in a strong position going into the playoffs as they look certain to be MLS Cup contenders once again. A win here will guarantee a playoff spot and the home fans will expect nothing less than three points.

Being only two points off the Eastern Conference leading Red Bulls, the Revs have a strong chance of still winning the conference, and with back-to-back MLS Cup finals a real possibility, the Revs are a force to be feared.

New England Revolution’s record in MLS: P30 – W13 – D7 – L10

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At the opposite end of the Eastern Conference are the Philadelphia Union, who have lost half of their 30 MLS games so far this year.

Currently sitting six points off Montreal Impact in the hunt for the last playoff spot, the Union are basically all but out of the race for that prestigious sixth spot, unless something truly special happens for them.

They are sitting second from bottom in the Supporters’ Shield standings with four games to play, so it’s been another tough season and there’s plenty of room to improve once more going into the next campaign.

Philadelphia Union’s record in MLS: P30 – W9 – D6 – L15

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Team News

New England Revolution are still without Darrius Barnes as he is still out with a torn patellar tendon. However, the rest of Jay Heaps’ squad are available and will be fighting for starting roles.

Philadelphia Union will be missing Jimmy McLaughlin through a concussion injury. Andrew Wenger, Fernando Aristeguieta and Brian Sylvestre are all doubts but could feature.

Key Points

New England Revolution’s last five: W/W/W/W/L

Philadelphia Union’s last five: W/L/W/L/W

Key Stat: New England have only lost once at home in their last 25 MLS matches.

Key Player: Lee Nguyen – USMNT playmaker Nguyen is the gem of the pack and a huge asset to his side. Expect him to create countless chances and cause the Union’s defence real problems from the outset.

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Score Prediction

New England Revolution 2-0 Philadelphia Union – We’re not expecting any surprises here as New England are one of the teams to beat at the moment in MLS. And away from home, the Union have only managed three wins. Comfortable home win for us.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo 

Venue: PPL Park – Sunday, September 20 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 11/10 – Draw 13/5 – Houston Dynamo 9/4

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union will be in search of their first home win since July 11 when Houston Dynamo visit PPL Park on Sunday night.

Only winning two of their last nine, Philly have shown a recent run of form that justifies their current standing of ninth in the Eastern Conference. However, they only remain three points off the playoffs even if Montreal Impact (currently sixth) have three games in hand.

They are without a win in their last four matches though, so the Union may struggle to seal three points here.

Philadelphia Union’s record in MLS: P29 – W8 – D6 – L15

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Houston Dynamo haven’t been much better this season, having only won twice away all season. Owen Coyle’s men will feel that this has been another year of transition but they will also feel that they should be higher than they are in the standings.

The Dynamo finally have star striker Erick Torres back but he has yet to complete 90 minutes for them. If he gains full match fitness, he could be vital to any playoff hopes the Dynamo still have in the West.

Currently six points off the playoffs, Houston have it all to do, but it’s not unmanageable and a win in Philadelphia would keep hopes alive.

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They will need to transform their form to stand any chance as they are without a win in their last five away matches in MLS.

Houston Dynamo’s record in MLS: P28 – W9 – D8 – L11

Team News

Philadelphia Union will be without Jimmy McLaughlin who is suffering with concussion. Maurice Edu and Andrew Wenger are both doubtful.

Houston Dynamo are missing Jermaine Taylor, DaMarcus Beasley, Kofi Sarkodie and Luis Garrido through injury. Midfielder Alex is doubtful with a right hamstring strain. Raul Rodriguez is suspended through yellow card accumulation.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: D/W/L/W/L

Houston Dynamo’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Key Stat: Houston have won only once in their last ten matches on the road in MLS.

Key Player: Brad Davis – Fully fledged USMNT veteran Davis is integral to the Dynamo and has either assisted or scored in his last four games for Houston.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-1 Houston Dynamo – This one really could go either way. You can expect a goal fest that could see an open, entertaining affair or it could be a boring draw. We expect both teams to score in a tight contest, but we’re hoping for some goal action.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Toronto FC vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Toronto FC vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: BMO Field – Saturday, September 19 – 14:00 ET (19:00 BST)

Match Odds: Toronto FC 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – Colorado Rapids 11/4

Match Preview

Toronto play host to Colorado Rapids on Saturday, looking to end a dismal run that has seen them lose their last three on the bounce.

Currently sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference, Toronto look set to seal their first playoff appearance in MLS. Much of their success is down to the signing of Sebastian Giovinco, who is the favourite for the MLS MVP award come the end of the regular season.

Toronto’s recent form however, is leaving them with a bit to do yet to secure the playoff spot. They’ve lost six of their last nine and are without a clean sheet in their last four – worryingly poor form at this stage of the campaign.

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A 2-0 loss at New York City on Wednesday night failed to improve their fortunes and there is now a lot of pressure on the team ahead of this clash.

They have been better at home though, conceding half the amount they have conceded away from home.

Toronto FC’s record in MLS: P28 – W11 – D4 – L13

Colorado will feel aggrieved by the playoff qualification rules of MLS due to the current position they lie in. Currently bottom of the Western Conference on 34 points, the Rapids would be in a playoff place if they competed in the Eastern Conference.

The Rapids haven’t endured the worst of seasons away from home, despite their current standing, and will travel to Canada confident of picking up a win.

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They have, however, only managed to score eight away from home, which isn’t good enough in a league full of goals and will need to attack Toronto in this one to seal three points.

Colorado Rapids’ record in MLS: P28 – W8 – D10 – L10

Team News

Toronto FC remain without Mark Bloom, Daniel Lovitz and Clement Simonin through injury. Jackson Goncalves is doubtful with a quad injury and Benoit Cheyrou in nursing an ankle injury but should be fit to feature.

Colorado Rapids’ Luis Solignac has been ruled out as he is still suffering with a hamstring injury and defender Axel Sjoberg has an undisclosed injury.

Key Points

Toronto FC’s last five: W/W/L/L/L

Colorado Rapids’ last five: W/W/W/L/D

Key Stat: Colorado have only managed to score in five of their 13 away games this season.

Key Player: Clint Irwin – The Rapids’ ‘keeper probably isn’t going to be the best player on the park but how well he plays will directly affect the outcome. If he can keep Giovinco and Jozy Altidore out, then the Rapids could leave with a point, or maybe three.

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Score Prediction

Toronto FC 0-0 Colorado Rapids – A boring prediction we know, but given the records and statistics gathered it would be wise to assume a low scoring affair. If we were going to pick a winner, Toronto are the more likely, but a scoreless draw is what we are predicting here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer Regular Season – FC Dallas vs. New York City FC

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, September 12 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 7/10 – Draw 3/1 – New York City FC 7/2

Match Preview

FC Dallas host expansion franchise New York City FC on Saturday night as they look to cut the four point difference at the top of the Western Conference.

Dallas have the potential to top the Supporters’ Shield standings if they win both their games in hand on Vancouver Whitecaps.

They look to have bounced back from a recent dip in form after back-to-back wins they mean business and will feel confident heading into this one.

FC Dallas’ record in MLS: P26 W13 D5 L8

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New York City FC are at the opposite end of the MLS standings, with just one win in their last six, reflecting a difficult month for City.

NYCFC have failed to register an away win since the fifth of july, when they defeated Montreal Impact 2-1. And as such have slipped down the Eastern Conference.

New acquisition Frank Lampard has struggled to make much of an impact for his side and NYCFC look short of the playoffs this term, despite still being in with a shot.

New York City FC’s record in MLS: P27 W7 D7 L13

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Team News

FC Dallas may be without duo Mauro Diaz and Dan Kennedy who are both suffering with minor injuries. Bakary Soumare is also a doubt with a concussion.

New York City FC are missing George John, Tony Taylor and Connor Brandt. Javier Calle, Khiry Shelton and Mehdi Ballouchy are all doubts.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five in MLS: L/L/L/W/W

New York City FC’s last five in MLS: L/W/D/L/L

Key Stat: FC Dallas have won five of their last six at home in MLS.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The Columbian winger is proving one of the most exciting talents in MLS and his pace and dribbling have drawn in many suitors from Europe, stopping him will be a priority for NYC on Saturday night.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 3-1 New York City FC – Dallas will be favourites for this one as they are extremely consistent at home. New York may cause problems for the MLS title contenders but we expect Dallas to ease to three points.

MLS Preview and Prediction: San Jose Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: Avaya Stadium – Friday, August 28 – 23:00 ET (04:00 BST)

Match Odds: SJ Earthquakes 7/4 – Draw 5/2 – LA Galaxy 7/5 

Match Preview

San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy meet in the third and final California Clasico match of the 2015 regular season on Friday night in a game that should kick off the second Heineken Rivalry Week in fine style.

The Western Conference rivals are two of the hottest teams in MLS coming into this, with seven wins from seven between them. But something will have to give here.

San Jose extended their winning run to three with an impressive 2-0 win over DC United last weekend, following up the incredible 5-0 triumph at Sporting Kansas City on the Wednesday before.

A return to Avaya Stadium will further boost their chances as a first California Clasico series win in three years is in touching distance.

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The Galaxy have won each of the last two series but know their dominance is under threat ahead of what will be a very tricky away game.

LA come into this looking for a fifth-straight win in MLS. Last Sunday’s 5-1 demolition of NYCFC moved them to the top of the Western Conference and they also lead the Supporters’ Shield standings after 25 weeks.

Their away form has improved since Giovani Dos Santos arrived and the Galaxy will look to the Mexican, as well as Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard for inspiration when they play at Avaya Stadium for the first time ever on Friday evening.

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The Galaxy beat the Quakes 5-2 at StubHub Center in the most recent meeting, just weeks after San Jose win 3-1 at Stanford Stadium. More goals are expected here in what should be a thriller.

Team News

For San Jose, Innocent Emeghara remains a long-term absentee, while Steven Lenhart, Jordan Stewart and  Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi also remain sidelined. Matias Perez Garcia and Fatai Alashe remain doubtful but should feature.

LA Galaxy have four concerns. Brian Perk remains out for the season, while Jose Villarreal, Baggio Husidic and Todd Dunivant still remain questionable and are unlikely to feature. Giovani Dos Santos and Robbie Keane will look to continue their frightening partnership in attack.

Key Points

San Jose Earthquakes’ last five: D/L/W/W/W

LA Galaxy’s last five: L/W/W/W/W

Key Stat: LA have only won one of their last 11 regular season meetings against San Jose away from home.

Key Player: Chris Wondolowski – The Quakes forward thrives in games like this. He has three in his last two and scored in the earlier season clash at Stanford Stadium. Expect Wondo to be heavily involved on Friday night.

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Score Prediction

San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 LA Galaxy – Difficult to split the sides on paper going into this. Goals are expected between two attacking sides but a draw looks the most likely outcome. That would see the Galaxy win a third-straight California Clasico series on goal difference, so the Earthquakes must set out to win if they are to be celebrating.