The summer friendlies are basically over, but this week still provides just one game for each team. Only the Portland Timbers won’t be playing a league game, and only Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City, because of the U.S. Open Cup final, will play more than one game. That should give teams an opportunity to rest some injured players for the push to the end of the season. All teams have played at least 20 games, meaning they have at most 14 games remaining. These are the difficult games to get up for. It’s the middle of the summer. It’s hot. The playoffs are still a long way off. But the teams that push through this difficult time will get rewarded for it with good playoff match ups. Liviu Bird reports on all things Cascadia for Prost Amerika (prostamerika.com). He is also a semiprofessional goalkeeper for the Kitsap Pumas in Bremerton, Wash. Follow him on Twitter (@liviubird).
Last week: 18.
Trading away designated player Shalrie Joseph is somewhat of a head-scratcher. Joseph was the heart and soul of New England, and now he’s gone.
This week: vs. Montreal, Sunday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 19.
The Timbers got their first point since firing coach John Spencer last weekend against Dallas, and then they traded away starting goalkeeper Troy Perkins for Donovan Ricketts. Portland was the winner in the deal, adding a goalkeeper whose experience will help the young team down the stretch.
This week: None.
Last week: 16.
The rest of the season may be just a rebuilding opportunity for 2013, but new coach Paul Mariner seems to be going about it the right way. The whole attitude has changed in Toronto, and the club now looks like it believes it can win every game it plays.
This week: at Columbus, Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 17.
In an interesting move, Montreal traded goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts away to Portland for goalkeeper Troy Perkins. That means Perkins and Sanna Nyassi are now teammates; earlier this season, a late Nyassi tackle split Perkins’ nose open and knocked him out of the game.
This week: at New England, Sunday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 14.
Freddy Adu’s play has been nonexistent in recent weeks, with even head coach John Hackworth admitting that the team needs to see more from its star player. Everywhere he has gone, Adu has had trouble responding to the pressure of great expectations.
This week: vs. Chicago, Sunday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 15.
The Rapids needed a win over Real Salt Lake; it was the club’s first league win after six straight losses. That should help morale more than anything else heading into a winnable game this weekend.
This week: at Dallas, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Last week: 13.
In his first game back since a team-instated suspension, Brek Shea got an assist in Dallas’ game in Portland last weekend. Only time will tell whether the disciplinary measures will have a positive long-term effect on his play.
This week: vs. Colorado, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Last week: 12.
It’s safe to say Columbus has other things on its mind besides soccer this week. All of league play last weekend was overshadowed by the tragic death of 22-year-old Crew player Kirk Urso.
This week: vs. Toronto, Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 11.
New acquisition Shalrie Joseph should start against the Galaxy this weekend. It will be a good chance for the veteran to make a stamp on his new team.
This week: vs. Los Angeles, Sunday at 9 p.m. (ESPN2).
Last week: 7.
After a disappointing result in Seattle where the Galaxy looked flat, it will be happy to return home — albeit to an “away” game against Chivas. The SuperClasico is one of the more over-hyped but under-delivering rivalries in the league.
This week: at Chivas, Sunday at 9 p.m. (ESPN2).
Last week: 8.
Since its last league game, Vancouver added midfielder Tiago Ulisses to the roster. He will provide some much-needed depth in the middle of the park.
This week: vs. Salt Lake, Saturday at 5 p.m. (ABC 4/ESPN 700).
Last week: 10.
Houston is cruising right now; if the Dynamo keeps up its current pace, it will be at the top of these rankings before long. However, a sustained, high-level effort is necessary to get to that point, and winning on the road has been a challenge this season.
This week: at New York, Friday at 6 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
Last week: 9.
With the signing of Christian Tiffert and Mario Martinez, Seattle has some new blood that will help the team find some energy in a tough part of the season. A fourth straight Open Cup trophy wouldn’t hurt, either.
This week: at San Jose, Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Last week: 6.
All has been quiet in Chicago for the last couple of weeks. It seems like the Fire is finally clicking as a team and getting some good results, taking points from good teams in three of its last four games.
This week: at Philadelphia, Sunday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 3.
The Red Bulls looked flat and uninspired against Houston last week. Luckily for them, they get a rematch this week — again against Houston, again on NBC — just in their own stadium, and with Dax McCarty back in the lineup.
This week: vs. Houston, Friday at 6 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
Last week: 5.
A fresh D.C. United team, complete with Olympic player Andy Najar, should find a result in Kansas City on Saturday. However, Livestrong Sporting Park is one of the most difficult places to play in the league.
This week: at Kansas City, Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 4.
Kansas City is banged up, but Roger Espinoza’s return should inject some energy into the team. Including the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday, Sporting has two home games this week, which at least reduces the wear and tear of travel.
This week: vs. D.C., Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 1.
Head coach Jason Kreis had to rest some players after a tough trip to Costa Rica, and it showed in Real Salt Lake’s loss in Colorado last weekend. The team looked sluggish all game long.
This week: at Vancouver, Saturday at 5 p.m. (ABC 4/ESPN 700).
Last week: 2.
Despite not playing a league game last week, San Jose moves to the top of the rankings because everybody else lost. The Earthquakes will have to work hard to stay there with a confident Sounders team coming to town.
This week: vs. Seattle, Saturday at 8:30 p.m. MDT.