Twelve games (!) this Wednesday as part of MLS Week 31 – that’s a lot of soccer. Here’s your definitive guide for what to expect with some major Audi MLS Cup Playoff stakes on the line.

Remember, the Plusometer originally began as a scientific way to quantify the potential watchability of any given game on ESPN+, but can also be used for all other channels. Using the elements of "Potential for very good/very bad soccer," "Chances created," "NARRATIVE," "Aesthetics" and "Totally subjective bonus points," I assign each element a score out of 10 and each game a score out of 50. Twenty-five is average potential. 50 is greatest game of all-time potential. Yes, I do actually calculate each game. No, I don't know why. Respect for the form, maybe?

We've also added the much-lauded "Playoffocity" rating from 0.0 to 10.0 that lets you know just how crucial each game is to the playoff race. Ten would be a playoff spot deciding game on Decision Day. The Watchgridometer only grows in stature and influence and arbitrary metrics.

Editor's note: This story originally ran in The Daily Kickoff. Subscribe here to receive your daily dose of MLS news and analysis direct to your inbox.

Tier One
The delightful hum of a soccer broadcast on television

Soccer is nice to have on. And sometimes you look up and see something fun.

FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire FC – Wed., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 23/50
Playoffocity: 0.0

The first match of the year between two teams already eliminated from the playoffs! What will happen? Who knows! And that, to me, is the perfect game. Shoot from midfield! Shoot from full field! Shoot at your own goal! All of these possibilities are there because each shot means exactly the same as the one before: Nothing. Godspeed to both teams. Make us proud.

Inter Miami CF vs. Toronto FC – Wed., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 12/50
Playoffocity: 0.1

Inter Miami are technically still in the playoff race. But realistically this is a battle between two teams already looking to next season to correct a majorly disappointing 2021. Still, who knows what might happen with the pressure off between two teams not lacking in talent. I wish you, dear reader, luck if you venture into the great beyond this game promises.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. LA Galaxy – Wed., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 24/50
Playoffocity: 6.1

I tend to trust the Plusometer, but maybe it didn’t quite function correctly here. Maybe it didn’t take into account that Houston took down Seattle last weekend? Or maybe it’s considering that win such a tiny blip on the radar that it doesn’t think it will happen again and the Galaxy will cruise?

The Galaxy should at least look more confident. They looked a lot more like the early-season version of themselves in their late win over Portland on Saturday. We’ll see if they can continue that. They’ll need to. They aren’t out of the woods yet in the playoff race. They could be below the line by the end of the night.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Austin FC – Wed., 10 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 25/50
Playoffocity: 0.1

Sit back, relax, and enjoy tonight’s meaningless game most likely to go off the rails for no reason.

Tier Two
The joy of stumbling onto a match you previously weren’t invested in, but now are

Every now and then, you go into a game not asking for much and come away with more than you ever imagined.

FC Dallas vs. LAFC – Wed., 8 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 27/50
Playoffocity: 5.4

Ricardo Pepi has unfortunately been ruled out for this one but we still have an LAFC team fighting for their playoff lives. This one feels like it will have a few goals, a few horrifying defensive mistakes and a few moments of individual brilliance. And then, in the end, a cloud of dust will clear and we’ll find out if LAFC are still in the playoff race or not. We’re at the point where any dropped points at all would be enough to keep LAFC out for good.

Nashville SC vs. Columbus Crew – Wed., 8:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 35/50
Playoffocity: 6.4

I’ll pretend for a second Columbus are still a legitimate playoff threat. It will make things more fun. And I guess, technically, they’re the same amount of points away from the line as LAFC. It’s just that LAFC have two teams to overcome and Columbus have three.

It’s hard to overstate just how much that increases the difficulty level here. But a win against Nashville would certainly keep them alive and would throw the race for home playoff games in the East into even more of a frenzy. Nashville, in second for now, could end the night in fourth place.

Tier Three
The satisfaction of expectations being met

Sometimes you want the best and you get it.

Atlanta United vs. New York City FC – Wed., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 40/50
Playoffocity: 9.0

The 7:30 spot is insanely busy. My head is already spinning just thinking about it. You have five teams within five points of each other all playing at the same time. The entire Eastern Conference table could be reshaped by the time the West coast games start. And it’s hard to decide which of these games will be the most watchable.

The argument for Atlanta vs. NYCFC is that the Narrative is strong with this one. Atlanta have been the second-best team on points since Aug. 1. NYCFC have been very much not that. For a while, it seemed like Atlanta had no chance at the playoffs. For a while, it seemed like NYCFC might be the team to challenge New England in the East. Now Atlanta come into this one in fifth place, three spots and two points ahead of NYCFC. NYCFC enter below the playoff line and without a goal for over 400 minutes.

Tonight, we’re either going to see a continuation of the narrative or a reversal. Either way, it should be entertaining.

D.C. United vs. New England Revolution – Wed., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 41/50
Playoffocity: 8.1

Even if this game doesn’t have the same playoff importance as the two six-pointers accompanying it at 7:30, it’s probably the best game of the three. We know about New England at this point, but keep in mind that D.C. are still a top-three team on expected goal differential. We may be looking at a playoff preview here between two teams with styles that may make the other team very uncomfortable or allow them to thrive.

Orlando City SC vs. CF Montréal – Wed., 7:30 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 39/50
Playoffocity: 9.0

Montréal are right on the edge of the line, while the Lions are right on the edge of losing out on a home playoff spot to ... Atlanta. Orlando seem to be course-correcting, though. And a course-corrected Orlando is a scary thought for the rest of the league. Except for Montréal, who just genuinely don’t seem to care about anything but making you wonder how you lost to Montréal.

It’s a fascinating matchup made even more fascinating by the fact the race for the fourth spot in the East – and a home playoff game – could become extremely tight if Wilfried Nancy’s side comes out on top.

Minnesota United FC vs. Philadelphia Union – Wed., 8 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 40/50
Playoffocity: 8.4

Interconference matchups have been rare this year. So how lucky are we to get one with playoff stakes for both sides of the league?

Philadelphia have been playing their best soccer of the year lately. Minnesota have not been doing that and are constantly on the verge of dropping below the playoff line, but they do still have Emanuel Reynoso. We’ll see what wins out.

Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders – Wed., 9 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 41/50
Playoffocity: 4.8

The playoffocity is low here because both teams are a lock for the playoffs at this point. In fact, they’re (mostly) a lock to finish somewhere in the top three in the West. But there are some stakes here.

It sure seems like Seattle are going to cruise to the top spot in the West. A Colorado win could make that idea a little more interesting, though. They’d be within three points with four games to go. Meanwhile, a loss could put Portland back into the mix for a spot in the top three. Which doesn’t technically mean much, but it is fun to say “top three.” The Timbers could be within two points of Colorado if the Rapids lose and Portland take down Vancouver. Which, brings us to...

Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Wed., 10 pm ET
WATCH ON: MLS LIVE on ESPN+
Plusometer Score: 42/50
Playoffocity: 8.3

...This game!

A midweek After Dark match with playoff stakes between two of the hottest teams in the league? Come on. How does it get any more MLS than that? This one could have it all. For Portland, it could mean the difference between hosting a playoff game. For Vancouver, one point below the line, it could mean everything.