For the first time since what seems like forever, the top six teams in the Eastern Conference have played the same number of games. That means we don't need to guess how many points a team could gain with their points in hand. All teams have played 31 games and we have as accurate a picture as ever of the playoff picture.
The Chicago Fire have been holding on to their game in hand for weeks but were unable to capitalize on Wednesday, falling 3-1 at home to the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park. That leaves the Fire in a tie with the New York Red Bulls for second place. Those two teams will square off Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised affair on NBC Sports.
After a brief spell that saw the Dynamo slip from first place in the East to fifth place, the men in orange appear to have regained their form to the tune of a 2-0 home win over the New England Revolution last Saturday. The win kept the Dynamo unbeaten at home in 2012 and extended their home unbeaten streak to 23 games, dating back to June 2011. Due to D.C. United's 1-1 draw at Portland last weekend, the Dynamo are now within two points of hosting the wild-card match as the fourth place team in the East. With the No. 2 and No. 3 teams playing this weekend, the Dynamo also have the opportunity to gain ground on one of the top three spots and avoid the wild-card match completely.
This weekend, the Dynamo will continue their three-game homestand when they welcome the Montreal Impact to BBVA Compass Stadium for the second time. Houston dominated the previous match-up between the two clubs, but the Impact got the better of Houston at Stade Saputo on June 23. Here are a few other match-ups that Dynamo fans will want to keep an eye on this weekend:
D.C. United at Toronto FC | Saturday 12 noon CT
D.C. United has responded well following the loss of all-star midfielder Dwayne De Rosario. The team won three straight before Saturday's draw at JELD-WEN Field. Toronto is already eliminated from playoff contention, but would love to break a winless streak that dates back to July 18.
Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls | Saturday 2:30 p.m. CT | NBC Sports
At the beginning of the season, some may have questioned why NBC had chosen this match for their main channel as supposed to another Portland home match or a Seattle home match, but the way this season played out, it could not have gone any better. These two teams don't like each other and are in a heated battle atop the Eastern Conference. Click here for more reasons for why you should watch this match.
Montreal Impact at Houston Dynamo | Saturday 7:30 p.m. CT
Sporting Kansas City at Columbus Crew | Sunday 3 p.m. CT
The Columbus Crew are nipping at the Dynamo's heels, only one point out of the fifth and final playoff spot. Sporting KC can clinch first place in the East with a win and a draw in New York. Home-field advantage is huge in MLS, but don't tell that to SKC who have an astonishing 8-4-3 record playing away from LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
Eastern Conference Standings
|1||Sporting Kansas City||58||31||17||7||7|
|3||New York Red Bulls||53||31||16||10||5|
|9||New England Revolution||29||30||7||16||8|