The Sounders victory last night shines the spotlight on the play of a few other teams as the Rave Green attempt to fend off all would-be usurpers to the throne. The most notable challengers yet to play this weekend? Those would be the Montreal Impact, Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy. Montreal is on 45 points, but win their game in hand and suddenly are only a point back of Seattle. Los Angeles sits six points behind the Sounders even on games, and with two games left between Seattle and LA the math is easy. The Galaxy will throw everything they can behind their remaining Sounders matchups as the most straightforward way to make up the difference. Even tying those matches would go a long way towards encasing that Supporter's Shield in cement and keeping it right where it (figuratively) is right now. Portland will look to their home match against Seattle with anticipation. It's just too bad that each of those teams are playing against crummy competition today.
11:00 am: Montreal Impact-Columbus Crew
The Impact lagged a bit in the middle part of the season, but appear to have found themselves again. They have fruit hanging low and ripe for the picking as the Crew come to Canada for the earliest match of the day. If the Impact want to stay in the SS hunt, they need to pick this fruit and eat it. The next pieces may not be so easy to chew.
1:00 pm: DC United-LA Galaxy (Univision)
While the Sounders were matched up against the former points leaders, Galaxyland gets to watch their team try to pull out points against the worst team in MLS. That a game like this can even make it onto national television is a great shame to MLS and television in general. The only greater shame would be for LA to lose this matchup of two-letter city names. Tired legs out of Omar Gonzalez, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane will be no excuse here.
4:00 pm: New York Red Bulls-Toronto FC
Toronto is not "mathematically" eliminated from the playoffs yet. Making it at this point would take something just short of an act of God, including each of the four teams ahead of them losing hard over the next month and a half. Still, it is possible. The Red Bulls can help them start planning for next year by eliminating them today. It's just the neighborly thing to do.
4:30 pm: Philadelphia Union-Houston Dynamo (Free Stream of the Week)
There are four teams jockeying for the final two playoff spots in the East, and two of them face off in this free-per-view battle. Carrasco won't play in the match, and the absence of Moffat (trade) means that Houston will have a gaping hole in the middle of their central defense. They may play two reserved midfielders to compensate, but that may not stop the opportunistic Philadelphia attack.
5:30 pm: Chicago Fire-New England Revolution
This, like the 4:30 match, could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Play-IN Game, which isn't nearly as exciting as a Conference Final preview. Nonetheless, I believe that it will be these two teams making it to the postseason, over the mangled corpses of Philly and Houston. Of the remaining competitors for those two playoff spots, these teams are the most complete. The Union rely on one or two playmakers who are easily isolated and Houston still hasn't found the identity that was so clear during their MLS Cup runs of 2011 and 2012. Chicago will make the race more confusing with a win, but in the end they'll both come through feeling good about their future.
6:00 pm: Colorado Rapids-FC Dallas
With the recent, terrible flooding in Colorado, there was a good chance this game would be postponed. The freeway exit most commonly associated with Commerce City and Dick's Sporting Goods Park appears to be inundated and destroyed. The rest of the state isn't doing so hot either. We wish everyone in and around the flooded areas the best of luck in this difficult time. However, it appears the match will be played as scheduled, and hopefully a Rapids win will ease some of the pain flowing down from the mountains this weekend.
7:30 pm: Chivas USA-Portland Timbers
It's never fun to look at the schedule and see a road game. But if you are just concerned about points, seeing Chivas in that spot isn't the worst thing in the world. The Goats may be playing better soccer, but they are still goats. Portland can feast on bad teams, as they did against Toronto a week ago. It is hard not to envision a similar outcome this week. 3-0 puts them right back in the Supporter's Shield conversation.
4:30 pm: San Jose Earthquakes-Vancouver Whitecaps
Things have separated a bit from a few weeks ago, when eight points was the difference between the top eight teams in the West. Vancouver is out of the SS hunt and on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Lucky for them that they shack up with a Western foe with a slightly worse record than their own. It is Vancouver's job to score upon those who can't score for themselves, including Chris Wondolowski and company. If they can manage that, perhaps 2013 won't be over at it's regularly schedule time after all.