We're 30 weeks into the MLS season, believe it or not, and the playoffs are just around the corner. Six teams can clinch a playoff spot this weekend but there are some other implications in this weekend's slate of games as well. Win, lose or draw, here's how we predict each and every MLS game this weekend will shake out.
Friday: New York City FC at Houston Dynamo
Is there a worse team in the Western Conference than the Dynamo right now? The answer is no, there is not, because the Dynamo just aren’t very good. But the Dynamo are coming off a big 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers last weekend (because the Timbers can’t win on the road), which could give them a confidence boost. It’s hard to see NYCFC dropping points here though, fresh off a crushing 4-1 win over Chicago last weekend and the comfort of knowing they are already into the playoffs.
Score prediction: NYCFC 2-0 Dynamo
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Saturday: Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls
The other New York team have been in equally good form, and are currently trying to chase FC Dallas in the Supporters Shield fight after qualifying for the playoffs last weekend. But the Union are still in their hunt for their own tickets to the playoffs and have a lot more to play for. Philadelphia’s form hasn’t been bad, but they are winless in their last four. This may be a game where they rise to the occasion and get a win to solidify their chances.
Score prediction: Philadelphia 2-1 Red Bulls
Saturday: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew
If two terrible teams play a match and it doesn’t matter, did it really happen? These two teams take up the bottom two spots of the Eastern Conference table, with the Fire dead last, and both look like the longest of shots to make playoffs. Columbus are coming off a 3-0 clobbering at the hands of D.C. United in a midweek match, while Chicago narrowly lost to Seattle. The Fire are pretty awful on the road, but neither team has been playing very well. It’s probably best to keep expectations low here.
Score prediction: Chicago 0-0 Columbus
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY SportsJoseph Maiorana
Saturday: D.C. United at Toronto FC
Now this is more like it. Toronto sit comfortable atop the Eastern Conference table and D.C. United are just above the red line in the hunt to solidify their playoff chances. But without injured Sebastian Giovinco, TFC have lost a bit of their bite and they will be hoping the Italian makes his return this weekend. If not, it could be a repeat of TFC’s dull scoreless draw in Orlando midweek. DCU have everything to play for and missing a guy like Marcelo Sarvas doesn’t help, but they should have plenty of confidence after thrashing Columbus last week. Still, Toronto are no Columbus.
Score prediction: Toronto 1-1 DCU
Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY SportsKevin Sousa
Saturday: Sporting Kansas City at New England Revolution
This is a cross-conference match of critical importance to both sides. The Revs sit just outside playoff position in the East, while SKC are fifth in the West, but still hunting for a berth to the playoffs. SKC are riding a three-game undefeated run with Dom Dwyer scoring in his last three games too. The Revs, meanwhile, lost to a not-very-good Columbus Crew team last weekend and lacked any sort of urgency or cohesion. The wind seems to be at SKC’s and Dwyer’s backs.
Score prediction: Kansas City 2-1 Revs
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY SportsMark L. Baer
Saturday: LA Galaxy at FC Dallas
The Galaxy will present a crucial and tough challenge as FC Dallas fight for the Supporters Shield, a race they are currently leading. All the Galaxy need to do to secure a playoff spot is beat FC Dallas. Both of these teams are powerhouses that haven’t been in their best league form -- FC Dallas are winless in three and the Galaxy suffered a stunning 4-2 loss at home to Seattle last weekend. FCD playing at home certainly gives them the edge and though it’s hard to bet against the Galaxy, FCD is the sort of team that plays better as the stakes get higher.
FC Dallas 3-2 Galaxy
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsJerome Miron
Saturday: Portland Timbers at Colorado Rapids
There are a lot of talking points you could focus on going into this match, but only two really matter. First, the Rapids have not lost at home all season long. Second, the Timbers have not won on the road all season long. This is MLS, where crazy things can happen, but there’s no reason to bet on the crazy today. Yes, the Timbers did nab their first road win for a CONCACAF Champions League game in El Salvador of all places on Tuesday, so maybe that’s the start of a renewed sense of self on the road. But it felt more like a fluke than a fork in the road, and the Rapids have fine-tuned the defensive style that keeps them grabbing points at home.
Score prediction: Rapids 2-0 Timbers
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsTim Heitman
Sunday: Montreal Impact at Orlando City SC
Coaching changes are supposed to help teams play better. Even if nothing else changes, the theory is that players will step up after a regime change. In that sense, Orlando City continue to defy the odds as they have looked pretty listless since Jason Kreis has taken over. They are winless in their last four and their defense has been leaking goals like a sieve. But their last win was a hefty 4-1 win over Montreal some three weeks ago. The problem is, the Impact have too much attacking talent for a defense that has been playing as poorly lately as Orlando's.
Score prediction: Montreal 4-1 Orlando
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsJasen Vinlove
Sunday: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes are looking like they are destined for their fourth straight season of missing the playoffs, though if they want any chance of pushing for a spot, a win against Real Salt Lake would be crucial. RSL are winless in their last four but the Earthquakes haven't won since Aug. 12 and that win came against the Houston Dynamo, which is hardly a difficult feat. Neither team is in great form at the moment. Quincy Amarikwa has also been ruled out for nine months with an ACL tear, a huge loss for San Jose. The Quakes get a boost from being at home, but the team from Salt Lake City is clearly the favorite.
Score prediction: San Jose 1-2 Real Salt Lake
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
Sunday: Seattle Sounders at Vancouver Whitecaps
How important is Nicolas Lodeiro to the Sounders turnaround? How good of a coach is Brian Schmetzer? Expect these questions to be answered here. Lodeiro is suspended and the Whitecaps have an opening to disrupt a very in-form Sounders team that has already leapfrogged them for playoff position. The Sounders haven’t clinched yet though, and the Whitecaps will need a result to keep their hopes reasonably alive. Despite Lodeiro’s absence, Seattle have been playing with confidence and Jordan Morris’ form has been excellent, which makes it hard to see the Sounders fall apart in a Cascadia Cup clash like this.