1. A banner day in San Jose: More than 5,000 supporters will help the Earthquakes break ground on their 18,000-seat stadium on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles visits Buck Shaw Stadium later that night in a derby match that could end with Frank Yallop's side lifting the Supporters' Shield. All of the pieces are in place for one of the best days in franchise history. The only thing left? Another three points to gather.
2. New York attempts to ward off Sporting Kansas City: Hans Backe's players flailed when confronted by Sporting's high pressure in a 2-0 defeat last month. That response simply isn't on the table in this encounter. New York must find a way to build out of the back to relieve the pressure (more mobility in central midfield in this affair will help) and shift the focus of the affair into other areas. That task is easier said than done against Sporting, but the Red Bulls must at least display some base level of competency when transitioning out of the back in order to retain a chance to collect the points.
3. Five years of pain could end with one solitary point: D.C. United will secure its first playoff berth since 2007 with a draw or a victory against Columbus at RFK Stadium on Saturday night. Ben Olsen's side merits its spot in the postseason after finding a way to grind out results without the injured Dwayne De Rosario. The circumstances in this game – Columbus probably needs all three points to stay in the playoff race with Houston hosting Philadelphia at the same time and may have to open up a touch to chase the win – could even help a potentially nervy United outfit nick the goal or two required and release some of the angst accumulated during this painful stretch for the club.
4. A Cascadia Cup clash for the ages: Portland and Vancouver meet at B.C. Place on Sunday night with more than just Pacific Northwest superiority on the line. Martin Rennie's side can cinch its first playoff berth and hand Cascadia bragging rights to their hated rivals in Seattle (admittedly, the Whitecaps won't enjoy that part) by defeating the Timbers. The visitors can salvage some modest pride from the season by lifting the Pacific Northwest crown. Expect even more intensity than the usual derby match with the stakes in play.
5. A grand gesture won't distract from the real problems in Toronto: TFC investor/operators Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) attempted to ease the pain of Reds season-ticket holders by reducing prices for next season. The cut to expansion season levels will ease the strain of supporters' wallets at an opportune time, but it won't obscure that the team hasn't progressed much since it entered the league in 2007. Only results will satiate this beleaguered fan base.
Last week: 4/9 (44%)
This season: 116/246 (47%)
Montréal @ Toronto FC (1:30p.m., TSN/RDS) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Felipe Martins' absence (hernia) could hinder the aesthetic qualities of this contentious derby outing.
Sporting Kansas City @ New York (7:00p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Can the Red Bulls set aside the chaos and supply a riposte to last month's embarrassing home defeat?
Prediction: Sporting Kansas City win.
Columbus @ D.C. United (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: If the past five years in the District have proved anything, then this match will carry its fair share of ups and downs for United.
Philadelphia @ Houston (7:30p.m., NBC Sports Network/TSN 2) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: This match kicks off a huge week for the Dynamo on two fronts. It must start by conjuring up a good performance and securing all three points against the Union.
Prediction: Houston win.
Chicago @ New England (7:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: One major problem for the Revs (aside from Benny Feilhaber's one-match ban): Chris Rolfe always finds a way to influence matches against them.
Prediction: Chicago win.
Colorado @ Chivas USA (9:30p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Will the Red-and-White finally taste victory for the first time since July 28?
Prediction: Chivas USA win.
Los Angeles @ San Jose (7:00p.m., Galavision) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: Los Angeles will do all it can to dampen the celebrations. It probably won't be enough.
Prediction: San Jose win.
Portland @ Vancouver (7:00p.m.) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: It won't be an easy road for sure, but the Whitecaps will celebrate at B.C. Place on Sunday night.
Prediction: Vancouver win.
FC Dallas @ Seattle (9:00p.m., ESPN/ESPN Deportes/TSN 2/RDS 2) – Goal.com match preview
Overview: The result in Vancouver will influence this game. Even if FCD still has something on the line at kickoff, Sounders FC – complete with its returning contingent of internationals – should extinguish the visitors' playoff hopes by the final whistle.
Prediction: Seattle win.
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