By TRAVIS CLARK
The All-Star Game has come and gone, but its impact could be felt this weekend. With almost every team represented, tired legs might hamper some of the star players involved in Wednesday's game.
Overshadowing that is the likely MLS debut of New York Red Bull signing Thierry Henry, who could start against the Houston Dynamo. All 16 teams are back in action after breaks for friendlies, Champions League and SuperLiga.
Action out West is focused on Seattle's visit to San Jose. Because of their struggles at home, the Sounders need to pick up points on the road, something that isn't easy against a tough Earthquakes side.
Here's a look at this weekend's MLS action:
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-9-2) vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-8-2), Saturday 3:30 p.m. MLS Direct Kick
A new rivalry could be on the offering in Chester, as two Northeast teams square off in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge. PPL Park welcomes the New England Revolution, in a matchup of two teams looking to climb out of the Eastern Conference basement.
Sebastian Le Toux has been the man for Philadelphia all year long, and he'll lead the attack against what has become a tough New England defense. Four straight clean sheets — three in SuperLiga — have buoyed the beleaguered Revolution, who will see their unbeaten streak snapped by the league's newcomers. Philadelphia 2, New England 1.
FC DALLAS (6-2-8) vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (6-5-5), Saturday 4:00 p.m. MLS Direct Kick
Dallas takes a trip north into the mountains of Denver, aiming to keep up with Real Salt Lake. The host Rapids haven't won in six games, a 1-0 win against Columbus on June 5. While the defense has been respectable, goal scoring is the issue — Casey and Cummings have hit a combined 12 goals, though that's not high enough to carry Colorado this time around.
Kevin Hartman joining Dallas has turned out to be one of the stories of the season. The veteran has been his typically excellent self, stopping almost everything thrown at him and setting up his side for success. Expect some heroics from Hartman in a draw. Dallas 1, Colorado 1.
NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-6-2) vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (5-8-4), Saturday 8:30 p.m. MLS Direct Kick
The big news out in Texas this week will be the arrival of Thierry Henry to league play. And while there is plenty to be excited about, the New York midfield will have to step up and prove they can get him the ball in dangerous spot. If Juan Pablo Angel is fit and ready to go, it'll be the first look of the Angel-Henry striker duo.
Houston needs a second-half improvement to start this weekend if they hope to make the playoffs. It's been a rare off-year for Dom Kinnear, but look for the Dynamo to get a positive result this weekend. Houston 2, New York 1.
TORONTO FC (6-5-5) vs. KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (4-8-4), Saturday 8:30 p.m. MLS Direct Kick
Will a win over Manchester United make a difference for Kansas City? It's been a struggle in 2010 for Peter Vermes to produce the desired result. His mismash of international talent hasn't exactly panned out, and if the Wizards can transfer some semblance of confidence into MLS play, they'll be a handful for Toronto.
The Reds have developed a nasty habit of dropping points, and that trend will continue at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Toronto 1, Kansas City 1.
D.C. UNITED (3-11-3) vs. REAL SALT LAKE (9-4-4), Saturday 9:00 p.m. MLS Direct Kick
A disastrous season for D.C. United heads to Rio Tinto, taking on a side that hasn't lost in Sandy all season. Recent additions Pablo Hernandez and Branko Boskovic have shown flashes of ability in their short stints thus far, but it's likely too little to late for it to make a difference.
Rio Tinto is Real Salt Lake's fortress, and United won't have what it takes to win on the road against a deep RSL side. Real Salt Lake 3, D.C. United 0.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (6-8-4) vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (6-4-5), Saturday 10:00 p.m. MLS Direct Kick
Seattle's sophomore year hasn't proved to be the success of 2009. But there is still plenty of time to rebound, and the Sounders will only get better as Blaise Nkufo adjusts and settles in to playing up top with Montero. They'll have to break down a rigid San Jose side — rookie Ike Opara has done well in his rookie season, and the Quakes are unbeaten in five.
Of course, four of those were draws, and with Seattle improving, an Earthquakes win would open up the gap and prevent Seattle from leap-frogging San Jose in the standings. San Jose 1, Seattle 0.
COLUMBUS CREW (10-3-4) vs. CHIVAS USA (4-9-3), Saturday 10:30 p.m. MLS Direct Kick
East leaders Columbus visit the Home Depot Center, in the hopes of keeping Chivas USA rooted to the bottom of the standings. Not much has gone right for the Rojiblancos — Sacha Kljestan is now scoring in Europe, and Jonathan Bornstein might not be able to go with an injury.
A number of new faces have been brought in, but whether or not they can make an immediate impact is a bit of a long shot. Of course, the Crew will call on usual suspects like Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Chad Marshall and snatch all three points on the road. Columbus 2, Chivas 1.
CHICAGO FIRE (4-5-5) vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (12-2-4), Sunday 7:30 p.m., FSC/FSE
The underwhelming Fire seem to have the talent, but under new coach Carlos de los Cobos, defensive frailties have undermined any offensive success they've managed. Sunday could be a chance to unveil brand-new Designated Player Nery Castillo, and Chicago would need a big performance from him to take down Los Angeles.
With a rested Edson Buddle, the Galaxy should be able to overcome the distraction of the Champions League debacle to pick up the win. Los Angeles 2, Chicago 0.