(All times Eastern)
TORONTO FC (9-10-9) vs. REAL SALT LAKE (10-11-7), 4 p.m. ET, Direct Kick
The loser is eliminated and a tie knocks out RSL, yet anything less than a full-scale assault and three points won't be acceptable to the BMO fans, who may detest FieldTurf but want to see at least one playoff game played on the stuff before it's torn out.
RSL won the previous meeting this season, 3-0, so there's revenge as motivation as well. TFC should win because it has to, but that stoppage-time equalizer scored by San Jose in its last match may be on the players' minds if they don't start well.
Prediction: TFC 2, RSL 1.
NEW ENGLAND (10-10-8) vs. CHICAGO (10-7-11), 6 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel & Fox Sports en Espanol
The Revs haven't done that much the past few weeks to deserve the eighth and final playoff spot but amends can be made by winning. Yet the second-place Fire ranks first in away wins with six and need a result to fend off the third-place Revs, as only three points separate the teams.
New England lost at home to Columbus in its last game when a long free kick bounced untouched into the net. This is another tough test of resolve as much as skill against a good team. Chicago hasn't won in its last five games but three have ended in ties.
Prediction: Revs 1, Fire 1.
D.C. UNITED (8-8-12) vs. COLUMBUS (13-5-10), 8 p.m., Direct Kick
The final game of a five-match homestand that was supposed to revive United's season may instead turn into a farewell. It must win or lose any chance of reaching the playoffs, and must do so without the suspended Ben Olsen and Chris Pontius, and the injured Santino Quaranta and Josh Wicks. Sadly this looks like the final curtain. But some amazing things have transpired at RFK recently so you never know.
Prediction: United 0, Crew 1.
KANSAS CITY (8-12-8) vs. SEATTLE (10-7-11), 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick
The Wizards need a win to stay alive, and the Sounders clinch with a victory. Santiago Hirsig, suspended last week, returns to shore up the Kansas City midfield. Kasey Keller was sent off for handling outside the area in a 1-0 Wizards' victory in April.
Prediction: Wizards 1, Sounders 2.
FC DALLAS (10-12-6) vs. COLORADO (10-8-10), 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick
This might be the weekend's best matchup aside from Sunday's Western Conference blockbuster. FCD's refusal to lose in nearing mythic proportions and the Rapids have to get out of a rut of tying games instead of winning them, yet a tie is enough to keep them in the playoff tier.
Prediction: FCD 1, Rapids 0.
CHIVAS USA (13-9-5) vs. SAN JOSE (7-13-8), 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick
The Quakes have been hanging tough for about a month, though inevitable elimination came last week when they lost, 2-1, to Dallas. Still, they stunned Toronto FC with a stoppage-time goal by Cornell Glen to tie, 1-1, perhaps necessitating Chivas USA to score more than its typical one goal a game.
Prediction: Chivas USA 2, Quakes 1.
HOUSTON (12-8-8) vs. LOS ANGELES (11-6-11), 3 p.m, TeleFutura
The teams are tied atop the Western Conference with 44 points and have clinched their playoff spots but are fighting to stay ahead of Chivas USA and retain homefield advantage. The Dynamo has been in neutral of late, with a 3-3-3 record since the All-Star break.
Both teams had players called to international duty last week, whichever of them returns in better shape may determine the outcome. Neither team can afford to lose, both need at least a point.
Prediction: Dynamo 1, Galaxy 1.
RIDGE MAHONEY'S 2009
This week: 0-1. Season: 97-113.