MLS Week 29: A Look Ahead

MLSCUPTQ(R)2860

Photo by Tony Quinn/ISIphotos.com

By THOMAS FLOYD

Saturday's showdown between the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas may be a rematch of last year's MLS Cup, but neither team has looked anything like a title contender lately.

Dallas is 0-6-1 in its past seven matches in all competitions, while Colorado has gone 1-5-1. Both clubs will look to get back to their winning ways Saturday, and with four points separating the two teams in the wild-card field, this meeting could considerably affect playoff seeding.

Elsewhere Saturday, two of the league's top three teams will clash when Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake meet at the Home Depot Center in a rematch of the 2009 MLS Cup. On Sunday, the Crew will host D.C. United in a crucial Eastern Conference tilt, while Vancouver will debut renovated BC Place with a Cascadia Cup match against Portland.

Here is a rundown of the Week 29 slate:

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Saturday, 4 p.m., Telefutura)

Can Chicago continue its unlikely charge toward a playoff berth? Thought out of contention just weeks ago, the Fire has won five of six league matches to climb within three points of the current playoff threshold.

Houston, on the other hand, is in an odd position where it could jump to first place with a win or fall out of the projected postseason field entirely with a loss. Such is the state of the crowded Eastern Conference playoff chase.

TORONTO FC vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., FSC, TSN 2)

As much negative attention has been heaped on the Red Bulls as of late, New York has gone a respectable 2-1-3 in its past six games and could take another big step toward securing a playoff berth with a win at second-to-last-place Toronto.

One storyline to watch will be how New York coach Hans Backe handles centerback Rafael Marquez. After suspending the disgruntled defender last week and recording a shutout win over Portland in his absence, the club could very well be better off with the Designated Player on the bench.

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

Trailing Los Angeles by seven points in the Supporters' Shield race with four games to play, Seattle could gain some ground this weekend by notching a win over the reeling Revolution and hoping Salt Lake gets a result against the Galaxy.

Look for New England, with Franco Coria suspended and A.J. Soares doubtful with a left adductor strain, to be vulnerable in the back in this one.

COLORADO RAPIDS vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 9 p.m., Direct Kick)

Seeing as Colorado forward Conor Casey and Dallas midfielder David Ferreira have both fallen victim to long-term injuries, this match will lack some of the star appeal that made last year's MLS Cup such an intriguing encounter.

While Dallas will be hoping to catch Real Salt Lake for third place and secure automatic passage to the Western Conference semifinals, the Rapids are just four points ahead of D.C. United, the current first team out of the playoff field, and need results to simply ensure they are still playing come postseason time.

LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. REAL SALT LAKE (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

After winning five in a row, Real Salt Lake has come back down to earth in the past week, falling by three goals to both D.C. United and the Chicago Fire. With a match against league-leading Los Angeles, which is coming off an emotional midweek triumph in Champions League play, matters aren't getting any easier.

Although Salt Lake will have playmaker Javier Morales available as he continues his comeback from a broken ankle, coach Jason Kreis' side will be without suspended captain Kyle Beckerman after the midfielder received a red card against Chicago.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick)

Kansas City enters the weekend at first place in the Eastern Conference and should have a good opportunity to maintain that positioning with a visit to the all-but-eliminated Earthquakes, who are winless in three and just 4-4-7 at home this year.

Having received another U.S. national team call-up despite his inconsistent form this season, Teal Bunbury will surely be looking to get back on the score sheet and build some momentum for himself heading into the U.S. camp.

COLUMBUS CREW vs. D.C. UNITED (Sunday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick)

At 0-5-1 in its past six matches, Columbus has fallen from its perch atop the Eastern Conference to a slot that would currently have the Crew on the road for a wild-card playoff match. Needless to say, coach Robert Warzycha wants to get his team back on track before it's too late.

D.C. United, meanwhile, will be looking to salvage something from its two-game road swing after dropping a 3-2 result to Philadelphia on Thursday. The club could potentially be without both of its starting centerbacks, with Brandon McDonald suspended and Dejan Jakovic questionable with a hamstring strain.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 4:30 p.m., TSN 2)

The Cascadia Cup may be wrapped up for Seattle, but there will still be plenty of pride on the line when regional rivals Vancouver and Portland get together at BC Place.

Portland could certainly use a win over the league's worst team to enhance its playoff chances, but the absence of suspended midfielders Jack Jewsbury and Kalif Alhassan will make matters difficult for the Timbers.

CHIVAS USA vs. PHILADELPHIA UNION (Sunday, 8 p.m., Direct Kick)

A win and a draw last week renewed Chivas' long-shot playoff odds, but the club may have to win out if it realistically hopes to make the postseason. That task starts against a Philadelphia team coming off a hectic 3-2 win over D.C. United on Thursday.

The Union faces more or less the same situation as Kansas City, Houston and Columbus, as a win could launch Philadelphia into first place while a loss could drop the club back into the projected wild-card round.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Chicago Fire, MLS- Chivas USA, MLS- Colorado Rapids, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- D.C. United, MLS- FC Dallas, MLS- Houston Dynamo, MLS- LA Galaxy, MLS- New England Revolution, MLS- New York Red Bulls, MLS- Philadelphia Union, MLS- Portland Timbers, MLS- Real Salt Lake, MLS- San Jose Earthquakes, MLS- Seattle Sounders, MLS- Sporting Kansas City, MLS- Toronto FC, MLS- Vancouver Whitecaps. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to MLS Week 29: A Look Ahead

  1. Charles says:

    As a Sounder’s fan, it is a shame they gave away a few games they should have won.

    IF they were able to get past the first round, home field advantage in the semi finals would be a packed house…and not a cover seats up packed house.

  2. Luis F says:

    I’m sure there are a lot of teams that can say “what if” about dropping points in games they shouldn’t have. You have to remember that Sounders have also gotten points in games they had no business winning (KC on the road?).

    I’ll be very curious to see how LA and RSL play this weekend. I have a feeling it’s going to end in a 1-0 LA win on a set piece. But it would make the last few games of the season more exciting if LA finds a way to lose this one.

  3. lassidawg says:

    It is going to be tough for either RSL or Seattle to get past the first round. It will be even tougher when those fans get to watch teams that finish below them get more favorable matchups in the east.

  4. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    How many years in a row of this will it take before the “conferences” go away? It’s so artificial, it hurts. The playoffs could be infinitely better.

    Of course, some year we’ll have an even distribution and the pro-conference Garber-ites will say “SEE? IT WORKS!” For the record, I am calling those people idiots now.

  5. RB says:

    Wow, so remove the comments but still don’t correct the error?

  6. RB says:

    Ah, there it is now. No worries, thanks! Delete at will, then. :-)

  7. Vince Clortho says:

    Balanced schedule = no need for conference seeding…

  8. Geico says:

    The playoff configuration is so stupid even a caveman would tell the Soccer Don he is a moron.