Marquee Matchups: Midseason Meetings

Gaze upon the face of composure. - USA TODAY Sports

Upsets are at a premium this weekend.

MLS is approaching the halfway mark. With Independence Day looming, do you have any plans to watch extra MLS?

Toronto FC vs. Real Salt Lake // Saturday, 12:00 p.m. CDT, BMO Field, MLS Live

If we go with first impressions, this one looks like a no-brainer. TFC has struggled all season long and have no homefield advantage to speak of. They can't score, they can't defend, and they have only beaten DC United recently. Beating DC United is like stomping on your first goomba: They offer no resistance, and everyone does it. It's hard to take TFC very seriously at the moment, but a win against RSL would certainly help in their quest for respect.

On the other hand we have Real Salt Lake. They lead the Supporter's Shield race (though they have more games played) and don't show signs of slowing down. A Salt Lake team that looked to have a serious rebuilding year is being coached into a sharp, razor's edge team. They are coming off nice win in the US Open Cup and despite missing a few players, haven't had many missteps. The entire team is playing at least to their average level and having just defeated the Sounders, there's no reason to believe that they will drop any points at BMO Field.

The thing is, these things never play out quite the way they're supposed to. Toronto is average at best but perhaps they can find a way to sneak a point out of RSL.

LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes // Saturday, 9:30 p.m. CDT, Stanford Stadium, MLS Live

San Jose management has pulled out the big guns for this match, playing away from their usual grounds. They have opted for the much larger Stanford Stadium and have sold upwards of 40k+ tickets. It makes sense for many reason, not the least of which is perhaps a large crowd will revitalize the Quakes. San Jose has only played at Stanford Stadium twice before, but they have not lost in either of those games and have scored an impressive 6 goals while playing there. This is a different scenario than those that came before it, but there's something to be said for a large crowd cheering you on.

Perhaps the Quakes can find the extra gear they've been missing all season long. After the dead cat bounce came against the Rapids, they lost again to D.C. United.

The Galaxy haven't really been themselves all season long and have struggled lately, losing to New England and Salt Lake while drawing Portland at home. They recently beat Chivas, but that isn't saying much at all.

The Galaxy's biggest issue at the moment is goalscoring, having scored a poxy two goals in their last five competitive games. With Mike Magee now gone, it has become a bit easier for teams to close down on Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, as there has yet to be a reliably consistent threat for the Galaxy outside of those two. Gyasi Zardes shows moments of individual brilliance, but cannot yet be counted upon to deliver magic on a regular basis, and it would be unfair to expect it.

Their previously leaky defense has posted two shutouts in a row, but they'll need to score more than they have been to beat the Quakes.

New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo // Sunday, 1:00 p.m. CDT, Red Bull Arena, ESPN2

It's easy to decide who should win this game. In a Eastern Conference game involving Houston, you always pull for the other team.

The problem is that, at the moment, the Red Bulls aren't very good. They have lost their last three games, and the last two by multi-goal margins. It's not like they have been losing to the cream of the crop either, as they have posted a big ugly L against New England, Vancouver, and Philadelphia.

Part of the problem is that Tim Cahill went missing for international duty. What happened then? Suddenly the NY was as full of holes as Bonnie and Clyde's car. Without Cahill, the middle of the park is simply a nicely manicured entrance for teams to walk through into the NY defense, and therein lies their greatest problem.

Their defense has been, to put it politely, horrid.

The entire defensive unit is disorganized, disheveled, and lacking any leadership. The NY back line loses runners during the run of play, they regularly "clear" the ball right back at an attacker, or sometimes simply stand around, hoping someone will clean up the mess for them. They have allowed nine (**9**) goals in the last three games.

While not enough can be said about how bad the defense has been for New York, they can always count on leading All-Star goalkeeper and all-around SuperStud, Luis Robles, to bail them out constantly with his perfect position and solid handling.*

The less I say about the Dynamo, the better. I've already said their name twice, and if I say it again Dominic Kinnear will show up in my office and try and give an interview.

Let it be enough to say this about the current team in Orange: They're mediocre. Blah. Go Red Bulls.

*Haha... No. Not at all.

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