MLS weekend preview: Crew/Revs the most pivotal, LA/TFC the juiciest

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(Note: All rankings reflect this week’s version of ourMLS Power Rankings.)

By the time Philadelphia and Chicago close up shop tonight at PPL Park, the Union’s playoff hopes could be:

A) nearly extinguished

B) growing in size

It’s that time of year, where the three points at stake feel more important than they are every single week of the year (when in actuality they are just as crucial). Let’s take a look around the fixtures, starting with the aforementioned battle.

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A win for Philly means the Union are temporarily tied for the final playoff spot on goal differential and wins (though behind New York by virtue of games played). Anything less and Union fans will be crunching numbers on weekend scenarios.

Philadelphia Union (9) vs. Chicago Fire (16), 8pm ET Thursday: See above. We’re saying beware the Union tonight, folks.

DC United (2) vs. Sporting KC (14), 8pm ET Friday: Fresh off visiting the White House, can Aurelien Collin and company scrap together some goals against stingy and powerful DC?

source:  New York Red Bulls (6) vs. Houston Dynamo (11), 6pm ET Saturday: New York needs to shake the demons of a crushing loss to L.A. off their back, and make sure they don’t treat it as a failed litmus test. It doesn’t get much easier, as Houston is hungry and in decent form.

Vancouver Whitecaps (13) vs. FC Dallas (8), 7pm ET Saturday: The ‘Caps get no relief despite leaping back past Portland, as FC Dallas is a much tougher draw than what Portland is facing this week.

New England Revolution (5) vs. Columbus Crew (7), 730pm ET Saturday: Probably the match of the week, though quite under the radar. New England looks like they could have the stuff of champions, but Gregg Berhalter has done a wonderful job rallying the Crew.

Los Angeles Galaxy (1) vs. Toronto FC (12), 1030pm ET Saturday: Though New England/Columbus should be the best game of the week, this one has the star power. Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe bring it to a Galaxy club that is cruising.

San Jose Earthquakes (17) vs. Portland Timbers (10), 11pm ET Saturday: Timbers Army has to be more than a little nervous as Will Johnson is out and Diego Valeri won’t be participating, either. Still, they’ll have an urgency the hosts are lacking.

Colorado Rapids (18) vs. Seattle Sounders (4), 3pm ET Sunday: Surely the Sounders won’t concede even more goals. Surely they’ll find some semblance of defensive consistency against Colorado. Surely?

Chicago Fire (16) vs. Montreal Impact (15) , 5pm ET Sunday: With the sound and fury of a Kenny G record, these fixtures are the ones that usually end up providing thrills despite the odds.

Chivas USA (19) vs. Real Salt Lake (3), 7pm Sunday: Hopes abound for goals, though Erick “Cubo” Torres and company will certainly not be pleased to see RSL come to town.