MLS Weekend Preview: All eyes on playoff chasers

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The top seeds in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference have yet to be confirmed, but this weekend’s games will be all about those chasing playoff spots, especially in the West where the waters are still muddy with three games to go.

Most notably, Real Salt Lake takes on Portland with a 9:30 p.m. ET kickoff that could decide who falls apart late and who makes a late move towards the postseason. Both teams currently sit in playoff positions, but with the LA Galaxy making a late surge, a loss for either side could put them in serious jeopardy.

RSL is in the most peril, sitting in the final playoff spot just two points above the Galaxy. Portland is just two points and two spots above RSL, and could be caught with a stumble down the stretch. The Timbers are without defender Liam Ridgewell who was sent off last time out.

The aforementioned LA Galaxy, just two points back of the cut line, have back-to-back 3-0 victories in their last two, jumping to the verge of a playoff spot. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has four goals over his last three games, including two last time out against Vancouver. It’s just as important for Sporting KC, who can clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

On the other side of the coin, the Eastern Conference has drama of its own. D.C. United plays Sunday sitting just two points back of a playoff spot on a charge of its own, but the Montreal Impact could cushion its safety as it hosts Columbus. Both those teams are at near full strength and full health, ready to duke it out on the field. Columbus is guaranteed a playoff spot, but they still must hold off Philadelphia for the #4 seed, and can still mathematically catch NYCFC, five points back of that third-place spot.

Moving up the table, Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls are battling for the Supporter’s Shield, with the former owning a single point lead. Atlanta hosts the New England Revolution, a team that has just a single win since the start of July. Meanwhile, New York has a west coast trip to last-place San Jose.

Full MLS Schedule 10/6

Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew – 3:00 p.m. ET
Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution – 3:30 p.m. ET
Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 5:00 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union vs. Minnesota United – 7:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. Orlando City – 8:00 p.m. ET
Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy – 8:30 p.m. ET
Colorado Rapids vs. LAFC – 9:00 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers – 9:30 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes vs. NY Red Bulls – 10:30 p.m. ET