Major League Soccer 2011 (Mid)Week 31 Preview and Schedule: Fire, DC United Face Virtual Must-Wins

The Chicago Fire will meet FC Dallas to decide the winner of the Brimstone Cup. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)

Two games with significant playoff implications kick off Week 31 of the MLS season.

Are we counting last week as an official "week" in the MLS season even though no games were originally scheduled? Well, it would sure be awkward to just ignore it, so we're going to go ahead and dub this Week 31 of the MLS season. Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the actual games...

Week 31 should be a big one and it kicks off with a pair of important midweek tilts, both of which are oozing with playoff implications. DC United and the Chicago Fire are both currently on the outside looking in and have just about run out of margin for error. They need to start piling on points now or start prepping for the SuperDraft.

Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas

Wednesday, 8:30 p.m.
TV: Direct Kick, Match Day Live

Each of these teams need wins but for entirely different reasons. FC Dallas did not earn a single point or even score a goal during the entire month of September and have won just once since the beginning of August. They are still practically locks to make the playoffs, but their confidence has to be in the toilet right now. There's still a chance they could sneak into the No. 3 seed in the West, but for a team located in the center of the country, going to the Eastern Conference might not be such a bad thing. Their final three games are really about getting some of the swagger back that put them in the Supporters' Shield race a couple months ago. This game does follow their first extended break in several months, which should be a good thing.

The Fire need a win for considerably more obvious reasons. Their final three matches of the season are all against playoff contending teams and they need to make up six points on the field. It's not an impossible task, but anything less than a win here will mean they need a lot of help. Playmaker Sebastian Grazzini is supposed to be back for this game, but the Fire could be without Marco Pappa and Dominic Oduro.  The winner will also get the Brimstone Cup.

Pick: FC Dallas 1-0.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. DC United

Wednesday, 10 p.m.
TV: Direct Kick, Match Day Live

United has more games to play than any other team in the playoff hunt and could still finish anywhere from first in the East to out of the playoffs. Those possibilities get considerably more limited if they fail to get at least a point here. The good news is that United final three matches are all at home. The bad news is that they are also against playoff-contending teams. 

This game represents a good chance to create some breathing room and turn those final games into more about placement than survival. The Whitecaps don't have much to play for aside from pride, but they did manage to beat Real Salt Lake in their last game there.

Pick: Tied 1-1.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.