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Marquee Matchups: Friday Night Fight

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There isn't a lot of good looking matches to pick from, but a few stand out.


MLS gets the best match of the weekend out of the way quickly, and the rest of the slate doesn't look so hot.

Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders // Friday, 9:00 p.m. CDT, CenturyLink Field, NBC Sports Network

Every week seems to involve one, if not both, of these teams involved in a preview of some sort. That's to be expected when you're two of the best teams in the league. While they might have had their stumbles, you don't end up next to each other at #1 and #2 in the conference by chance.

The focus in this big game is obviously the supporter's shield implications. These are the top top teams in the Western Conference from a number of angles, including from an organizational standpoint but also from a quality of play one.

All eyes should be on this game. The Sounders have sold a ridiculous amount of tickets for what is a massive moment in their quest to take the Shield. The two teams will have their men back from international duty as well, making the selection process trickier.

You don't want to burn out players or play those who might be too tired to contribute. But this is a massive game that might force a few players in that should probably take a break.

Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo // Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CDT, PPL Park, MLS Live

The Houston Dynamo have been, despite flashes of style, ugly and boring; this much we know. They're also sitting outside the playoff picture, while the Philadelphia Union are still in. This game is a potential for a big six point swing that could propel the Dynamo to make a charge at the end of the season, but several factors are working against them.

The most important factor is past performance. Their goal differential on the season is -4 and their performances have been lackluster. When the MLS politburo has decided that they are no longer good but in fact poor, that says something. The whole "practical approach" to soccer doesn't work when you're not drawing and losing more than you're winning.

So who will be clinging to that last playoff spot come the end of the season? If MLS had a more restrictive number of playoff spots, you could argue that neither of these teams would look likely to make it. As it stands, there's a good chance one if not both

This match probably won't be very pretty. In fact, I fully expect it to be a mixture of ugly and boring, but that doesn't mean it isn't important. I highly advise you, if you are watching it, to have secondary entertainment prepared beforehand.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution // Saturday, 7:30 p.m. CDT, Toyota Park, MLS Live

Despite their relative quality, these two teams can always produce a bit of excitement. In this case, much like the Houston and Philadelphia match, there are major playoff implications on the line.

The Chicago Fire is sitting 7th, but that's a bit misleading as they are right behind Houston and should Houston lose it will make the playoffs a real possibility. But they must win. It's do or die time for the Fire. They might be fighting for the playoffs with all their might, but so is everyone else. It could well be that Chicago wins and only manage to keep pace with everyone else.

The Revs meanwhile are clinging to playoff hopes, but they're hanging in there even if only just barely. They're tied with Houston on points and PPG but are ahead on tiebreakers. You can expect this match to be played with a lot of desperation. It would definitely feel appropriate the each team's situation.