KANSAS CITY (10-10-6) vs. LOS ANGELES (5-13-6)
Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Their playoff prospects are solid, nonetheless, and after missing the postseason the past two seasons that's something of an accomplishment.
Its 36 points (in 26 games) are only two fewer than it recorded in 32 matches last year while missing the playoffs by a point.
Yet after the Galaxy, Kansas City hosts D.C., and ends the season on the road in New York and Dallas, so this is an opponent against which it can regain some momentum. And it still needs points.
Kansas City tied the Galaxy, 2-2, at Home Depot Center in early July, yet blew a two-goal lead when Cobi Jones struck twice to match earlier goals by Yura Movsisyan and Davy Arnaud.
Movsisyan has since been traded to Real Salt Lake and Scott Sealy, scorer of two goals in that win over the Crew, is questionable because of a quad strain, so Arnaud is likely to be partnered up front with Eddie Johnson.
Galaxy midfielder Kevin Harmse is suspended, which gives the Wizards midfield a great chance to throttle the opposition and pierce its defense.
The tricky Eloy Colombano is emerging as a real right-sided threat and has begun to click with central midfielder Carlos Marinelli. Throw in tough veterans Sasha Victorine (ex-Gal, by the way) and Kerry Zavagnin to form a potent mix against a team whose midfield muddles began long before David Beckham's arrival.
The Galaxy has yet to win on the road this season and has to do just that to fan those oh-so-faint playoff flickers. Yet it staged its own last-second drama last weekend, stunning FC Dallas, 2-1, when Chris Klein (ex-Wizard, by the way) drilled a gamewinner into the top corner a night after Razov did the same to the Wizards at the same end of the field.
Kansas City management has found a way to repay, sort of, fans who bought tickets in anticipation of seeing David Beckham and also drive sales of playoff tickets, a notoriously difficult task for many MLS teams.
Fans holding a ticket stub to the Galaxy game will receive a free ticket to Kansas City's first-round home playoff game when they buy a playoff ticket.
For the Galaxy game, the team is also offering free parking and all manner of entertainment: music, Soccer Celebration, tribute to Cobi Jones, post-game autograph session, etc. It's not Becks but it's not bad.
Since the teams were separated into different divisions their meetings are less frequent but seldom benign. Los Angeles swept the Wizards last year with two-goal games from Landon Donovan (2-0 at Arrowhead) and Alan Gordon (2-1 at HDC). Both Donovan and Gordon are expected to start in this one.