FC DALLAS (10-5-3) vs. COLUMBUS (6-5-8)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol
The exploits of Juan Toja and the unexplained absences of Carlos Ruiz have overshadowed somewhat the performances of midfielder Arturo Alvarez and defender Clarence Goodson this season.
They scored the goals Wednesday night as FCD beat Charleston, 2-1, in the U.S. Open Cup, to build further on momentum begun last week by beating Colorado, 1-0 on a goal by Drew Moor and some spectacular goalkeeping by Ray Burse.
Prior to the Rapids match, FCD hadn't won in its last five games, having tied D.C., 3-3, lost to Mexican club TIgres in a friendly, and failing to win any of its three SuperLiga games.
In the only game Goodson missed this season, FCD conceded six goals in losing to Los Angeles, 6-5, to crash out of the SuperLiga.
Toja limped out of the Charleston game with a high ankle sprain and won't face the Crew, which is 2-1-2 in its last five league games and tied Chicago, 0-0, last weekend. Guillermo Barros Schelotto took over the Crew scoring lead with a modest four goals by netting twice against Toronto two weeks ago, and Alejandro Moreno, while he hasn't scored since June 24, has taken second place (behind Schelotto) in assists with five.
The Crew sits in eighth place overall, the final playoff spot, and to stay there or move up it needs points in the road, where it is 1-4-4 this season and plays six of its last 11 games.
COLORADO (4-9-6) vs. HOUSTON (10-6-4)
Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, HDNet
Houston holds just a one-point lead over Dallas in the Western Conference after losing at Real Salt Lake, 1-0, last weekend in its fifth game in 13 days. The games bunch up again next week, with a Tuesday SuperLiga meeting against Pachuca and a home shootout with Dallas the following Sunday, and the Dynamo needs all three points to assure it will be in first place when its Texas neighbors come calling.
The Rapids are reeling from a humiliating 5-0 thrashing by Seattle of the USL in the Open Cup. They haven't won in their last 10 league games, either, but failed to get at least a tie out of last week's 1-0 loss to Dallas because of some sharp goalkeeping and one costly miss.
Recent signing Daniel Osorno helped revive the attack, but Nicolas Hernandez has yet to shake off his malaise: he missed on a rebound from an angle that was sharp but far from impossible. Herculez Gomez triggered some good attacks as a sub and might get the start.
Dwayne DeRosario scored twice - once from distance and once from a few inches - when Houston beat Colorado, 3-1, at DSG Park in May. The team's terrible form started with that game: it has won two of 15 league games to sour the mood in a brand-new stadium.
RED BULL NEW YORK (8-7-3) vs. TORONTO FC (5-9-5)
Sunday, 5 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv
A layoff since July 26 may refresh the Red Bulls, outscored by a 7-2 margin in July while winning two and losing three. They stole a win at BMO Field June 6 with a patchwork lineup and two goals by Juan Pablo Angel, whose scoreless streak coming into this game is at five games.
Angel had a header cleared off the line and hit the woodwork with another shot when New York lost to Chivas USA, 2-0, and a flick to the far post just missed a teammate, so he isn't playing poorly. He's just in the midst of those barren runs all scorers must endure, and a TFC team far short of full strength might be ripe for his revival.
John Wolyniec got the Red Bulls' last goal, in a 1-0 victory over D.C. United July 22 in front of 14,705 fans, the team's second-largest home crowd of 2007.
Six TFC starters sat out a 0-0 tie with the Galaxy last weekend but captain Jim Brennan (fractured ribs) got back in the lineup and went the full 90 minutes. Danny Dichio, hobbled by a hip flexor and a sore back, may be on the game-day roster, but Andrew Boyens (concussion), Ronnie O'Brien (torn meniscus), Marvell Wynne (pulled hamstring), and Jeff Cunningham (abdominal injury) aren't expected to appear. Post-concussion problems have ruled keeper Greg Sutton out for the season.
NEW ENGLAND (9-4-6) vs. LOS ANGELES (3-6-5)
Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, Galavision
How David Beckham's ankle reacts to the 20 minutes he played Thursday in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United will determine if - and when - Coach Frank Yallop decides to send him out on the Gillette Stadium FieldTurf. For the second straight game, Alan Gordon labored up front before being substituted.
The Galaxy struggled until midway through the second half, when the ejection of Kyle Martino, the entrance of Beckham, and the insertion of forwards Carlos Pavon and Edson Buddle sparked Landon Donovan and Co. to life.
Yet few teams, even ones in good form, in this league are capable of bouncing back sharply from a Thursday night loss to win on Sunday, but this game marks the midpoint of the season for the Galaxy and a chance to atone for a 3-2 home loss to the Revs in May. Taylor Twellman scored twice after the Revs had fallen behind, 1-0, and they won the match on Twellman's strike in the 85th minute.
How the Revs came out of a 2-1 win over Harrisburg in the U.S. Open Cup may shape personnel decisions for Revs' coach Steve Nicol. Central defender Michael Parkhurst sat out the match with a right knee injury he suffered last weekend against D.C. United in a 3-0 defeat. United's 1-0 win over the Galaxy Thursday night moved it into second place just three points behind the Revs with a game in hand.