By THOMAS FLOYD
There’s no rest for the weary in MLS. Not this week, at least.
After a packed mid-week schedule to celebrate Independence Day, MLS is back this weekend with a full slate of matches. Among the fixtures: A Cascadia Cup clash as the Vancouver Whitecaps look for their first MLS win in the three-team rivalry series when the Seattle Sounders come to town.
Elsewhere around the league, the Philadelphia Union visit the Houston Dynamo in a key Eastern Conference tilt; the surging Chicago Fire try to stay hot against Sporting Kansas City; and the Los Angeles Galaxy face FC Dallas in an influential contest out West.
Here is a rundown of the Week 19 slate:
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., MLS Live)
After a tough mid-week loss at Chicago, the short-handed Earthquakes must continue their road trip against a young Revolution side that has had a full week of rest.
Enjoying a tremendous first half of 2013, New England centerback Jose Goncalves will be tasked with stopping San Jose striker Alan Gordon, who has three goals in his past two matches.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Saturday, 9 p.m., MLS Live)
Fresh off a disappointing draw at Salt Lake during which they lost two leads late, the Union now must face the Dynamo and that imposing BBVA Compass Stadium atmosphere.
For Houston centerbacks Bobby Boswell and Jermaine Taylor, missing Jack McInerney (international duty) is a break, but veteran Philadelphia forwards Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux certainly present their own unique challenges.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 11 p.m., NBCSN, TSN)
After coming from behind to defeat Vancouver 3-2 last month at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders will now travel to BC Place — where they have never lost — to continue the feud.
It looks like Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso (quad) should be ready for this one, creating an intriguing central midfield matchup between Alonso and Vancouver’s Nigel Reo-Coker.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Sunday, 3 p.m., ESPN)
With three consecutive wins and a 4-0-1 mark since Mike Magee came to town, the Fire will put that unbeaten run on the line against Sporting, who are in the midst of a 1-1-4 stretch.
With winger Kei Kamara enjoying a tremendous run of form, Kansas City surely will look to highlight his matchup with Chicago right back Jalil Anibaba.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 5 p.m., MLS Live)
Following a brutal loss at Los Angeles in which a pair of late penaly kick calls turned victory into defeat, the Crew will try to regroup against the Timbers, who haven’t lost on the road all season.
How Portland fares without captain Will Johnson (international duty) will be one storyline to watch, as the box-to-box midfielder has been critical to the success of the Timbers’ 4-3-3 formation this season.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. CHIVAS USA (Sunday, 7 p.m., MLS Live)
This match marks the final game for Chivas before new centerback Carlos Bocanegra becomes eligible, which is unfortunate timing considering how badly the Goats would like to have him to deal with Montreal striker Marco Di Vaio.
With their Eastern Conference lead at just two points, the Impact, on the other hand, will be happy to host a Chivas side that hasn’t won since March.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. D.C. UNITED (Sunday, 9:30 p.m., MLS Live)
United haven’t scored from the run of play since May 19 and have actually bagged more own goals on the road this season than actual goals. And they likely will remain without Dwayne De Rosario (hip flexor) and Nick DeLeon (ankle).
This is good news for the Rapids, who are riding high after back-to-back wins over Montreal and New York, the top two teams in a conference United sit at the bottom of.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. FC DALLAS (Sunday, 10:30 p.m., MLS Live)
Four points back of Dallas for second place in the West, the Galaxy will see this match as a crucial opportunity to make up ground toward the top of the conference table.
Central midfield should provide an interesting battle, as the Galaxy’s Brazilian duo of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas face compatriot Michel and Andrew Jacobson.