Landon Donovan's absence from a high-profile exhibition match and the league's All-Star game due to an ailing calf might have caused some concern for Los Angeles Galaxy fans.
The star forward may return Saturday night for his team's first matchup with the struggling expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, but the Galaxy will be without suspended David Beckham as they try to extend their 13-game MLS unbeaten streak.
Donovan has missed five games for international duty this season, and also sat out three contests in April with an inflamed right knee. He has played a full 90 minutes in each of Los Angeles' three league games this month, however, including a 1-0 victory over Columbus on July 20.
After that win, Donovan missed the Galaxy's penalty-kick loss to English Premier League club Manchester City on Sunday, and the MLS All-Stars' 4-0 loss to another EPL team, Manchester United, on Wednesday in Harrison, N.J.
Among the league leaders with nine goals despite the missed time, Donovan said he felt better after returning to practice Thursday and expects to "contribute" Saturday.
"At the end of the day, the games that are important were last Wednesday and this weekend," he told the league's official website. "As much as I wanted to play in the Man. City game and as much as I want to play in the Man. United game - who doesn't? - you have to be responsible.
"If I'd gone to (to the All-Star game), I'd have had no chance to get proper treatment, I would have had no chance to properly train all week and I wouldn't have been ready for Saturday."
Beckham would have also been ready to play Saturday, but he drew his eighth yellow card of the season - and an automatic one-game suspension - in the win over Columbus.
The All-Star midfielder also served a one-game suspension after receiving his fifth yellow card April 13. Los Angeles fared well without both him and Donovan four days later in a 2-1 win at Chicago.
The Galaxy (11-2-9) enter this match 7-0-6 in their last 13 - two games shy of the longest unbeaten run in team history - and with a league-best 42 points. They'll try to add to that total against the team with a league-low 15 points.
Vancouver (2-10-9) is winless in its last five but snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-all draw at San Jose on July 20. Eric Hassli scored his second goal in the 61st minute to salvage a point in the standings.
The Whitecaps are hoping the lengthy break will help them claim their first win since a 1-0 home victory over Philadelphia on June 18. They expect a season-high crowd of more than 26,000 to help spur them on Saturday.
"With our huge crowd, it's going to be a great opportunity to show that we're much better than (our record)," goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. "We have to come and play 90 minutes and hope the ball bounces our way."
The Galaxy travel to face another expansion team, Portland, on Wednesday.