By TRAVIS CLARK
Week 24 MLS action provides a glimpse at what the postseason could look like later this fall.
Three games feature six teams currently sitting in playoff position going up against each other, including the matchup of Los Angeles and Columbus, a battle of the top two teams in MLS. It's a game that could also feature the 2010 debut of David Beckham in a Galaxy uniform after a long recovery from his Achilles injury.
A minor league baseball game forced the Kansas City Wizards to shift their home game against the Houston Dynamo, initially scheduled for this weekend, to September 22. Fellow Eastern Conference playoff chasers, Toronto and Chicago, will look to take advantage when they face D.C. and Philadelphia respectively.
Here is a look at this weekend's MLS action:
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (7-12-3) vs. CHIVAS USA (6-12-4) Friday, 10:30 p.m. Direct Kick
A Friday night encounter pits two bottom teams against each other at the Home Depot Center. New England snapped a three-game losing streak in league play with a strong win over Seattle. The additions of Ilija Stolica and Marko Perovic have looked promising in 2010, although proving to be a little to late for Steve Nicol's squad.
Meanwhile, Chivas will look to take advantage of a dormant Dynamo to leap off the bottom of the Western Conference, and they'll need a healthy dose of Justin Braun to accomplish that. Chivas 2, New England 2.
D.C. UNITED (4-16-3) vs. TORONTO FC (7-9-7) Saturday, 4:00 p.m. Direct Kick
D.C. United takes a trip to Toronto, with only pride left to play for. At this point in the season, it's about avoiding setting new all-time league marks for goals scored and points. D.C. is dealing with a number of injuries, including the possible loss of young goalie Bill Hamid to shoulder surgery.
Returning to BMO should provide some comfort for Toronto, who have struggled in the offensive half of late, need to come to life and play with a sense of urgency to make a run towards a playoff berth. Bogged down in CONCACAF Champions League play, this would be an appropriate time to grab three points. Toronto 1, D.C. 0.
COLORADO RAPIDS (9-6-7) vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (11-8-4) Saturday, 4:00 p.m. Telefutura
A stiff test awaits the Rapids, who come into Saturday's match on a two-game winning streak, by a 3-0 score. However, those came against Houston and Chivas, and the revamped Red Bulls will be a much higher scale to judge Colorado by.
New York gets a few internationals back from the international break, and while they'll have some tired legs to overcome, the return of Rafa Marquez to the lineup is a big boost — not to mention speedy winger Dane Richards, provided that he maintains his strong form. New York should be able to keep things in check at home. New York 2, Colorado 1.
CHICAGO FIRE (6-7-8) vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (5-11-6) Saturday, 6:00 p.m. FSC/FSE
This one is a must-win game for Chicago if they genuinely think to make the playoffs. The addition of Freddie Ljungberg and Nery Castillo have yielded some positive results, though not enough wins. With the season winding down, if they can't defeat a team at the bottom of the table like Philadelphia, then postseason play will be out of the question.
Philadelphia has failed to close out wins this year, and Peter Nowak will likely keep a close eye on Chris Seitz as the young goalie continues to struggle in net. Justin Mapp will get a chance to line up against his old team, and will leave his mark on this one. Philadelphia 2, Chicago 1.
FC DALLAS (10-2-10) vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (9-7-5) Saturday, 10:00 p.m. Direct Kick
It's been forever since FC Dallas actually lost a game, and the 13-game unbeaten streak goes on the line out in California. Injuries are mounting for FCD, with both starting center backs Ugo Ihemelu and George John looking set to miss out. The good news is Daniel Hernandez and Atiba Harris return after serving one-game suspensions for yellow card accumulation as Dallas looks to keep pace with the rest of the west.
The Earthquakes have stocked up for the playoff run, and the addition of Geovanni certainly paid off in a road win against Houston. Continuing that trend is important for San Jose, and they'll be able to at least muster a point against Dallas. FC Dallas 1, San Jose 1.
COLUMBUS CREW (13-5-5) vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (13-5-5) Saturday, 10:30 p.m. Direct Kick
Two teams, two identical records, both chasing after the Supporters' Shield. Columbus gets a shot at the Galaxy when they are far from their best — the home side is struggling for goals, and might welcome back David Beckham to the field.
Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle need to get going, and they'll face the difficult prospect of having to break down a defense led by Chad Marshall. Guillermo Barros Schelotto remains the driving force behind the Columbus attack, but the hard-working side needs help from their forward line to overtake the Galaxy. Columbus 2, Los Angeles 0.