Four aim for two playoff spots

[TV PREVIEWs] Colorado, Kansas City, Chicago and Los Angeles are vying for the two remaining playoff spots, and the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, D.C. United and New England, finish the regular season on the road. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney previews this weekend's action ...

NEW ENGLAND (14-8-7) vs. TORONTO FC (6-17-6)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, HDNet, Direct Kick

TFC has yet to score against the Revolution this season, losing by combined scores of 7-0, and Adam Braz and Marco Reda are suspended.

Andy Dorman has scored three goals against Toronto, and Taylor Twellman netted twice in a 4-0 romp April 14. This is the first meeting at BMO Field, where despite fanatic support, TFC is 5-7-2, the second-worst home mark in MLS. The Revs are 6-5-3 on the road, second behind Houston for the best away record.

D.C. UNITED (16-6-7) vs. COLUMBUS (8-11-10)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick

D.C. has nailed down the best overall record, the Crew is eliminated from the playoffs despite winning on the road against New England last week.

Columbus has a long list of players ruled out of this match because of injuries, including Frankie Hejduk (hand fracture);Jason Garey (shoulder dislocation), Jacob Thomas (groin strain); Chad Marshall (concussion), and Brad Evans (hip flexor strain).

Jaime Moreno has returned to D.C. United following his duty with the Bolivian national team. Josh Gros is still being bothered by migraine headaches and is listed as questionable.

Columbus beat D.C., 1-0, with an Ezra Hendrickson goal April 28. Fred and Luciano Emilio scored 11 minutes apart when United beat the Crew, 2-0, at RFK Aug. 18.

FC DALLAS (13-11-5) vs. KANSAS CITY (10-12-7)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick

For much of the past two months, the Kansas City Wizards have been one win away from a playoff spot, and they still are. They've won one game of the last eight.

Tied with Chicago for seventh place in the overall standings with 37 points, the Wizards can not win and still get in, but would need considerable help. Kansas City loses tiebreakers against Los Angeles and Chicago and would be tied with Colorado, against which it tied both meetings, if the Rapids beat Dallas in their last game and the Wizards tie FCD. The second tiebreaker is goal difference.

Against Dallas at home May 12, Kansas City fell two goals behind by halftime (Kenny Cooper, Juan Toja) and didn't score until rookie Michael Harrington nicked a goal in the final minute. FCD keeper Dario Sala frustrated the Wizards with several dazzling saves.

Since that game, Kenny Cooper has suffered a broken leg and made his way back into the lineup, Kansas City has added exciting but erratic attacker Eloy Colombano, and FCD has shuttled Brazilians Richardinho and Denilson in and out of the lineup.

Each team will be losing a dependable regular for this game. Kerry Zavagnin (Kansas City) and Bobby Rhine (FC Dallas) have reached the five-caution mark. FCD is destined to finish third in the Western Conference and is playing on nine days of rest after tying Chivas USA, 0-0.

COLORADO (9-12-8) vs. REAL SALT LAKE (5-15-9)
Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, Direct Kick

The Rapids can get into the playoffs with a win, which would give them 38 points, but need some help. A tie does them no good.

They revived their playoff hopes with a tough road win against Chivas USA, 2-1, last week when substitute Omar Cunnings scored in the final minute of regulation. They took a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute when Ugo Ihemelu headed home a corner kick playing 10 against 11, following the dismissal of defender Brandon Prideaux in first-half stoppage time.

Prideaux is suspended for this match, as is RSL forward Yura Movsisyan, who received a red card for shoving Pat Onstad after the Houston keeper had punched away a corner kick Monday in the Dynamo's 1-0 win.

RSL beat Colorado, 1-0, Sept. 22 with a Kyle Brown goal and a fine display by goalie Nick Rimando. Since then, it has lost two and tied one, and the Houston goal was scored when a mishit Stuart Holden cross eluded Rimando's desperate leap and snuck under the crossbar.

The Rocky Mountain Cup is up for grabs, as the three games played previously have produced a win for each team and a 1-1 tie. Former Rapid Kyle Beckerman scored in a 2-0 Colorado win April 30 and RSL's 1-0 win four weeks ago.

CHIVAS USA (15-8-6) vs. HOUSTON (15-7-7)
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports en Espanol

The Dynamo is short two defenders because of accumulated yellow cards, Ryan Cochrane and Eddie Robinson, in addition to the nine-game suspension incurred by midfielder Ricardo Clark. Pat Ianni will take one central defensive position.

Houston, which trails Chivas USA by three points, claims the Western Conference crown on the head-to-head tiebreaker if beats the leader at Home Depot Center, which no team had done this season until the Rapids ended their unblemished streak last week.

Chivas USA outshot Colorado, 22-8, but only Orlando Perez, with his first goal of the season, could score. Sacha Kljestan notched his league-leading 13th assist on Perez's goal and Houston needs Richard Mulrooney and left back Wade Barrett to keep him quiet.

The Dynamo has won the first two meetings this season by combined scores of 5-0, including a Brad Davis hat trick in a 4-0 romp, but both of those games were played in Texas.

CHICAGO (9-10-10) vs. LOS ANGELES (9-11-7)
Sunday, 3 p.m., TelFutura

No more wiggle room for the Galaxy. Its 1-1 tie with New York Thursday places its fate in the hands of others, even if it beats the Fire to force a deadlock between the teams at 37 points.

Los Angeles would win the head-to-head tiebreaker against Chicago, but could be nosed out by Kansas City (with a tie or win) or Colorado (with a win).

Kyle Martino picked up a fifth yellow card against the Red Bulls and is suspended for this match, which could be rendered meaningless - for the Galaxy - if those other results run against it. By the time this game is played, the Fire could be in ninth place, and would need a win to reach the playoffs. Or, if Kansas City loses and Colorado doesn't win, it could progress with a tie.

The Galaxy's seven-game unbeaten run, including five straight wins, has overshadowed a good run by Chicago, which is also unbeaten in seven games but has tied five of them. It outplayed and outshot D.C. United, 14-8, last week but ended up with a 0-0 tie. Chicago lost 2-0 to a pair of Landon Donovan penalty kicks on July 4.


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