All eyes will be on the U.S. men's national team's friendly against Mexico Wednesday night, but MLS features three matches with the push for the playoffs in full swing.
The Columbus Crew return to action for the first time since Kirk Urso's sudden passing against the Los Angeles Galaxy in a nationally televised match during which emotions will run high. Elsewhere, bottom feeders Toronto FC and Portland resume play after having the weekend off, and Vancouver looks to build off its big win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday against FC Dallas, with a Cascadia Cup match against Seattle looming on Saturday.
Here's a closer look at Wednesday's MLS matchups:
COLUMBUS CREW vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
The Crew will honor Urso's memory with a ceremony at Crew Stadium and then turn the page on a tragic time in the franchise's history while attempting to focus on the task at hand: knocking off the defending champions while trying to keep pace in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus sits eight points behind fifth-place D.C. United but has two games in hand and can't afford to drop much further back in the race. New DP signing Federico Higuain has yet to join the club, meaning the onus on breaking down L.A.'s first-choice back line falls on Jairo Arrieta.
Making Columbus' chances a bit stronger is that the Galaxy will be without two of their three DPs. Landon Donovan is on international duty in Mexico, while David Beckham reportedly will not play after returning from London's Olympic closing ceremonies.
TORONTO FC vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (7:30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick)
This might as well be known as the battle for the first pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. Portland's 20 points are second worst only to TFC's 19, and both teams that entered the season with playoff aspirations have been dealt a harsh dose of reality that makes the rest of the season about saving face and building for the future.
For Toronto, centerback Darren O'Dea's debut will be put on hold as he is on international duty with Ireland, but he is far from the only absence for the Reds. The likes of Ryan Johnson, Doneil Henry, Terry Dunfield and Dicoy Williams are also representing their national teams, meaning Paul Mariner will need to dig deep on his roster to come up with a winning formula.
Part of that formula includes bruising striker Eric Hassli, who will be countered by Portland's bruising DP of its own, Kris Boyd. The Timbers are still looking for the first win in the post-John Spencer era, but doing so would mean the first road win of the season (0-8-2) and snapping a seven-match scoreless streak away from Jeld-Wen Field.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. FC DALLAS (10 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick)
The mid-week fixture presents a challenge for Vancouver on a couple of fronts. With Saturday's match in Seattle carrying huge table implications, it would be easy for Vancouver to overlook FCD, which makes Wednesday night a classic trap game scenario. On another front, Vancouver is going to be short more than a quarter of its senior roster, between international call-ups, suspension and injury claiming the likes of Darren Mattocks, Dane Richards, Jay DeMerit and Gershon Koffie, among others.
FC Dallas, meanwhile, is quietly coming together, although the club will be without U.S. call-up Brek Shea. 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira is beginning to round into form, though, and the club has gone 3-2-3 since his return to pull into sixth place in the West. FCD's schedule the rest of the way is brutal, and a playoff spot seems like a longshot, but another three-point haul against a team in postseason position would prolong hope in Big D.
How do you see tonight's games going? Do you think Columbus can take down the Galaxy? Is tonight the night that Portland wins on the road? Do you think Dallas has a legitimate shot at a late playoff run?
Share your thoughts below.