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Marquee Matchups: Thin Squads

The Gold Cup is taking its toll on many rosters.


Who's ready for some slightly less-attractive MLS action this weekend?

New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact // Saturday, 6:00 p.m. CDT, Red Bull Arena, MLS Live

This match has potential, if only because the prominence of the Quebecian team has significantly mitigated the Red Bulls' ability to be most talked about team in the northeast.

The these two teams have split the season series so far, both having won one game apiece. The Impact are coming off a fairly tame (some might say poor) result where they only managed to tie Chivas USA near the end of the game. Montreal has stumbled a bit lately and the average age of its players is starting to become a concern. For a team that looked like a staunch SS contender, the results lately have been a bit underwhelming. A recent loss to up-and-down Colorado doesn't help their case any.

The Red Bulls has lost four out of their last five, and looked yuk-tastic doing it. It's hard on the Red Bulls to say they have been all-around poor, as several factors played into their loss of form, including the absence of Tim Cahill. They're going to have to conjure up more than shiny moments from Thierry Henry. While neither team is really near their best form, the edge goes to Montreal as they have proven they can get results away at tough stadia.

And their uniform is better.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders // Saturday, 9:30 p.m. CDT, Buck Shaw Stadium, MLS Live

Osvaldo Alonso might actually play a game for the Sounders. That should give Seattle fans hope that perhaps they won't watch their team running around like headless chickens in the midfield (Dallas fans have resigned themselves to the decapitated chicken diamond-formation a month ago).

The real issue is with the Quakes, who have been awful and are now missing Chris Wondo(w)lowski. There isn't really a great deal of hope, though they're playing in their home stadium. The Sounders with Ozzie on the field should be able to smash through SJ with little to no effort., especially as poor as the Quakes' defense has been this season. Without their smartest player on the field, it'll be up to Marvin Chavez to orchestrate much of the threat, and a one man army isn't enough to take down the Sounders, even at home.

That being said, the Sounders haven't quite looked like they're fully performing to the expectations heaped upon them. There have been a few misfires in their team, even when they're winning. Obafemi Martins has bene ruled out of the game, and Shalrie Joseph isn't looking too likely either. Going away to play with Ozzie isn't as exciting with those two out of the lineup.

They're winning though. Book it.

Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy // Saturday, 10:00 p.m. CDT, Jeld-Wen Field, NBC Sports

The Overexposure Derby will take place at Jeld-Wen Field, in front of the entire nation, where Arlo White will be sorely missed. It's sad for me to see White gone. Despite his role as the Sounders broadcaster for two years (and his affinity for them), the man had talent. I don't like my broadcasts of American soccer to all sound like Downtown Abbey, but Arlo (and the fantastic Ian Darke) was always more than welcome on my TV. It'll be great to see him in the EPL, but I can't help but feel the broadcast has suffered without him.

The Timbers will be missing more than a few key players, with the likes of Will Johnson, Frederic Piquionne and Rodney Wallace missing out on the action. The Galaxy will be without Landon Donovan.

There aren't any more "statement games" (I hate that phrase) needed for the Timbers to stamp their authority on this season. They have done that already in spades, and hosting the Galaxy is just another opportunity for Portland to steal more points from a dangerous conference rival. If they can manage to do so with three important starters out, it will be even more impressive.

The match will be, as usual, starting at a very late time. My espresso machine will be overworked for this one.

There is a special addendum this week, by the way.

Things More Fun Than Watching the New England Revolution vs. the Houston Dynamo:

- Scuba diving

- Surfing

- Any computer game

- Root canals

- Body cavity searches

- Being slowly pecked to death by an ostrich.