After approximately three games a day every day for two full months, D.C. United is off this weekend. It’s a welcome respite for exhausted players, who can rest their tired legs and heal from various nicks and knocks before powering through the final five weeks of the MLS season. It’s almost certainly going to require a great burst of form from the Black-and-Red, whose playoff hopes continue to hinge on the concept of games in hand and playing so many of their remaining fixtures at home.
However, we’re not taking the weekend off. Here’s your guide to the next couple of days around the league:
Los Angeles Football Club vs. San Jose Earthquakes
This game is irrelevant. Go run errands.
New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC
Time: 5:00pm Eastern
We’re in a tough spot with this game. On one hand, the Red Bulls can rot in hell, and them dropping points today (with Atlanta at home later) may effectively decide the Supporters Shield. On the other hand, TFC is still theoretically alive in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, and there’s still enough talent on that team that they’re like a slasher villain: you think they’re dead, and then they leap out of the shadows to ruin everything.
Rooting preference: Draw. A draw would help both causes here. Let’s have our cake and eat it too.
Atlanta United vs. Real Salt Lake
Time: 7:00pm Eastern
You can skip watching this one, but keep an eye on the scoreline. We’re all about a non-Red Bulls Shield winner, and even though Atlanta will be extremely obnoxious about it, that’s preferable to the multinational beverage conglomerate getting anything.
Rooting preference: ATL win. Sorry RSL.
Columbus Crew SC vs. Colorado Rapids
Time: 7:30pm Eastern
This one is nearly irrelevant, what with the Crew being 9 points ahead of United, but we’re holding out hope that they completely fall apart. As long as there’s a chance, we’re on board with them losing games. Unfortunately they’re playing Colorado, who have lost four straight and are awful, so...yeah, this one feels like buying a Powerball ticket.
Rooting preference: Rapids win. Look, my whole life plan is based on winning hundreds of millions of dollars via a lottery.
New England Revolution vs. Chicago Fire
Time: 7:30pm Eastern
The Revs are one point behind United, and they’ve probably had this game circled for weeks now as a solid bet for 3 points. Chicago, after a terrible season broken up by taking a few weeks to hang out in Germany for Very Good Reasons, pummeled Orlando last week. New England is an erratic mess, too, so maybe...?
Rooting preference: Fire win. I mean, they’re probably going to get run over here by the physical Revs, but MLS is weird. The best thing I can tell you is that this isn’t a Rapids over Crew longshot.
Montreal Impact vs. New York City FC
Time: 7:30pm Eastern
This is the big one for United. The Impact are 4 points clear of United, and by the end of the night they’ll have played 2 more games. If they’re still only 4 or 5 points clear, good news! United controls its own destiny. If they beat NYCFC and make it 7 points, a win in next week’s not-a-playoff-game-but-really-a-playoff-game is just to keep D.C.’s hopes realistic. You are rooting for NYCFC tonight, and you’re doing it with all you’ve got.
It’s worth noting that Montreal is pretty much the team to watch for United from here on out. After they come to the District, they host Columbus and TFC before a Decision Day trip to New England. I’m going to take up yoga, this is too stressful to even think about.
Rooting preference: NYCFC win. Vamos Pigeons!!!
Orlando City SC vs. Houston Dynamo
This one’s not really relevant at all, but I’d like to note that Orlando is eliminated from playoff contention with a loss tonight. Why do I want to note this? Because it’s funny.
Minnesota United FC vs. Portland Timbers FC
Don’t watch this game. It’s during Impact-NYCFC, come on.
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City
Time: Sunday, 1:00pm Eastern
TV/Streaming: ESPN (TV), ESPN+ and WatchESPN (streaming)
D.C. is 8 points behind the Union, and if they win today we can pretty much end any chances of catching them (which are already very slim after that home loss that definitely isn’t grating away at me, nope no sir). However, there’s some good news here: Philly has the Open Cup final on Wednesday, so the chances of heavy rotation are high. On top of that, the Sporks are one of MLS’s best road teams (6W-3D-5L), and they’re trying to hold off Dallas for the top spot in the West. Of all the games United needs to go their way this weekend, this is the one I feel best about.
Rooting preference: KC win. Due to college UNC antipathy that hasn’t gone away, I’m not necessarily happy about pulling for multiple teams in light blue, but that’s just what I’m gonna do this weekend.
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders FC
Time: Sunday, 7:00pm Eastern
TV/Streaming: Fox Sports 1 (TV), Fox Sports Go and Fox Soccer Matchpass (streaming)
This game isn’t important, but I do find it interesting as a United fan. There’s probably a generational divide between DCU old-timers and those who came to the team more recently in terms of who you instantly dislike when you read these two team names.
Rooting preference: Seattle win. Screw you Galaxy!
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. FC Dallas
Irrelevant, but I’m nothing if not a completionist.
So there it is. This is your place to trash-talk all the teams we need to fail, and to temporarily support the teams we need to succeed until their game ends.