MLS Week 23 preview, TV schedule

The Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake meet Saturday with first place in the Western Conference and the Supporters' Shield race on the line.

Friday, August 15
9:00 Houston Dynamo
- Philadelphia Union
Saturday, August 16
2:30 Real Salt Lake
- Seattle Sounders
6:30 Montreal Impact
- Chicago Fire
7:30 New England Revolution
- Portland Timbers
MLS Live
Columbus Crew
- LA Galaxy
MLS Live
8:30 Sporting Kansas City
- Toronto FC
MLS Live
Chivas USA
- Vancouver Whitecaps
10:30 San Jose Earthquakes
- FC Dallas
MLS Live
Sunday, August 17
D.C. United
- Colorado Rapids

All times p.m. ET

Houston Dynamo - Philadelphia Union

The Dynamo have a big chance to climb back into the playoff picture when they host the Union on Friday night. The Union are tied for the fifth and final playoff spot, and Houston is five points back, meaning the home side will be desperate for a win in the nationally televised match.

Philadelphia comes into the match on a four-game league unbeaten run, while Houston will be looking to bounce back from a 2-0 loss at Seattle on Sunday. The teams have met once already this season, in a scoreless draw on April 19 at PPL Park.

Real Salt Lake - Seattle Sounders

The best in the west square off on Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised match at Rio Tinto Stadium. Seattle reclaimed first place in the Western Conference after a 2-0 win over Houston on Sunday. The Sounders sit two points ahead of RSL with two games in hand, but the home side is starting to heat up, going five MLS games unbeaten.

Seattle will be less rested, after dismantling Chicago 6-0 on Wednesday night to reach the U.S. Open Cup final. The Sounders will also have to do without key striker Obafemi Martins, who picked up a red card in the victory over the Dynamo.

Montreal Impact - Chicago Fire

The Fire will want to put their 6-0 U.S. Open Cup loss to Seattle on Wednesday in the rearview mirror and seize three points against last-place Montreal. Despite having just four wins in 2014, Chicago could jump into playoff positioning with a win.

The Impact, who have lost seven straight games, could see Argentine midfielder Ignacio Piatti make his debut after arriving on a designated player contract. The Fire will hope forward Mike Magee can make it three straight games with a goal after serving a suspension during the Open Cup loss.

New England Revolution - Portland Timbers

Two teams just outside the playoff picture meet up Saturday when the Timbers head east to Gillette Stadium. Portland is two points outside the final postseason spot in the Western Conference, while New England is just one point out in the East.

After a rough start, the Timbers are starting to gain momentum, with last weekend’s 2-0 win over Chivas USA their third win in four games. After breaking a nine-game losing streak, the Revs returned to losing ways last weekend, falling 2-1 at New York despite having a man advantage for more than half the game.

Columbus Crew - LA Galaxy

With just one loss in their last 12 games - to the reigning MLS Cup Champions, no less - the LA Galaxy (9-4-7, 34 pts) are the tema that absolutely nobody wants to face right now. The Columbus Crew (6-8-9, 27 pts), stuck in a tight playoff race, certainly won't look upon the encounter as a particularly kind bit of scheduling.

The Crew will be especially aware of the form of LA homegrown Gyasi Zardes. The second-year forward has started to live up to the hype surrounding his potential and has nine goals for the Galaxy this season, behind only DP star Robbie Keane in the club's scoring charts.

Crew coach and former LA defender Gregg Berhalter has weapons of his own, however. Federico Higuain (nine goals, five assists) is a bona fide star, while Ethan Finlay (five goals, three assists) has had a breakout season in limited minutes.

Sporting Kansas City - Toronto FC

Eastern Conference dominance is on the line as reigning MLS Cup champ Sporting Kansas City (11-6-6, 39 pts) hosts the upstart Toronto FC (9-7-5, 32 pts). Sporting currently leads the pack, but the three-horse race for top seed (also involving D.C. United) doesn't leave much room for error, and SKC has dipped in recent weeks, following up a four-game winning streak with a draw against Philly and a loss to Vancouver.

Both of these teams have relied on English talent to find the net this season. Sporting's Dom Dwyer is an MVP candidate with his 14 goals, while TFC's two top scorers are Jermain Defoe (11 goals, two assists) and Luke Moore (five goals, three assists).

This is the third regular-season meeting between the sides this year. The first was a 2-2 draw on May 23rd in Kansas, but KC improved in the July 26 Ontario rematch to earn a 2-1 win.

Chivas USA - Vancouver Whitecaps

The Whitecaps (7-4-11, 32 pts) ended a five-game winless run and moved back above the red line with a surprise win against Sporting KC, and they'll look to consolidate that position with three points against Chivas USA (6-11-5, 23 points).

The Goats were forcing themselves into the playoff conversation earlier this season largely thanks to the goals of Erick "Cubo" Torres, but his scoring touch has abandoned him in recent weeks and Wilmer Cabrera hasn't been able to coax replacements out of his other forwards; Chivas has been shut out in is last three matches and fallen to the bottom of the West with four straight losses.

San Jose Earthquakes - FC Dallas

It wasn't that long ago that San Jose (6-8-6, 24 pts) was on the bottom of the West, mired in a four-game losing streak. But a draw against the New York Red Bulls was followed up by a galvanizing 5-1 demolition of Chicago and a confidence-inspiring win over Seattle. With their latest positive result - a point off red-hot LA in the Califonia Clasico - the 'Quakes are now back in the hunt, although they remain outsiders.

Dallas (10-7-6, 36 pts) is one of the teams being pursued, but recent form suggest the Hoops may be able to hold off the competition. FCD has done what it couldn't last year, picking up from a midseason run of poor form to go on a storming eight-match undefeated run.

D.C. United - Colorado Rapids

Coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since March, United will look to get back on track at RFK Stadium. Striker Eddie Johnson is suspended, with Fabian Espindola likely to step in and make his first start since an early-June knee injury.

The Rapids enter this match on a skid of their own, having lost three straight matches. Colorado will likely again be without defender Shane O'Neill, who is doubtful with knee and groin ailments, while United will be missing left back Chris Korb to a hamstring injury.

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