Marquee Matchups: Eastern Playoffs

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

So many major playoff games in the east means that this week is the exact opposite of last week. The West looks boring by comparison.

Last week, the Western Conference had all the big, juicy matches full of playoff implications. This time around it's the opposite, as the East holds three games that will play play a huge role in how the post-season shapes up.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union // Friday, 7:00 p.m. CDT, Sporting Park, NBC Sports Network

Sporting will hope continue their steady form going into this game, as they face a Philadelphia Union that is fighting for its playoff life. Kansas City is currently riding a three game win streak during which they have downed Columbus, TFC and Colorado. While beating TFC isn't much of anything to brag about, the Crew have improved lately and the Rapids are the Rapids. It's safe to say that hosting one of the mediocre teams in the league makes for a night in which Sporting is the favorite.

The Union have had a week off to lick their wounds after losing to the Dynamo, so they might have a bit more in the tank than Sporting, who have had to deal with CCL matches. But they're stuck in a bit of a rut, as they have now gone five games without a win. Riding a winless streak while travelling away to Kansas City has to be a bit intimidating. While Sporting don't have a complete fortress in terms of results, it's still pretty hard to pry away even a single point from Sporting Park.

The Union will have to hope that John Hackworth can steer them in a direction other than the sandbar their season could hit with a loss or two. Avoiding the sandbar is going to require goals though, and that's something the Union have had trouble coming up with lately (they have only scored ONE goal in their last five games).

Remember Jack McInerney? Yeah, me neither.

New England Revolution vs Houston Dynamo // Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CDT, Gillette Stadium, MLS Live

The Dynamo and the Revs will be duking it out in order to stay inside the magic red line that determines who goes to the playoffs and who doesn't. While the atmosphere won't necessarily be the best, Gillette Stadium being what it is, the implications of the result should ensure that at least one team goes for the win.

The Revs definitely need a win, as they're sitting just on the edge of the fifth spot. They're equal with Houston in terms of games played, so a win over the Dynamo would tie them with Houston for fourth and then it would head to a tiebreaker category to determine who gets the 4th spot. Either way, With both the Fire and the Union looking to usurp their playoff spot, the Revs need to win to ensure they hold onto their playoff spot.

Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact // Saturday, 7:30 p.m. CDT, Toyota Park, MLS Live

Will Herbert Klump show up for the Montreal Impact? Or will it be Buddy Love? The Impact continue being "whatever" in terms of their predictability. The Impact are sitting comfortably in third, but another couple of losses, while unlikely, will make it tense for them to finish out the season. Despite MLS' very forgiving playoff format, a second year expansion team getting in comfortably would be a major boost to the league's vision of "parity". As an added potential bonus, if Montreal get in and Vancouver don't, there's also a slim chance we'll see just a bit more Vancouvering before 2013 is up.

While the Impact are usually good despite being randomly mediocre, the Fire are the opposite. They're usually mediocre despite being randomly good. After getting clubbed by the team that's about to head to Dallas (the Crew), the Fire are going to try and tighten up all areas of their game. The back line in particular needs to get sorted out, because the Impact are dangerous attacking team when they feel like it (it depends on if Marco Di Vaio took his Celebrex or not). If Chicago plays the same way as it did against Columbus and can't complete their passes, Montreal will kill them.

And I don't want the Fire killed, because Mike Magee is wonderful and his favorite pizza is probably pepperoni.

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