The hangover from the U.S. Men’s National Team’s failure in Trinidad and Tobago is still lingering, but there is more soccer to worry about in North America.
Finally, the marathon that is the Major League Soccer regular season is reaching its conclusion and the next two Sundays will feature a decent amount of drama.
Five games at Eastern Conference venues will occur at once with six at Western Conference stadiums to follow on Sunday. Here’s a look at each of the 11 games and their playoff implications:
Philadelphia Union at Chicago Fire (5 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
The Union were officially eliminated from the postseason last week along with three other teams in the East. Now the focus is on spoiling Chicago’s seeding while building toward 2018.
The Fire face a crucial fight to earn as high a seed as possible in the final two weeks of the season. They are four points out of second and one point behind third-place Atlanta United. The biggest concern is to secure fourth place and a knockout-round home game at minimum.
New York City FC at New England Revolution (5 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
New York City FC has a win and a draw against the New England Revolution in 2017, and will need to further that record with a result to stay firmly locked into second place in the East. A loss could wreak havoc on the East picture, and it could set up a New York derby knockout-round game.
The Revs are stumbling to the finish line, with four points from their last five games. Finishing strong is important for the core of players on the roster with a new coach coming in for 2018.
Atlanta United at New York Red Bulls (5 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
The game with the most importance in the East comes from Red Bull Arena, where the pressure has been lifted off the shoulders of the New York Red Bulls for now after they clinched the final East playoff berth.
Atlanta United limped into the international break with a tie at New England and a home loss to Minnesota United. Regaining form while still chasing the second seed in the East will be driving the Five Stripes on Sunday.
Columbus Crew at Orlando City (5 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
Orlando City Stadium will be packed with emotion as Kaka bids farewell to the Lions in his final appearance with the club on Sunday. Orlando has been able to achieve a ton of success with the Brazilian in the fold, but it would be great to send him off with a victory.
Columbus like it will be seeded fifth in the East barring a massive shuffle in the final two weeks. There’s an outside chance the Crew could snag fourth from the Fire, but in order to do so, they must spoil Kaka’s farewell.
Montreal Impact at Toronto FC (5 p.m. ET, TSN)
The final 401 Derby of the year pits one of the most inconsistent teams in MLS against arguably the best team in MLS history.
Montreal’s only win in its last eight games is a 5-3 triumph at BMO Field on September 20, while Toronto is on cruise control heading into the playoffs with a No. 1 seed and the Supporters’ Shield.
Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids (7:30 p.m. ET)
Real Salt Lake may have already secured the Rocky Mountain Cup for 2017, but RSL still hunting for a playoff position. Mike Petke’s side needs help from elsewhere to move above the red line again, but as long as they take care of business in Colorado, they’ll be in decent shape for Decision Day.
As for Colorado, this game is as meaningless as it can get. Fitting the role of spoiler against a rival they haven’t beaten in three meetings is all the motivation the Rapids have.
Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City (7:30 p.m. ET)
Houston took a 2-1 win from Sporting KC at home on Tuesday to slide back up to fifth in the West with 46 points. A draw at Children’s Mercy Park would be an incredible result and it would do wonders for the Dynamo.
However, Sporting KC is 10-1-5 at home and just suffered its first home loss before the international break. With Vancouver still in its sights, don’t expect Peter Vermes’ side to slip up again.
Minnesota United at LA Galaxy (7:30 p.m. ET)
By MLS logic, the game with the least riding on it on Sunday will be the most entertaining so get ready to tune into a six-goal thriller at StubHub Center.
Minnesota United is locked into ninth place in the West, which is a respectable finish given its start, while the Galaxy are fighting with the Rapids for the worst record in MLS.
FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1)
The game everyone in the West will have eyes on takes place at CenturyLink Field. The FC Dallas-Seattle result could affect the West playoff race in a million different ways depending on the 90 minutes in the Pacific Northwest go.
The only meeting between the two teams in 2017 was a goalless draw in Frisco on September 16. With the stakes much higher, expect an open contest between the current No. 4 and No.6 seeds in the West.
San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN1)
San Jose has the most to lose in the West entering Sunday. With RSL playing a weaker opponent in Colorado and FC Dallas and Houston on the upswing, the Earthquakes have to find a way to take a point from BC Place.
A win at home would help the Whitecaps clinch the No. 1 seed in the West, so look for Carl Robinson’s squad to roll at home.
D.C. United at Portland Timbers (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live)
D.C. United has just four points from its last five games and is officially going to finish last in the East. The Black and Red are looking ahead to Decision Day at home against the Red Bulls more than anything.
Portland needs a win to secure a spot in the postseason. The Timbers seeding will not be determined until Decision Day, but three points puts them in great position to host a knockout-round game.