Two games Wednesday open the last full week of Major League Soccer play before the league's 16-day World Cup break, and the local teams will be watching closely.
The Galaxy is home Saturday against Houston, and Chivas USA plays at New York. Houston and New York face off Wednesday at Red Bull Arena. Will the cross-country travel sap the Dynamo? Will the Red Bulls' heavy schedule -- Saturday's game will be their 12th in six and a half weeks -- provide Chivas greater opportunity to end a four-game skid?
Midweek slate (all times PT):
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2
Houston Dynamo (5-5-1, 16 points) at New York Red Bulls (5-5-0, 15 points), Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.), 4:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick
The Dynamo have gone win-loss-win-loss for 10 games, and they're coming off a last-minute loss to expansion Philadelphia, so they're on target to win. And the victories have been impressive. Brian Ching's return (from injury and the pre-World Cup camp), and goal off the bench against Philly, is cause for optimism. But Houston could be without starting defenders Mike Chabala (hamstring) and Eddie Robinson (ill), who were forced to depart in the second half last weekend. New York has lost four in a row after a 5-1 start, and they looked good against Columbus (in a 3-1 defeat) two weeks ago and for half of last weekend's loss to New England.
Columbus Crew (6-1-2, 20 points) at San Jose Earthquakes (5-3-1, 16 points), Buck Shaw Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.), 7 p.m., MLS Direct Kick
The Crew and Quakes look to bounce back from home losses of very different sorts. Eastern Conference leader Columbus played its best game in weeks, maybe of the season, behind orchestrator Guillermo Barros Schelotto, but L.A.'s defense would not be beat in a 2-0 decision. Defensive miscues cost San Jose in a 3-1 loss to Toronto FC, with former Chivas USA defender Jason Hernandez's errant backpass to goalkeeper Joe Cannon gifting the Reds' first goal, which ended a four-plus-game, 394-minute shutout streak. The Crew will want to build on its performance, and the Quakes will seek to improve their effort.