TNFtermath: There is no truth to the rumor that Taylor Twellman is now the minority owner of Chivas USA. He's the majority owner - Steve Ralston is the minority owner. Nice substitution decision by the reigning Coach of the Year, putting in Claudio Suarez for Jim Curtin. What is it with all these Claudios retiring a year or two too late?
TORONTO v. COLUMBUS
Remember when this was going to be for first place in the East? Me neither. Not that John Carver has painted himself into a corner, but: The Red Squirrels are back at home, they have all their internationals back, and the only guy who's injured is Todd Dunivant. This is the second consecutive "Okay, coach, how smart are you?" game the Crew will face, and we all know what happened last week. For once Sigi will have to think as well, since Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the current standard bearer for MVP voters who hate Landon Donovan, looks like he'll miss the game. Unless MLSnet has lied to us. I still think Columbus wins this one - the gap in talent in form between these two clubs has yawned more than the turf or home field advantage can fill. Crew, 2-0.
THE HELL THIS AIN'T THE MOST IMPORTANT HOLE IN THE WORLD, I'M IN IT
Realistically, both Kansas City and Los Angeles are already free to go golfing in November, but this game will make it official for at least one of them. And, if it's a draw, both. I was going to lament David Beckham pretty much disappearing for the Galaxy the past couple of months, but (a) the Galaxy's slide isn't just down to that, by ANY means, and (b) when did Claudio Lopez die, and how come I haven't read anything about it? The Wizards have made some last-ditch attempts to get to the all-important fifth place position in the East, but I can't in good conscience pick them to win this. Galaxy, 3-1.
DC UNITED v. DALLAS
If Luciano Emilio is back at 100%, DC wins this handily - and gets back to .500. Boy, has the United been schizoid this year, or what? If Emilio is out again, I'm tempted to go with the rare Western Conference road upset...wait, no I'm not. Those wins Dallas has had since the All-Star Game over LA, Toronto and Club America? Yeah, that's all you need to know about LA, Toronto, and Club America recently. DC, 3-1.
RED BULLS v. ROYALS
You realize this could be the Western Conference final right here? Do you? Well, it won't be in Giants Stadium...it'll be in the Sandy Castle...but still. Makes you think, doesn't it? I think the 5th place race in the East will go down to the wire, and RSL has the worst road record in the league...which is really saying something. Is I don't like the Hunter Freeman offloading, for the same reason I don't like player-for-picks deals this late in the year...you need warm bodies. But, New York right now is missing nobody to injury. Sounds like somebody's bucking for the Trainer of the Year award. RBNY, 3-0.
EARTHQUAKES v. DYNAMO
Cruelly, it's in the interest of fans of other MLS teams to cheer on Houston in this. Neutrals, and those who want the Bay Area to last in MLS this time around, and those who just plain like underdogs, will feel otherwise. This could also be a potential Western Conference final, although again, wrong stadium. The Quakes have won four out of their last five, and tied the fifth. They're at home, and the Dynamo don't have a heck of a lot to play for. Why wouldn't I pick San Jose in this one? Because Houston's deeper and more talented? What league do you think this is, anyway? Quakes, 3-1.
Colorado isn't in last place, but it's not for want of trying - they've lost more games than anyone else, after all. It's tempting to give the Rapids credit for home field advantage, but the Fire have a better road record than the Rapids do at home. Chicago is the team I fancy the least out of the top three in the East, but maybe I ought to get with the program - Busch is having a classic season, after all. Blanco has called it a day with the Mexico NT, but to me that's a solid eight on the All-Bran Scale. It's McBride that will need to break out if Chicago does anything in the playoffs. Colorado should be good practice, though. Fire, 2-0.
While I'm thinking about it - anyone interested in early lines on year-end awards?
Coach of the Year: God, I hate saying Frank Yallop, but unless the Quakes end the year 0-7, you have to give him some credit
Defender of the Year: Wow, MLS has been in a trough when it comes to quality defenders, if'n you ask me. I've got as nominees Bakary Soumare, Jamison Olave, and Hell If I Know Might As Well Be Parkhurst. Y'know, we could give this to Frankie Hejduk. No? Okay, fine, Soumare.
Goalkeeper of the Year: The Mighty Boosh
Rookie of the Year: Sean Franklin. Look, I didn't injure Kheli Dube, what do you want from me?
...oh, you're not interested in year-end awards, and think they should be given out after the playoffs anyway? My bad.