If the Seattle Sounders plan on catching San Jose for the top seed in the Western Conference, a win over the Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field on Saturday is all but mandatory.
That heavyweight clash will feature Chris Wondolowski and San Jose's league-best attack against Seattle and the conference's stingiest back line. With at least a point in this one, the Sounders can join San Jose among teams that have formally clinched playoff berths.
Elsewhere around the league this weekend, the Columbus Crew will look to strengthen their postseason hopes against the scorching Chicago Fire, while D.C. United will host Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo will travel to face the Philadelphia Union in two other matches with major Eastern Conference playoff implications.
Here is a rundown of the Week 29 slate:
MONTREAL IMPACT vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 1 p.m., TSN/Direct Kick/MLS Live)
Kansas City will continue its quest to secure first place in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year when it travels to take on a Montreal team that has lost back-to-back contests after reeling off a five-game winning streak.
Sporting will have to play without the standout services of Roger Espinoza while the Honduran international serves a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)
How will the Red Bulls respond to a 2-0 midweek home loss against Kansas City? If Thierry Henry and Co. don't pull things together against the officially eliminated Revolution, New York could suddenly find itself out of the top three in the East.
After Benny Feilhaber and Juan Toja looked effective off the bench in New England's 2-1 loss at D.C. United last weekend, it'll be interesting to see if Jay Heaps throws them into the lineup and goes with an attack-minded side from the start.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Saturday, 8 p.m., NBCSN/TSN2)
After spending much of the season in the Supporters' Shield conversation, Salt Lake now finds itself in a dogfight with Los Angeles for third place in the Western Conference and a bye through the wild-card round.
With a win, Salt Lake will sweep the season series with the Timbers after claiming the first two contests by a combined 6-2 margin. Portland striker Danny Mwanga will be looking to build off his midweek brace that came in his first start for the Timbers since July.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. COLUMBUS CREW (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)
A few weeks ago, this would have been a highly influential contest for both teams in the chase for a playoff berth. But a torrid run of form has put the Fire closer to first place in the East than sixth, making this one more crucial for the visitors.
After a dramatic midweek victory over Chivas, Columbus will hope Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta can unlock the effective Chicago centerback pairing of Arne Friedrich and Austin Berry.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)
San Jose will go for the season sweep against their closest competition in the West after dropping Seattle 1-0 in March and 2-1 in August. Expect a hectic finish, considering San Jose leads MLS with 38 second-half goals and Seattle is second with 28.
Even more responsibility for Seattle will fall on Fredy Montero with his prolific strike partner, Eddie Johnson, sitting this game out because of yellow card accumulation.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 10:30 p.m., TSN/Direct Kick/MLS Live)
After a woefully slow start to the season, the Galaxy will look to take down a Toronto team that upset them in CONCACAF Champions League play this past spring and continue their climb toward securing a top-three seed in the West.
After trotting out a reserve lineup in a midweek CCL draw with Puerto Rico, look for the Galaxy to be rested and ready against Toronto, which is winless in its past nine league contests.
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. HOUSTON DYNAMO (Sunday, 4 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)
The Dynamo officially find themselves fighting for their playoff lives, though the play of Brad Davis (seven goals, 11 assists) could very well carry Houston into the postseason.
The Union will again try to play spoiler three days after failing to do so against D.C. United. All-Star midfielder Michael Farfan will be back in the lineup for Philadelphia after serving a suspension in Thursday's 1-0 loss.
D.C. UNITED vs. CHIVAS USA (Sunday, 7 p.m., Galavision)
United will look to make it three straight wins without Dwayne De Rosario and further strengthen their playoff bid with a win at home over a Chivas team that has allowed a remarkable 23 goals in its past eight games.
D.C. coach Ben Olsen seems poised to give the Maicon Santos-Lionard Pajoy forward duo another try after Santos helped set up Pajoy's winner against Philadelphia on Thursday. As a result, playmaker Branko Boskovic may be relegated to the bench after being removed early in two straight contests.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. COLORADO RAPIDS (Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick/MLS Live)
Clinging to a one-point lead over FC Dallas for the final Western Conference playoff spot, Vancouver will look to build that advantage while Dallas is idle by taking down the Rapids, who have lost nine straight on the road.
This will be the third meeting of the season between these teams after Vancouver won the first two contests, both by a 1-0 margin.