On the national TV front, TeleFutura presents a rare Saturday-Sunday double and Fox Soccer Channel presents perhaps the weekend's best match, that vital Western Conference tussle in Sandy, Utah.
(All Times Eastern)
TORONTO FC (7-7-6) vs. D.C. UNITED (6-4-10), 4 p.m., TeleFutura
Both teams got smoked by Real Madrid last week. The difference was TFC gave up three goals in the first 20 minutes in a 5-1 loss and D.C. held out for more than an hour before succumbing, 3-0.
The TFC backline may be without Nick Garcia and Marvell Wynne because of injuries, and the team has signed left back Lesly Fellinga and released defender Marco Velez, and teenager Emmanuel Gomez has shown some promise in friendlies, and forward Chad Barrett is suspended, and Amado Guevara played for Honduras Wednesday in a 4-0 rout of Costa Rica, so who knows who will play?
United midfielder Ben Olsen is suspended and backup Brandon Barklage is on season-ending IR. It won its first two visits to BMO Field but TFC took the most recent encounter, 1-0. In May, the teams tied, 3-3, at RFK. Prediction: TFC 2, United 1.
COLUMBUS (9-3-9) vs. FC DALLAS (6-9-5), 7 p.m., Direct Kick
The Crew finished strong to beat San Jose, 3-0, in San Francisco last week with three late goals, and will probably have Guillermo Barros Schelotto healthy after a short absence due to a hamstring strain. Midfield fulcrum Brian Carroll is suspended, so it may be time to pair up Danny O'Rourke and Adam Moffat in the middle. Robbie Rogers set up a goal and scored one against the Quakes.
FCD has won two straight by shutout after not posting a bagel the entire season, and striker Jeff Cunningham has scored eight goals in the past five games. But Pablo Ricchetti is suspended, and FCD is 1-6-2 on the road this season.
Prediction: Crew 3, FCD 1.
NEW YORK (2-15-4) vs. CHIVAS USA (8-7-3), 7 p.m., Direct Kick
Most struggling teams would regard a game against the Red Bulls as the MLS equivalent of a get-well card, but Chivas USA is reeling from a five-game league losing streak. New York has also lost five in a row, is winless in its last 12, and is starting a five-game homestand that ordinarily would be boon to a team's playoff drive. Quite a matchup.
Both teams will be shorthanded. Chivas USA's injury list is still a long one, and defender Shavar Thomas is suspended. For New York, Carlos Mendes and Mac Kandji are out, Juan Pablo Angel and Jorge Rojas are questionable, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic is suspended. Both teams were pasted 4-0 by Colorado in their last league matches, which makes this game a toss-up, or tosser, as the case may be.
Prediction: New York 1, Chivas USA 1.
REAL SALT LAKE (7-8-5) vs. HOUSTON (11-6-5), 9 p.m., Fox SoccerChannel/Fox Sprots en Espanol
RSL posted a vital home win last weekend, beating Seattle, 1-0, on a goal by Robbie Findley, who replaced Yura Movsisyan. Findley scored during an improved second half during which RSL prevented the Sounders from putting a shot on goal. A rotator cuff ailment may sideline Movsisyan again this week.
Houston pulled out a 3-2 home win over Chicago Sunday with a late penalty kick from Stuart Holden, who played Wednesday - as did Brian Ching and Ricardo Clark - against Mexico in a 2-1 loss at Azteca Stadium. The Dynamo has conceded three goals in the first five minutes of the second half in its last two games, yet still managed to win.
Prediction: RSL 2, Dynamo 2.
LOS ANGELES (7-3-10) vs. SEATTLE (7-5-8), 11 p.m., Direct Kick
The Sounders haven't scored in three straight games and are 0-4-3 in games on grass as former Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid and veteran midfielder Pete Vagenas return to HDC, where they lost, 2-0, to Chivas USA in April. Defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is suspended. A team meeting was held this week to address issues, such as sliding out of the playoff frame.
Five wins and a tie in the last six matches have propelled the Galaxy up the standings, past Seattle, and into second place. Landon Donovan and David Beckham played for their national teams in midweek and how they recover is a crucial factor in how this game plays out. But the general rule of thumb - play the team in form, especially at home, against a reeling opponent - still applies.
Prediction: Galaxy 2, Sounders 0.
KANSAS CITY (5-7-6) vs. CHICAGO (8-4-8), 3 p.m., TeleFutura
Interim head coach Peter Vermes takes charge of a game for the first time since the sacking of Curt Onalfo. Davy Arnaud and Claudio Lopez are suspended and Kansas City has scored just one goal in its last four games, so open auditions are being held to determine if recently signed Hungarian forward Zoltan Hercegfalvi and rookie Graham Zusi deserve a starting spot more than veterans Abe Thompson and Adam Cristman. Arnaud and Lopez have each scored five goals: the rest of the team, which means just three players, have netted a combined total of nine.
Chicago lost a tough game last week in Houston, falling 3-2 on a penalty kick after scoring twice in three minutes to wipe out a 2-0 deficit. They won three road games in a row back in May and this looks like a prime spot to get another one, but with Brian McBride, Gonzalo Segares and Tim Ward out, and Wilman Conde and John Thorrington questionable, and Cuauhtemoc Blanco recovering from 56 minutes in Azteca Wednesday, the home team simply cannot afford to lose.
Prediction: Wizards 2, Fire 1.
RIDGE MAHONEY'S 2009 PREDICTION RECORD
Last week: 3-3. Season: 76-73.