6 Key Battles for MLS Matches from August 8-10

John D. Halloran@JohnDHalloranContributor IIAugust 7, 2014

6 Key Battles for MLS Matches from August 8-10

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    Now that the MLS All-Star match is over, in which Major League Soccer’s all-stars defeated Pep Guardiola’s German champions Bayern Munich 2-1, attention in the league will go back to its regular-season matchups and the emerging battles for playoff positions in both the Eastern and Western conferences.

    Here are six key battles for this upcoming weekend in MLS.

LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes

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    One of the best battles this weekend should be one between Western Conference rivals, as the LA Galaxy host the San Jose Earthquakes. But, surprisingly, when these two traditional MLS powerhouses meet, it may not be their powerful offensive talents on display, but their defenses.

    The Galaxy have the league’s best defense in 2014, having only conceded 17 goals this season. However, the Earthquakes are nearly as good having only given up 20 goals this year—good for second best in the league.

    The Galaxy are also one of the hottest teams right now in the league, having only lost one out of their last 11 games and are making their traditional late-season push. The Galaxy’s offense is clicking with Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes playing well and the Robbie Rogers-at-left-back experiment proving to be a revelation.

    For their part, the Earthquakes are in eighth place in the West and seven points out of a playoff position, desperately needing points out of the match.

Seattle Sounders vs. Houston Dynamo

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    Things could get exciting when the Houston Dynamo travel to Seattle to play the Sounders this weekend, as the Dynamo have the league’s leakiest defense and the Sounders have the league’s second-most-potent offense.

    There are also serious playoff implications on the line too as the Dynamo, who have been one of the league’s best teams over the past few years, are currently five points off the pace in the East.

    Seattle will certainly make the playoffs in the West, but are battling for home-field advantage and are only one point behind Sporting Kansas City in the Supporters’ Shield race. The Sounders have also lost two straight and will be looking to get things back on track.

FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids

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    This Western Conference battle on Saturday night could have serious playoff implications as FC Dallas currently sit in fourth place on 33 points with the Colorado Rapids only three points behind in fifth place.

    Both teams will be looking to create some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers still solidly in the playoff picture in the West at the moment.

    In terms of recent form, Dallas hasn’t lost in its last seven games, while Colorado will be looking to reverse its recent skid of two straight losses.

Real Salt Lake vs. D.C. United

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    Despite the fact that these two teams play in different conferences, when D.C. United travels to Real Salt Lake this weekend, the race for the Supporters’ Shield will be a big factor for both squads.

    Real are currently three points behind Sporting KC in that race and RSL hasn’t lost in its last four games.

    D.C. United, who have pulled a remarkable turnaround in 2014 since their disastrous 2013 campaign, are two points behind Sporting in the Supporters’ Shield race. United have also won four of their last five games.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls

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    It’s hard to know what to make of either the Chicago Fire or the New York Red Bulls at this point in the season. The Fire can’t seem to win a game, but they’re also tough to beat—having tied an amazing 13 times so far in 2014.

    After frustratingly giving up another lead last weekend to draw the Columbus Crew 1-1, 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee tweeted that Chicago will make the playoffs.

    For their part, the Red Bulls boast the most dynamic attacking duo in the league in Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry, but haven’t separated themselves from the pack. They’re currently fourth in the East, but five teams below them in the standings are within six points.

Columbus Crew vs. Toronto FC

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    In another interesting Eastern Conference matchup, Toronto FC will travel to Columbus to face the Crew this weekend. Toronto FC is currently in third place with 29 points, but the Crew are lurking just two points behind them in fifth place on 27 points.

    Toronto has experienced a remarkable turnaround in 2013, but still can’t seem to top the best teams in the East. Following back-to-back losses to Eastern Conference leaders Sporting KC and D.C. United, Toronto got things back on track with a confidence-building win over the lowly Montreal Impact last week.

    Columbus could also use the points at home this weekend with four other teams battling them for the last playoff spot in the East. The Crew are currently unbeaten in their last three matches.

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