Three Big Storylines:
- Games in Hand! All season long we have been talking about games in hand in regards to the Supporters' Shield. After today only Sporting Kansas City will have a game in hand in MLS while the Vancouver Whitecaps will have played 33 games. Every other MLS club will have two games left to play with two weekends to play them.
- New York Red Bulls head to Toronto FC to open the night. Toronto will officially clinch their first playoff spot in MLS history with a draw. Toronto joined MLS two years before the Seattle Sounders and this will be their first playoffs in nine seasons. It's not for a lack of trying, Toronto has spent as much money as any team in MLS over that time and even tried an entire reset in winter of 2010 when they brought in Jurgen Klinsmann as an adviser to create a "soccer culture" and identify a playing style. Klinsmann hired Aron Winter as manager and Paul Mariner as manager of soccer before moving on in the summer of 2011 for another job. Michael Bradley is expected to start and captain Toronto after being released early by the former TFC adviser from his USMNT duties. While Sebastian Giovinco reportedly arrived back from Italy at 4 PM Eastern, three hours before gametime and is somehow going to be in the 18 available to sub. The Red Bulls have a three point lead in the Supporters' Shield and control their own destiny if they can secure 7 points over their last three games starting today.
- Two Western Conference battles close the night. FC Dallas hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps with Dallas on 51 points tied atop the Western Conference with the LA Galaxy and this being their game in hand. Meanwhile 30 minutes later in Utah the Portland Timbers are trying to jump above the red line and can do so with a draw or win at Real Salt Lake. RSL are three points behind the Timbers and would move from 9th to 7th with a win at home giving them a real shot at the playoffs with a win. RSL has three wins in their last four to bring their playoff hopes back from life support.
From a Sounders Point of View:
If you cheer for chaos atop MLS and the Supporters' Shield standings, we are all Toronto FC fans. Their suffering has been long, let's get them into the playoffs together.
As for the Western Conference, it's complicated. Do you revel in our neighbor to the south's struggles? Let's go RSL! Are you hoping for the 1.5% chance that the Sounder get one of the top 2 spots in the West? Then we need to catch both Vancouver (50 points from 32 with Houston left after tonight) and FC Dallas (51 points from 31 with RSL and San Jose after tonight). Vancouver winning tonight and losing to Houston might be the most feasible scenario.
Personally I am cheering for the scenario where on October 25th as all 5 Western Conference games are being played concurrently to end the season,the Sounders have already clinched a playoff spot hosting RSL while Portland will need a home win over the Colorado Rapids and a Seattle win over RSL to get them above the red line. The angst of having to cheer for Seattle as a Portland fan. To make that happen an RSL win tonight is preferable.
Toronto FC v New York Red Bulls
MLS Live in USA only. (TSN in Canada)
FC Dallas v Vancouver Whitecaps
MLS Live in USA only (TSN in Canada)
Real Salt Lake v Portland Timber
ROOT Sports in the Northwest and MLS Live