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Weekend MLS Open Thread: Desperate times call for desperate measures in both conferences

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D.C. United doesn't have a game this weekend, but there are six games around MLS tonight and another tomorrow. Let's discuss those games and/or veer off topic.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

This is a strange weekend, as D.C. United isn't in action while everyone else has games to play. The games started last night with Seattle and RSL playing out a more thrilling and just version of our Wednesday game against the Metros (the Sounders won 3-2) and Sporting piling onto Chivas USA's misery by winning 4-0 in California. Those results leave Seattle 4 points ahead of United in the Supporters Shield race, while KC is now only two points back (with one more game played) in the East.

Here's a look at the rest of the matches this weekend:

Philadelphia Union (36 points, 6th place) vs. New York Red Bulls (37 points, 4th place)
3pm, NBCSN
Why you should watch: It's a crucial game in the Eastern Conference playoff race, for one. It's also a game where both coaches have tough decisions to make. Jim Curtin's Union host the US Open Cup final Tuesday - a shot at their first-ever trophy - but a loss today may end up being the one they look back on ruefully if Philly misses the playoffs.

The Metros, meanwhile, are playing their third game in seven days and their three most critical players in those two games are guys over the age of 33. Oh, and Bradley Wright-Phillips may be out injured. And they don't have a left back thanks to international duty. This probably won't be a classic in terms of quality, but I'm expecting drama.

New England Revolution (39 points, 3rd place) vs. Montreal Impact (21 points, 10th place)
7:30pm, MLS Live
Why you should watch: Star power. Lee Nguyen has been brilliant for two huge chunks of this season, and Jermaine Jones is now fit to play 90 minutes. However, the most fun player to watch on either side is actually Montreal's new DP Ignacio Piatti. Yes, the Impact are terrible, and yes, they'll probably lose, but Piatti will keep you entertained.

Chicago Fire (29 points, 9th place) vs. Toronto FC (33 points, 7th place)
8:30pm, MLS Live
Why you should watch: It's desperation time for both teams. The Fire probably can only afford to drop 7 or 8 points in their final 8 games, and they can't lose any at home against a fellow outside-looking-in side like TFC. The Reds, meanwhile, are in full-on panic mode thanks to a run of 2 wins in 11 games and a disastrous last 5 (0W-1D-4L). This won't be a good game soccer-wise (especially with Mike Magee out for the season and Jermain Defoe pulling a Marcelo Gallardo) but it will be tense, and you've got to think it'll turn on some sort of glorious mistake. Before that point, you can vent your spleen at Frank Yallop for dropping Harry Shipp over the past few weeks.

FC Dallas (42 points, 4th place) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (37 points, 5th place)
8:30pm, MLS Live
Why you should watch: Fabian Castillo + Michel standing over free kicks = fun. Last week, Oscar Pareja played a 4132 with two natural wingers up front, dropping Tesho Akindele, and it almost worked at RSL. The Whitecaps, meanwhile, broke their goalless streak against San Jose and might actually go back to being fun to watch now that they have some confidence.

Houston Dynamo (31 points, 8th place) vs. Columbus Crew (36 points, 5th place)
8:30pm, MLS Live
Why you should watch: Like the other games involving Eastern teams, this one's all about desperation. The Dynamo are going to have to get into the playoffs without help from Tally Hall or Will Bruin, while Jermaine Taylor will miss out tonight due to concussion. The Crew, on the other hand, are getting healthier. If Houston lets Justin Meram cut inside from the left to line up a curler with his right foot, you will probably see a goal as a result. Also, Federico Higuain will be in this game creating chances for bunglers, so that'll be amusing.

Colorado Rapids (7th place, 30 points) vs. Portland Timbers (6th place, 35 points)
9pm, MLS Live
Why you should watch: Maybe you want your desperation to have a Western sort of flavor? A home loss here pretty much kills off the Rapids, who are currently on a seven-game losing streak. Portland is still Portland, though, so there will be some kind of spectacularly dumb defending to hand Colorado a goal. At the other end of the field, Diego Valeri is going to feast on whatever midfield combination Pablo Mastroeni chooses this week.

San Jose Earthquakes (27 points, 8th place) vs. LA Galaxy (2nd place, 50 points)
Sunday, 3pm, UniMas
Why you should watch: It's the California Clasico, so something crazy will probably happen. Landon Donovan won't be eligible to play after picking up his fifth yellow card Wednesday night in Montreal, so that factor is off the table, but any Galaxy game these days comes with the threat of it being a rout. For the Quakes, Tommy Thompson will probably do something that kids his age don't normally do, and Yannick Djalo might be able to play off the bench.

Feel free to feel free. Use this thread to discuss these games, MLS in general, or whatever other soccer you're watching.