There are just three (!) matchdays left in the MLS regular season. One Wednesday night, one this Sunday then Decision Day presented by AT&T is next Sunday.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. Here's a preview of what's to come in MLS on Wednesday.
Playoff preview at Rio Tinto?
As two teams jostling for a home playoff game, Real Salt Lake's clash with the LA Galaxy on Wednesday (9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada) could be a preview of what's to come in a few weeks.
If the playoffs started today, the Galaxy would host RSL in round No. 1. With three more games left, and a cluster of teams between 44 and 50 points out West, that could change. But it's still possible.
After this? Each team has games against Vancouver and Houston remaining, one home and one away, before the playoffs. As Warshaw wrote on Monday: LA vs. RSL is a very, very different game at Rio Tinto Stadium as compared to Dignity Health Sports Park.
The home game is another chance for Carlos Vela to inch closer to Josef Martinez's single-season goal record of 31 (he's only three behind) and create separation in the Golden Boot race ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (he's just two goals back).
Wondo in the supporters' section!
Chris Wondolowski's first red card in 357 MLS appearances means he's forced to be a spectator for San Jose's huge match against the Philadelphia Union. No lavish suite for Wondo, of course. He'll be in the supporters' section.
The Quakes, though, are holding onto the last playoff place in the West, grasping as tight as they can. A three-game losing streak leaves the club tied with Portland on 44 points, though they have a game in hand over sixth-place FC Dallas. A win over Philly on Wednesday (11 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, DAZN in Canada) would create useful breathing space ahead of their last two matches.
San Jose travel to Portland to face the Timbers on Deadline Day. Will that effectively be an elimination game? Speaking of Portland...
Can Portland end their slide?
The Timbers have not made full use of their back-loaded home schedule, winning just twice in their last seven matches. Their last game in hand comes on Wednesday against the New England Revolution (10:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN).
This is where I’m at on the Timbers. Fernandez & Ebobisse both have the yips, but if the team keeps generating the types of chances they’ve seen the past two games, they’ll start scoring & winning again. https://t.co/USD4n4RqrP— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 23, 2019
A win would see them jump above the playoff line, two points ahead of FC Dallas. Pending San Jose's result on Wednesday, they could jump them as well. A loss or draw? Well, their playoff route will get a little more arduous.