MLS Weekend Preview: Red Bulls-Atlanta, DC-Montreal amongst pivotal matches

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The Supporters’ Shield may be all but decided this weekend in Major League Soccer, and clarity at the bottom of both conference’s playoff races could also arrive by the time Sunday comes to a close.

The highlight comes early Sunday afternoon, as New York Red Bulls get a last chance to stake a claim to the Shield with a visit from Atlanta United (1 p.m. ET).

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RBNY does not have Bradley Wright-Phillips available for the match after the star striker was suspended for yellow card accumulation following a profanity aimed at a linesman last week.

Both Atlanta and RBNY have played 30 matches, and Red Bulls enter the match four points behind the Five Stripes. Anything but an RBNY win would take defied logic for Atlanta not to lift the Shield.

The battle for playoff positioning in the East isn’t limited to the top. DC United has played fewer matches than any other team in MLS, and hosts the team its chasing in Montreal Impact. The Quebec side has a five-point lead with two more matches played, and can take control away from Wayne Rooney‘s men with a win.

Columbus and Philadelphia are jockeying for a first-round home date, likely combatants for the 4-5 match. The Crew has a one-point lead, and will be hoping that the Union’s disappointing Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final loss on Wednesday in Texas follows them North.

With sixth seed Seattle expected to beat Colorado on Saturday, the stakes are huge for Vancouver’s visit to California for a meeting with LA Galaxy. Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s men can pour misery on a Caps team which isn’t too pleased at the firing of longtime boss Carl Robinson in the midst of a playoff scrap. LA made a coaching change of its own earlier this month, and holds a one-point advantage on the eighth-place Caps with one more match in the books. The Galaxy are 1W-1L since the departure Sigi Schmid.

Chicago vs. LAFC
Seattle vs. Colorado
Toronto vs. New England
Minnesota vs. NYCFC
Houston vs. San Jose
Portland vs. Dallas
Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake