Major League Soccer 2011, Week 31 Preview And Schedule: More And More Of The Sad Playoff Race!

The race for the MLS playoff race is still hotly contested, even if the teams in contention are not very good, and with only two weeks left the drama only intensifies

Nobody wants to make the playoffs. If you're in the race for one of the final playoff spots, you will lose. Then you'll flip on the TV and watch one of your competitors lose. Then you'll look at the table and wonder who has the fewest games left to lose because nobody wants to win and get one of those final playoff spots. This playoff race is just fantastic, isn't it?

Already this week DC United and the Chicago Fire lost, putting huge dents in their playoff hopes, but those ahead of them will probably lose this weekend and drag them right back into the race. Thank god that Don Garber shockingly so much loves the 10-team playoffs and the asinine system he came up with so we can have more of this next year!

Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake

Friday, 10:30 pm ET

TV: ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes

This is a rivalry because they have a cup to win (the appropriately named Rocky Mountain Cup), but is anything really a rivalry when an entire league roots against one of the teams in every match they play all season long? I'm looking at you, Rapids. With your stupid squad selections, hacking, boring play and all around unpleasantness, no one ever wants you to win. Unfortunately, you can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Real.

For Real, this match is about two things. One is trying to sort things out and the other is trying to hold off FC Dallas. They had hoped that these final regular season matches would be an opportunity to get all of their key players like Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Alvaro Saborio, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and Chris Wingert back and in form as preparation for the playoffs, but then Beckerman got suspended for the rest of the season for a headbutt. Stupid, Kyle. They do need more than improved play though because Dallas is just two points behind them and if they get passed up, they'll have to play in the wild card round. They would get to then go into the Eastern Conference bracket though. Hmmm, maybe Real would rather lose?

Pick: 2-0 Salt Lake 

Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo

Friday, 10:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, Matchday Live

For this, MLS loses 1,000 points. Really, who thought it was a good idea to schedule a playoff six-pointer at the same time as a rivalry match? Because MLS does stupid things, you cannot watch Portland and Houston in a match with huge playoff implications and the Rocky Mountain Cup because they're on at the same time on a Friday night of all times. Hooray, MLS!

Houston currently has the last playoff spot, but Portland trails them by just three points and they have a match in hand. This is their last home match of the season at the intimidating Jeld-Wen Field so the place will be electric and with Eric Brunner running around you have to think the Timbers have a set piece goal in them.

Pick: 2-1 Portland

Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls

Saturday, 4:00 pm ET

TV: Telefutura

Rafa Marquez in the midfield and Luke Rodgers back from injury. Is that all the Red Bulls needed to get back on track? It looked like it in their last match when they tore apart the Galaxy, who to be fair were not at full strength. Even so, it was a good performance for New York and if they can get three points in Kansas City this weekend the rest of the East will have to take notice as one of the league's most talented teams gets ready for the playoffs.

For Sporting, this is about not just making the playoffs, but winning the East. A win could clinch a playoff spot, but more importantly it could put them atop the Eastern Conference. They've been great at Livestrong Sporting Park and will look to add to their great home record against the Red Bulls. With Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury and C.J. Sapong, it's not hard to imagine them getting a couple against a New York defense that can be very lazy.

Pick: 3-2 Kansas City

Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC

Saturday, 4:00 pm ET

TV: TSN, Direct Kick, Matchday Live

The leaders of the Eastern Conference, a win and Sporting loss will clinch the top spot in the conference for the Union. Toronto is not just fading away though. The additions of Danny Koevermans, Ryan Johnson and Torsten Frings have made all the difference and they're going up against a defense that does not have Jordan Harvey because allocation money is better apparently. A win would clinch a playoff spot for Philly, but they won't get it.

Pick: 1-1 

DC United vs. Chicago Fire

Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, Matchday Live

This would have been a great match if these two teams had won on Wednesday. They were right in the thick of the playoff race. Now they need a lot of help to get into the postseason. Splitting points won't help.

Pick: 1-1

New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew

Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, Matchday Live

The Revolution are really, really, really, extra bad. The Crew suck to watch, but they get results. Don't watch. It'll be a snoozefest.

Pick: 1-0 Columbus

FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Saturday, 8:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, Matchday Live

Dallas has been a mess of late. Brek Shea looks tired and no one else can step up. It's been ugly. The Whitecaps are uglier. Dallas, here's your cure.

Pick: 2-0 Dallas

Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Saturday, 10:30 pm ET

TV: Fox Soccer Channel

The cool: over 60,000 people at CenturyLink Field, Kasey Keller's farewell (even if he has a road match and the playoffs left). The not so cool: a San Jose squad totally outmatched by the home side.

Pick: 3-1 Seattle

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA

Sunday, 9:00 pm ET

TV: ESPN, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes

The Galaxy have already clinched the Supporters' Shield and Chivas has been eliminated so there's not that much to play for. What matters for LA is trying to muster an attack without Robbie Keane, who is out for at least four weeks, and trying to get Landon Donovan healthy. What matters for Chivas is trying not to continue their embarrassment at the hands of their rivals.

Pick: 2-0 LA

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