The Stretch Run

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

There are about two months left in the MLS regular season. Some teams will make a playoff run while others will begin playing for next season. Some players will rise to the occastion while some coaches will lose their jobs. Either way there are some intriguing match ups and interesting storylines heading into the stretch run for Major League Soccer.

The MLS Stretch Run

Can PorterBall Make the Playoffs? 

Portland has been one of the more consistant teams in the league this season. First year head coach Caleb Porter has been able to get his players to buy into his system. The result, the first ever playoff berth within reach if they can finish the season strong.

That run starts this weekend when they travel to Seattle in what should be the biggest crowd to ever see an MLS match. Some 66,000 will pack into Century Link Field in Seattle on Sunday night for a game with massive playoff implications. They also face Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake two more times, Seattle again, the LA Galaxy, Vancouver and Colorado. In other words, a playoff berth is going to be a battle.

RBNY Makes Another Run

Like Porter in Portland, first year head coach Mike Petke has the Red Bulls believing. The question for this franchise is can the overcome the playoff slump and finally win an MLS Cup?

Like Portland, it won’t be a smooth road. They travel to Houston twice in the final two months and have to make two trips to the West Coast before the season is out. They have all the tools, including some of the most consistent goalkeeping in franchise history thanks to Luis Robles.

Who Gets Fired? 

The biggest surprise disappointment this year has to be DC United. They sit at the bottom of the league table with only 13 points. They have talent but it just hasn’t come together this year and people are frustrated. No one more than head man Ben Olsen.

Olsen and Columbus Crew’s Robert Warzycha are the most noticable managers on the hot seat while disappointing results led to the mid season firings of Frank Yallop in San Jose and Chelis at Chivas USA.

Does Dempsey Make a Difference? 

Seattle is on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs. They just signed America’s best player in Clint Dempsey but is that enough to get Seattle back into the playoffs?

Without Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins in the lineup, Dempsey and the Sounders were unable to get a point on the road against Houston. However, when all three are in the lineup, it could be one of the most potent offense in the league.

Dempsey can’t do it all himself. He needs help if the Sounders are to get back into the playoffs.

3 Peat?

Many consider the LA Galaxy to be the best team in the league…when they are at full strength. They are right now and if they can continue to be then they might just be the odds on favorites to walk away with their third MLS Cup.

Hang on soccer fans, this is about to get interesting.

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