Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
With just three games left in the regular season, several MLS teams are entering a series of games that have become do-or-die.
After failing to take advantage of their game in hand, Toronto FC have a chance to gain some ground on the fourth-place New York Red Bulls when the two sides collide Saturday. Meanwhile, the fifth-place Columbus Crew will look to hold back the Philadelphia Union, who sit just four points back.
In addition, the Vancouver Whitecaps continue their playoff fight against the league-leading Seattle Sounders, the Houston Dynamo look to keep hope alive against D.C. United and the LA Galaxy square off with FC Dallas.
Here’s a look at this weekend’s MLS slate:
SPORTING KC vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Friday, 8 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
Fresh off of a scoreless draw with D.C. United, Sporting KC head into a matchup Friday with a masters of the art, the Chicago Fire.
The Fire settled for yet another draw, their 18th of the season, last week against the Montreal Impact. The Fire will now be tasked with taking on a struggling Sporting KC, who have won just one of their last seven games.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (Friday, 10 p.m., NBCSN)
Sitting two points out with a game in hand, the Vancouver Whitecaps will look to climb the Western Conference standings against their Cascadia rivals.
The Sounders remain a part of the two-horse race for the Supporters’ Shield along with the LA Galaxy, who they will play twice in the following two weeks. That sets up Friday’s clash as a potential trap game against a Whitecaps side looking to jump over a team mutually despised by both sides: the Portland Timbers.
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 4:00 p.m., Univision Deportes)
The New England Revolution have a legitimate chance of claiming the Eastern Conference’s top spot when all is said in done. However, if they are to do so, it will have to start this weekend at Montreal.
The Revs sit four points behind D.C. United with three to play, meaning that the Revs will essentially need to win out while relying on some D.C. United slip-ups. That all begins Friday against the Impact, whose motivation at this point is essentially limited to sending forward Marco Di Vaio out on a high note.
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 7 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
After last week’s disaster against the Chicago Fire, the Philadelphia Union are running out of time.
The Union’s climb back into contention conveniently starts against the very team that they are chasing: the Columbus Crew. With the international callup of goalkeeper Rais MBolhi, The Union will see the return of goalkeeper Zac Macmath who will now be tasked with playing error-free against the new-look Crew.
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. TORONTO FC ( Saturday, 7 p.m., Univision Deportes)
Despite all of the off-the-field drama, the New York Red Bulls can all but cement their status as a playoff team with a victory this weekend over Toronto FC.
The Red Bulls currently sit four points above the red line following with games against the Columbus Crew and Sporting KC on the horizon. A win Saturday could potentially clinch the Red Bulls’ postseason spot, while a TFC victory would completely open up the Eastern Conference postseason race.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 9:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
Real Salt Lake have a chance to finally clinch their playoff berth against a Chris Wondolowski-less San Jose Earthquakes side.
In a game that has been decimated by injuries and callups, RSL will look to avoid the drop to the dreaded fourth seed. Fresh off a pair of disappointing losses to the Vancouver Whitecaps and Chivas USA. RSL will now face the Earthquakes, who are winless since Aug. 2.
CHIVAS USA vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
In a weekend filled with matchups with playoff implications, Saturday’s meeting between Chivas USA and the Colorado Rapids is for little more than mere pride.
Both teams are eliminated from the playoff chase due to previous losing streaks. The Rapids are currently in the midst of an 11-game winless streak, while Chivas USA snapped their 12-game streak with a win over Real Salt Lake last time out.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. D.C. UNITED (Sunday, 3 p.m., MLS Direct Kick)
Just days after a season-saving victory over Toronto FC, the Houston Dynamo have to get right back at it against the conference-leading D.C. United.
The Dynamo currently sit four points out of the final postseason spot, despite a -15 goal differential. A victory over D.C. United will be paramount, although it will be anything but easy as D.C. United look to lock up the East’s top seed.
FC DALLAS vs. LA GALAXY (Sunday, 7 p.m., ESPN 2)
Just 48 hours after his emotional farewell to the U.S. Men’s National Team, Landon Donovan will rejoin his LA Galxy teammates against fellow playoff-bound side FC Dallas.
The Galaxy remain in a full on battle for the Supporters’ Shield with the Seattle Sounders, but the team’s focus must remain on an always-dangerous FC Dallas side. Winger Fabian Castillo remains questionable for the hosts, who sit just one point out of third place.