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Kick Off: Red Line comes into focus as MLS Cup Playoff fortunes rise and fall | Landon Donovan's big news

Here are the top 15 stories everyone's talking about this morning:

1. CAN SPORTING KC END THEIR SLUMP?

Sporting Kansas City will be looking to end a five-game winless run when they host FC Dallas Friday night (7 pm ET; UniMás in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada) in the midst of another late-summer swoon. Dallas are on a three-game winning streak, but Oscar Pareja knows Viernes de Futbol will be a tough encounter.

2. MASTROENI WILL RETURN

Toronto FC take on the Colorado Rapids Saturday (2 pm ET; TSN1 in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US), looking for a win to help strengthen their playoff bid. The Rapids have sunk back to the bottom of the Western Conference, but head coach Pablo Mastroeni is reportedly set to return next season, albeit with a new attack-minded assistant coach.

3. CAN NYCFC CAPITALIZE ON RECENT WIN?

Following Wednesday’s victory against Toronto FC, it looks like New York City FC’s midfield players are finally starting to gel. With David Villa taking to life in the US, will that translate into another win when he and his teammates face the San Jose Earthquakes (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE)? Or might the Quakes bounce back from Wednesday’s disappointing draw? Either way, San Jose president Dave Kaval is bullish on the future.

4. WILL IT BE A ROUTINE WIN FOR CREW SC?

D.C. United welcome Columbus Crew SC to RFK on Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE) looking for their first win in five games. Crew SC, meanwhile, have only lost two of their last 10 games, thanks in part to Steve Clark. For defender Michael Parkhurst, it’s all about routine.

5. CASCADIA CUP DECIDER

The Vancouver Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders meet on Saturday (7 pm ET; TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US) to decide the winner of the Cascadia Cup in what is proving to be an enjoyable rivalry. Will Brad Evans once again be deployed in defense as the Sounders continue their playoff push? Ozzie Alonso remains committed to the cause, but he’s also looking forward to a family reunion.

6. IMPROVING IMPACT SET FOR REVOLUTION

With their unbeaten streak now standing at eight games, the New England Revolution will look cement their position at the top of the Eastern Conference when they host the Montreal Impact (Saturday, 8 pm ET, MLS LIVE), a team who also look revitalized under their interim head coach.

7. FIRE SHOW SOME FLARE FOR FASHION

As the Chicago Fire and Orlando City SC get set to meet for the fourth time this season (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), the Fire have been taking on a different challenge this week. They may also take comfort from the performances of David Accam, but the Ghanaian will have to find a way past a fit Corey Ashe on Saturday.

8. DOS SANTOS SET TO PLAY FOR LA

There was some worrying news for Real Salt Lake ahead of their visit to the LA Galaxy (Saturday, 9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), as the home side expect Giovani Dos Santos to be fit for the match. The playoff fortunes of RSL's senior team may be uncertain at the moment, but the club has just secured their Arizona Academy Director for another five years.

9. RED BULLS FOLLOWING THE VISION

The Portland Timbers host the New York Red Bulls on Sunday (5 pm ET; ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada) with a number of former Timbers players set to be honored at halftime of the match. The Red Bulls will be without some key players for the game, but they’re still reaping the rewards of Ali Curtis’ vision.

10. EDU IN A RACE TO BE FIT

With the US Open Cup final fast approaching, Maurice Edu is in a race against time to be fit for the game. He’s hoping to grab some important minutes on Sunday when the Philadelphia Union host the Houston Dynamo (7 pm ET; FS1 in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada) but one former Union player, now with the Dynamo, feels he deserved better during his time in Pennsylvania.

11. KEEP AN EYE ON BOKAI

Hanson Bokai. If you’re not familiar with the name, it may be worth remembering, as the FC Edmonton star and Canadian national team prospect is set to be out of contract this winter. He's already been linked with a move to MLS.

12. CONCACAF CUP INJURIES

Greg Garza won’t be able to play any part in the US national team’s Confederation Cup playoff as it has been revealed that the Club Atlas player needs to undergo hip surgery. Mexico captain Andres Guardado has also been ruled out for six weeks with an ankle injury.

13. SOUNDERS 2 REACH THE PLAYOFFS

Seattle Sounders 2 became the latest team to book their place in the USL playoffs with a 3-2 win over the Austin Aztex on Thursday, meaning that 10 of the 12 spots are now accounted for heading into the final weekend of the season. Who will be the final two teams to join them?

14. ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN, ON AGAIN

In yet another twist in the story, CONCACAF has stated that, despite the US Soccer Federation electing to skip a meeting with CONMEBOL earlier this week, plans are still going ahead for the Copa America Centenario in the USA.

15. DADDY DONOVAN

Landon Donovan’s getting quite good at dropping important news on social media these days, his latest reveal the most delightful yet.

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