Bring the drama! The lowdown on where things stand in the MLS playoff race

Since the start of September, they [Montreal Impact] have gone 5-2-2, largely due to their summer signing, Didier Drogba, who has nine goals in nine appearances, including three match-winners.

Both Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes did their jobs on Friday night in their quests to reach the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, gutting out wins in do-or-die clashes.

Those results ratcheted up the tension and the drama on this, the penultimate weekend of regular-season action in MLS, or to paraphrase Orlando City coach Adrian Heath: The pressure is on the other guys now.

Here’s a rundown of where things stand a week out from #DecisionDay, the all-decisive final day of the season on Sunday, Oct. 25.

All Eyes on Montreal

For all intents and purposes, there is just one playoff spot in the East left available. And it’s there for the taking for Montreal. But no one is giving it to them just yet.

In the push to the playoffs, the Impact have held the starring role for months. They’ve been playing catch-up with the rest of the conference due to some rescheduled early-season games, and they have made up ground like a thoroughbred charging from the back. Since the start of September, they have gone 5-2-2, largely due to their summer signing, Didier Drogba, who has nine goals in nine appearances, including three match-winners. (Sidenote: He enjoys a good dance-off.)

But now the pressure is really on. Orlando City’s win on Friday means that the Impact hold a slim one-point lead for the final spot above the red line in the East. The Impact are at New England on Saturday evening (7:30 pm ET, TSN2, MLS LIVE). Montreal would clinch a playoff berth with a win, but that’s no gimme. The Revs are still trying to confirm their own postseason spot and also stay in contention for a bye in the knockout round. Not to mention that Gillette Stadium is expected to see a big crowd and the Revs’ mainstay midfielders Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen are back from international duty.

And the Revs want to seal the deal at home. A New England loss against the Impact and for Crew SC, who have a tricky match in Toronto (2 pm ET, TSN1 and MLS LIVE in USA), and both might have to sweat it out for their playoff spot on the final day.

Red Line musical chairs in the West

Four teams, three spots. That’s where we are in the West after the Quakes’ win on Friday. The three points put the Quakes in 6th place, just above the red line, tied on 47 points with 5th-place Seattle Sounders and 7th-place Portland Timbers. The team they beat on Friday, Sporting KC, are just barely ahead of that pack, sitting in 4th place with 48 points.

SKC have the weekend off, then will host Colorado on Wednesday in their penultimate game before #DecisionDay.

That means the pressure this weekend probably lies with the Timbers. Can’t mince words here: Caleb Porter’s team has been up and down all season long. Right now, they’re up after a huge 1-0 win at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. But on Sunday, they have to play on short rest away to the defending champs LA Galaxy (7 pm ET, FS1 and FOX Deportes).

And although the Galaxy earned their playoff spot weeks ago, they are still chasing the Supporters’ Shield and first place in the West, so you know they’ll be firing on all cylinders. Plus, the game is national TV, and Giovani Dos Santos, Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane and Co. love to turn it on under the spotlight.

The Sounders, meanwhile, travel to all-but-eliminated Houston Dynamo on Sunday (5 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN Deportes), carrying with them a six-game unbeaten streak. A win and they will be on their way to the postseason again — the Sounders have never missed the playoffs since joining MLS in 2009. And Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans are back from international duty, plus center back Chad Marshall has returned from injury and looks set to go.

Who wants the Shield?

Before they fell to Toronto FC on Wednesday the New York Red Bulls were probably the odds-on favorite to win the Supporters’ Shield, given annually to the team with the best regular-season record. In fact, a win would’ve eliminated everyone but FC Dallas.

But now it’s truly up for grabs. Five clubs — the aforementioned Red Bulls and FCD, plus the Galaxy, Toronto FC, and D.C. United — could mathematically win the trophy. But in reality, it’s probably down to the Red Bulls, Dallas, and LA. They all have a big opportunity to get a leg up this weekend.

The Red Bulls take on the eliminated Philadelphia Union on Sunday afternoon (3 pm ET, MLS LIVE) at Red Bull Arena. Coach Jesse Marsch was ticked off by his team’s performance on Wednesday, and his players will not want to disappoint him again.

Dallas, who strolled to a 2-0 win over Vancouver in midweek, take a trip to Real Salt Lake on Saturday (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Technically, RSL are not eliminated, but they would need a lot of help from the teams above them. Regardless, this FCD team is simply awesome, riding a 5-2-1 record in their last eight matches and they’re bolstered by the return of Colombian star Fabian Castillo from international duty.

The Galaxy, as mentioned earlier, host Portland on Sunday. Biggest news for them is that Giovani Dos Santos, who missed Mexico’s win over the US due to an injury, is back and ready to go. Great news for the Galaxy; not good news for everyone else.

Saturday afternoon, it’s all about the Audi Golden Boot. Yes, Columbus Crew SC will be looking to book their playoff ticket when they visit Toronto FC (2 pm ET, TSN1, MLS LIVE in US) at BMO Field. But let’s be honest: All eyes will be on TFC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Crew SC’s Kei Kamara, the co-leaders in the Audi Golden Boot race with 22 goals apiece.

There are lots of things to look for in this marksman’s melee, but the only thing you really need to know is that Giovinco is capable of the magically sublime and Kamara is capable of the powerfully awesome. Each is worth the price of admission and 90 minutes of your time, but a head-to-head matchup this late in the season is do-not-miss stuff.

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