The fight for first place is going down to the wire in the MLS’s Eastern Conference as the two New York sides go into the penultimate week separated only by goal difference. The Bulls have the easier of the two fixtures as an unmotivated Columbus Crew visit the Red Bull Arena, while a DC United looking to tie down a playoff place welcome Patrick Viera’s side. They’ll be without the man who netted a 93rd-minute winner in the same fixture back in September, as Frank Lampard has a calf injury. Elsewhere, Toronto will look to put the pressure on the second placed Blues as they travel to Montreal for the Canadian Derby, while the home side can cut the gap between the two sides to just 2 points in front of a sell out Stade Saputo crowd. After breaking Columbus Crew hearts with their draw on Thursday, Chicago Fire have the chance to play spoilers again as New England Revolution are relying on a 3-point display plus some help from Orlando to make the postseason playoffs. Fire remain rooted to the bottom of the East, having failed to win in 6, while the Revs are boosted by the form of Kei Kamara. Philadelphia Union currently cling onto the final playoff spot by the skin of their teeth, without a win in 5 games but still 3 points clear of the Revs, while Orlando are in similarly cold form having picked up just a single point from their last 5 games.
It’s a two horse race at the top of the West, too, as Dallas and Colorado battle it out for the top spot having both locked up postseason places. The Cowboys have the tougher match up this week as they welcome Seattle to the Toyota Stadium, who will be looking over their shoulders as just 4 points separate 7th-place Portland and the 4th place Sounders. 3 points would be enough to confirm it for them, or else they rely on high-fliers Rapids winning at the Timbers. A Steven Gerrard-less LA Galaxy will be keen to secure home advantage for the playoffs, but have to travel to Houston who will be desperate to pull themselves from the bottom of the table. Both Salt Lake and Kansas will be eager to pull themselves out of their mid-table slip in form to avoid being pipped at the post by the chasing Timbers, as the 5th and 6th placed sides go into the clash both having won just one of their last 6 games each. SKC may find themselves in the better position of the two, however, as Salt Lake have managed just a single goal in their last 4 games. In the MLS’s dead rubber of the week, Vancouver travel to San Jose Earthquakes without the chance for either side to make the top 6.
Ones to Watch
West – Dom Dwyer (SKC)
Western Conference top goalscorer Dom Dwyer has contributed 5 goals in his last 4 games for Sporting Kansas, registering 4 goals and an assist as his side won one drew twice and lost once. He’s been Man of the Match in two of those games, while his opponents this weekend Real Salt Lake have kept just one clean sheet in 6, scoring just once in 4.
East – David Villa (NYC)
It would be easy to pick out El Guaje as a player to watch every week, but the Spaniard’s recent form cannot go unnoticed. His last two games seen him take the Man of the Match award twice, having contributed 5 goals against first Chicago Fire and then Houston Dynamo. It’s between him and Bradley Wright-Phillips for the MLS top goalscorer award, and in current form you can’t look past Villa.
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