Photo by Don Feria/ISIphotos.com
By THOMAS FLOYD
Well, the New York Red Bulls sure took the drama out of this weekend.
With New York's 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, the 10th and final ticket to the postseason was booked, and the Portland Timbers and Chicago Fire were eliminated from playoff contention.
But not is all decided, as the seeding remains far from certain — particularly in an Eastern Conference so wide open that the Houston Dynamo could finish the weekend in first place or fifth.
And in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas enter their respective matches tied for third, meaning one team will secure automatic passage to the conference semifinals while the other will be forced into a wild-card match.
Here is a rundown of the full Week 32 slate:
TORONTO FC vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., TSN)
Could this be the end of an era for the Revolution? With one of the worst campaigns in franchise history coming to a close, the future of stalwarts coach Steve Nicol and captain Shalrie Joseph is up in the air.
Although Toronto is wrapping up a similarly dismal league campaign, there should be some positive energy in the BMO Field air after the club locked up a berth in the spring's CONCACAF Champions League knockout phase earlier this week.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 7 p.m., Direct Kick)
Home-field advantage in the wild-card playoff round is on the line for Colorado as it visits Vancouver at BC Place. Considering just two of the Rapids' nine losses this year have come at home, opening the playoffs at Dick's Sporting Goods Park would be crucial for Colorado.
The Rapids will be without sturdy defender Drew Moor, who will be forced to sit this contest out because of yellow-card accumulation.
D.C. UNITED vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
With a win, Sporting Kansas City will clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference, thus completing its regular-season turnaround after spending the season's first several months in the conference cellar.
While United's playoff chances were dashed earlier this week, Dwayne De Rosario could be looking to lock up the Golden Boot and enhance his MVP odds if he plays through the shin injury that hampered him Wednesday.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Like the D.C.-Kansas City matchup, this fixture features one team just eliminated from playoff contention and another fighting to finish the season first place in the Eastern Conference.
Although Chicago's playoff dreams are over, the Crew knows a win could push it toward the conference's top slot. A loss, meanwhile, may drop Columbus into an away game in the wild-card round.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)
A New York loss Thursday would have rendered this matchup the must-see clash of the weekend. Alas, the Red Bulls win knocked the Timbers out, and Jeld-Wen Field will have to wait at least another year to see the postseason.
Salt Lake, though, still has plenty to play for. A triumph will move coach Jason Kreis' club into a Western Conference semifinal against Seattle, but a draw or loss could push the team into the wild-card round.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Competing with Salt Lake for third in the Western Conference is Dallas, which faces a San Jose team with little to play for other than Chris Wondolowski's pursuit of consecutive Golden Boots.
Dallas, which will lose the head-to-head tiebreaker with Salt Lake should the teams finish the season even on points, will have to play without the suspended Jackson in this contest.
CHIVAS USA vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)
Aside from the Toronto-New England matchup, this is the only fixture this weekend with no playoff implications, as Chivas is out of the postseason picture while Seattle is locked into the Western Conference's No. 2 seed.
For Seattle, though, the match does represent a last chance for MVP candidates Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso to pad their stats and potentially break into the field of three finalists.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (Sunday, 7 p.m., Galavision)
Houston's circumstances will be a lot clearer by the time this match kicks off Sunday. Depending on Saturday's results, the Dynamo could be playing for first place or simply hoping to avoid Dallas or Salt Lake in the wild-card round.
Considering the Galaxy clinched the Supporters' Shield weeks ago and played a critical Champions League match Thursday, look for Los Angeles to send a reserve-heavy lineup to the final regular-season match at Robertson Stadium.
Trick there is, only the teams who rack up better results during the regular season get to be in the playoffs…
Just meant to say that each team plays, on average, more than one game a week for the season.
Where is the Friday game, awful MLS schedulers???
I would much rather see Chicago in the playoffs rather than Columbus or Colorado
Don;t know if anyone else saw it, but on the espn soccer page right now, there is a picture of Wayne Rooney with the hair of Ryan Giggs, priceless.
Nope. There are Wednesday games.
Isnt it week 34?
… and a A-/B+ loss to Houston. Word up! Dynamo.
I think there is a chance that Bruce may send some reserves. But I think the prospect of hitting 70 points appeals to the boys.
I think we will see an A-/B+ lineup in Houston.