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Kick Off: LA can clinch postseason spot tonight vs. Rapids

The LA Galaxy can become the first team to officially clinch a playoff berth tonight with a victory against the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids (11 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes).

Galaxy star Landon Donovan does not take making the playoffs for granted: "Yeah, I just assumed it was easy to make the playoffs. As you get older … you realize what a challenge it is. Now I absolutely appreciate it."

Ahead of tonight’s match, LA manager Bruce Arena has some advice for USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann, suggesting that LA center back Omar Gonzalez “needs to be looked at” by the new US boss: “There are a couple emerging center backs in this league that I think are going to have to be part of the national team program. But, again, that's my opinion.”

In the same article, Scott French of ESPNLosAngeles.com includes a note at the end about Designated Player Robbie Keane likely coming off the bench or possibly not being included in the 18-man roster after a long trip to represent the Republic of Ireland in Euro qualifiers.

One player who won’t be playing is suspended Colorado Rapids defender Drew Moor, who took some time to reflect on his old friend and teammate Bobby Rhine, recalling a match in which Rhine played with a cast and a bandage around his head: “As he told the story afterward, like a revolutionary soldier. I thought he looked like a mummy — just had wraps all over him," Moor said.

Another massive Western Conference showdown takes place on Saturday afternoon when No. 2 in the West, the Seattle Sounders, host No. 4 Real Salt Lake (4 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). The Sounders may be enjoying a magical run but they are not standing pat and are working to address their depth at right back by trialing two players who featured earlier this season in MLS.

There will be commemorations around the league this weekend to remember tragedies of September 11, 2001 and there may be no bigger one than what is planned in Seattle, where 35,000 miniature US flags will be distributed to fans at the match.

The other West contender, FC Dallas, face the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). The Revs are coming off a crushing 4-4 tie in Philly during midweek in which they gave up a three-goal lead. It’s not often you hear a coach single out players but New England’s Steve Nicol pointed his finger at four of them: “The back four didn’t perform.”

So why do Sporting Kansas City seem to give up late goals? Here’s a theory brought forth by one writer, who suggests that the attacking mentality of Peter Vermes’ squad may be the culprit. Sporting host another playoff contender this weekend when they welcome the Houston Dynamo. (4 p.m. ET, TeleFutura)

The Houston Dynamo have received a boost in recent weeks with Adam Moffat's inclusion in the starting lineup after his trade from Portland. In this article, Moffat himself confirms that he has played well enough for his name to be brought up in Scottish national team circles.

Moffat's ex-team, the Portland Timbers, face the Philadelphia Union in a match with serious wild card implications (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). The Union's defense is reeling and captain Danny Califf is not hiding from it: "In recent weeks we have gone backward a little bit and started making individual mistakes on goals, guys being unmarked."

Remember how NBA star and Vancouver part-owner Steve Nash visited the Whitecaps for training earlier this week? Well not everyone looks upon it so favorably. This article makes the case that he should have been representing his country instead.

The Whitecaps travel to face the New York Red Bulls this Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live), while the other Canadian side, Toronto FC, also hit the road to take on the East-leading Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). TFC hope they can finally count on designated player and forward Danny Koevermans, who is back from injury.

The Chicago Fire, who have seemed to turn the corner after a maddening stretch of ties, travel to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live). Earlier this week the Fire were visited by a political newspaper columnist and this is the kind of tidbits he was able to dig up: Mexican midfielder Pável Pardo loves Chicago’s almond croissants and attackers Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro speak a secret language on the field during matches.

Fire manager Frank Klopas has a dilemma at left back due to the suspension of Costa Rican Gonzalo Segares. There are a host of possibilities that Klopas is considering to replace him.

On the international scene, former MLS midfielder Leonel Alvarez yesterday was appointed as new manager of the Colombian national team, which will surely generate speculation as to whether Colombian players in MLS will get a fairer chance at receiving international call-ups.

Take a back seat QPR. Tottenham Hotspur say that they will welcome LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham with "open arms" after his contract is up in LA this winter. Manager Harry Redknapp's words are that he's "worth his weight in gold."

The Italian Serie A kicks off later today as champions AC Milan face up-and-coming Lazio (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes) and US fans can also catch forward Herculez Gomez and Estudiantes Tecos when they take on Jaguares later tonight in Mexican league action (9 p.m. ET, Galavision).

Staying in Mexico, Santos Laguna will not be hiring Bob Bradley as manager, instead going with a familiar face in Mexican soccer circles. (SPANISH)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Philadelphia Union star Sébastien Le Toux responds to his critics in the media on ExtraTime Radio

Toronto FC defender Andy Iro expects to get heckled by his old fans in Columbus

There’s a new leader in the monthly Castrol Index and his name might surprise you

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