The top 11 questions heading into the weekend...
11) Can Panama stop the US juggernaut in the Gold Cup final?
Though the absence of a US-Mexico final is sad news for CONCACAF coffers, it seems pretty clear that the tournament's top two teams have made it to Sunday's showcase match at Solder Field in Chicago (4 pm ET, FOX/Univision). The Yanks and Canaleros are both undefeated this month and while the USA are the odds-on favorites, FC Dallas star Blas Pérez spearheads a tough, resourceful Panamanian squad.
10) Is Jack McInerney the biggest All-Star snub in MLS history?
As if Philadelphia Union fans weren't already bummed out to see their young striker miss out on playing time with the US national team, now it looks like he won't be taking part in the MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City next week (Wednesday, 9 pm ET, ESPN2, UniMas, TSN/RDS) despite his 10 goals this far (fourth-best in the league). Has any MLS goalscorer ever been done this wrong?
9) Will some good news on the stadium front put a bit of pep in D.C. United's step?
Thursday morning brought joy in the midst of a difficult campaign as the Black-and-Red announced a public-private partnership with the D.C. government to build a long-awaited soccer-specific stadium in the Buzzard Point neighborhood just south of the US Capitol. United are still wallowing in last place, yet they could have new life when the New England Revolution visit RFK Stadium Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
8) What's it going to take for Toronto FC to find a win?
Trillium Cup: Toronto FC vs. Columbus
A lengthy numerical advantage over Chivas USA due to Eric Avila's red card on July 17 didn't do it. An off day from the New York Red Bulls in last weekend's match at BMO Field didn't either. TFC attack hasn't scored in their last three matches and they've only tasted victory once since March. Perhaps Saturday's Trillium Cup visit from the Columbus Crew – struggling themselves at the moment – will do the trick (2 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week).
7) Will it be another “mosh pit” when San Jose host Portland?
That's the term Timbers coach Caleb Porter used to describe the Earthquakes' hurly-burly playing style when the teams met at Buck Shaw Stadium earlier this year. Since then the Quakes have evolved a bit under interim coach Mark Watson, but it's still a different path from “Porterball” and PTFC will have to come to grips with San Jose's physicality on Saturday night (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
6) Can the Union get it done in Vancouver without Conor Casey?
Give the burly striker credit: Let go by Colorado last year and seen by some as past his prime, Casey has done the business in Philly, where coach John Hackworth called him “a vital part of our team” this week. But the big man is suspended this weekend for the Union's daunting date with the Whitecaps, who are 7-2-2 since May 4 (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
5) Who will make the difference at Red Bull Arena: RSL's past, or their present?
Real Salt Lake fans are fond of calling RBNY “RSL East” on account of their former heroes Jámison Olave, Fabián Espíndola and Johnny Steele having moved to North Jersey over the winter. Now the Utah club visits its exes for a fascinating matchup: “The Team Is The Star” gang vs. the league's biggest payroll (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
4) Can Chivas USA continue their revival in Seattle?
It's a gradual change, to be sure, but the calendar does show evidence of the Goats' improvement under coach José Luis “Guero” Real. They're competing a bit more tigerishly and definitely leaking fewer goals – and now it's time to see progress in the attacking end. Will the injury-sapped Sounders provide that opportunity on Sunday night (11 pm ET, Univision Deportes, MLS LIVE)?
3) Will it be a happy homecoming for Pablo Mastroeni?
Colorado vs. LA | The Scouting Report
This weekend the man who for so many years was the face and heart of the Colorado Rapids makes his first return to Dick's Sporting Goods Park since his trade to the LA Galaxy, and it should be an emotional one. Mastroeni has plenty of memories in the Mile High city – plus his family is still in the Denver area waiting to wrap up the final stages of their relocation – and he'll have to manage those emotions should LA coach Bruce Arena call on him Saturday (7 pm ET, ESPN2).
2) Will Sporting Kansas City pile more misery on Montreal?
These two Eastern Division contenders have already had two fiery meetings this year and it's quite possible they'll see each other in the postseason. But at the moment, SKC are in the ascendency while the Impact are sleepwalking through a five-game winless stretch. Expect sparks to fly at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening (7 pm ET, TSN/RDS, MLS LIVE).
A two-game wobble earlier this month means the Chicago Fire are no longer undefeated with Magee, but opposing defenses have yet to notch a clean sheet since his arrival as the Fire frontline carves out changes with regularity. That's perfect motivation for Houston coach Dominic Kinnear and his back line as they host the Men in Red at BBVA Compass Stadium Saturday (9 pm ET, NBCSN).