Preview of the MLS Games on the Final Weekend of the Regular Season
Philadelphia Union V Sporting Kansas City 26 October
Despite suffering a loss last week which snapped their three game unbeaten run the Union still have a shot of reaching the playoff. Although currently sitting seventh in the East they are only two points off the teams in front of them and depending what New England, Chicago and Houston do a victory could see them secure one of the top five positions. When these two sides previously met last month it was Philly that were successful by a single goal and that game was in Kansas as well. If selected it will be the 100th MLS game for Sheanon Williams, the first Union play to reach that landmark since they made their bow in the league in 2010.
Sporting come into this encounter sitting second in the Eastern Conference one point behind leaders New York. Although already guaranteed post-season action they can still claim the East crown and the Supporters Shield if they can record a win and the Red Bulls fail to gain the maximum haul. When they travelled to play Philly on the opening night of the season it was Sporting who came off the field victorious after a 3-1 triumph, so the trend is with them as the visiting team.
Toronto FC V Montreal Impact
The hosts will end the season in ninth place in the East and come into this game having lost their last two and four of their previous five encounters. When the two Canadian outfits last faced each other here in July in ended with them sharing the spoils in a six goal thriller.
After snapping their three game losing run with a win in their last match to remain in third place Montreal still need a win here to be absolutely sure of claiming a playoff spot in the East with them only holding a one point advantage over the sixth place side. They have recorded a win over Toronto this campaign when they registered a 2-1 success in March, but that was on their own patch. Alessandro Nesta who will be retiring at the end of this season, will miss this game because of a right calf injury but hopes to be back for the playoffs should the Impact be successful in making them.
San Jose Earthquakes V FC Dallas
Although unbeaten in their last six games with the way the tie-breakers are set up the home side will need something of a miracle to qualify for the playoffs out West. Even with a win and a Seattle and Colorado loss to put all three sides together on 51 points the Sounders would still have one more win, which is the first thing that is used to split the teams. Although they will be tied on wins with the Rapids the second tie-break option is goals scored. That is were the Earthquakes problems start as they need to make up a difference of a dozen. When the two sides battled last in Texas back in August the match ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
After starting the season with six wins out of their first eight outings Dallas only managed five more successes the rest of the season and will finish in either eighth, were they sit currently, or seventh if they can get a win and Vancouver fail to match them. One of those five later wins was against San Jose though when they played them on their home territory in May and were victorious by a single tally.
Chivas USA V Portland Timbers
Depending what the hosts do in their midweek game at Real Salt Lake they will be looking at having snapped a three game losing run or extending it to four. Their finishing position though has be assured for some time as they sit adrift at the foot of the Western Conference. They did however manage to take a point off Portland when the two sides drew 1-1 here last month.
Unbeaten in their last seven outings the Timbers currently lead the way out West by a point over Real Salt Lake, but do trail the Red Bulls by two points for the lead in the Supporters Shield race and significantly in the tie-breakers of total wins and goals scored. When they take the field Real will have already completed their campaign so they will know exactly what is needed in the Western Conference race at least. The first time this season that the two squads squared off in May it was the Timbers who came out on top 3-0, though that game did take place in Oregon.
DC United V Houston Dynamo 27 October
Despite winning the US Open Cup their league form has being atrocious as coming in to this fixtures they have walked off the pitch at the end with the score in their favour just three times and are ten points behind Toronto at the basement of the Eastern Conference. Midfielder Perry Kitchen will be unavailable after picking up a one game band for accumulating to many bookings.
A loss last time out derailed the Dynamos push for a playoff birth in the East. Currently the first side on the outside looking in as far as post-season play is concerned they really need to secure a better result than New England, who will kick off about 30 minutes after this game is scheduled to end, as they trail by 9 in the goal scored column. Even that might not be enough as they need to keep a watchful eye on the Philadelphia result the previous day because if they have won they will need a victory to keep in front of the Union or end up scoring more goals than Philly have if they draw. The positive for the visitors is that in their two previous contests with DC at home in their opening game and in DC in May they have come out on top both times by a margin of 2-0 and 4-0.
Columbus Crew V New England Revolution
Two straight defeats in their last two games finally put paid to the Crews late push for a playoff spot and they find themselves guaranteed to end the season occupying the eighth spot in the East.
The Revs who enter this contest on the back of a five game unbeaten run which has included wins in their last two. Sitting on the bubble in fifth spot they know a win will virtually secure a playoff birth in the Eastern Conference. Confidence should also be high for New England as they look to sweep the season series with the Crew after recording a 2-0 win in July here and following that up with just last week with a 3-2 victory on their own ground. From now on midfielder Diego Fagundez, a native of Uruguay, will count as a domestic player after he gained permanent resident status from the U.S. government.
New York Red Bulls V Chicago Fire
The hosts have everything in their own hands as they look to lock up both the Eastern Conference title and the Supporters Shield. Unbeaten in their last seven games they know one more three pointer will see them home.
After spending so much time outside of the Eastern Conference playoff spots the Fire now sit in fourth but with only a point separating them and sixth place Houston they know that the three game winning run needs to be made into four to be sure of lacing it up in the post-season. In the only meeting between these two sides back in April in Chicago it was the Fire who came out with a 3-1 win. If he plays goal-keeper Sean Johnson will became the second youngest shot-stopper to appear in 100 MLS games, 24 years & 149 days , only Nick Rimando, 24 years & 100 days, was younger.
Vancouver Whitecaps V Colorado Rapids
A defeat in their previous game put an end to the Whitecaps chances of playoff football. They have got a shot at finishing sixth in the Western Conference if they can win and San Jose fail to add to their current points tally as they have easily scored more goals than the Earthquakes.
Unless something remarkable happens the Rapids are in the playoffs after their win last week. Even stranger could be the fact that if Portland and Real gain no more points and Seattle and LA draw the Rapids could finish their champaign as the best in the West, if they get a victory, by the fact that they have more wins. They have owned the Whitecaps this term on their own field as they have recorded a 2-0 win in August and a 3-2 success just last week. For his two goals in that fixture forward Gabriel Torres was named MLS Player of the Week.
Seattle Sounders V LA Galaxy
The fact San Jose failed to win against this same Galaxy side meant Seattle were guaranteed post-season action without having to kick a ball. That was probably something the Sounders were happy about because when they have had to play lately it has resulted in four consecutive reversals. They did manage to get a 1-1 tie though when the sides met last in LA last month. As with all the teams in the top five in the West Seattle can still finish in any of the playoff places depending on their results.
LA come in to this match on the back of a three game unbeaten run as they look to finish their campaign on a positive note. Confidence should be high as they have already handed the Sounders a 4-0 loss back in May, although that game did take place in California.