MLS is Back Tournament - what's at stake - simple for exlink

Here's what's at stake in Thursday's MLS is Back Tournament matches

Group stage matches wrap up Thursday at the MLS is Back Tournament, as Group F seeding gets sorted out and there's a final chance for two teams in Group B. Here's what to expect when the teams take the pitch and the final Round of 16 spots get locked in.

Chicago Fire FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

9:00 am ET – ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN in Canada

Chicago will look to bounce back from a weekend loss against San Jose, and could leapfrog Seattle for second place in Group B. They’ll be without Luka Stojanovic, who suffered an MCL injury against the Earthquakes and has departed camp, making the need for make-or-break result even more challenging. Vancouver could still advance to the Round of 16 with a big win, though need to sharpen up defensively after allowing a combined seven goals through two losses. Head coach Marc Dos Santos’ team faces long odds to become one of the four best third-place teams, and is dealing with a slimmed-down goalkeeper situation that involves several transfer twists and turns.

LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo

8:00 pm ET – FS1, TUDN in US; TVA Sports in Canada

The Galaxy aren’t officially eliminated, but need a big win to put themselves in a position to claim one of the Wild Card spots. That quest will come without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, after the star striker departed Orlando with a calf injury. Head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said his team gave up in last weekend’s 6-2 El Trafico loss, so there'll be some pride on the line. On the flip side, Houston can still reach the Knockout Round with a win over the Galaxy. They’re 0-1-1 so far and are searching for their first win under head coach Tab Ramos. Will it come against a Galaxy defense that's looked porous?

LAFC vs. Portland Timbers

10:30 pm ET – ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, in US; TVA Sports, TSN in Canada

First place in Group F is on the line here for two teams already secure of their place into the Round of 16. Portland needs just a draw to earn that honor, while a win vaults LAFC into the top spot. That provides both groups plenty of motivation, with Portland 2-0-0 so far behind strong performances from Sebastian Blanco, Jeremy Ebobisse and others. But LAFC are surging after trouncing the Galaxy 6-2, driven by a four-goal performance from Diego Rossi. Even without Carlos Vela, the defending Supporters’ Shield winners are revving up the offense and showing remarkable depth.