So, the playoffs don't technically start for another few weeks, but the must win games have already started. Portland and Real Salt Lake face off in a game that could end up determining the supporters shield, Montreal and Philadelphia face each other as they both try to ward off Chicago and New England in the East. Vancouver has a win or go home game against Colorado and Seattle gets another chance to prove they still now how to play soccer when they face off against Dallas. It should be a good week.
LA Galaxy 1 - Montreal 0
Sporting KC - DC United
DC United are coming off a heartbreaking tie against Philadelphia where they held on to a 1-0 lead for most of the second half before conceding a Jack McInerney header late. The point and fantastic Nick DeLeon strike might have been some consolation had the points not been snatched from them so late. Sporting represent a tougher challenge than the Union, and still have a shot at the Supporter's Shield.
Prediction: With Collin suspended due to yellow card accumulation, Matt Besler returns to the Soundes lineup fresh off USMNT duty. The Overland Park native finds it slightly odd to have returned from an international match at Livestrong Park only to play a home game at Livestrong Park but still manages to lock down the defense for Sporting. Reminded of how cool it is to be an international player, Teal Bunbury scores a brace to try and get back into the national team conversation. It doesn't get him Klinsmann's attention, but it is enough for Sporting to win the game. 3-0, Kansas City wins.
Montreal - Philadelphia
The last time Philadelphia went to Montreal, the Impact won 6-0. The Union will have to find a way to handle Marco DiVaio, especially since the Italian will be coming back to Stade Saputo next season. Either team could end up missing out on the playoffs if they lose this game, so the stakes are really high. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the talent in the midfield is low.
Prediction: Philadelphia often try to move the ball out to the left flank, only to realize that with Michael Farfan out, they were only able to field ten players. Marco DiVaio scores four goals and when asked about Farfan's absence in the post game interview, replies with a quick "meh, would have won anyway." 3-1. Montreal wins.
Colorado - Vancouver
This is essentially the first of a two legged playoff where Colorado has the advantage should the two matches end tied. On the other hand, Vancouver has a trophy, as they got more points from their Cascadia Cup matches than either Seattle or Portland.
Prediction: With this game being played at the Home Depot Center, Vancouver come out aggressively hoping to win the series on away goals. When they realize the two legged playoff is more metaphorical than actual, they feel rather sheepish and provide Gabby Torres with the space he needs to score the game's first goal. Vancouver win with two late goals in stoppage time, because this hasn't been a good week for people from Panama. 1-0 Colorado Win.
New England- Columbus
Columbus technically still has a chance at the playoffs, but it's in the way Lloyd Christmas had a chance with Mary Swanson in Dumb and Dumber. New England's case for the playoffs is far more likely. People who enjoy watching Juan Agudelo play soccer will want to tune into this game, considering that he is giving up on the sport and moving to Stoke at the end of the season.
Prediction: Brian Bliss, the Crew's one man front office, gets the team hyped for the game but suffers a late setback when he discovers that Chad Marshall and Josh Williams have left the team to drive to Kansas City to return a briefcase of money to Graham Zusi. New England score goals early, and by the time Marshall and Williams get back, the Crew are down infinity to nothing. They are unable to come back. 2-1 New England wins.'
Chicago - Toronto FC
Toronto can be a frustrating team. They're not a good team, but they will make their opponents work for their points and are not all that fun to watch. The good news for Chicago is that Toronto are pitiful. The bad news for Chicago is that Toronto is exactly the kind of team that could end up playing a spoiler.
Prediction: Toronto decide to put all eleven players behind the ball because reasons, and Chicago struggles to break down the Reds' defense early on. However, buoyed by the return of Arevalo Rios from international duty, the Fire manage to score fifteen goals in the second half. Ryan Nelsen is upset by this, but shrugs it off saying "I manage Toronto, what do you expect?" 1-1
Portland - Real Salt Lake
This is probably the most exciting match MLS has on tap this week. The Timbers are in great form at the moment while RSL has looked the class of the league for a decent stretch this year. If either team gets three points, they will have the lead in the Supporter's Shield race.
Prediction: Considering the large number of quality microbrews in Portland, the visitors from Utah are likely to be able to get out of the gate early. Portland score two goals early but Salt Lake manage to get one back in the 83rd minute after they've finally worked off their hangover. 2-1 Portland Win.
Houston - New York
New York is still in the running for the Supporters Shield, and Houston is competing for a playoff spot. As a Union fan who would both want to see Philadelphia in the playoffs and New York never win any trophy, I don't know how to feel about this game.
Prediction: The defenses cancel each other out, leading to a 0-0 tie. Both teams somehow get three points for some reason, because I can't have nice things. 1-0 Houston
LA Galaxy - San Jose
Can a game possibly have as many people as insufferable as this one does? After all, it is Bruce Arena vs Stephen Lenhart. The San Jose Stokequakes take their particular offense to international soccer to Los Angeles to face off against MLS' whiniest coach. Shame that this is the game ESPN chose to televise this week.
Prediction: Lenhart and Gordon stop drawing paintings on their cave wall early in this game, scoring a goal in the third minute. Bruce Arena begins to complain, and the LA Galaxy rally to equalize late just to shut him up. LA wins 1-0.