LOS ANGELES (10-6-11) vs. CHICAGO (10-6-11), 11 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
Better on the road (6-2-5) than it has been at home (4-4-6), the Fire needs to shore up its defense with the playoffs pending. It has conceded 13 goals in the last eight games and shut out just one team - Kansas City - after posting six blank sheets in the previous 19 matches. Left back Gonzalo Segares has been out with a sprained knee for those last eight games and is listed as doubtful for this one. Chicago may also be shorthanded offensively; both Chris Rolfe and Cuauhtemoc Blanco are questionable.
The Galaxy beat Chicago, 2-0, at Toyota Park six weeks ago and aside from the six-spot laid on it by Dallas Sept. 12, has shut out four of its last five opponents. Some of CoachBruce Arena's choices will be game-time decisions, as among his players listed as questionable are potential starters David Beckham, Eddie Lewis, A.J. DeLaGarza and Stefani Miglioranzi. L.A. holds the edge, yet this game, in which chances will be few, might come down to finishing: Patrick Nyarko/Brian McBride vs. Edson Buddle/Landon Donovan.
Prediction: Galaxy 2, Fire 1.
COLUMBUS (12-4-10) vs. SEATTLE (9-7-11), 7:30 p.m. Direct Kick
Sounders coach Sigi Schmidreturns to the city whose team he turned into a champion with the Crew still needing points to clinch the Eastern Conference title and Supporters' Shield. The Sounders threw away an early goal by Fredy Montero, his 12th of the season, and surrendered two Shalrie Joseph goals to lose, 2-1, in New England last weekend. They've won only two league matches since the All-Star break, and are 3-5-5 on the road.
The Crew was shocked by a late Deportivo Saprissa goal Wednesday in the Concacaf Champions' League and settled for a 1-1 tie. Coach Robert Warzycha has been rotating players but this will be its seventh game in 20 days, so Seattle looks good for at least a point.
Prediction: Crew 1, Sounders 1.
D.C UNITED (8-7-12) vs. CHIVAS USA (11-9-5), 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick
A smashing 5-1 win against San Juan Jabloteh Wednesday will pump up United's confidence, but it will need greater precision and patience to open up Chivas USA, the league leader in shutouts with 11, though its road mark of 3-7-3 is decidedly poor.
With its defense decimated by injury - keeper Josh Wicks and defenders Bryan Namoff and Greg Janicki are out -- United can't afford to fluff chances as it did a week ago in losing, 2-1 to San Jose. Injuries have carved holes all through the Chivas USA lineup, and United's greater motivation - it has played one fewer game and will be propelled by its demanding fans -- may carry the day.
Prediction: United 2, Chivas USA 1.
COLORADO (10-8-9) vs. NEW ENGLAND (10-9-7), 9 p.m., Direct Kick
It's desperation time for both teams: the Rapids are playing their home finale, and though the Revs play two of their last three at home, the opponents are the conference leaders Crew and Fire, with another match at Columbus rounding out the season. New England also won't have Wells Thompson for this game, as he was sent off Wednesday against Dallas.
New England garnered just four shots in losing, 1-0, at Dallas on Wednesday, and won't find the going any easier, though the Rapids have tied three straight while scoring just two goals, both on very late penalty kicks. Two of those matches were on the road, however, and the forward tandem of Omar Cummings and Conor Casey showed some spark last week despite being blanked in a 0-0 tie at Kansas City.
Prediction: Rapids 1, Revs 0.
SAN JOSE (6-12-7) vs. NEW YORK (4-17-6), 11 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espanol
Just about meaningless in regards to playoffs this game may be, yet both teams of players are also playing some of their best soccer of the season, triggering bittersweet thoughts from fans of what might have been had they performed this well in spring and early summer. They're also vying for respect, and in some cases, next year's paychecks. Two former Rapids, Joe Cannonand Bouna Coundoul, man the nets.
Juan Pablo Angel has rather quietly contributed 10 goals to the woeful Red Bulls' season; even less heralded, but just as impressive, are the nine scored by San Jose's Ryan Johnson. Both will be deprived of some support, as New York's John Wolyniec and Jorge Rojas are sidelined, and San Jose's Cornell Glen is doubtful. New York beat San Jose, 4-1, in Giants Stadium, and also won at Buck Shaw Stadium, 2-1, in the Open Cup. Time for a turnaround?
Prediction: Quakes 3, Red Bulls 1.
HOUSTON (12-8-7) vs. KANSAS CITY (8-11-7), 3 p.m., TeleFutura
The Dynamo might be fatigued and depressed after pressing Pachuca for most of the game yet losing, 1-0, on Wednesday in the Concacaf Champions' League. Or, it might be just ornery enough to overpower the Wizards, whose playoff quest took a severe but not mortal blow last weekend when they tied Colorado, 0-0, at home.
Kansas City striker Kei Kamara returns to the team that traded him during the summer, and with Dynamo defender Eddie Robinson still working his way into the back line after a long injury absence, there may be gaps for Kamara and Josh Wolff and Claudio Lopez to exploit. Still, Houston is just better, and is anxious to prove it after a two-week break from league play.
Prediction: Dynamo 2, Wizards 0.
RIDGE MAHONEY'S 2009 PREDICTION RECORD
This week:1-0. Season: 93-106.