There's a lot still at stake in the dying days of the MLS regular season. Which should make the next two days full of soccer pretty amazing.
The Kansas City Star
Sporting Kansas City kicks things off against Philadelphia at 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. The rest of the weekend features eight more games stretched over 30 hours.
First things first: No matter what happens today in Philadelphia, Sporting KC will finish no worse than 2nd in the Eastern Conference. They can still win the Eastern Conference and the Supporters' Shield with a win over the Union AND a New York Red Bull loss/draw to the Chicago Fire. (Nothing like needing of one your biggest rivals to help you get a piece of silverware, eh?)
No matter which spot Kansas City finally lands on, the potential opponents are ridiculously open to possibility.
Here are the relevant Eastern Conference matches.
• Montreal Impact @ Toronto FC, 3 p.m. (MLS Live)
• Houston Dynamo @ D.C. United, 12:30 p.m. (NBC)
• New England Revolution @ Columbus Crew, 3 p.m. (MLS Live)
• Chicago Fire @ New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m. (UniMas)
Montreal, Houston, New England and Chicago are all essentially in must-win scenarios. A loss by any one of them could see them miss the playoffs entirely.
For example: If Montreal (currently third on 49 points) loses to Toronto AND Chicago draws New York AND Houston and New England both win, Montreal misses the playoffs.
There are enough scenarios to make your head spin, really.
My prediction? Besides chaos?
I think Kansas City picks up a tough 1-1 draw with Philadelphia. Then, Montreal and Houston take care of business against the league's two worst teams. New England should beat a confusing Columbus team.
Then it all comes down to Sunday night, when a back-to-the-wall Chicago team -- a draw wouldn't get them in -- denies the Red Bulls a trophy with a huge road victory.
Oh, and Kansas City loses out on the top spot in the East on "goals for" AND gets tipped for the Supporters' Shield when Portland brushes aside Chivas USA to finish with 57 points. (I could and probably will be wrong. Those are my semi-educated guesses.)
So my playoff match-up predictions: New York vs. Chicago-New England winner, Kansas City vs. Montreal.*
*See, it's not all terrible predictions. I've got Houston missing out on "goals for" tiebreaker to the Revs.
Out West, I'm calling: Portland vs. Seattle-Colorado winner and Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles.
Let the games/tension/drama/fun begin.