MLS Live: Key Western Conference games highlight full slate

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With ICC action wrapping up this evening, we’re served up with a meaty and massive Major League Soccer slate. A trio of 7:00 ET games and another 8:00 ET game gives way to a four-match nightcap that features a top Western Conference matchup and another critical mid-table battle of teams scrambling for playoff positions.

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The biggest matchup of the day starts off the late slate as Western Conference leaders FC Dallas visit third-placed Sporting KC. Six points separate the two, but Sporting is only inches from the scrum below near the playoff cut line. FC Dallas may be in first, but they’ve been vulnerable on the road this summer, with just one win in their last four MLS games. While Sporting has suffered similar road woes this season, Children’s Mercy Park has been a fortress, without a loss at home since an Opening Day defeat to NYCFC in early March.

Another key West meeting sits in the latest slot, as Portland hosts Houston in a vital playoff battle. Portland has not lost since April, but they’re slipping to draws instead of wins far too often, leaving them fifth in the table. Their last time out, they dominated possession and the shot count, but were sliced up twice on the break, forcing them to come from behind twice to earn a point. Houston, meanwhile, has not won any of its last three matches, but victory here would be a massive confidence booster to stop Portland’s unbeaten run at 13 and climb much closer to a playoff position.

In the Eastern Conference, New York Red Bulls take on Columbus Crew with the two miles apart in the table despite sitting third and fourth. Still, despite the divide, a win for Columbus would put some decent distance between themselves and those scrapping behind them as we head into the final third of the season.

Atlanta United needs a road win at Montreal Impact side that’s far better at home to ensure the top spot in the Eastern Conference belongs to them for the time being. Toronto FC might be out of playoff contention, but seems to have righted the ship of late, getting another crack at a Chicago team Sebastian Giovinco and company topped 2-1 just last weekend.

Full MLS Saturday fixture list:

Montreal Impact vs. Atlanta United — 7 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew — 7 p.m. ET
Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire — 7 p.m. ET
DC United vs. Colorado Rapids — 8 p.m. ET
Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas — 9 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake — 10:30 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo — 11 p.m. ET