PREVIEW: WEEKEND PORTUGUESE ACTION
Oguchi Onyewu hopes to overcome a groin injury against Gil Vicente on Monday, while Tony Taylor and Caleb Patterson-Sewell will likely start when Atlético returns to action after an extended break.
Sporting Clube de Portugal - Gil Vicente FC
After sitting out Thursday's Europa League win against Vaslui, it remains to be seen whether Onyewu will be fit to take on the Roosters of Gil Vicente in the Estádio José Alvalade.
Gooch's customary partner in central defense, Alberto Rodriguez, also missed the midweek clash but the pairing of Anderson Polga and Daniel Carriço held the Romanians scoreless, perhaps giving Domingos Paciencia confidence that he need not rush his regulars back from injury.
Sporting will enter the game having not lost in any competition since August, and find themselves just three points behind league leaders Porto and Benfica.
The newly promoted visitors sit in a respectable ninth place, though in their only games against top competition, away matches at Porto and Braga, they have suffered a pair of 3-1 defeats.
Atlético CP - Leixões SC
Having not played since the first weekend of October because of the international break and a round of cup matches, Atlético will finally return to the field in a matchup of the Liga Orangina's top two teams.
Led by Patterson-Sewell, the Atlético defense has recorded four shutouts in six league games on their way to first place.
The former USL star will face his toughest test of the season, however, when Atlético travels to the Estádio do Mar and takes on second place Leixões, who have scored at least one goal in each game this season.
The visitor's offense will likely be spearheaded by Bruno Carvalho with Tony Taylor adding to the attack from the right wing.
A victory for Atlético would extend their unlikely run at the top of the standings, while a loss would draw the hosts even at 13 points.