Major League Soccer 2011, Week 28 Preview And Schedule: The Close (And Mildly Pathetic) Playoff Race Continues!

Friday night and Saturday's early games are good. And it's all downhill from there.

Because Major League Soccer is a league with two conferences instead of a single table that allows 10 out of 18 teams to qualify for the playoffs, the playoff race this year is utterly ridiculous. Friday night's Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union match is absolutely huge...except that the loser could still very easily win the Eastern Conference and be the fourth seed. The loser could also lose this game and three more, but still sneak into the playoffs in 10th place. The quality of play in MLS keeps getting better every single year, and the league has found a way to completely devalue this. Great job! End rant, onto the games.

Sporting Kansas City Vs. Philadelphia Union

Friday, 8:30 pm ET

TV: FOX Soccer Channel

Yesterday, one of our MLS contributors Drew Epperley wrote a great piece looking at this game. Sporting KC have been in great form at home and are perhaps a more talented side than Philadelphia, but the matchup here is not favorable. Peter Vermes and the folks above him made the ridiculous decisions to trade both Jack Jewsbury and Stephane Auvray this year, while Michael Harrington has either been injured or benched for much of the year. Sebastian Le Toux, Freddy Adu and Roger Torres present a bad matchup for the (lack of) defensive midfielders that KC has, while Aurlien Collin is no right back. If Harrington starts and someone has a monster of a game in the center, KC could take this, but the matchup looks like a bad one.

Pick: 3-1 Union

FC Dallas Vs. Houston Dynamo

Saturday, 4:00 pm ET

TV: Telefutura

This is technically a derby, so there will probably be a whole 17 people at Pizza Hut Park to watch it. Dallas are firmly in the playoffs at the moment, while the Houston Dynamo are still fighting for a place. Injuries, suspensions, and just plain bad form have plagued a previously brilliant Dallas team lately, as have trades that brought in Maicon Santos and Jeremy Hall. Seriously, why?!? Horrific moves. Between all of that and the fact that they're probably tired from a mid-week CCL match against the A- team of Pumas UNAM, I like a road upset in this Texas derby.

Pick: 2-1 Houston

D.C. United Vs. Real Salt Lake

Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, Matchday Live

This is one of three 7:30 pm ET kickoffs. There is one 9:00 pm kickoff after this, followed by two 10:30 pm kickoffs. I am not going to stop complaining about this problem. Anyhow, D.C. United don't look quite as good without Chris Pontius. Their defense fell apart on Wednesday, surrendering a lead to Chivas USA. They were destroyed by Juan Pablo Angel, who can barely walk. Meanwhile, RSL have won five straight games. Without Javier Morales.

Pick: 3-1 RSL

Columbus Crew Vs. LA Galaxy

Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, MDL

If the leaders of the JV league find a way to pull this off, I might cry.

Pick: 2-0 Galaxy

New York Red Bulls Vs. Portland Timbers

Saturday, 7:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, MDL

On one hand, Portland are woeful on the road. On the other hand, New York are woeful everywhere.

Pick: 3-2 Portland.

Colorado Rapids Vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Saturday, 9:00 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, MDL

If you find a way to stay awake through 90 minutes of this, I salute you! You are a stronger man than I. Also, I hate Gary Smith. 

Pick: 0-0, snoooooooooooooore

Vancouver Whitecaps Vs. Seattle Sounders

Saturday, 10:30 pm ET

TV: TSN, MDL

This is a match that will test the theory that you can throw form out the window for derby matches. Seattle should be able to win this one easily, but the crowd will be fantastic at Empire Field and the players should be up for the game. Vancouver's been a bad team in their first year in MLS. Their defense is suspect and their midfielders can't pass. They can score goals, though, and they've got some guys who are really good at elbowing people in the teeth. That's what you need in a derby! I like Seattle to win comfortably, but it might be best to expect the unexpected here.

Pick: 3-1 Seattle

Chivas USA Vs. Toronto FC

Saturday, 10:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, MDL

I just checked our master schedule. I voluntarily signed up to cover this. What the hell is wrong with me? My eyes are going to burn.

Pick: Oh my god seriously I can't believe I have to watch this game.

Chicago Fire Vs. New England Revolution

Sunday, 4:00 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, MDL

There is a Fire home game that overlaps with a Packers-Bears game at Soldier Field. I'm not kidding. Don't even tell me you still think my MLS schedule rants are over the top. Don't even do it.

Pick: GO PACK GO.

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