Our weekly dose of Major League Soccer quick takes, plotlines to watch and Power Rankings.
Jonathan Bornstein's Chivas USA sits in the thick of the playoff race, tied with two other teams for fourth in the overall standings with 41 points. The team, however, will be without the services of one of its stars as Bob Bradley called the versatile left back -- along with seven other MLS-based players -- into camp in advance of the U.S. national team's World Cup qualifying matches against Honduras and Costa Rica. (The Colorado Rapids, seventh in the playoff standings with 40 points, are without high-scoring striker Conor Casey, but doesn't have a match this week.) Things could have been much worse for the Goats, as earlier in the year, Sacha Kljestan was a lock to be called into every U.S. camp. The 24-year-old midfielder, however, will have to settle for helping his club team qualify to play in November while teammate Bornstein helps the U.S. in its battle for a World Cup berth.
With less than three weeks left in the regular season, 10 teams still can claim to have a legitimate shot at the postseason. Columbus, Los Angeles and Houston are already in, while Chicago and Seattle are tied with the aforementioned Chivas. Two wins would put the Rapids into the playoffs, while four points would probably do the trick as well. New England has three games to state its case, although last week's 0-1-1 stretch doesn't bode well for the Steve Ralston-less team. D.C. United remains on the outside looking in and needs to win its final two matches to have any hope. Meanwhile, Toronto FC has one fewer point than United, but it has a game in hand and could figure into the week's final season if the ball bounces its way. In the end, however, the teams that occupy the top eight positions heading into this week's games likely will be there in some order at the season's death.
Of the four matches on the MLS docket this week, Saturday's trio all figure into the playoff picture. (FC Dallas would like to argue its fixture with San Jose on Wednesday night has playoff implications, but with just 33 points, Free Kicks is officially booting the Hoops from the postseason race.) The Revs and TFC both desperately need three points from home matches against the Crew and the Quakes, respectively. Anything less and they'll watch the playoffs from their couches. Chivas USA doesn't necessarily have to win at home against Kansas City, but getting to 44 points essentially would stamp its postseason dance card. Everyone else, of course, will be watching World Cup qualifying.