1. Sporting Kansas City laments the always unfortunate All-Star knock: Every manager dreads the prospect of one of his players sustaining an injury during the midsummer exhibition match. Sporting manager Peter Vermes watched it unfold on his own sideline as Graham Zusi jogged over to him and told him he needed to come off during the first half. Zusi departed with a right quad strain and subsequently landed on the injury list as doubtful for Saturday's visit by New York. One bright spot for Vermes as he attempts to alter his plans: starting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen will likely make the lineup after recovering from a bout with meningitis.
2. New York faces its own questions with Tim Cahill sidelined: The former Everton man visited Kansas City instead of training with his teammates. Why? He isn't expected to feature for the next couple of matches after sustaining a knee injury in the 4-3 victory over Real Salt Lake last Saturday. The burden now likely falls on Eric Alexander (a useful contributor out wide) to reprise his central midfield role from his FC Dallas days and partner Dax McCarty for the date at Sporting Park.
3. Real Salt Lake grapples with selection concerns ahead of Colorado visit: RSL coach Jason Kreis already knew he would travel to Commerce City without suspended fullbacks Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert. He must now contemplate the prospect of omitting Yordany Alvarez from his squad as well after he reportedly received a three-man ban for his tackle on Cahill last weekend, according to a revealing interview by RSL defender Nat Borchers on ESPN 700 (Salt Lake City) on Thursday. The return of Kyle Beckerman offers more than enough cover for Alvarez's likely absence, but the Claret-and-Cobalt must find a way to compensate in defense to prevent the in-form Rapids (unbeaten in six) from claiming all three points in this Rocky Mountain derby.
4. Shalrie Joseph provides Seattle with summer flexibility: The veteran midfielder agreed to terms on a new, non-Designated Player contract on Thursday, according to a release from Sounders FC. Joseph's decision – one that likely includes some sort of guaranteed money for at least next season in exchange for a lower budget hit now – allows Seattle to pursue a DP capable of offering additional creativity in the center of the park.
5. Toronto FC finally reinforces...at left back: Reds boss Ryan Nelsen promised summer signings. He probably did not have the signing of a well-traveled left back from the Swiss second division in mind. Oddly enough, that particular league has supplied a handful of useful players (Montréal midfielder Felipe, first and foremost) over the past couple of years. TFC will hope newly arrived Jonas Elmer can perform to a similar standard at a reasonable cost as its rebuilding efforts continue for the foreseeable future.
Last Forecast: 3/9 (33%)
This season: 73/173 (42%)
Sporting Kansas City – New York (6:30p.m., NBC Sports Network) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Injuries will peel away some of the glamor from this game. Sporting must unsettle the Red Bulls' makeshift pairing in central midfield to ensure the visitors do not steal away with a point, too.
Prediction: Sporting Kansas City win.
D.C. United – Montréal (7:30p.m., TVA Sports) – Goal.com preview
Overview: United will not claim a result in this match without a significant improvement from the performance submitted against New England.
Prediction: Montréal win.
Philadelphia – Chicago (8:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Every defender on the field must pay rapt attention in this affair with the likes of Mike Magee, Jack McInerney and Chris Rolfe floating around to find space in dangerous areas.
Colorado – Real Salt Lake (8:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Rocky Mountain Cup matches often turn into compelling scraps with the points shared between the sides. The circumstances here – particularly those RSL absences and Hendry Thomas' one-match ban – could open up this game a bit more, though.
Houston – Columbus (9:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Every match from now until the end of the season constitutes a job interview of sorts for Robert Warzycha. He cannot afford see his side stumble here (and suffer a sixth defeat in seven attempts) or anywhere else with new investor/operator Anthony Precourt carefully running the rule over all aspects of the club.
Prediction: Houston win.
San Jose – Chivas USA (10:00p.m., UniMas) – Goal.com preview
Overview: The absences of Alan Gordon and Marvin Chávez due to suspension make this task a bit more awkward than Mark Watson would prefer. But if the Earthquakes can take a page from Seattle's book and focus their efforts in the wide areas, then they will succeed anyways.
Prediction: San Jose win.
Seattle – FC Dallas (10:30p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Sounders FC boss Sigi Schmid must weigh whether to disrupt the successful Obafemi Martins – Lamar Neagle pairing to restore Eddie Johnson to the side. He will probably plump for Johnson after his international success, but the U.S. forward must repay that faith with tangible production in front of goal.
Prediction: Seattle win.
Portland – Vancouver (11:00p.m.) – Goal.com preview
Overview: Whitecaps boss Martin Rennie must cope without the services of the suspended Gershon Koffie and Jun-Marques Davidson for this trip to JELD-WEN Field. Nigel Reo-Coker can shoulder the load in the center of the park, but the Timbers may find a way to exploit the extra space in midfield if the visitors do not adjust properly.
Prediction: Portland win.
New England – Toronto FC (7:30p.m., Univision Deportes) – Goal.com preview
Overview: This encounter is the sort of game aspiring playoff teams win and sixth-place or seventh-place teams draw.
Prediction: New England win.