LA Galaxy’s Steven Gerrard is likely to make his MLS debut on this week’s edition of Viernes de Futbol at 11 p.m. ET on Friday (UniMás) at StubHub Center. Gerrard will step right into the fire of one of Major League Soccer’s hallmark rivalries—the California Clásico. The San Jose Earthquakes (7-7-4) topped the LA Galaxy (8-6-7) by a score of 3-1 when the clubs met at Stanford Stadium for a Heineken Rivalry Week showdown on June 27. However, Gerrard’s arrival may tilt the scales. The Liverpool legend made his debut in a Galaxy kit during LA’s 2-1 win over Mexican side Club América in an International Champions Cup match on Saturday. While all eyes were on Gerrard (who played 45 minutes), Robbie Keane absolutely stole the show with a first touch and finish of pure class (WATCH HERE). Both clubs will be without marquee players currently competing in the Gold Cup. San Jose has lost two straight matches without Chris Wondolowski, while LA is maneuvering around the departures of Gyasi Zardes and Omar Gonzalez. The Quakes, five points outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, need to weather the storm of Wondolowski’s absence in order to stay with striking distance of a playoff spot.
No Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley? No problem for the Reds. Sebastian Giovinco put on a breathtaking performance for the sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium during Sunday’s match versus New York City FC. The Atomic Ant recorded the third fastest hat trick in MLS history between the 34’ and 43’ marks of the first half (WATCH HERE). He followed that up by dishing a beautiful assist to Marco Delgado for the go-ahead goal in the 82nd minute (WATCH HERE). As long as Giovinco is on the field, Toronto FC has a chance to win, and the Italian is setting the bar for this year’s MVP race. The Reds (7-7-3) trail D.C. United by 11 points on the Eastern Conference but have four games in hand. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Union (6-10-4) enters this match on the heels of arguably its best performance of the season. Philadelphia picked up its first-ever win against the Portland Timbers and extended its unbeaten run to three games thanks to three assists from Cristian Maidana and a brace from Vincent Nogueira. Jim Curtin’s offense is coming alive at the right time as the Union remains in position to contend for a playoff spot.
Timbers and ‘Caps duel in Cascadia
The Portland Timbers (9-7-4) welcome in Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-8-2) to Providence Park for a 10:30 p.m. ET kick off Saturday night (TSN). The Timbers have done an excellent job of defending their home turf as they’re winners of five straight at home since May 27 and are 6-1-3 overall at Providence Park. Playmaker Diego Valeri has been particularly effective against Vancouver Whitecaps FC netting once and adding six assists in seven career appearances against the Vancouver outfit. The ‘Caps come into the match on a two-game losing streak, but are 1-1-0 against the Timbers this season and will be eager to stop the skid against their Pacific Northwest rivals. With a victory, either team would jump Seattle Sounders FC in the Cascadia Cup standings.
Chicago Fire and Crew SC meet in Midwest clash
The Chicago Fire (5-9-3) travel to MAPFRE Stadium to play Columbus Crew SC (6-7-6) as they wrap up Week 20 on MLS Soccer Sunday at 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, TSN2). Crew SC can’t wait to return home after coming off of 3-0 loss to Montreal Impact on the road last week. Columbus is 2-0-1 in their last three matches in MAPFRE Stadium with Kei Kamara netting nine of his 12 goals this season at home. Chicago is coming off of their first ever victory over defending Supporters’ Shield holders Seattle Sounders FC in a 1-0 win at home behind Jason Johnson’s Goal of the Week nominee stoppage-time winner (WATCH HERE). Upon making his first start since last August recovering from hip surgery, Mike Magee netted twice in the Fire’s 3-1 victory over the Charlotte Independence in the Round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup on July 1st. Since then, the Fire are 2-0-1 and are riding a wave of momentum into MAPFRE Stadium.