Kick Off: Spencer sets target for Timbers' playoff dreams

Kick Off - John Spencer (shouting)

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It should be a little extra louder at JELD-WEN Field later tonight when the Portland Timbers host the New England Revolution with the expansion team chasing a playoff berth and all three points (11 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). The Timbers sold 2,000 more seats for this match in what will be a record capacity crowd.

Several coaches and players seem comfortable venturing into predictions regarding the number of points it will take to make the playoffs. Timbers manager John Spencer believes his team’s magic number stands at 10.

Portland owner Merritt Paulson is in the news this morning for stating his desire to see MLS serve as a pilot for FIFA when it comes to goal line technology: “It’s the right thing … A lot of other owners that sit on the (MLS) board of governors share that view, and I know our commissioner does as well.”

Meanwhile, the Revs’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread and manager Steve Nicol is reflecting on what could have been: “After the win against Dallas, we were looking back over the last three or four games and at the results we didn’t get, and that’s something we don’t normally do,” he says.

The rest of the MLS slate will be played on Saturday, beginning with the match between Toronto FC and the Colorado Rapids (1:30 p.m. ET, TSN), during which new Rapids signing Miguel Comminges can expect to begin his “baptism of fire” at left back. The position has proven a problem spot for the champs.

The national TV match on Saturday features the Chicago Fire hosting Chivas USA, with at least one team saying goodbye to any faint playoff hopes (4 p.m. ET, Telefutura).

When the Philadelphia Union host the Columbus Crew in a massive Eastern Conference showdown on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), it will mark the two-month anniversary of their last win in league play.

It could be a dramatic weekend for NY Red Bulls fans as they watch their team head into Dallas for a must-win match at Pizza Hut Park (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). NYRB will be without both starting fullbacks and Rafa Márquez, and now central defender Tim Ream is also on the injury list.

Many will be surprised to hear D.C. United forward Charlie Davies state that any goal celebration from him at CenturyLink Field (9 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) will be subdued out of respect to Seattle Sounders fans, who supported him as much as any when he suffered the auto accident in 2009: “You'd almost think I played for the Seattle Sounders because of all the memorabilia I have."

Captain Kyle Beckerman may not be buying Supporters’ Shield talk with 10 points to make up on LA, but his head coach, Jason Kreis, is not backing down as Real Salt Lake get set to welcome Sporting Kansas City (9 p.m. ET): “We’ve given ourselves a chance at the Supporters Shield and if we have a chance, you know me, we’re going for it.”

One of the players who have helped Sporting KC reach the cusp of first place in the Eastern Conference, Rookie of the Year candidate C.J. Sapong, put himself on the map in a unique way yesterday: serenading USWNT ‘keeper Hope Solo in person. The whole thing was caught on video. (VIDEO)

When the first-place LA Galaxy take on the last-place Vancouver Whitecaps (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), it will mark a momentous occasion for ex-Galaxy and current Whitecaps netminder Joe Cannon, who will reach a lofty personal milestone.

Here’s another reason to watch: Vancouver’s Eric Hassli. This revealing ESPN.com feature goes inside Hassli’s life and thinking and it turns out he has fallen in love with the city of Vancouver and Whitecaps fans since arrive from FC Zurich in Switzerland: “I felt supported [by the fans] in Zurich but it was maybe a tenth of what I feel in Vancouver.”

Toss another name into the mixer. Now French club Paris St. Germain have made public their intentions of wanting to woo LA Galaxy star David Beckham when his contract expires at the end of this season. Leonardo, who worked with him at AC Milan, now works for PSG: “I worked with him and that’s why I talk about his name.”

It was an interesting roster deadline day for the USL champs Orlando City, who saw three players join three different MLS clubs. Find out more about Lawrence Olum (Sporting KC), Max Griffin (SJ Earthquakes) and Yordany Alvarez (Real Salt Lake), who are now set to feature for the stretch run in MLS.

With MLS Commissioner Don Garber indicated that changes to the schedule were forthcoming, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated makes a detailed suggestion of the plan he would institute for both the playoffs and regular season schedule.

It’s hard to believe that MLS Cup 2012 won’t be held at the new Dynamo stadium which is set to open next year. Dynamo president Chris Canetti says his club will bid for the event as soon as the bidding process opens. As far as this weekend is concerned, the Dynamo host the San Jose Earthquakes in a battle of playoff hopefuls (8:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).

Although we still have no word from Bob Bradley’s camp, the president of the Egyptian federation is talking, revealing exactly how much Bob Bradley will be making on a per-month basis for the national side.

Meanwhile, on the TV landscape, it’s a big Sunday in American soccer. The Fox network channel – not Fox Soccer – will be airing the match between Chelsea and Manchester United before or after the NFL games aired in each and every market, exposing millions to the sport.

The lone televised match from Europe today is the German Bundesliga contest between SC Freiburg and VfB Stuttgart (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes). The Akron Zips will feature in the Fox Soccer game of the week against New Mexico (7 p.m. ET).

Lastly, we leave you with the golazo by Jozy Altidore in Europa League play with AZ Alkmaar. This move to Holland is really working out. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

D.C. United’s Charlie Davies opens up about the pressure in D.C. and his contacts with Sochaux on ExtraTime Radio

Review every player transaction made on roster deadline day yesterday

Throw-In: Five quiet milestones about to be reached in MLS


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