Marquee Matchups: Independence Edition


Burgers, buddies, and battles. The 4th of July is here.

Independence Day is here, and all of America will turn out and celebrate the greatest overthrowing of tyranny since the Magna Carta.

Burgers are great, soccer is great, and both will be had tomorrow and this weekend.

Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact // Wednesday 6:00 p.m. CDT, BMO Field, MLS Live (I hope, MLS doesn't have it listed)

It's no secret that there is a massive sports rivalry between the cities of Toronto and Montreal. It's most present in the NHL, but it spills into almost everything, and MLS isn't exempt.

This is the grudgingest of grudge matches, as Montreal were responsible for eliminating Toronto from the Voyager's Cup and cutting off their run of success that saw them qualify for many consecutive CCL tournaments. Not only did Montreal defeat TFC. They humiliated them on the second leg, scoring six goals and allowing none. Toronto will be looking for payback.

There is a slight hitch in TFC's plans for revenge though: Toronto are a terrible team. They have lost to Real Salt Lake just last week, making it their fourth home loss of the season, good (bad?) enough for worst in MLS.

Montreal are coming off a loss at home as well, this time to the Colorado Rapids. I don't think though that there is any doubt as to which team is the favorite in this contest. Toronto have the home-field advantage, but that's nothing on which they can hang their hat on.

The reason to watch this game is that in a heated rivalry match such as this, anything can happen. If Robert Earnshaw busts out a Haduken to send Richard Eckersley flying into the stands, I wouldn't be surprised. It will have fouls, vitriol, and hopefully drama.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps // Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. CDT, Sporting Park, Univisión Deportes

Here are two inconsistent teams, though they both carry that label with slightly different meaninigs. Sporting is usually great, and mediocre in spurts. Vancouver is usually mediocre, but great in spurts. It makes the match a bit of a toss up in terms of predictions.

Sporting will be looking to get a home winning streak going again, as the last time they won at home was in the 4-0 thumping of Chivas back on the 5th of May. A couple of losses and a draw later, and SKC need that home mojo back to really challenge for the Eastern crown. With Kei Kamara looking to transfer overseas as soon as possible, Sporting need to get every bit of performance out of him should the likely event of him leaving come to pass. Kamara has been as advertised since his return, and it could be said that without Kei in the lineup, Sporting would be looking at a much uglier record in the past month.

Vancouver meanwhile are on a three game winning streak, and one more win will break their league record (they've only been in MLS since 2011, so there's that). There is no doubt that Camilo is an enormous part of their success, having scored four matches in a row. A lot of the Caps' scoring woes are directly tied to his performance. His struggles early in the season were partially to blame for Vancouver's stuttering start to the year. With Camilo back on track, the Whitecaps have scored seven goals in their past three games.

Sporting haven't been great at home lately, but I don't see them losing to a Canadian team on 'Muhrican soil on the eve of the fourth. It would be heresy.

Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo // Saturday, 8:00 p.m. CDT, BBVA Compass Stadium, MLS Live

The Houston Dynamo's vaunted homefield fortress is a thing of the past, and with the Union coming to town to test their mettle, things will not get any easier for Houston.

Philadelphia have been in solid form lately, though they will be missing Jack McInerney (the man, the myth, the legend) due to national team obligations. This might be an issue, as McInerney is responsible for an enormous amount of their goals, and his runs and threat open up space for other Union players to exploit.

Houston's standard tactics of physicality and roughness inside the box, coupled with a few set piece threats, should be enough to give Philly fans cause for concern. To say that Zac MacMath "makes some bad decisions" is like saying "Texas kinda likes BBQ". It's a massive understatement.

Philly has been decent this season and are showing signs of improving, but I think their weaknesses line up (unfortunately for them) perfectly with Houston's strengths. With McInerney gone, I don't see them scoring more than a goal against the Dynamo.

Food For Thought:

1) What will you be doing on the 4th of July weekend?

2) Pick this week's surprise result

3) How do you feel about FCD's chances against LA?

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