Major League Soccer 2011, (Mid)Week 29 Preview And Schedule: Who Wants To Win The East?

There are three midweek matches in MLS and all have playoff implications with two key in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference

This season it has felt like nobody wants to win the Eastern Conference. Every time a team get to the top of the conference puts itself in position to run away from the rest of the teams they go into a funk and go sliding right back down the table. The reality is that the teams in the conference are just bad teams so they can't sustain good form, but being afraid of success (is winning the East even really considered a success anymore?) is more fun.

There are three midweek matches on the slate for Wednesday and Thursday and two of those three will help determine the Eastern Conference's winner, while another could be the nail in the coffin of the Supporters Shield race. Playoff implications all around!

Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew

Wednesday, 8:30 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, Matchday Live

The Crew were atop the Eastern Conference and if they were to slip up then Sporting was supposed to pass them up. Well, Columbus did slip up, losing at home to Los Angeles' reserve team, but it wasn't Kansas City who passed them up. Houston moved to the top of the Eastern Conference, leaving Sporting and the Crew tied for second place, one points behind. That makes Wednesday's contest a battle for the top spot in the conference.

If Columbus is to get a result on the road, they will need Chad Marshall and unfortunately for them, the towering centerback is currently listed as questionable with a hip flexor strain. With the pace of the Sporting strikers and the ability of the midfield, specifically Graham Zusi, to get into the attack, Columbus will need Marshall. Then again, even if Marshall does play the match could very well be determined by whether it is Peter Vermes or Robert Warzycha that over-thinks things and plays an asinine lineup with stupid tactics.

Pick: Kansas City 2-1

Real Salt Lake vs. Chicago Fire

Wednesday, 9:00 pm ET

TV: Direct Kick, Matchday Live

Salt Lake needs to get maximum points from their five remaining matches and hope for the Galaxy to slip up if they're to get the Supporters Shield. It's unlikely, but still possible. Lose to the Fire and it becomes impossible. Seriously though, it's the Fire. Salt Lake will cruise.

Pick: Salt Lake eleventy billion-0

Philadelphia Union vs. DC United

Thursday, 8:00 pm ET

TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes

DC was supposed to be done and out once Chris Pontius broke his leg. Apparently someone forgot to tell them that. More specifically, someone forgot to tell Dwayne De Rosario that. He's burst into the MVP race with a brilliant run of form that included a hat trick in Saturday demolition of Salt Lake. DC is flying high and eying a playoff spot as they sit a point behind New York for the final spot with two matches in hand.

On the flip side, the Union are only two points behind Houston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They're a terrible team, but the entire East is so they're still in the mix and with Roger Torres coming alive, along with the continued fine play of Sebastien Le Toux, the Union are dangerous. Now if they could just get that Freddy Adu character going.

Pick: Draw 2-2

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