Colorado 4, Philadelphia 1: Omar Cummings Not Long for MLS?

The Colorado Rapids have already turned down a transfer offer for striker Omar Cummings, from Mexican club Necaxa, and we’d say it’s a good bet they can expect more—and more lucrative—offers in the winter market.

The Jamaican international hit two for the Rapids last night in a 4-1 romp over expansion side Philadelphia at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The double gives him 12 goals for the season and six in four September games, good enough to win the MLS Player of the Month award.

Cummings is certainly on a roll, but last night, he also benefitted from some AYSO-style defending by the Union.

Eight minutes into the game, Macoumba Kandji (in for the suspended Conor Casey) took a pass from right back Kosuke Kimura and attacked down the right side. When Philly defender Michael Orozco-Fiscal backed waaaay off him at the edge of the box, the lanky Rapids striker used the space to center the ball for Cummings, loosely marked in front of goal. He lunged and poked a shot inside the far post.

Just seven minutes later, Cummings was left free at the back post and did well to adjust his body to volley home Jamie Smith’s corner for a 2-0 lead.

Wells Thompson added a goal off a rebound in the 68th minute and substitute Quincy Amarikwa took a pass from Kandji to score the fourth in the 86th minute.

Eighteen-year-old Jack McInerny pulled one back for the Union right at the end, but it was cold comfort for Philly, which was coming off one of its best performances of the year, a 3-0 rout of Chivas USA last Saturday.

The result, Colorado’s fifth straight win at home, puts the Rapids closer to their first playoff appearance in four years, and drops Philadelphia 12 points off the postseason pace with four games to play.

Freddie Comes Alive: Chicago 3, San Jose 0

Freddie Ljungberg scored a brilliant goal and assisted on two others to lead Chicago to an unexpected 3-0 win at San Jose’s Buck Shaw Stadium last night.

While the game represented a chance for Chicago to keep its playoff hopes—best described as “slim,” or “mathematical”—alive, the more inviting opportunity, it seemed, was for the Earthquakes, playing at home, to bury the Fire with a win and take a big step closer to clinching a berth themselves.

The opening moments of the game reinforced this perception: San Jose had the bit between its teeth and dominated the Fire with crisp passing and sharper movement.

But when the Fire scored against the run of play, on a header by Elon University [!] alum Steven Kinney off a Ljungberg corner kick, the momentum shifted drastically. Like someone had hydraulically jacked up Chicago’s end of the field, tipping the play toward San Jose’s end.

In the 72nd minute, Ljungberg sliced through the San Jose D with a beautiful touch, then coolly finished with a chip into the far side-netting. Very classy goal.

The Fire completed the rout in stoppage time with a goal by Patrick Nyarko, assisted by Ljungberg and Brian McBride, who came on in the 90th minute.

What’s up with that, Chicago coach Carlos de los Cobos? You put McBride—U.S. Soccer icon, a man with a pub named after him at Fulham—into a 2-0 game in stoppage time?

McBride responded to the unusual decision by almost immediately setting up the third goal, springing Ljungberg on the byline to cross for Nyarko.

Chicago’s postseason hopes remain slim—they’re 10 points behind eighth-place San Jose with five games to play—but they’re not out yet.

CCL: Real Salt Lake Clinches Quarterfinal Berth

You have to like the way Real Salt Lake is conducting business this season.

Coach Jason Kreis rested a number of starters for this past weekend’s MLS tilt with Colorado because he wanted to have his first-choice lineup ready to go for the CONCACAF Champions League game against Toronto FC last night.

A win or a tie against Toronto and RSL was through to the CCL quarters.

As Kreis said:

“We don’t want to go into the last match at Cruz Azul needing a result. We’re going to put all of our cards on the table for [the Toronto CCL game]. We feel like the that’s the one that we have to get a result in, and wrap up this Champions League stuff so that we can then turn our attention back to the Supporters’ Shield and the playoffs.”

That second-string lineup mustered a tie against Colorado over the weekend—gaining ground in MLS on the Galaxy, which lost—and last night, the regulars rallied for a 1-1 draw in Toronto to secure a berth in the CCL quarters.

What was it the A-Team guy used to say? “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Real Salt Lake is getting it done in two competitions this season, no mean feat with an MLS budget and roster depth. They also had some severe travel SNAFUs in their odyssey from Utah to Toronto, via Atlanta.

Yet Kreis had them ready to play. If he keeps this up, he’s a shoo-in for Coach of the Year.

Here are the highlights:

The tie eliminated Toronto, which has fired its coach and GM this season and is on very thin ice re. the MLS postseason.

But hey, that goal by former U.S. youth international Jacob Peterson—after a perfect 60-yard outlet toss by goalkeeper Jon Conway—was pretty nice.

Wynalda Lands Front-Office Job! … In Mexico … In Third Division

Former U.S. national team striker and noted shrinking violet Eric Wynalda has been hired by Mexican third-division club Murcielagos as its “president of international operations.”

Wynalda told Soccer America that his new role will involve scouting young players for the club’s developmental program, seeking player exchange programs and developing marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

We’ve always appreciated Wynalda’s immense contributions to U.S. Soccer—he scored the first goal in MLS history, and he was the national team’s alltime leading scorer until 2008—but this one is a puzzler.

As he told SA:

“It’s kind of strange that I would end up in Mexico, but I want to coach. If somebody down there thinks that you can contribute, that’s where you end up. Right now there’s just not a place for me in U.S. Soccer or in MLS.”

Well, okay, sure, there may not be a place for you at the top level of Stateside soccer, but why not start small here—why not try for a third-division-type gig in the U.S.?

He continues:

“I found it fascinating that there is so much American-Mexican talent in Mexico, players we didn’t know about.”

Wait, what? There’s “American-Mexican talent,” in Mexico, that we don’t know about?

So, if Jose Torres, for example, is a Mexican-American, who qualifies as an American-Mexican? And is this is the start of the Wynalda pipeline of previously untapped talent flowing back to the USMNT?

Ah, forget it: It’s late on a Tuesday; no time to try to make sense of this one.

But we will note that Murcielagos means “bats”—as in batty, or bats*** insane.

Americans in Europe: Tracking Back

It was a busy weekend for Yanks all over the continent, with Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber both bagging goals, Carlos Bocanegra’s team going top of the table and Oguchi Onyewu … continuing to be buried on the AC Milan depth chart.

Let’s take a look, with sidebar commentary on which U.S. players need to come back to the States and play in MLS—before the league gets too good for them. (Ha!)


Jozy Altidore dressed but did not play in Villareal’s 3-2 win over Malaga yesterday. New Jersey–born striker Giuseppe Rossi scored Villareal’s second goal in the triumph, which vaults the Yellow Submarine (4-1-0) into second place in the Primera Division.

Altidore has only played in the Europa League thus far this year for Villareal.

Should he come back to play in MLS? Nah. Altidore just left, and he’s only 20. We will not be surprised when he finally breaks through in Europe.


Oguchi Onyewu did not dress in AC Milan’s 1-0 victory over Genoa on Saturday. Onyewu has not played for the Italian giants this year, and earlier in the month he was left off the squad list for the Champions League group stages.

MLS? It’ll never happen, but a move somewhere is not a bad idea for Gooch. He appears to be in a black hole with the Rossoneri, which just extended his contract through the 2012-13 season—which he will play for free. At 28, and theoretically in his prime, he should be getting regular minutes.


Steve Cherundolo got the start and went the full 90 in Hannover 96’s 1-0 win over Kaiserslautern on Sunday.

MLS? The 31-year-old defender is still a mainstay—and a deputy captain—at Hannover so, no, not now. But maybe in a couple of years.

Cherundolo’s new teammate, DaMarcus Beasley did not dress for the game.

MLS? If it doesn’t work out at Hannover, we say yes.

Michael Bradley started, went the distance and scored a goal in Borussia Moenchengladbach’s 2-2 tie with Schalke 04 on Saturday. Click here for the highlights. (Schalke’s two recent big signings, Klass Jan Huntelaar and Raul, each found the net.)

Bradley’s goal was his second of the year.

MLS? Nope. Bigger and better things await him in  Europe.

Potential U.S. national-teamer Jermaine Jones started for Schalke and played 51 minutes.

MLS? No. He’s only 28, and looks to be (finally) rounding back into fitness.

Ricardo Clark dressed but did not play in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-0 win over Nurnberg on Saturday.

MLS? No. The 27-year-old is still settling in at Frankfurt.


Maurice Edu played 16 minutes in Rangers’ 3-2 win over Aberdeen on Sunday.

MLS? The 2007 MLS Rookie of the Year has a bright future in Europe.


Carlos Bocanegra played 90 minutes for top-of-the-table St. Etienne (5-1-1) in a 1-0 win over Lyon on Saturday.

MLS? Not this year—he’s 31—but maybe down the line a bit.

Charlie Davies did not dress for Sochaux’s 2-1 loss to Marseille on Saturday. Davies’ recovery is not going smoothly. See here for the details.

MLS? He just needs to get back to 100%—if that’s possible.

England: Non-Premier League


Former Duke star Mike Grella did not make the bench for Leeds’s 1-0 shutout of Sheffield United on Saturday.

MLS? How much is Leeds paying him to ride the bench? More than Toronto FC would pay him to start? His lack of playing time has kept him out of the USMNT pool.

Zak Whitbread has a calf injury and sat out Norwich City’s 2-0 loss to Hull on Saturday.

MLS? Maybe it’s time for the 26-year-old—who has bounced from Liverpool to Millwall to Norwich City—to give the U.S. circuit a try.

League One

Frank Simek started and went 90 in Carlisle United’s 2-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday.

MLS? Carlisle United, Frank? Really? You were called in to the U.S. camp for last March’s Netherlands friendly, for crying out loud. Here are three MLS teams that need help on their backline: New England (45 goals against), Houston (45), DC United (42)—and every one of them could beat Carlisle United.


Freddy Adupoor Freddy Adu—did not dress in Aris’s 1-0 win over Ergotelis on Sunday.

MLS? If any team would have him.


Sacha Kljestan did not make the bench for Anderlecht’s 5-0 rout of Mechelen. But he does have two goals for his new club this season. He’s just returned from an injury.

MLS? He just left. Let’s give him some time in Europe.


Michael Parkhurst went the full 90 in FC Nordsjaelland’s 3-0 shutout of Horsens on Sunday.

MLS? He’s doing fine in Denmark and getting paid more than he would earn in the States.

Chris Rolfe and Marcus Tracy sat out Aalborg’s 2-0 defeat to Sonderjyske. Rolfe has a hamstring injury and Tracy has a knee injury.

MLS? Rolfe just left the U.S. and Tracy is determined to make it in Europe, which he seems capable of—if he can stay healthy.

Benny Feilhaber went the distance, scored a goal and had two assists in Aarhus’s 3-2 win over Koge in the Danish second division. The man is on a roll, with five goals and two assists in his last three games.

MLS? If his current white-hot form doesn’t get him a solid European offer this winter, then why not? The Danish second division is surely a lower level than the U.S. top flight.


Hunter Freeman and Clarence Goodson both went the distance in IK Start’s 0-0 tie with Honefess yesterday.

MLS? Freeman can make more money in Scandinavia, apparently, and Goodson could jump to a continental European league if he keeps up his solid play.

Mikkel Diskerud played 88 minutes in Stabaek’s 2-1 win over Kongsvinger on Sunday.

MLS? The U.S. youth international has bigger aspirations—including getting called into the senior USMNT—and at 19, time to pursue them.

Yanks in England: Weekend Wrap

The Premier League tossed up handful of surprises in Week 6, a few of them involving Americans, and all of them adding welcome twists to the early stages of the season.

First up—stop press! West Ham got its first win of the year!

And it came not against a Wigan or a Wolves, but against Champions League entrants Tottenham. Frenchman Frederic Piquionne netted the game’s only goal, on a header in the 29th minute.

That gives U.S. defender Jonathan Spector’s team a win and a tie in its last two games after it started the season with four straight losses. Should you read anything into the fact that Spector has not dressed for either one of those games?

No. No, you should not.

Stuart Holden and Bolton played host to mighty Manchester United, with the U.S. winger getting the start and going the full 90. Bolton came out like a team serious about winning the game; they were full of energy, and they got a fifth-minute goal from Zat Knight.

After Nani tied it up 17 minutes later, the hosts took the lead again, on a rocket from Martin Petrov in the 67th minute. They couldnt hang on, though, as Michael Owen found a 74th minute equalizer. But Wanderers will definitely take the 2-2 tie.

And Holden has definitely nailed down a starting spot in the center of Bolton’s midfield, begging a question for reader Prison Mike: “So why couldn’t he get on the field in South Africa?! Tell me that. Why?!”

It’s a fair question, Mike. The best answer we’ve heard comes from Ref Baiter: “He may not have been 100% match fit back then, after the broken leg in March.”

There were two committee meetings of Americans in England this weekend, as Eddie Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Fulham hosted Tim Howard and struggling Everton, and Marcus Hahnemann and Wolves welcomed Brad Friedel and Aston Villa, with Brad Guzan and young Yank defender Eric Lichaj on Villa’s bench.

Howard made two saves—one of them an excellent parry of a shot by Dempsey—and the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Johnson played 35 minutes, and got good reviews from his coach, Mark Hughes.

Everton is off to another atrocious start, having just lost to Brentford (of third-tier League One) in the Carling Cup and still in search of it first Premier League victory. The Toffees are currently dead last in the standings, but we wouldn’t bet on them to stay there.

Hahnemann and Friedel each made six saves—several of the spectacular variety—in the Wolves-Villa match, but Hahnemann couldn’t keep out Emile Heskey’s 87th-minute header, which proved to be the difference in Villa’s 2-1 victory.

The Rest of the Big Four

Liverpool’s debt-ridden American owners could not have been happy with the Reds’ result on Saturday, a 2-2 draw with Sunderland, at Anfield—and one they had to come from behind to earn.

First-place Chelsea was upended by a 59th-minute goal from Man City’s Carlos Tevez that handed the Blues their first loss of the year, and Arsenal was stunned at home by West Bromwich Albion. The promotion side jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 win as Samir Nasri pulled two back in the late stages.

Blackburn, Blackpool, et al…

Blackpool overcame an own goal to snatch what it thought was a late point on Matt Phillips’s 87th-minute strike at Bloomfield Road, butBlackburn’s Brett Emerton struck back in stoppage time to give the visitors a 2-1 win.

Birmingham City tied Wigan 0-0 but extended its home unbeaten streak to a club-record 18 games, and Stoke City edged Newcastle 2-1 on an 84th-minute own goal by James Perch at St. James’ Park.

Quote of the Week:

Mick McCarthy and Ian Holloway were beaten out by West Ham manager Avram Grant, who had this to say about Robert Green, after the keeper best known for his gaffe against the U.S in South Africa made a number of great saves in West Ham’s shutout win over Tottenham:

“Robert Green is a good goalkeeper and it was a normal performance from him. It was a great save against Modric. It does not matter what is in the papers—he showed on the pitch that he is a very good goalkeeper. His performance today was the best speech.”

Site News: “We’re taking our talents to Midtown”

This has been percolating for a few months, and today, it’s official: We are writing a weekly column for Major League Soccer.

It’s called Monday Postmortem, and it consists of analysis, insights, observations, and arcane sailing references as they relate to the most recent round of action in the league.

It will run every week on the MLS website, right about … here.

Please check it out weekly and weigh in on the comment boards!

We will still be crashing the Backpost on a daily basis (more or less), but every Monday, around coffee time, you can read us over there.

Thanks for your support. As you were.

Next up: Yanks in England weekend wrap.

Galaxy-Red Bulls Live Blog

That’s it for us. Late night here on the East Coast. We apologize to all who sent in (multiple) comments that didn’t get posted in the IT scramble. And we thank you.

We will post this one last one before we go, though: Our Man at the Valley says. from Denver, “I miss Paul Caligiuri’s hair.” Who doesn’t, OMATV? Who doesn’t.

This win ties New York with Columbus atop the Eastern Conference. The Crew takes on New England at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

Postgame interview with Angel: He talks about the quality of this win, then pretty directly implies that he won’t be coming back next season. Bummer. Thirteen goals on the year after burying the PK tonight—and an alltime MetroBull.

That’s it—Red Bulls win, 2-0. Surprising result, we must say, and a great one for New York. Hans Backe may know more than he lets on. He may have his team hitting its stride at just the right time. We will try to tie up some loose ends here and catch up. Technical difficulties cost us tonight.

93:00: Bowen squanders a superb ball from Beckham down the flank. Moments later, Beckham free kick balloons, Coundoul grabs it easily.

91:00: Dunivant to Donovan in front! LD steers his shot right at Coundoul.

91:00 Richards cross for Ibrahim in the box! He takes an extra touch and his shot is blocked.

90:00: Buddle cross blocked by Ream.

89:00: After Angel took too long with a chance for NY, LA counters … Bowen with another cross—cleared by NY.

86:00: Nice poke-out by Lindpere to win possession for NY, Ibrahim slide-tackled—hard—by Beckham. Yellow card for Becks.

85:00: Donovan with a ball to Bowen on the right—the youngster settles, shoots! Coundoul smothers it.

83:00: New York looking surprisingly poised and in control. Lindpere has been huge. Richards was involved in both goals. Even Carl freaking Robinson hasn’t screwed it up.

81:00: Tristan Bowen (yes, he’s also in—for Kovalenko) with a heavy first touch on the right, plays himself out of a golden opportunity! Wow. Now Beckham down the right…soft cross dealt with by NY.

78:00: Robinson sends Richards down the right. LA defenders backing off in droves, respecting The Speed of the Dane. Dunivant finally shuts him down on the byline.

73:00: Salou Ibrahim in for Tchani.

71:00: Lindpere gets a step on Franklin, sends in a great ball to the far post. Angel just misses getting on the end of it! Could’ve been 3-0 there.

68:00: Backpost favorite Carl Robinson (nooooo!) coming in for Rafa Marquez. Crowd booing Marquez. No word on Cobi Jones’s response here.

67:00: Eddie Lewis in for Kirovski. As Harkes says, this gives LA two excellent crossers: Beckham on the right, Lewis on the left. Lewis immediately swings in a dangerous ball. Coundoul punches it away.

66:00: Beckham free kick from 27 yards! Swerves at Coundoul’s right post. The keeper parries it away. Franklin comes back down the right, swings in a cross, NY clears it out for a corner.

62:00: Getting chippy: Marshall goes in hard on Tchani. Ballouchy and Kovalenko also flashing studs.

60:00: Angel to take it: He stutters, then buries it, left side! GOAL! New York, 2-0.

59:00: Penalty! Dane Richards (involved again) pulled down by Yohance Marshall after surging past the Galaxy defender in the box!

58:00: Mendes for Angel in the box! Heads just over the bar.

57:00: Kovalenko with a rugged challenge on Lindpere, but De La Garza is booked for earlier late tackle on Miller. (Yeah, De La Garza is in. We missed it when the site crashed.)

56:00: Coundoul comes way out to stymie long ball from Juninho, looking for Buddle. Good anticipation by the keeper. Out of the box on that one.

55:00: JP Dellacamera points out that NY has been outscored 7-1 by the Big Three of LA, Real Salt Lake and Columbus this season. No wins or ties against those three.

54:00: Beckham free kick blocked at short range by Lindpere. Backe laughing. Re-kick…..for naught.

52:00: Marquez with a free kick from distance….right to Ricketts, with no NY players in the box. Marquez tries to get it to Richards moments later, pass is short.

50:00: Beckham leads the break for LA. Gets it wide to Donovan, who sends it to Kirovski. His cross is claimed by Coundoul.

48:00: Tchani with a tough tackle on Kovalenko, who screams bloody murder. Perhaps Dema’s reputation precedes him, because the ref barely bats an eye. Here’s the replay: definitely could have been a red for Tchani.

47:00: Kovalenko sends Donovan free on the right. He cuts it back on Miller, who falls, but still strips the ball from LD.

Second half

The Christian Brother out of Seattle says, “New York is deceptively dominating this game. Stealth domination.” If that makes sense.

Here is what we’re getting from our humble hosts at WordPress:

“ is temporarily unavailable. We’re working on the issue and things will be back up and running ASAP. Please check back in a few minutes.”

Their definition of ASAP is very fluid, apparently.

Oh well: Enjoy the following treasure-trove of Ft. Lauderdale Strikers memories from the Striker Liker in Westchester: Gordon Banks, George Best, Ray Hudson [!], Thomas Rongen [?], Teofilo Cubillas. Outstanding stuff right here.

45:00: There it is, halftime. New York gradually got a grip on this game. And WordPress still doesn’t have a grip on itself. Grrr. Site still inaccessible.

45:00: Richards completely overhits a cross with Angel wide open in the box. See Ref Baiter’s earlier comment.

44:00: We would like to dedicate this evening to WordPress….still cant get back on the site. Ridiculous.

43:00: Talley out with a hamstring strain. Nice pickup there, getting the 34-year-old Talley…. Tchani up the middle, looking for Angel…intercepted.

42:00: Tchani looked to be fouled on the right—no call. (This right after Ballouchy got roughed up on the touchline—and no call.) Galaxy on the break. Buddle loses it.

40:00: Petke takes a deflection from Ream, plays it out to Marquez. He gets it to Angel, who tries to find Richards with a through ball. LA defends it.

39:00: Talley is hurt. Injured on a sliding tackle. Mike Petke coming in.

Ball was flicked on to Lindpere off a throw-in. He crushed it off the post. Richards kind of boinked it in.

36:00: Lindpere sprung in the box, great touch to get free on the left side! … He hits the post! It caroms back to Richards, he sticks it in the open net! GOAL! 1-0, New York.

35:00: We are getting completely jacked by WordPress right now. Site has been inaccessible for 15 minutes. Dane Richards is getting swarmed every time he touches the ball.

31:00: Beckham sends a ball over the top…Donovan running on to it! Coundoul living dangerously, casually claims it at the very top of the box—at LD’s feet.

30:00: What was her name? Irma?” says Hurlz out of Los Angeles. “Doesn’t seem to be bothering him tonight.”

30:00: Juninho and Beckham with a nice exchange on the right, but Juninho’s return pass is poorly weighted, cut out by Ream.

29:00: Miller shuts down Beckham on the right flank, but it’s a corner for LA. Becks takes it. Cleared by NY.

28:00: Lindpere with a shot from the left side of the box! Just wide of the far post.

27:00: Ref Baiter, from Vegas: “Richards: No words can describe how frustrating he is to watch.”

26:00: Richards plays a ball to no one at the top of the box, then barks at Angel. Really, Dane? Really?

24:00: Angel made a great move to get free on the byline but his cross was met by three Galaxy defenders and easily handled.

23:00: WordPress just crashed! We were knocked offline totally. Again, we’ll do our best to catch up. The Ref Baiter, who is Vegas this weekend, says “this is the best Galaxy crowd in a long time.”

18:00: Beckham cuts inside, tries to chip it for Buddle, New York handles it.

14:oo: Los Angeles with the better of the play so far. But now Marquez finds Angel in space, he tries to spring Richards on the wing. cut out. Red Bulls get it back, Ballouchy works a 1-2 with Angel, shoots from distance! Ricketts with the diving save.

12:00: Half chance for Buddle. New York squelches it.

12:oo: “Why is that yellow guy in the middle?” asks Mrs. Backpost. “Is that the ref?”

10:00: Claymation, out of New Jersey, doesn’t like the camera position for this telecast. “Too high,” he says.

9:00: Richards gets the ball wide, immediately surrounded by three Galaxy defenders. Moments later Miller plays a long ball over the top for Richards, he knocks it back for Ballouchy! … Shot blocked.

8:00: Beckham peels back, lays it off for Juninho, who shoots from distance! Skips wide, way wide.

6:00: Miller stuffs Franklin near the top of the box, 1 v 1. But Galaxy wins the ball back. Long ball by Beckham…too long.

4:oo: Donovan disposses Talley, cuts inside, through ball for Buddle…cut out.

3:00: Franklin takes a pass from Beckham, swings in a cross…cleared out.

1:00: And we’re off. Galaxy  plays the kickoff long and Carey Talley promptly falls on his face, gives up a corner. Beckham swings it in. Cleared out.

Stadium looks fantastic. Mrs. Backpost: “That looks like a beautiful emerald surrounded by sapphires. Speaking of….”

Here are your lineups:

Los Angeles:





New York:






No Albright (he’s got a knock), and Beckham gets the nod. How will Talley handle this baptism by fire with his new team?


Good evening, sports fans!

We are coming to you live from the newest Backpost satelllite office, in upper New England.

We’re more than a little pumped for this one, not only because of the marquee matchup on tap, but also also because we’ve got a distinguished panel of commenters from all over this great land, ready to chime in during the broadcast.

Mrs. Backpost is here, sipping a nice Prosecco (her report: “dry, lemony”) and talking a good game about making it through the first half of this 11:oo pm EST kickoff.

We shall see.

Underreported subplot to this game, courtesy of Abraham Thinkin’ of Chicago: The Cobi JonesRafa Marquez Situation.

See here (that’s Jones on the ground after absorbing a combination studs-up-challenge/head-butt from Marquez in the 2002 World Cup. Click here for video of the unprecedented maneuver; it’s at the 3:07 mark).

Jones is now a Galaxy assistant coach.

Will they exchange pleasantries tonight?

MLS Weekend Preview

We’ve touched on the huge Los Angeles–New York game on tap for tonight, but believe it or not, that hotly anticipated matchup is not the only game on the docket this week. And in terms of playoff implications, it’s not even the biggest game of the weekend.

There are interesting clashes all over the country, several games that will impact the playoff standings and the race for the Supporters’ Shield, as well as a meeting between the league’s bottom two teams, DC and Houston, who’ll slug it out to try to avoid the cellar.

Here are the matchups, in order of potential impact on the playoff picture:

1.  Toronto v San Jose, BMO Field , Saturday, 4:00 pm EST, MLS Direct Kick

If Toronto (31 points) wins the game, they’ll pull within two points of San Jose (36), which is currently tied with Seattle for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Should the Reds drop this one, however, you can break out the jam, because they’ll be toast.

2. Chicago v Seattle, Toyota Park, Saturday, 8:00, MLS Direct Kick

This one has the subplot of Freddie Ljungberg facing his old team, but the plot, which the Fire will do its best not to lose, is the postseason quest for both teams, especially the hosts.

Chicago is 10 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with seven games to play. Needless to say, this—and pretty much every match from here on out—is a must-win game for them.

Seattle is currently in possession of that eighth postseason berth, and has the look of a team intent on keeping it, having blown out East leaders Columbus in its last league game.

3. Kansas City v Dallas, Community America Ballpark, 8:00, MLS Direct Kick

The Wizards are 6-1-3 in their last 10, while Dallas is unbeaten in its last 16. Both teams made stirring comebacks in Week 26 games on Wednesday.

Kansas City (33 points) could move into playoff contention with a win.

This one should be a cracker.

4. Real Salt Lake v Colorado, Rio Tinto Stadium, 10:00, Fox Soccer Channel

Both teams are well within playoff contention, and RSL can clinch a postseason berth with a win.

So this game is a chance for rising Colorado to test itself against the champs, and it’s also an opportunity for RSL to extend its record 23-game home unbeaten streak while keeping pace in the Supporters’ Shield race.

It should be a competitive, entertaining affair.

5. New England v Columbus, Gillette Stadium, 7:30, MLS Direct Kick

Columbus has lost two straight in league play, giving up seven goals in the process. They’ll be eager to reverse the downturn, and secure their place atop the East. The Crew also has a chance, if other results go their way, to sew up a playoff berth.

They’ll have to do it without central defender Chad Marshall, who took a boot to the jaw in the Crew’s CCL win over Santos Laguna on Tuesday and will sit this one out.

6. Philadelphia v Chivas USA, PPL Park, 4:00, TeleFutura

These teams are all but out of playoff contention, but the game will feature the two best players in the league not likely to feature in the postseason, Philly’s Sebastien Le Toux (11 goals), and Chivas’s Justin Braun (nine).

Philadelphia will not want to disappoint the rowdy home fans in its new stadium, and they’ll probably get a full 90 minutes from Rookie of the Year candidate Danny Mwanga (seven goals, four assists) who played just 18 minutes in their last game after dealing with a shoulder injury.

Also, both teams are mathematically still alive in the playoff chase. So there’s that.

7. DC United v Houston, RFK Stadium, 7:30, MLS Direct Kick

DC and Houston are pointing toward next season at this point, and both suffered crushing, last-minute defeats in their most recent games.

They’re also both once-great franchises fallen on hard times: Houston has two MLS Cups in its trophy case, while DC has four.

They’ll be “playing for the shirt” in this one.