Major League Soccer’s traditional holiday schedule on the Fourth of July is highlighted by Western Conference teams.
Nine of the 12 teams playing on Tuesday and Wednesday come from the West, with Atlanta United, D.C. United and Toronto FC being the lone Eastern Conference participants during the midweek slate.
The road matches for the trio of East teams carry significance for different reasons, while the West standings could experience a shake-up if the home sides come out on top.
Here’s a look at the six-game slate taking place over the next two days in MLS.
Game of the Week
Atlanta United at FC Dallas (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Two of the top four teams in the Supporters’ Shield standings, that’s right it’s time to start watching that list as well, square off at Toyota Stadium.
Atlanta United breezed through Orlando City on Saturday with their attack running on all cylinders led by Golden Boot leader Josef Martinez.
Martinez has 15 goals to his name in 2018. FC Dallas has conceded 17 in 16 games.
Although Mauro Diaz doesn’t appear to be available for selection given his current transfer status, FC Dallas can still challenge the Five Stripes defense through Roland Lamah and Maxi Urruti.
The key for FC Dallas to knock off Tata Martino’s men lies in central midfield, where Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa and Carlos Gruezo must limit the free-flowing chances from the visitors.
Other Games to Watch
LAFC at Houston Dynamo (Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
No one can stop Adama Diomande at the moment, and that makes LAFC a dangerous team in the Texas heat.
Diomande has seven goals in his last four games with Carlos Vela and Marco Urena on World Cup duty.
A win at BBVA Compass Stadium would boost LAFC up to first place in the West for at least one night before Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas take the field on Wednesday.
If the Dynamo are able to limit Diomande’s chances, they should be able to create chances through a dangerous attacker of their own in Alberth Elis.
A win would be a nice boost to the Dynamo’s playoff hopes, as they sit two points back of Real Salt Lake and Vancouver.
Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake (Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
It feels fitting two teams known for creating fireworks between each other play on the Fourth of July.
Real Salt Lake is in search of reversing poor form of late, as it has one point in the last three matches.
Sporting Kansas City need to rebound following a disappointing loss to Montreal on Saturday.
Keep an eye on how the young RSL back line led by Justen Glad deals with the intertwining Sporting KC attack featuring Johnny Russell, Yohan Croizet and others.
Toronto FC at Minnesota United (Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET, TSN, ESPN+)
It’s July and Toronto FC isn’t any better than it was last month, or in the months before.
The Reds don’t seem to have a clear fix to their struggles in sight, and rock bottom could be hit if they lose to Minnesota United.
The Loons surprisingly enter Wednesday with one more point than Toronto, but they have a cavalcade of issues as well.
This could be the perfect remedy for Toronto’s struggles, or it could end up as a 4-3 defensive disaster.
Seattle Sounders at Colorado Rapids (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
What appeared to be an easy victory for the Seattle Sounders on the schedule will be tougher than expected given their continuous slide.
The Sounders don’t inspire any confidence at the moment with five defeats in their last seven games.
All of a sudden the Colorado Rapids have turned things around with seven points in their last three, a total more than half of the Sounders’ full complement of points.
Look for another defensive-minded formation to be trotted out by Anthony Hudson in order to absorb whatever pressure Seattle creates and strike on the counter.
D.C. United at LA Galaxy (Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
D.C. United makes one final long road trip before the opening of Audi Field on July 14, as it takes on the LA Galaxy on Wednesday.
This should be the Zlatan Ibrahimovic show given the Swedish forward’s recent exploits, but the Black and Red’s defense put together some decent road performances.
Since the start of May, Ben Olsen’s side earned road points at San Jose, LAFC and Toronto.