Three Big Storylines:
- Friday night sees the Supporters' Shield favorites New York Red Bulls hosting Kaka and Orlando City SC. Kaka is not giving up on a playoff spot, but Orlando is four points below the red line with only four to play. While not technically a must-win game, this is likely a must-win game. Pope Francis is in town and being a big soccer fan, there were rumors he was going to attend the game. But there are also rumors he changed his mind when he learned that the New York Red Bulls played in New Jersey. Maybe the director of the MLS Players Union Player Relations department, Eddie Pope, will make an appearance instead? NYRB is the only team to officially clinch a playoff spot heading into this weekend.
- The Portland Timbers appear to be in disarray. Well more disarray than normal. The Timbers have been above the red line all season but a run of two points over their last four and 10 points from their last 10 sees them battling for their playoff lives. Portland holds the last playoff spot when they visit the Columbus Crew on Saturday (4:30 PM, MLS Live), but San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake are all within two points of Portland for that last playoff spot.
- New York City FC make their only trip to Cascadia on Saturday night when they go to BC Place to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps (7 PM, MLS Live). NYCFC is one point behind their expansion brethren Orlando City and five points below the red line. With only four games to play this is essentially a must win for NYCFC. Despite consecutive 3-0 losses to the Seattle Sounders, the Vancouver Whitecaps are tied atop the Supporters' Shield standings and have a one point lead atop the Western Conference above FC Dallas and LA Galaxy.
From a Sounders Point of View:
We had quite the week in this space last week, let's do it again okay?
Three points, the most important result for this weekend is for the Seattle Sounders to get three points. With that being said, there are quite a few games that we have either an opinion or a strong rooting interest in. Let's go over it:
Friday night we are wearing purple and cheering for Kaka and Orlando City against NYRB purely for Supporters' Shield implications.
Remember when DC United were leading the Supporters' Shield? Well those days are behind us as they have exactly the same record as the Sounders with 45 points from 30 played. DCU is in a free fall, let's hope the Montreal Impact continue that trend (Saturday, 2 PM, MLS Live).
The Houston Dynamo host the Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 5:30 PM, MLS Live) and while the Sounders have a nice lead on the Dynamo and are looking to climb the table, if you are into cheering for misery for our neighbors to the South then let's go Dynamo! Speaking of which, you can choose the same for the Columbus Crew as they host the Timbers. The Crew do have a two-point lead on the Sounders with the same games played. The Crew could definitely go on a run and make the MLS Cup which is hosted by the team with the better regular season. Let's go Portland? Let's just move on.
Obviously we are NYCFC fans on Saturday night in Vancouver. Frank Lampard has only played 388 minutes in MLS this season, so assuming he starts (a bold assumption) at least he should be fresh?
Sunday sees a National TV triple-header featuring six Western Conference teams. After the Sounders dispatch Sporting Kansas City (this is not the gamethread you are looking for) we are cheering for two draws. San Jose hosts RSL while the LA Galaxy hosts FC Dallas.
And if you cheer for parity, here is the scenario that will see a seven way tie on 48 points atop the Supporters' Shield Standings after the weekend:
Orlando beat NYRB
DC United beat Montreal Impact
Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers Draw
Philadelphia Union win or draw at New England Revolution
NYCFC beat Vancouver Whitecaps
Seattle Sounders beat Sporting KC
LA Galaxy and FC Dallas Draw
National TV Listings:
New York Red Bulls v Orlando City SC
Friday, 4:00 PM
Streaming: Univision Deportes
* Update: This game has been moved, now on Univision Deportes and MLS Live with no blackouts. Details here.
Sporting Kansas City v Seattle Sounders
Sunday, 2:00 PM
Streaming: Watch ESPN
San Jose Earthquakes v Real Salt Lake
Sunday, 4:00 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
LA Galaxy v FC Dallas
Sunday, 6:30 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming:Fox Sports Go
This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Week 30 Gamethread. Watch with us.