The international break is over and now it’s time for the mad dash across the finish line to the postseason.
The race for the final five playoff positions in Major League Soccer begins on Wednesday, as three key games take place.
Thursday’s game at Rio Tinto Stadium might mean the most to the postseason picture, as Real Salt Lake plays the first of two games in four days before watching everyone else play on Decision Day.
Below is a look at what the SBI Soccer staff thinks will occur during the Week 34 midweek games.
Orlando City vs. Seattle Sounders (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN+)
Ives Galarcep: Tie, 1-1. The Sounders would normally be heavy favorites, even on the road, but international call-ups have Seattle extremely short-handed, making a draw reasonable.
Joe Tansey: Orlando City, 2-1. The Lions finally show some signs of life and break their scoreless streak that dates back to September 1 while spoiling Seattle’s run to the postseason.
Larry Henry: Sounders, 2-1. Sounders continue their move up the West with a come-from-behind win at struggling Orlando City.
Joe Hojnacki: : Sounders, 2-0. Not even an opponent making a cross country road trip can heat up Orlando City.
Jimmy Mack: Sounders, 3-1. Orlando has one of the all-time worst defenses with 70 goals allowed, tied for most in MLS history, and they won’t be able to stop a surging Seattle side.
D.C. United vs. Toronto FC (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TSN2)
Ives Galarcep: D.C. United, 2-1. With TFC’s season basically over, D.C. should be able to roll over the reigning champions, though it won’t be a blowout.
Larry Henry: D.C United, 2-0. D.C. further increases their lead over the Impact for the final spot in the East with a comfortable home win.
Joe Tansey: D.C. United, 2-0. The D.C. train keeps rolling at full steam into the postseason with the No. 6 seed in sight.
Joe Hojnacki: D.C. United, 1-0. DCU continues its hot streak against a Toronto team plagued by injuries and apathy at the end of the year.
Jimmy Mack: D.C. United, 2-1. D.C.’s playoff push since Wayne Rooney’s arrival has been amazing to watch, and they’ll cement their spot in top six in the East after beating a disappointing Toronto side.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Sporting Kansas City (Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+, TSN 1/2)
Ives Galarcep: Sporting KC, 2-0. The Whitecaps are tough at home, but Sporting KC matches up well and should be able to neutralize Vancouver’s attacking threats.
Joe Tansey: Tie, 2-2. Vancouver clings onto its playoff life with a home draw, but it won’t be enough to put the Whitecaps in the top six by Decision Day.
Larry Henry: Sporting KC 3-1. It may not be the blowout Sporting KC inflicted on Vancouver earlier this season, but the visitors get the job done in easy fashion.
Joe Hojnacki: 1-1 Tie. The Whitecaps’ playoff push hits a snag against a very good SKC team, but they hold on for a point to stay barely alive.
Jimmy Mack: Draw 2-2. Vancouver is looking to squeak into the playoffs while SKC is trying to secure a top two spot in the West, but Kansas City goes into BC Place and leaves with a result despite missing Felipe Gutierrez and Krisztian Nemeth to international duty.
Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Ives Galarcep: Tie, 1-1. RSL is very tough at home, and the Revs are awful on the road, but some key absences in RSL’s attack levels the playing field, causing Mike Petke’s team to drop valuable points.
Joe Tansey: Real Salt 4-1. RSL navigates all of its international absences to make a statement and gain momentum heading into its final game of the season on Sunday.
Larry Henry: Real Salt Lake 2-1. The Revs got a consolation goal late but RSL snaps their four-match winless run at a good time of the season.
Joe Hojnacki: Real Salt Lake, 2-0. New England will struggle in the mountains as RSL continues their match towards the playoffs spot.
Jimmy Mack: Draw 1-1. RSL desperately needs a home win if they want to bolster their 6th place standing in the West, but the absences of Joao Plata, Albert Rusnak, and Jefferson Savarino, all of whom are on international duty, make it too difficult for RSL to come away with the full three points.