MLS: Week 16 talking points

The World Cup isn’t over, but Major League Soccer’s two-week World Cup break comes to an end on Wednesday. Chicago Fire’s break continues because this week is the team’s bye week.

There are four different match days and 10 games will be played in a congested week. US based teams kept themselves match fit in the US Open Cup, while it’s been reported that some Canadian teams had two practice sessions every day in order to stay in shape.

It’s only reasonable to expect the pace of play to be a little slower than usual because some players like Thierry Henry did not feature in the Open Cup. However, this week promises to produce tantalizing altercations, which is why I have put together three important talking points.

Fabian Espindola

Fabian Espindola

Which conference leader will be victorious?

Western Conference leader Settle Sounders visits the capital on Saturday to take on the Eastern Conference top dog, DC United. Both sides have played 15 games this season, but Seattle is seven points ahead of its opposition in the Supporters Shield standings.

This match promises to be a scintillating encounter, although both teams will be without their best players – Obafemi Martins and Fabián Espíndola. Martins is suspended after receiving a red card against Chicago Fire. And Espíndola is out because of an injury he picked up against Montreal Impact.

A win would create room at the top for both teams. However, DC might struggle to pick up all three points. Without their Argentine hit man, United has to rely on Eddie Johnson, who has only one goal this season.

Even without Martins, Seattle has three potent scorers – Chad Barrett, Kenny Cooper and Lamar Neagle.

Can Fabian Castillo continue his hot streak?

Castillo has been a man of fire for FC Dallas. The Colombian has made it a personal mission to stop his team’s slump.

The young attacker has found the back of the net in his last four matches. In 17 MLS appearances, Castillo has scored five goals and assisted two.

On Saturday, FC Dallas goes to Columbus to battle the struggling home team. The fact that in-form Castillo coming into town will faze Gregg Berhalter. The head coach will be without his top center back, Giancarlo Gonzalez, who is currently starring in Costa Rica’s Cinderella run in Brazil.

Can the Chivas USA and Montreal Impact climb out of the bottom?

Chivas and Montreal are comfortably sitting at the bottom of the Western and Eastern Conference; however, both teams want to make the playoffs.

Of the two, the Impact has the better chance of moving up in the table. Frank Klopas’ team plays twice this week, and if they can win both games, they can move up to the eight spot in the conference.

Montreal’s first game is against a very solid Vancouver Whitecaps side on Wednesday and the second will be played against the struggling Houston Dynamo without Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis.

Chivas can’t move up in the standings, but a win against Real Salt Lake will be the perfect motivator. RSL will be without its leader Kyle Beckerman and go-to scorer Alvaro Saborio.

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