It's been fun, America. After eight months and 34 rounds of Major League Soccer action, it's all come down to this final weekend of the 2013 regular season. D.C. United isn't going to have much of an effect on the all-important Supporters' Shield race - which will be finally determined Sunday evening in - shudder - Harrison, NJ, but the Black-and-Red will have a chance to spoil and burn the last straws of playoff hope being clutched at by the Houston Dynamo. We'll have our usual live thread for that game - though really, you should be at RFK come Sunday afternoon - but consider this your place to discuss all the other goings on as the league gets this one last weekend slate under way.
Real Salt Lake have already played at midweek, winning to take the top spot on the table (thanks to goals scored, the second tiebreaker). This will put the pressure on the other Shield aspirants as they face varying degrees of difficulty in their opponents.
We won't have long to wait for the first of those Supporters' Shield hopefuls to take the field, as the Sporks travel to the south Philly suburbs. The Union will be missing talisman Brian Carroll in their midfield, and KC will be playing for everything. Look for Sporting to win and go top.
Blah blah blah, something something Canada something something. Montreal needs a result to ensure they hold onto their playoff spot in case Houston does the likely and beats United. Their form hasn't been great, and they're on the road, but I expect the Impact to take care of business against Ryan Nelsen's Reds.
Congratulations, NorCal! You get the most meaningless game of the weekend! Unless you manage to score a baker's dozen of goals, in which case we will freak out appropriately.
Well the Timbers will win this one and leapfrog both RSL and the Sporks to end the penultimate day of the season atop the standings and dropping the Metros to fourth in the Shield race (though not taking their destiny out of their own hands). Though watch out: Portland may somehow piss this one away just to show their rivals up the I-5 how that they can choke just as spectacularly as the Sounders.
D.C. United v. Houtson Dynamo
RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.
1:30 pm, NBC
As I said, we'll have our live thread for this one up on Sunday morning. But for now, just know that the Dynamo need all three points to have a good shot of leapfrogging one of the Eastern Conference teams ahead of them in the playoff race. That said, a draw would be enough to put them ahead of the Revs for the fifth and final spot should they falter and the Union fail to beat KC.
New England enter the weekend in possession of the fifth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and they'll know exactly what they need to do to claim a playoff spot, since they'll be playing after both the Dynamo and the Union, the only teams behind them with any hope of catching them. I think the Revs are the most likely of the current top 5 in the East to falter, as they play the Crew for the second consecutive weekend. But if the Union and Dynamo don't get results in their games, even a draw or a loss would still be enough to back into the Wild Card game.
This is the big one. If the Jerseyscum win, they will claim their first ever trophy in 18 years of existence. Unless the Sporks lose and the Timbers fail to win, though, anything less than a win will let us DCU fans continue to ask the Metros how many trophies they've won. Basically, if the Red Bulls win, everybody loses. THE FIRE MUST WIN THIS GAME FOR ALL OUR SAKE.
The Rapids will look to improve their playoff seeding - and, I suppose, properly eliminate the Quakes with math n stuff - with a road win. A win would probably see the Rapids hosting either the Galaxy or the Sounders for the Western Conference Wild Card game, and with Colorado's form, that's a matchup neither Bruce Arena or Sigi Schmid will be looking forward to. The Rapids are going to be the trendy darkhorse pick to come out of the West for MLS Cup, so anybody who likes to hate on popular underdogs should root for the 'Caps here.
Of course this is the final game of the MLS regular season. Of course, the two-time defending double winners were expected to be competing for the Shield, and so were the perennial attendance champs. Neither is the case, though, and the loser of this one will definitely be playing in the Wild Card round. A draw could actually see a rematch less than a week later at LA as both teams fall behind the Rapids (should they win) and into the Wild Card spots. Honestly, that's the result we should all be hoping for.
Let us know in the comments what results you want and expect to see - and keep up with everything in the league all weekend long right here.
More from Black And Red United:
- Thanks, Parity! Why D.C. United Almost Can't Help But Improve In 2014
- An Open Letter to Those Who Wish to Refurbish RFK Stadium
- D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo preview: Behind Enemy Lines w/ Houston blog Dynamo Theory
- D.C. United versus Houston Dynamo lineup: Let us put this season to bed
- Debating D.C. United's Offseason Priorities