Kick Off: Eastern Conference crown on the line at LSP

Kick Off: Rolfe

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Is this the game of the season?

Sporting Kansas City host Chicago on Friday night (8:30pm ET, NBCSN, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com) at Livestrong Sporting Park in a game that could decide with the Eastern conference crown.

Hype is building in both cities, and a win on Friday night for the Fire would leapfrog them over SKC into first place, with a crucial game in hand. Take a gander at this alternative look at the rivalry between the two cities: BBQ, Kanye, Jazz and “da Bears.” Enough said.

Here’s an in-depth tactical look from Chicago’s own website on how the Fire can defeat SKC. And Chris Rolfe believes his side can take confidence from the Fire’s last trip to KC, a 1-0 win back in June. “Winning here last time gave us so much confidence. Since that win we’ve been on a great run.”

While Chicago go for the win, the New York Red Bulls will try and follow suit as they take on Toronto on Saturday (7 pm ET watch LIVE online), looking to close the gap on the two teams above them. Aussie DP Tim Cahill is ready for a TFC onslaught: “They’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us.”

Elsewhere in New York, Giants WR Victor Cruz is a fan of soccer and the new FIFA 13 video game. So much so in fact, that he believes the games popularity will overtake Madden soon. What about MLS being bigger than NFL, Victor?

“I don't think so. I think the NFL is safe, I don't think they are worried about anyone."

Two teams definitely worried about each other, Seattle and Vancouver, square up in a huge Cascadia clash on Saturday at BC Place. (9pm ET, NBCSN, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com)

A triple-whammy is up for grabs for the Sounders. With a win they’ll set up a potential clash for the Cup against Portland, put a huge dent in Vancouver’s playoff hopes and also close the gap on the West’s top three and get out of a wild card game.

Seattle know all bout the ‘Caps, and one thing they will have to be prepare for is the burgeoning partnership of Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks. M&M are gunning for playoff glory as they both enjoy their first seasons playing professionally in the US.

Check out the Cascadia Cup standings and remaining fixtures here.

The other Cascadia side, the Portland Timbers, host D.C. United at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). United have rallied to crucial wins without talismanic captain Dwayne De Rosario after his season-ending MCL injury. But the future looks positive for DeRo, at least according to this report from Reuters, which states 72 percent of players returned to playing after knee surgery. But the Timbers Army will undoubtedly be pleased to not see De Rosario back in action against them this weekend.

They’re still scrapping away for a place in the playoffs in Columbus too. On Saturday the Crew host Philadelphia. (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) This list of Do’s and Don’ts puts the task in layman’s terms for the Crew’s players.

Playoff pressure is mounting in Houston too, as the Dynamo will have a similar list rattling through their minds. They face a spirited New England outfit on Saturday at BBVA (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) looking for a crucial win that will safeguard their one-point advantage over Columbus, as the Dynamo occupy the final playoff berth.

A fit again Adam Moffat is raring to go, as the final four games of the season loom large. “I want to give everything I have in those four games, and then hopefully when playoff time comes we’re going to be hard to beat.”

As for New England, a new partnership announced yesterday with Sovereign/Santander saw the great Pelé make an appearance alongside Revs head coach Jay Heaps. Speaking about his time as a revolutionary with the New York Cosmos, the Brazilian legend is proud of how he helped kick off soccer in the US, and he comented on the growth of MLS: “It has grown a lot. I feel glad to be a part of this.”

A team going from strength to strength throughout this season, the LA Galaxy, face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday (7 pm ET, Galavision) looking to get out of a possible wild card match in the first-round of this seasons playoffs. LA made it through to the CCL quarterfinals on Thursday, without kicking a ball. The Puerto Rico Islanders came up big for Bruce Arena’s side.

Staying in LA, Chivas USA host RSL on Saturday (10:30pm ET, watch LIVE online) with faint hopes of making the playoffs still alive. Head coach Robin Fraser is well aware, and here's what he has to say.

RSL have clinched their berth in the postseason, but they’ll be without Jameson Olave on Saturday. Chris Schuler is eager to take his chance and slot into RSL’s stingy backline of late.

With all these teams worrying about making the playoffs, San Jose’s head coach Frank Yallop must be sleeping pretty easy right now.

His side are five points clear in the race for the Shield but there will be no letting up by the 'Quakes. FC Dallas travel to California this weekend (Saturday, 10:30pm ET, watch LIVE online) with the Texas side surging towards the playoffs.

In other league news, get ready to see a splash of pink adorning jerseys, gloves and soccer balls over the next few weeks. Its all part of the MLS Works community outreach initiative in the fight against breast cancer.

Some big news came from England yesterday, as John Terry was found guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand by the Football Association. But radio pundit and former England international Stan Collymore wasn’t happy with the sentence.

Both Manchester teams are showcased on Fox Soccer this Saturday, with City facing Fulham (10am ET) and United hosting Tottenham (12:30pm ET) Wayne Rooney returned for United in their League Cup success over Newcastle on Wednesday.

US defender Eric Lihaj will do battle with his Aston Villa teammates in a Midlands derby with West Bromwich Albion. (Sunday, 10:30am)

MLSsoccer.com Musts

ExtraTime Radio: Hartman desperate for playoffs in Dallas

Pele's legacy lives on, proud of role with Cosmos

Journey to Excellence: Hector Jimenez


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