Three Big Storylines:
- The Supporters' Shield looks like it is FC Dallas's trophy to lose. They have 53 points from 31 played with Toronto FC four points back on the same games played. Both New York City FC and New York Red Bulls are five points back with the same games played. The darkhorse is the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids are five points back of FCD but they have two games in hand. The Rapids still have two games against the Portland Timbers, if they make a run at the shield it will likely be at the expense of the reigning MLS Cup champions making the playoffs.
- With Sebastian Giovinco sidelined since August 27th stuck on 15 goals, the Golden Boot race comes down to two players. David Villa has 19 goals and is one back from Bradley Wright-Phillips league leading 20. Wright-Phillips currently holds the tiebreaker with five assists to Villa's three. Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls are hosting the Philadelphia Union in Red Bull Arena on Saturday (4 PM, MLS Live) while Villa opens the MLS weekend with Viernes de Fútbol on UniMas at the Houston Dynamo.
- With MLS' playoff format giving the first two teams in each conference a bye into the conference semi-finals finishing in the top two is highly preferable to third. In the Eastern conference TFC are one point ahead of New York City FC and New York Red Bulls, all with three games to play. In the Western conference it looks like it is coming down to two out of the FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids and the LA Galaxy trio. FC Dallas do have the most difficult fixtures to finish the season with LA Galaxy at home, Seattle Sounders at home and at LA Galaxy to finish the season.
From a Sounders Point of View:
Back in Week 28 this column pointed out how the top four teams in the Western Conference were undefeated at home. After the Sounders win at the LA Galaxy last weekend only one Western Conference team remains undefeated, the Colorado Rapids with a 9-0-5 record. And with the Portland Timbers visiting Dick's Sporting Goods Park this weekend (Saturday, 6 PM, MLS Live), we hope that streak continues.
The Rapids winning is the highest leverage game for the Sounders playoff chances, but looking ahead there are couple other results we are looking for. The New England Revolution host Sporting Kansas City, go Revs. And the San Jose Earthquakes host Real Salt Lake. San Jose is now seven points below the Sounders and only a collapse would let them make up that gap. But Real Salt Lake are in 4th place in the West and hold the last playoff spot that guarantees a home game in the play-in round. RSL is 4 points ahead of the Sounders but has played one more game. Let's look up and not down, go Earthquakes.
Digging in on the scenario outlined above a little bit more. RSL finishes with at San Jose, home for Sporting KC and at Seattle. Seattle (41 points) would need to pass both RSL (45 points) and SKC (43 points) to host that opening playoff game. But with SKC and RSL playing each other and RSL finishing in Seattle, it could happen. The Sounders would likely need to get 3 points this weekend in Vancouver for a realistic chance. SKC's remaining fixtures are at New England, at RSL and home for San Jose.
National TV Listings:
Houston Dynamo v New York City FC
Friday, 5:00 PM
Streaming: Univision Deportes
This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Week 31 Gamethread. Watch with us.