1. Prepare for fireworks at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park: San Jose and Sporting Kansas City may enter this morning with question marks surrounding the availability of Chris Wondolowski and Graham Zusi (will they or won't they make the U.S. roster?), but this match promises plenty even without them. The positive deportment employed by both sides should ensure plenty of chances. San Jose's burgeoning confidence – further bolstered by that last-gasp show against Los Angeles on Wednesday night – helps, too. One particular set of matchups could determine the result as the match creeps into the late stages: Sporting center backs Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin versus San Jose strikers Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart.
2. Is the latest gut shot enough to inject some life into the Galaxy?: Cries rang out about perceived forms of injustice in the wake of San Jose's 3-2 victory in midweek. Those poorly founded complaints do not mask the real issues surrounding the overall quality of the 90-minute performances in Los Angeles these days. Saturday's difficult visit to Houston represents exactly the type of task flailing teams usually struggle to embrace. In order to start the recovery, the Galaxy must exhibit the base qualities required for success – commitment and solidity – against a dogged side in Texas and build from there.
3. Where is exactly rock bottom for FC Dallas right now?: Wednesday's 2-1 defeat at Chicago stretched FCD's barren run to seven games in league play (0-4-3). Absences and injuries have played a significant part in the slide, but mixed offseason priorities (example number one: the failure to acquire or develop an alternative to the ailing David Ferreira) and suspect performances deserve a share of the blame as well. A visit to Rio Tinto Stadium to grapple with in-form Real Salt Lake isn't likely to provide an answer to many, if any, of the concerns.
4. One of the hottest sides in the league plays at Crew Stadium: Columbus extended its unbeaten streak to four matches with a stunning 2-0 victory at Seattle on Wednesday night. Robert Warzycha has tied his starting XI together with bailing wire at points this season, but application and organization have carried the day in recent weeks even with Chad Marshall (concussion symptoms) unavailable. In-form goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum can expect more work to do when Chicago visits on Saturday night, though the Crew's bend-but-don't-break mentality should blunt a bit of the Fire's usual work on the counter.
5. Keep an eye out for the Canadian Championship hangover: Toronto FC and Vancouver will both attempt to use whatever motivating factors possible to avoid a letdown after the Reds prolonged their dominion over the Voyageurs' Cup in a tense midweek affair. Neither side should have to strain to find one or two methods of inspiration. Avoiding a 10th straight league defeat should sharpen TFC's senses against visiting Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, while the Whitecaps should feel plenty of motivation to shake off their fatigue for their visit to Cascadia neighbors Portland on Saturday night.
This season: 41/94 (44%)
Los Angeles @ Houston (2:30p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: The Oven isn't a place where teams will go to find salvation on a sunny Texas afternoon in late May (predicted high temperature: 90 degrees).
Prediction: Houston win.
Philadelphia @ Toronto FC (4:30p.m., Sportsnet One) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: If the Reds don't find a way to churn out a result in this game, they will probably see their nine-game winless drought in league play extend for a couple of weeks with trips to Sporting Kansas City and Houston on the docket.
Chicago @ Columbus (7:00p.m., Univision Deportes) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: This script could look awfully familiar from the Crew's showing on Wednesday night.
Prediction: Columbus win.
New England @ D.C. United (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: If only ex-United captain Clyde Simms could take the field against his former teammates.
Prediction: D.C. United win.
FC Dallas @ Real Salt Lake (9:00p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: The fresh bodies and the necessary energy reserves simply aren't there for FCD to reverse its poor run with a result at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Montréal @ Colorado (9:00p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: One obstacle the Impact's Serie A contingent (including recently signed Designated Player Marco Di Vaio, though he won't play until late June) did not face in Italy: altitude.
Prediction: Colorado win.
Vancouver @ Portland (10:00p.m., TSN/RDS 2) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Martin Rennie can change his side all he likes from the midweek visit to Toronto, but that wear and tear will inevitably extract some toll on the Whitecaps' performance at JELD-WEN Field.
Prediction: Portland win.
Seattle @ Chivas USA (10:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Frustrated Sounders FC + inconsistent Red-and-White at home = significant potential for an away victory.
Prediction: Seattle win.
San Jose @ Sporting Kansas City (2:30p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Expect a brisk and entertaining pace to this encounter between two of the league's presumed heavyweights. Could the challenge prompt Sporting to push forward from its draw in Colorado and wipe away that recent stretch of poor form?
Prediction: Sporting Kansas City win.
Follow KYLE MCCARTHY on or shoot him an email.