Major League Soccer returns this weekend from a mid-season break that has seen several of the division's stars showcase their talents at the World Cup.

Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar conceded just twice as hosts Brazil topped their group, and the 31-year-old had to be at his best to repel Mexico in a nervy 0-0 draw in their second game.

Group B's MLS representatives didn't fare quite so well, as Spain and Australia crashed out of the competition. New York City's David Villa and New York Red Bulls' Tim Cahill were both able to find the net however - the Australian firing one of the goals of the tournament in his side's 3-2 defeat to the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, Costa Rica stunned the watching public as they overcame two former champions, with Columbus Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzalez featuring in wins against Uruguay and Italy, before being joined by the Red Bulls' Roy Miller for the stalemate with already-eliminated England. Neither Honduras nor Ecuador were able to advance, though five MLS players were blooded in Group E.

However, the biggest success story involved the United States, as they qualified in second-place from a group containing Ghana, Portugal and Germany. From a roster containing ten players based in North America, nine figured, and seven of those played from the start in their final game against Joachim Low's Germans.

Seattle Sounders FC's Clint Dempsey netted twice across the first stage, while Sporting Kansas City pair Matt Besler and Graham Zusi impressed - the former reportedly gaining many admirers in European football, while the latter provided a brace of assists.

The first post-break MLS match ended in a stalemate between two clubs from north of the border, with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Montreal Impact drawing 0-0.

The biggest clash of the weekend sees the top of the Eastern Conference host the top of the Western Conference, as the Sounders travel to DC United.

In Pennsylvania, Jim Curtin will take charge of his first Philadelphia Union league match against the New England Revolution, who have lost their last two league games.

Meanwhile, six MLS teams have progressed to the US Open Cup quarter-finals following midweek wins.

Seattle and the Portland Timbers both saw off top tier opponents to set up a Cascadia derby, while the Union will also now face the Revolution in the cup.

The Carolina RailHawks produced an outstanding defensive display as they disposed of the LA Galaxy, and will go head to head with FC Dallas for a place in the semi-finals.

Fellow North American Soccer League side Atlanta Silverbacks also made it through to the next stage, where four-time winners Chicago Fire await.

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Topics:
Julio Cesar
MLS
Tim Cahill
World Cup
Clint Dempsey
Football