As we approach the end of the MLS season, every point counts for more. Not in the literal sense, of course. One still equals one, three hasn't suddenly become three and a half. However, some teams only have six games left to play before the postseason starts. There's no Salt Lake on this weekend's schedule, and they play in Seattle less than a week from now. These two games are absolutely critical to Seattle's Supporter's Shield hopes. Next Saturday, Seattle could be at the top of the league with a pair of games in hand on the next place team. Or, they may be out of the playoff picture once again. That first scenario sounds like so much more fun though, doesn't it?
5:30: FC Dallas-Vancouver Whitecaps (Stream of the Week) (Game of the Week)
I don't believe that it's a terrible stretch to say that the winner of this game makes the playoffs. If Colorado or Portland don't take all three points today, this game's victor will move into their playoff spot. However, neither team really looks all that good right now. The two of them have a combined two victories over their last five results. If one of them wants the right to that play-in spot, they have to take advantage of this chance. These two have their fingers on the ledge, holding on for dear life. The winner will be the one that crawls up first and stomps on the others' fingers. Sucks for Vancouver that they'll be playing in the Texas heat.
5:30: Sporting KC-Columbus Crew
It took their first goal without Frederico Higuain in some 7000 hours (sic) of minutes, and a first minute goal line clearance, but the Crew managed to take a win for their new interim coach. In doing so, they sent Houston to the brink (more on that later). Now, they will attempt to play spoiler for another Eastern foe, except this time they'll need to do it on the road. On the other side, East-leading Sporting KC is fresh off of a late finisher against the Colorado Rapids. The usual suspects were on the scoresheet, with Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, and CJ Sapong all factoring in. It may be too big a challenge for the Crew to overcome, but a loss here is the final nail in the massive coffin.
7:30: LA Galaxy-Colorado Rapids
The Galaxy are on some sort of run right now, winning their last three by a six goal differential. Much of that is due to the presence of Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. Without a doubt, that is the team no one wants to play right now. Luckily Colorado doesn't have to: Keane and Donovan are gone for national team duty. If the LAGs are going to drop points the rest of this season, today's match will be one of those games. The rest of the West is giving their best wishes to the Rapids, Dragonball style.
8:00: Portland Timbers-Toronto FC
This game will act as something of a litmus test for the Timbers. Their form has stunk something awful lately, with a single win in their last seven. If they can't put even a foe like Toronto away at home, something may be rotten in the wood down in Portland. But perhaps their lesser Johnson will be the cure for what ails them, as he is expected to make his return. The Timbers have an easy remaining schedule, but they'll need to take advantage of it to keep their fifth place spot.
2:00: Houston Dynamo-New York Red Bulls (Unimas)
Houston got kicked in the teeth by a down Crew club last week, a blow that dropped them to the turf and out of the playoff picture. The sky appears to be falling in Houston, but there is still plenty of time to rectify the situation. This weekend's match would be a good start, with a win getting them back over the red line with a game in hand on many of the division leaders. As with all things, winning fixes everything.
4:30: New England Revolution-Montreal Impact
I don't have the numbers in front of me, but this may be the oldest eleven versus the youngest. A post-season appearance would be terrific for the upcoming Revs, but they'll need to keep winning to hold onto the last spot in the East. I expect the old-fashioned men of Saputo to have trouble on the football lines in Foxborough, and for youth to prevail.
6:00: Chivas USA-DC United
Technically the two worst teams in the league at this moment, since Chivas has played one more match than Toronto. Have fun watching this one.
Ideal: Who cares?
8:00: San Jose Earthquakes-Philadelphia Union (ESPN2)
League-leading assist man Sebastian Le Toux will look to exploit the back line of the San Jose Earthquakes and spring free Conor Casey, on a run in replacement of Jack McInerney. San Jose is in a desperate spot with their points and games played, likely needing to turn their 1.26 PPG into a 1.5 in only seven matches. Philadelphia may just need to keep to their current pace, but they have three sides right on their heels and can't dawdle.