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What you need to know

Five games tonight:

A critical midweek slate begins tonight with five games. Highlights include Inter Miami hosting Columbus at 8 p.m. ET on MLS LIVE on ESPN+ and Minnesota United welcoming LAFC at 8 p.m. ET on MLS LIVE on ESPN+. See the full schedule here.

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Ranking tonight's games by importance

All five games start at about the same time tonight. If you’re talented and pure of heart, you’ll be able to watch all five without issue. The Watchgridometer isn’t needed because the Watchgridometer believes in you. So we’ll just take a quick look at each game tonight starting from least important by Daily Kickoff standards to most important by Daily Kickoff standards.

5. CF Montréal vs. Chicago Fire FC | 7:30 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+

If Chicago are going to make the playoffs, the miracle has to start here. Even if they win out they’ll be on 47 points. I don’t think that’s going to be enough to get you above the line, but you never know. The good news for the Fire is that CF Montréal already have a playoff spot locked up. So maybe they can live vicariously through CFM for 90 minutes? I guess they could also try and take advantage of the fact that Montréal aren’t playing for much?

To be honest, I’m not saying Montréal should lose this game “on purpose” or anything, but I think Montréal should perhaps consider where they are in the standings, consider who’s below them and consider that team’s home record versus their road record. And then if they decide to consciously uncouple themselves from three points tonight so they can potentially face the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in the playoffs, it would then be fine to lose. On purpose. Which would be a big boost to Chicago.. So hey, everyone wins. Except for Montr--you know what? You probably get it

4. Houston Dynamo FC vs. New England Revolution | 8:30 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN

The Revs cannot drop points in this game. Plain and simple. They have four games left and maybe the easiest run of any team chasing a playoff spot in the East. They have to capitalize on it, starting tonight against a weak Houston team. New England enters today three points below seventh-place Columbus with a game out of hand and four points below sixth-place Cincinnati. If they can’t take advantage of facing Houston, Montréal (playoff’s clinched edition), Atlanta and Chicago to close the year, they probably just don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.

Just to frame it even more, remember how I said that I don’t think 47 points is going to be enough to get Chicago over the line? If New England loses tonight, they max out at 47 points. We almost might be able to go ahead and wrap up the East tonight. Especially after…n

3. Inter Miami vs. Columbus Crew | 8 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+

We might be looking at one of the last pure six-pointers in the East this season. The Herons are five points behind the seventh-place Crew and they just might make or break the season for themselves and a few other teams tonight. A loss may just wrap up the top seven in the East. If Columbus wins and New England loses to Houston, FC Cincinnati will be in seventh place with a four-point advantage with just a few games remaining.

But an Inter Miami win? That throws us right back into chaos. And considering this is MLS, it’s hard to imagine this car not going out of its way to drive into the lone tree in an otherwise empty field. Inter Miami has their backs all the way up against the wall and hopefully they come out and play like it. It still feels like they haven’t recovered from Alejandro Pozuelo’s red card a few games ago.

2. Minnesota United vs. LAFC | 8 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+

Anyone else really starting to worry about the Loons? I’m not sure any team has been more up and down this season. They started the year in train wreck mode, recovered, became one of the best teams in the league for, like, a solid month and a half there, and now they might be clipped entirely by late-season injuries and the points they didn’t grab at the beginning of the year. They’re just four points and a game out of hand above the line, they lost center back Bakaye Dibassy for the season, and Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Bebelo Reynoso are now dealing with injuries at the worst possible time.

On top of that, they’re facing an LAFC team playing for stakes and maybe even pride at this point. LAFC have watched their Supporters’ Shield lead and their chance at an MLS points record fade away entirely in just a few weeks. They’ve lost four of their last five and haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory along the way. They look lost at times, like they can’t quite figure out what their best XI is, even if their collection of their 11 most talented players is a little more obvious.

They’re out of time to keep tinkering. At least if they want to hold onto the Supporters’ Shield. A loss tonight might just hand Philadelphia a trophy and mark LAFC for one of the biggest Shield collapses in league history. Minnesota may be up against an angry LAFC team tonight, and, in theory, that’s a scary place to be. Then again, it’s not like LAFC have shown all that much to be afraid of as of late.

1. Sporting KC vs. D.C. United | 8:30 p.m. ET - MLS LIVE on ESPN+

The Wooden Spoon, “awarded” to the team that finishes last, is up for grabs in this one. The one game tonight that’s a six-pointer that might decide who wins a trophy.

Other Things

FC Cincinnati's Brenner named Week 30 Continental Player of the Week: FC Cincinnati forward Brenner, for the second time during the 2022 season, has been named MLS Player of the Week presented by Continental Tire. The Brazilian’s latest honor comes after Week 30, in which he scored a hat trick and added an assist in their record-setting 6-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at TQL Stadium Saturday night.

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Good luck out there. Make sure they know who the focus should be on.