After a week that was significantly altered by friendlies, we're back to a full slate of games this week.
Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m., Friday (Fox Soccer)
Figuring out the Rapids continues to be among the more difficult things to do this MLS season. In the past week, they've beaten up on the New York Red Bulls and tied the New England Revolution at home. Facing a very good Union team on the road would seem to be a pretty tough matchup. The Union are one of just three MLS teams yet to lose at home, but that may be a bit deceiving. In nine matches, they have yet to win by more than one goal and have scored more than one goal just twice. This should be a good test for both teams. Pick: Union 2-1.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 8 p.m., Saturday (Fox Soccer)
Down in the dumps and sinking even deeper, this is not the kind of game the Whitecaps need right now. The Galaxy come into the match riding a 13-match unbeaten streak and have claimed more points in their past eight matches (16) than the Whitecaps have claimed during their entire 21-match schedule (15). If Landon Donovan is back to full health and David Beckham is recovered from his 90-minute performance at the All-Star Game, this could get out of hand quickly. Pick: Galaxy 2-0.
Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders, 8:30 p.m., Saturday
No team can match the Sounders' five wins in their past six MLS matches. The only question is how much have their losses to Manchester United in a friendly and a 1-0 loss to San Francisco FC in CONCACAF Champions League qualifying thrown them off their game. The Dynamo are coming a 3-0 loss at Chivas USA, but have been much better at home. There are no such thing as must-win games when 10 teams makes the playoff and a third of the season is still left to play, but a win would be very helpful for Houston. Pick: Sounders 1-0.
Sporting Kansas City vs. New England Revolution, 8:30 p.m., Saturday
Are a road win at DC United and a tie on the road against the Rapids enough to get the Revs' season turned around? They are obviously positive signs, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. This is still a team with serious issues and they didn't exactly look dominant in either of those results. Sporting are playing as well as anyone right now, unbeaten in 12 and 3-0-3 at home. They are also coming off a 4-2 demolition of Toronto FC, and appear to have regained their scoring touch. They will be without starting center back Aurilien Collin, which does test their depth. Pick: SKC 2-1.
Pile on Alvaro Saborio all you want, but whether or not you think his dive last week was an insult to game of soccer, it could turn out to be the turning point in RSL's season. The subsequent 4-0 thrashing was their biggest win of the season and now gives them victories in three of their past four games, a stretch which has seen them outscore their opponents 12-4. The Crew seem to have settled into a somewhat predictable run where they beat bad teams, but can't beat good teams. Don't expect that to change this week. Pick: RSL 3-1.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. DC United, 10:30 p.m., Saturday
Two teams that seemed poised for playoff runs just a relatively short time ago are both suddenly struggling. United have won just one of their past eight, while the Earthquakes haven't won any of their past eight. Both teams are still trying to find identities right now, and the Earthquakes have recently made some significant personnel moves. This just feels like a tie. Pick: Tied 1-1.
Portland Timbers vs. Toronto FC, 11 p.m., Saturday
Not much has gone right for either of these teams lately. The Timbers are no longer unbeatable at home and TFC are still trying to figure out who they are. Both have shown signs of improvement, with the question being if either can put it together in time to salvage this season. Pick: Tied 2-2.
FC Dallas vs. Chivas USA, 7 p.m., Sunday (Galavision)
This should actually be a pretty interesting matchup. Justin Braun is coming off his second hat trick of the season, Nick LaBrocca is coming off his first All-Star game and the Goats are unbeaten in their last five. The Toros continue to look like a team that should compete for the Supporters' Shield and are coming off a nice road win over Alianza in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying round. A road win in Dallas is probably a bit much to expect, but it's not quite as shocking as you might think. Pick: Dallas 2-1.