MLS 2012, Week 16 Preview And Fixtures: Who Has Any Gas Left In The Tank?

SANDY, UT - JULY 4: Head coach of the Seattle Sounders Sigi Schmid reacts to a call during a game against Real Salt Lakeduring the second half of an MLS soccer game July 4, 2012 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake and the Seattle sounders tied 0-0.(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Midweek matches lead to sloppy play, usually. Let's hope that isn't the case this weekend.

MLS has always had to deal with small rosters and a miniscule salary cap. It has been blamed for the league's sometime sub-par quality of play and that is never more evident than when teams are faced with fixture congestion. Pretty much anytime teams are forced to play midweek it creates the kind of fixture congestion that results in sloppy play.

This is the tradeoff for taking the CONCACAF Champions League seriously and not playing on international dates. The league has to play more midweek matches to make up for the missed weekend dates and they pay for it with less than aesthetically pleasing play.

In midweek action this week, 14 teams played matches and all 14 of those will be back on the field this weekend. The forecast is calling for ugly play and the winners will be whoever has any gas left in the tank. Does anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo

Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live

So is Sporting back? Not really. They still struggle to generate width, which is shocking considering some of the players they can put out wide, especially on the right, and they could use some help at the back. Carlos Bocanegra is going to be at the match, you say? Let's fire that rumor machine up!

Pick: Kansas City, 2-1.

Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers

Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live

Is Salt Lake winless in their last four or are they turning it around after getting a draw against the Sounders on Wednesday to snap a three-match losing streak? Yes.

Pick: Salt Lake, 1-0.

FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Saturday, 9:00 pm. ET, MLS Live

This was supposed to be Dallas' year. Two years ago they had a great late run and went to MLS Cup, but they were young and needed some seasoning. In two years they would be ready. This would be the year they came good and would dominate the league. In related news: HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Pick: Duhhhhh, 2-0.

Chivas USA vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

The third place team in the Western Conference should be a MLS Cup contender, especially when they are just four points back of second place with two matches in hand, so are the Whitecaps a MLS Cup contender? Nobody seems to want to say it, but it's July now. They've proven themselves. They are for real.

Pick: Vancouver, 1-0.

Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids

Saturday, 11:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

It feels like every match nowadays might be Sigi Schmid's last with the Sounders. That is unless you want to absurdly put the spotlight on Fredy Montero, who has somehow managed to underachieve with 18 goals and 12 assists as a 23-year-old. Done laughing? Yeah, let's stick to Sigi.

Pick: Seattle, 1-0.

Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy

Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Can Omar Gonzalez save the Galaxy's sinking ship? Bruce Arena is counting on it because it doesn't look like there are any other brilliant ideas coming out of the Home Depot Center. No, Frank Lampard is not a brilliant idea.

Pick: Chicago, 2-1.

Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC

Sunday, 4:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live

At some point in the last month or so both of these teams became real professional outfits capable of kicking the ball to other players in the same color shirt. Who would've guessed it?

Pick: Draw, 1-1.

New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls

Sunday, 7:00 p.m. ET, Galavision

It's New York vs. Boston! It's a natural mega-rivalry! This is going to be great! Or maybe something that is the complete opposite!

Pick: Empty Seats, 100-0.

Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew

Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

A challenger to the Revs and Red Bulls in the empty seat contest! And with worse soccer!

Pick: Draw, -1--1

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