Round 24 in Major League Soccer still sits a few days away. It will be huge, and not just for Clint Demspey’s first match.
The league standings are an absolute highway pileup right now; a mere eight points separates first from sixth place in the East. In other words, eight points is the current difference between a conference championship and missing the playoffs.
It’s even tighter in the West, where just six measly points separate first from sixth.
So that’s all to play out this weekend in Round 24. But before we get there, seven MLS teams have huge happenings Wednesday. Consider this your “heads-up.”
Both U.S. Open Cup semifinals play out Wednesday night. Portland visits Real Salt Lake in what has to be considered a meeting of the remaining favorites. Not only are these two on each other’s tail for top conference spot, the winner of Wednesday’s contest in Utah hosts the Open Cup final.
Across the land, D.C. United travels to Toyota Park to meet the Chicago Fire in the other Open Cup semifinal. United sits last in the East, so far back that Ben Olsen’s club would pretty much need to three or four clubs to withdraw to get into the playoffs. Chicago still has post-season hope, but for both clubs the Open Cup represents the best path to achievement for 2013.
By the way, both of these clubs have a rich Open Cup history: Chicago has won the Dewar Cup three times, United twice.
Sporting Kansas City gets its first taste of CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday (at least in its current incarnation), traveling into Nicaragua to open group play against Real Esteli. That’s in Group 2.
The San Jose Earthquakes and Montreal Impact are matched in Group 5, and they meet Wednesday in Stade Saputo.
The full CONCACAF Champions League schedule and groupings are here.
Check back tomorrow for more on the matches from ProSoccerTalk.