Well, sports fans, you've made it through another eight-month MLS regular season. And what a season it's been. Besides the obvious story in these parts surrounding D.C. United's unprecedented and unbelievable worst-to-fist turnaround, there was a World Cup, and there's the impending retirement of Landon Donovan. We saw lots of USMNT players come home to MLS (some of them for the first time), and we saw the final days of Chivas USA.
For the last time in this regular season, let's break out the Scoreboard Watcher, our guide to the non-D.C. United matches on the schedule. And this week has a couple of doozies you won't want to miss.
Sat. Oct. 25 | 2:30pm | NBC
Century Link Field | Seattle, Wash.
Preview: This is the culmination of the MLS Scheduling Intern's wet dream. The top two teams in the Supporters Shield race coming into this weekend face off for the second straight week with the regular season crown - and the playoff seeding and Champions League spot that come with it - on the line. A draw in SoCal seven days ago sets the stage for an all-or nothing clash: Seattle need just a draw to claim their first ever league hardware, while LA must win if they're going to beat United to that fifth Shield.
Worth going out of your way for?: More than any other game this weekend, yes. A thousand times yes.
Who you should root for: I know a lot of United fans will view this as the lesser of two evils, but you really should bite down and root for the Sounders to win. Combined with a DC win in Quebec, a loss for the Gals would push DC into second place in the Shield standings, putting them in pole position to host the MLS Cup Final if Seattle should perform their traditional "playoff flameout" routine. (Yes, this exposes us to a potential Seattle treble. But it also keeps LA from winning their 12th trophy, and it helps our chances of watching MLS Cup in person. It's worth it.)
This is where D.C. United's match at the Montreal Impact would go if we didn't already have a gamethread for that game scheduled for this afternoon. Obviously, you should join us over there, too.
Sat. Oct. 25 | 7:30pm | MLS Live
Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
Preview: The second-place team in the Eastern Conference hosts what must be in the conversation for the most disappointing team in league history. Nothing's really at stake, but the game does feature Jermaine Jones squaring up across from Michael Bradley.
Worth going out of your way for?: New England has been fun to watch, and TFC has outdone itself in creating new and entertaining ways to fail. Probably not worth begging off pre-existing plans, but worth taking in if you're not doing anything anyway.
Who you should root for: Toronto. I'm pretty done with hearing about how hot the Revs are right now. I mean, I love a good Zoolander reference as much as anybody else, but I'm done with this one.
Sat. Oct. 25 | 8:30pm | MLS Live
Toyota Stadium | Frisco, Tex.
Preview: FC Dallas will avoid the play-in game with a win, leapfrogging Real Salt Lake (who jumped FCD for third-place in the West with a win in their finale midweek), while the Timbers need a win to maximize their chances of climbing over the red line once and for all. Both teams score a lot of goals, often in spectacular fashion.
Worth going out of your way for?: Yes, indeed. This is a top-three game, and probably the best matchup not on national TV this weekend. If you have MLS Live, find a way to watch this game.
Who you should root for: You can't go wrong. the Hoops represent the West's best chance at downing LA and Seattle before MLS Cup, while the Timbers seem to be a lot of people's second-favorite team.
Sat. Oct. 25 | 10pm | MLS Live
BC Place | Vancouver, B.C.
Preview: The two Western Conference poster children for young, inconsistent teams. But the 'Caps are on an upswing and in control of their playoff destiny, while the Rapids are on a run of terrible form. Go figure.
Worth going out of your way for?: Not particularly. Expect the Rapids to pack it in to try and avoid giving up space on Vancouver's infamously slick turf. The hosts haven't been known for coming through in the big moments (except, somehow, in the Cascadia Cup, which they've won for the second straight year), and they're better as a counterattacking team, so I don't expect this to be a particularly thrilling affair.
Who you should root for: If you really, really want to see Caleb Porter and his Timbers in the playoffs, you should root for the Rapids. Otherwise, it really doesn't matter.
Sun. Oct. 26 | 4pm | UniMas
Columbus Crew Stadium | Columbus, Ohio
Preview: This is effectively a return match from the two teams' tilt in Philly a couple weeks ago. That game saw Columbus secure their status as one of the form teams in the East, and it also knocked the Union out of the playoff places for good. The Crew can avoid the play-in game with a result and some help, and they'll want to keep their momentum going into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Zolos will be looking for a little revenge and a last chance to impress interim head coach Jim Curtin, who may see the interim tag dropped this offseason.
Worth going out of your way for?: Columbus are one of the more entertaining teams in the league, and Philly has a way of providing good moments. If you find yourself otherwise occupied on a Sunday afternoon, though, I'll find a way to forgive you.
Who you should root for: It depends whether you want to see DC face the Crew in the conference semifinals. If so, root for Philly. If not, then you should really root for a Columbus win.
Chivas USA vs. San Jose Earthquakes
Sun. Oct. 26 | 4:30pm | MLS Live
StubHub Center | Carson, Cali.
Preview: Two bad teams in the conference you should generally care less about (because #EastCoastBias). Cubo Torres and Chris Wondolowski will be playing, so that's something.
Worth going out of your way for?: Not even a little.
Who you should root for: If you're playing in our reader-run MLS Match Prediction Game and did not pick a draw for this game, root for the team you picked to win. If not - first, why not? - then it comes down to whether you prefer your disasters natural (like an earthquake) or manmade (like everything CUSA).
Sun. Oct. 26 | 8:30pm | ESPN2
Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kan.
Preview: This was the MLS Schedule Intern getting greedy, or maybe just unlucky. After nailing the Seattle-LA "final" out west, MLS wasn't so fortunate with the Sporks and Metros sitting third and fifth in the East, respectively, rather than first and second, as the suits no doubt were hoping for back in February. Both teams are trying to stay out of the play-in game, and both teams need a win to maximize their chances of doing so. Both have also been pretty gappy in defense over the last couple months (or much longer, in the case of the Red Bulls), so this one could provide us with plenty of goals.
Worth going out of your way for?: For sure. Not only are there implications for DC's potential playoff opponents, there's real seeding drama in play. Plus the likelihood of goals is high, and that's always nice.
Who you should root for: Unless DCU interests dictate otherwise, always root against the Metros. Go Sporks.
Welcome to your open thread for the weekend, folks. Have fun with it. Make it your own.