After the international break, during which saw our beloved Red Bull Arena lose it's USMNT virginity, it's back to MLS action. You shouldn't have to be reminded we're in the thick of a playoff race, but here it is: We're in the thick of a playoff race. After the big win over LA last week, we currently sit at ninth, with the Houston Dynamo stuck in the tenth spot thanks to goal differential.
Wednesday, October 12
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. D.C. United
D.C. has got one thing the rest of the teams in the playoff picture don't, and that's time. In playing only 30 games United's five point playoff deficit doesn't seem as insurmountable. Everyone else with a legitimate shot at the playoffs have played 32, save the Portland Timbers who have played 31.
A Vancouver victory would be nice and go a long way to neutralizing D.C.'s games in hand advantage.
Friday, October 14
Neither team looks particularly good heading into this Rocky Mountain Cup match-up. RSL has lost their last four and the Rapids 1-3-1 in their last five. Real Salt Lake already has their playoff spot sewn up, despite their poor form. Colorado, on the other hand, holds a two point lead over the Bulls for the eight playoff spot, making a Rapids loss ideal.
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo
If Portland wins they're right back in the thick of things, as they sit right outside of the playoff race with 40 points. It's up to Houston to keep them out. However, Houston is a notoriously awful road team and Portland plays markedly better in front of the Timbers Army. Both teams are 2-1-2 in their last five. Hopefully they'll play to a draw.
Saturday, October 15
In a match-up from the "let's not get ahead of ourselves" department, Toronto FC travels to PPL Park for a match-up with the Union. We already know the Sons of Ben are looking past this match to the season finale against our boys in the Cathedral of American Soccer. Let's just hope Philly is, since if they lose we could be playing for the top spot in the East come Oct. 20.
In another game which needs to hold the disclaimer that we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves, the Revs play host to the Crew. If Columbus loses, which isn't likely with New England being the worst team in the East, the Red Bulls can still hope to get an Eastern Conference automatic qualifier provided they keep up their end of the bargain. A sacrifice to the football gods is in order to make sure Columbus and New England play to a draw.
If there's one thing this week's match-ups prove is that the odd MLS playoff format certainly makes for some late season drama. A win could vault the Red Bulls into the top 3 spots in the conference and possibly even set the Red Bulls up to earn the top seed. A loss or draw and some choice wins could render the Bulls out of the playoffs altogether.
For the third straight week the mantra remains the same: Get three points.