MLS: Week 23 talking points

On Friday, the 23rd week of the 2014 MLS season kicks off with Houston Dynamo hosting red-hot Philadelphia Union, aired live on NBCSN. After last week’s awe-inspiring performances, the league’s fans are expecting the players to increase their intensity as teams battle one another for a playoff berth.

Seattle Sounders

Deandre Yedlin

Here are three topics that are worth monitoring this weekend.

Which teams will be victorious in the battles of conference leaders?

Fans get to watch four most talented teams in the league go head-to-head this Saturday.

Clint Dempsey and Seattle Sounders travel to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Javier Morales and Real Salt Lake. If Seattle wins, they can extend their lead at the top of the Western Conference to five points. And if RSL is victorious, Kyle Beckerman and his teammates will be the top dog in the best conference in MLS.

Even though Seattle won its last game 2-0, RSL will be the more confident side. Jeff Cassar’s men defeated DC United 3-0 last week and the Sounders will be without their best player so far this season, Obafemi Martins.

This game will also be the first of Deandre Yedlin’s farewell tour. The young fullback will leave his hometown club at the end of the season to join English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

A few hours after the Western Conference showdown airs on NBCSN, Sporting Kansas City welcome Toronto FC into Sporting Park, and MLSsoccer.com will stream the game live for free.

A win for Toronto FC will shorten the gap between the two teams and it would be the perfect return for Jermain Defoe, who missed a few games, including the All-Star game, because an injury. During his time away, Gilberto and Luke Moore picked up the slack, scoring important goals that helped Toronto stay in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.

Which MVP candidate will shine the most in the game between Chivas USA and Vancouver Whitecaps?

Forget about everyone else; let’s talk about Pedro Morales and Erick “Cubo” Torres. Both players have done so much with so little resources this season.

At times, Morales has made the Whitecaps’ young players look like seasoned professionals. The Chilean international is on pace to have one of the best individual seasons in MLS history, and because of his brilliance, Vancouver is in a great position to make the playoffs.

Despite playing for the worst franchise in the league, Torres has been an ultimate professional this season. The young Mexican forward leads his team by example and his great sense of humor makes him a great guy to be around. He has scored 14 of his team’s 21 goals this season.

It will be exciting to see these two quality players go head-to-head.

Can San Jose Earthquakes end FC Dallas’ mini win streak?

At the moment, FC Dallas has the scariest attack in MLS. Fabian Castillo has bounced back after his suspension, Mauro Diaz is healthy again and Tesho Akindele is really making a case for the Rookie of the Year award. Because of their potent attack, Oscar Pareja’s men have won their last two games.

However, they have to try and take down a tough opponent on the road this weekend. Chris Wondolowski and the Earthquakes have turned things around in a blink of an eye. After three consecutive losses, San Jose hasn’t been defeated in its last four matches.

Stingy defending and blistering counter-attacks have served them well as the try to make a late push for the playoffs.

For more rumors, news and opinion, check out our Soccer page.