Welcome to Starting XI, our Friday rundown of what to watch for – and what we're watching.
Don't stop there, either. FutbolMLS has your Spanish-language fix as well.
1. TWO VS. ONE IN THE WEST: Despite what one of my colleagues says below about the Sporting KC-Toronto game, the choice of the weekend is Real Salt Lake vs. the Seattle Sounders (Sat., 2:30 pm ET, NBCSN, free stream on NBCSports.com). Easily. This is top-of-the-table stuff in the West – the better conference, of course – and a probable preview of an upcoming playoff series. And, man, the starpower – Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin, Brad Evans, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Javier Morales, Nat Borchers (yep, I said it) – I've got goosebumps already. – GREG LALAS
Thanks for having us yesterday LifeVantage. We had a blast. https://t.co/CQd65IhQLV— Nat Borchers (@natborchers) August 14, 2014
2. STUDENT MEETS THE MASTER: You have to imagine Gregg Berhalter circled August 16 on his calendar. It's his lone opportunity this season to face his old LA Galaxy and USMNT boss Bruce Arena head-to-head (unless they meet in the MLS Cup final). Arena's Galaxy are in the midst of yet another spectacular midseason run – 7-1-4 in their last 12 – so you'd think a little lesson in management might be in the cards after all the pregame pleasantries are out of the way Saturday evening (7:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE). Wax on, wax off, Gregg-san. – ANDREW WIEBE
3. JIMMY'S JON: Jon Kempin has played exactly 45 minutes of MLS action in his career. On Saturday, the Kansas City native will be forced into action with Sporting KC down two goalkeepers as the defending champs host Toronto FC in arguably the matchup of the weekend (8:30 pm ET, MLS Free Stream of the Week, TSN in Canada). Is the 21-year-old Homegrown ready to take on Bradley, Gilberto, possibly Defoe, et al.? He sure did pull a White Puma last weekend, stoning Darren Mattocks on a PK. Maybe Jimmy Nielsen – his coach for most of this season while on loan at OKC Energy FC – has shared some of those famous photocopies with him. – JONAH FREEDMAN
4. TIME TO MAKE A NEW FIRST IMPRESSION: I'll grant Ignacio Piatti this: He seems like a fascinating guy. Saying he was using the Montreal Impact as "a stepping stone" Piatti obviously got off on the wrong foot. So he arrives at Stade Saputo with a South American championship ring and plenty of reasons to impress his new teammates and fans. If he sees the field against the Chicago Fire on Saturday (6:30 pm ET, TSN2/RDS in Canada, MLS LIVE), big things will be expected of him, and a goal – or three – would certainly help him make amends. – ALICIA RODRIGUEZ
5. FALL DOWN FIVE TIMES... Get up six. The Seattle Sounders got punched in the mouth by the Galaxy two weeks back, but seemingly found themselves again against Houston last weekend. Then they romped over Chicago in the US Open Cup. Now they get to visit RSL on Saturday (2:30 pm ET; NBCSN, stream on NBCSports.com), and beyond anything else have to make sure that any misstep is just a stumble, not a catastrophe. – MATT DOYLE
6. BLAST FROM THE PAST: Of all the folks opining on Wednesday after Tottenham and the Seattle Sounders made a deal on DeAndre Yedlin’s future, my favorite tweet went to former MLSsoccer.com social media maestro Shawn Francis.
As he pointed out, Yedlin’s new deal came 11 years to the day that onetime MLS teen sensation Bobby Convey inked a deal with – you guessed it – Tottenham. Convey never played a game for Spurs because he was denied a work permit and he wound up with Reading for a few years before returning to MLS in 2009. His quote that day sounds not too dissimilar to what every kid – including Yedlin – says when they go: “I’m ready to prove that American soccer players can develop to the point we can compete at the highest levels of our game.” Stay tuned. – NICK FIRCHAU
7. TWEET OF THE WEEK: From one legendary 'keeper to another...
112 more shutouts and I'm tied with @NickRimando— Mike Magee (@magee9) August 10, 2014
8. SON OF A GUN: Last time we heard from Jonathan Klinsmann, son of US men's national team head coach Jurgen, he was making headlines for penning a now-infamous tweet about Landon Donovan. Now, thankfully, we can start talking about him for another reason after he was named to the US Under-18 squad for their tournament in the Czech Republic from Aug. 14-20. Klinsmann, a goalkeeper, made a verbal commitment to play in college at Cal earlier this year, so get used to hearing about him in non-Twitter contexts for some time to come. – NATE SULAT
9. THE NEXT HOMEGROWN STAR? Chances are, you might see the next DeAndre Yedlin playing in USL PRO, whether it's this weekend or in the next couple years. FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake – both relatively prolific producers of homegrown talent – announced their intentions this week to join the LA Galaxy in creating a USL PRO team, which should give those Homegrown players more opportunities to test themselves in a professional environment. The Vancouver Whitecaps are pursuing a similar option north of the border. In the meantime, you can start your search for the next Homegrown star when the LA Galaxy II face Oklahoma City Energy on Saturday at 8 pm ET, streaming live as usual on USL PRO's YouTube channel. – NICHOLAS ROSANO
10. AND THEY'RE OFF! The European season has already started for a handful of Americans, but the big show gets underway this weekend – the English Premier League. After an unforgettable World Cup for the USMNT, the likes of Geoff Cameron, Tim Howard and Jozy Altidore will be back with their clubs, competing in one of the most demanding leagues in the world. Just like riding a bike, right? – NICHOLAS ROSANO
11. SHAZBOT: Soccer lost a fan this week. Robin Williams played in college and has been a supporter of the USMNT for decades. RIP. – MATT DOYLE