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Kick Off: 'Caps victory means two-team shootout in West

And then there were two.

With Vancouver’s resounding 4-0 victory over Chivas USA on Wednesday night, three teams were eliminated from playoff contention in the West, leaving just the ’Caps and FC Dallas to fight it out for the final playoff spot. The Portland Timbers, Colorado Rapids and Chivas USA had their faint postseason hopes extinguished after an offensive explosion from Martin Rennie’s side.

Vancouver snapped their seven-game winless streak in emphatic fashion with four different scorers capping off an impressive night for the Whitecaps as they finally delivered goals.

Words of intent from Vancouver’s captain Jay DeMerit: “We haven’t been enjoying it lately. Sometimes it’s a grind. But I think it all came together tonight and now that has to continue.”

With their exit from the postseason, Chivas boss Robin Fraser found it hard to find a silver lining: “We’ve simply not been good enough.”

Elsewhere on Wednesday night, the Union secured their first road win since July 4 with a shock 3-1 victory over the Fire.

Chicago went 2-0 down after the Union impressed from the get-go. But the Fire threw everything at Philly, before eventually being downed at Toyota Park for the first-time since July 8. Assistant coach Leo Percovich, who filled in for suspended head coach Frank Klopas, was blunt when putting the Fire’s performance into perspective. “I think it was the worst game we played this season. When you play at home, you never expected that.”

Chicago’s loss adds fuel to the fire ahead of their crunch matchup with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (3:30 pm ET, NBC). Both sides are deadlocked on 53 points from 31 games, with a home tie in the postseason now on the line.

Ahead of this weekend's match, MLSsoccer.com’s very own Andrew Wiebe took a look at the burgeoning rivalry between the two franchises, off the field.

The Team of the Week came out on Wednesday, with New York and Vancouver leading the way. See who made the coveted lineup for Week 30 here.

Rookie Rankings are also out and with Darren Mattocks out injured, which first-year player is top of the pile with the postseason approaching?

So, as the race for the playoffs draws closer, the Houston Dynamo are still uncertain of their place at the dance. And talismanic midfielder Brad Davis is unsure of his status for Saturday’s match against Montreal. Davis has recorded 12 assists and scored a career-best seven goals in 2012. Dominic Kinnear will be hoping the left-footed maestro makes a speedy recover. 

Staying in Texas and up in Frisco, Schellas Hyndman found himself in hot water with the league on Wednesday after his comments about the officiating in Saturday’s 3-3 tie with San Jose.

Tempers are obviously frayed in Dallas, with a tense finale to the season on the cards as their playoff hopes hang in the balance. But one team that is guaranteed a playoff spot in the West, RSL, isn't worried about playing in the play-in matchup, according to captain Kyle Beckerman.

“I'll play in the wild card if we have to. If you're going to win the whole thing, you're going to win that game.”

Back to the Eastern conference and the March to the Match lads out West discussed the changes happening at the New York Red Bulls.

Is one other huge change on the way at Red Bull Arena next season? Goal.com seems to think so, as they claim Harry Redknapp is open to becoming the next manager of the Red Bulls. Intriguing. However new salary cap rules may be needed if Redknapp does bring his brash brand of wheeling and dealing to MLS.

New York are still in the hunt for the MLS Cup in 2012, as are the LA Galaxy after their resounding improvement in the second half of the season. And yesterday they got some inspiration for success this season when Lord Stanley turned up to practice.

LA’s attacking style has seen them rise up the Western conference, and Brian Straus wrote this in-depth piece about the rise of attacking soccer in MLS and how it bodes well for the leagues future.

And with the USA's top tier supplying exciting, attacking soccer, the NASL playoffs are also doing a fine job. This week sees the playoff semifinals in full flow, but one side has more to play for than just a spot in the championship game. The Minnesota Stars have been without a local owner for the past two seasons, and despite their success on the field, the Stars desperate search for a new owner, ahead of the 2013 NASL season, continues.

While Minnesota look for a new owner, New England’s search for a new soccer stadium has been cranked up a notch. Sites in urban Boston have been earmarked. Read the latest here.

Sporting KC's Matt Besler and San Jose's Chris Wondolowski aren't flying under the radar these days in public. Find out why that is.

Over in Europe, it was another night to forget for a US international. This time Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht were drubbed 3-0 by Málaga in UEFA Champions League action.

With the likes of Clint Dempsey, Steve Cherundolo, Alejandro Bedoya and Terrence Boyd all in Europa League action on Thursday night, they’ll be hoping to turn US fortunes around in midweek European action. 

Another US international, well a former one in KICKTV’s Jimmy Conrad, has hit European soil once again this week. This time Conrad is in the Spanish capital, ahead of Saturday’s Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Dressed as a bullfighter wearing soccer cleats, marauding around the cosmopolitan metropolis of Madrid … only Conrad could pull that off. Watch his latest exploits here.

England manager Roy Hodgson’s latest exploits won’t have ingratiated himself with his bosses at The FA. Check out these pictures of Hodgson on the London Underground, as he chatted with locals about Rio Ferdinand’s chances of getting in the next England squad. Hodgson allegedly said of Ferdinand, “He hasn’t played for England for quite a while. I have to say it is over for him and England.” Ouch.

Unsurprisingly there was no place for Rio in the England squad announced on Thursday.

And finally we leave you with this gem. Some excited fans in LA interrupted David Beckham’s latest underwear shoot for H&M this week. But Beckham isn’t just about the latest fashionable underwear, oh no. The Galaxy midfielder has gone retro.

"The [Long johns] are old-school. I think they're comfortable and I actually think they look good. It's indented in British history and that's something I wanted to bring back."

New Zealanders are taking notice of MLS. It helps that one of their own is trying to make a name for himself in Portland.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

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