Only four teams in MLS have been eliminated from the playoffs: the Colorado Rapids, NYCFC, Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union. That makes for some exciting soccer over the next two weeks, the final two of the regular season.
The Houston Dynamo technically haven't been eliminated just yet, but let's just say it's not looking great. Not only do they need to earn the full three points against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, but the Los Angeles Galaxy also need to beat the Portland Timbers for the Orange to play in November.
Not impossible, but unlikely.
Elsewhere, in the Supporter's Shield race, FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls are tied atop the standings, both currently at the top of their respective conferences. Toronto FC and DC United still have a chance in the East, but are both behind by more than three points, while the Galaxy are in striking distance of FCD, only needing a win and a Dallas loss to Real Salt Lake to tie it up.
Trust me, there are plenty more playoff implications that the statisticians can deal with. For now,
Games to watch
1. Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC
While NYCFC are already out of the race, Orlando are in it to win it. But their playoff chances are hanging by a loose thread, because a loss or tie to their fellow expansion side would derail their hopes entirely.
It will be interesting to see how they fare without Kaká or Brek Shea against star-studded NYC.
2. Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew SC
Toronto have already clinched and are a long shot to gain an automatic berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals, so the main storyline in this game is the MVP and Golden Boot races.
Sebastian Giovinco and Kei Kamara, of TFC and the Crew, are knotted up at 22 goals apiece. Giovinco will most likely win the MVP, but the Sierra Leone-international still has a fighting chance at the Golden Boot.
Meanwhile, the Crew can clinch a postseason berth with a point or an Orlando City loss.
3. Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers
The Galaxy will be looking to stay in the Supporter's Shield hunt while Portland can clinch a playoff spot with either a win and San Jose loss or tie or a draw and Earthquakes' loss. At the same time, they can ruin the hopes of Houston.
Watch for the young guns that Portland have. Lucas Melano, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace can hit you on the counter and lone striker Fanendo Adi is strong, powerful and a threat on set pieces.
Players to watch
1. Diego Valeri- Portland Timbers
The aforementioned-Valeri is a threat both in the center and on the wing, providing a huge test for the talented midfield of LA. Juninho, Steven Gerrard and Gyasi Zardes will have to step up their games in order to prevent the Argentine from running circles around them.
2. Clint Dempsey- Seattle Sounders
Dempsey, coming off a weak, fatigued 120-minute performance in the CONCACAF Cup, will be combining with Obafemi Martins to try and break down the Dynamo's central defense, which struggles with strikers like Martins and Dempsey that work together in the final third very well.
It's key for the Sounders that these players are on top of their games.
3. Andrea Pirlo- New York City FC
Yes, NYCFC have nothing to play for on Friday, but from Orlando City's perspective, Pirlo is a key component of NYC's midfield. He is a world-class passer and does a great job getting and keeping possession, so he's someone the Lions can't let get into a passing rhythm.
- Didier Drogba's status is unknown for the Impact's match against the New England Revolution on Saturday. If he's in, they win, and therefore clinch a playoff berth.
- If the Dynamo are going to win, set pieces are the way to do it. Seattle's biggest weakness is defending them, and Houston have one of the best free-kick takers in the game: Brad Davis.
- DC United basically need a win to remain in contention for an automatic berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals. They face Chicago this week, which should be an easy three points, but next week it's Columbus, who could be up there with United in the standings by then.
- Hey Chicago, New York and Philadelphia: play your kids. You're out, so do some developing.