COLUMBUS (6-7-9) vs. COLORADO (7-9-6)
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, TeleFutura
These teams are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot with 27 points and both have eight games to play.
Representatives of NCAA tournaments would call this a play-in game, and though the winner - if there is one - doesn't qualify automatically for the playoffs, it will be three points up on the other and have won the season series.
When the teams tied 0-0 on the Fourth of July at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Rapids were mired in a six-game winless streak and the Crew had won three in a row. Since then Colorado's record is 3-1-2 and Columbus is 2-2-2. Those three Colorado wins are consecutive victories against Houston, New England and Los Angeles by combined scores of 7-0. Colorado hasn't played since embarrassing the Galaxy, 3-0, on national television Aug. 26.
Last weekend Columbus escaped Houston with a 1-1 tie despite playing the last 52 minutes a man down following the ejection of defender Marcos Gonzalez for cautions received from a pair of fouls on former Crew striker Joseph Ngwenya.
"I don't think we got a lot of breaks today on the calls," said Crew coach Sigi Schmid of referee Abby Okulaja. "We were unlucky with the officiating. If you look at Alejandro, he's got cleat marks on his back, so that's just something that happens. At times I felt that we were playing against more than Houston's 11."
The teams' combined totals of 15 ties are nearly half of the 32 played in MLS this season. With Chicago just a point behind and Cuauhtemoc Blanco looking more dangerous with every game, both teams need to start shooting threes.