This is the last week of the regular season, and though quite a few teams have sealed their playoff fates one way or another, there is still a lot of jostling for seeds and in the West and a scramble for the last places in the East. It should be a good final week of the season, one that will hopefully set up a great set of playoff games well.
Real Salt Lake 2 - Chivas USA 1
Philadelphia - Kansas City
Kansas City have an outside chance at the Supporters Shield and will need some help from Chicago. Philadelphia have an even more outside chance at the playoffs and need help from both DC United and Columbus. The two teams have an afternoon game so they will face off not knowing whether they are essentially playing the game in vain. Sporting are clearly the better team of the two, but Philadelphia have played them well this season, splitting the previous two matches between the teams.
Prediction: In a rematch of the first game of the season, Philadelphia get an early lead thanks to Sebastien Le Toux, only to have Kansas City score three goals in the second half. Everyone says "wait, that's exactly what happened during the first week" and they all feel disappointed that no progress has been made through the course of the season. Prediction: Sporting KC 2 - Philadelphia 1
Toronto - Montreal
The match between Canada's two Eastern teams has limited impact on the playoff picture, Montreal has qualified, Toronto is eliminated. However, there are still high stakes with Canadian bragging rights on the line. On second thought, since Canadians are generally polite, I doubt they brag all that much. Maybe this game isn't so important after all.
Prediction: Toronto take advantage of Alessandro Nesta's absence to score two goals before Montreal manager Marco Schaulbaum realizes he can put in another player as a replacement. Things get better for Montreal once they are playing with an even number of players, and they score two goals late to tie the game after Toronto's Doneil Henry reciprocates by getting sent off for a completely unnecessary foul. Montreal 2- Toronto 0
San Jose - FC Dallas
San Jose has a chance at the playoffs, all they have to do is win the game and score thirteen more goals than the Colorado Rapids do. Normally, this would be a tough assignment for a squad that plays as defensively as San Jose's, but since the Earthquake's roster is about 50% forwards anyways, they may be uniquely equipped for this kind of situation. Meanwhile, the Toros are playing out the rest of their season, but may want to win this one to give manager Schellas Hyndman a good send off.
Prediction: The Earthquakes come out in the vaunted 4-0-6 formation, and find it to be well suited to their brand of hoofing the ball over the midfield. However, after scoring their tenth goal, Stephen Lenhart runs out of fingers to count the number of goals on. This causes the Earthquakes to lose track and fall short of having a chance at the playoffs. Dallas 3 - San Jose 1.
Chivas USA - Portland
Portland has struggled traditionally at Chivas USA, but they have all the incentive in this game. A win secures them the first seed in the west, and depending on what happens with Kansas City and New York, a chance at the Supporters' Shield. Meanwhile Chivas would be playing to get a high draft pick if they didn't trade it away for Gabriel Farfan. Yes, you read that right. The club that traded away Juan Agudelo for beer money traded their first round pick for the lesser of the two Farfan brothers.
Prediction: Eager to show he is worth a top three pick in the draft, Gabriel Farfan plays the game of his life. However, being Gabriel Farfan, the game of his life is worth only a single goal and a few nice tackles. In other words, it's not enough to exceed an average day from the Timbers. Portland 1 - Chivas 0.
DC United - Houston
DC United's season ended with their victory in the US Open Cup. Every game they have played since then has been pre-preseason for 2014, and yet they played Sporting tough last week and got a point out of the Union the week before. This time, they have a chance to be a big time spoiler. Houston need to win this game to have a shot at the playoffs, and depending on what New England do, that might not even be enough.
Prediction: Brad Davis' educated left foot delivers an excellent lofted ball into the box that Will Bruin heads home to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead. DC try to find the equalizer, but because their left feet are less educated they find it very difficult. DC manager Ben Olsen eschews the normal half time talk so that his players' left feet can concentrate on their studies, but they return to the field only to find out that Brad Davis' left foot has started up a new post doc. Overwhelmed by those academic credentials, DC concede another three goals. Over on the sidelines, Ben Olson tells Conor Shannosky's left foot it should have stayed in school. Houston 1- DC 0.
Columbus - New England
This is a rematch of last week, only this time the game is in Columbus. I could use the same preview I used the last time, but I won't. If it was a Spurs blog, maybe that stuff would fly, but at an Arsenal blog we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Victoria Concordia Crescit and all that, you know? So yeah, for New England this is win and they're in the playoffs, which should be excited by them. For Columbus, it is win and they still miss the playoffs, but that's what happens when you only managed forty one points through the first thirty three matchdays. Soccer can be cruel like that.
Prediction: Columbus currently have Jairo Arrieta and Ben Speas scheduled for autograph alley. This is a poor choice as both are good players who could help the Crew on the pitch. Still, the Crew manage to overcome this setback and score the game's first goal. New England score the next two, until Jairo Arrieta and Ben Speas return from signing autographs to give the Crew a 13-11 man advantage on the field. The Crew use their extra two players to score two goals with both Arrieta and Speas recording hat tricks. New England 1 - Columbus 1
New York- Chicago
If the Red Bulls win this game, they will win the Supporters' Shield. This is good news for Match Day Five, but bad news for people who like to mock the Red Bulls about winning trophies, an elite group of wonderful people that includes yours truly. New York are certainly the favorites, but Chicago are a good enough squad to make a match of this and create an opening that either Portland or Kansas City could exploit.
Prediction: In an attempt to help Chicago win, DC send the Fire a bunch of their players to help them out with this game. The only flaw is that DC's players aren't very good, and New York jump out to a two goal lead. The Fire manage to equalize thanks to Mike Magee, but a Tim Cahill goal puts the game away late. New York 2 - Chicago 1.
Vancouver - Colorado
Colorado have all but mathematically sealed a playoff spot, and by the time this game is over, that will likely be sealed as well. Vancouver are going to miss out on the playoffs this year, but the year has been a good one with breakout performances from a number of young players (Manneh, Tiebert) and Camillo Sanvezzo's emergence as a top goal scorer in MLS.
Prediction: Knowing that their playoff destiny is all but set in stone by the time they take the field, Colorado come in to the game complacently only to find that the Whitecaps have already started their vacations early. Colorado play half hearted keepaway amongst themselves for the first half hour, but then they set up an impromptu scrimmage against their reserves for the last hour. Skins 3- Shirts 2.
Orlando City has received funding for a soccer specific stadium. According to an article on Soccer By Ives, they may be announced as a new MLS Club in November and may begin playing in 2015.
In a rare bit of Arsenal MLS crossover news, Arsenal are rumored to be interested in the Vancouver Whitecaps' rookie forward Kekutah Manneh. The Gambian forward has had a good first year in MLS at the age of 18, and has also been linked to Chelsea and Liverpool. Eighty Six Forever, SBN's Whitecaps blog, has their take on the matter. My best guess is this link is just as credible as CJ Sapong to Arsenal, but thought I'd mention it anyways.
Eddie Johnson has been held out of practice for Seattle for an unspecified reason.
Dillon Powers may miss the Rapids' last game due to concussion symptoms.
As always, Bruce Arena is butthurt about something. This time, it's having to play a midweek CCL match before the Galaxy's game against the Sounders.