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The Path to the Playoffs: Ten Games to Go, Weekend Edition

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The weekend's slate of games starts tonight. Who should we be rooting for?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

With only ten games to go in the season for the Portland Timbers every game around the league has some bearing on the final standings. Let's look forward to the matches around the league this weekend and how they will affect the Timbers' run in to the playoffs.

Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas

Friday, 8/22 at 6:00 PM PT on NBCSN

Root for: Tie

Why? This one is not so much about what happens in this match as what happens after this match. Both of these teams are on long undefeated streaks with Salt Lake having gone with out a loss in their last six and Dallas in their last nine. The Timbers play these two teams in their final matches of the season and at their current pace it does not look likely that either will falter significantly.

However, both of these teams have matches against the two teams the the Timbers are currently battling for the fifth place playoff spot, the Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps. If the Timbers could realistically aim higher than fifth then a Dallas loss would look night right here, but as it stands both of these clubs remaining in top form serves the Timbers well as they shoot for the last playoff spot.

Montreal Impact at New York Red Bulls

Saturday, 8/23 at 4:00 PM PT on MLS Live

Root for: Montreal Impact

Why? With a long term goal of Portland hosting the MLS Cup Final, we want to keep the point totals for the potential playoff teams in the Eastern Conference as low as possible and, as neither of these teams have games against the Timbers' immediate playoff contenders, Montreal pegging New York back will help with that.

Chicago Fire at Toronto FC

Saturday, 8/23 at 4:00 PM PT on MLS Live

Root for: Chicago Fire

Why? Just like in the Montreal-New York match, the Timbers would benefit from a Toronto stumble or two if they are able to fight their way to the MLS Cup Final. Additionally, Toronto is the final team from the east that the Timbers play this season, so anything to put them off will be welcome.

Houston Dynamo at Columbus Crew

Saturday, 8/23 at 4:30 PM PT on MLS Live

Root for: Houston Dynamo

Why? Again, keeping the east tight could benefit the Timbers in the long, long run. Plus, neither of these teams plays a match against a western opponent with playoff aspirations (Chivas USA does not count).

Chivas USA at New England Revolution

Saturday, 8/23 at 4:30 PM PT on MLS Live

Root for: Chivas USA

Why? Normally we would want every possible point to go to these Eastern Conference in this sort of cross-conference matches, but in this case Chivas is not really in danger of making a move on anyone and New England is a playoff contender with a proven track record of giving the Timbers fits and a level of talent that is higher than their record indicates.

D.C. United at Sporting Kansas City

Saturday, 8/23 at 5:30 PM PT on MLS Live

Root for: D.C. United

Why? This is a tricky one. SKC are not in danger of being caught by the Timbers, so we want them to take points off of D.C., but at the same time, D.C.has a chance to take the Whitecaps down in three weeks time, something that would be very helpful in the Timbers. In this case the practical advantage of having an in-form D.C. take on Vancouver has to outweigh the long term advantage of a weaker point field in the east.

Vancouver Whitecaps at LA Galaxy

Saturday, 8/23 at 7:30 PM PT on MLS Live

Root for: LA Galaxy

Why? After some tricky picks in the east, this one is straightforward; the Galaxy are not going to drop out of playoff contention and the Whitecaps might, so go Galaxy.

San Jose Earthquakes at Philadelphia Union

Sunday, 8/24 at 5:00 PM PT on Univision Deportes

Root for: Philadelphia Union

Why? The Timbers are going to face the Earthquakes three times in the next two months. They need to continue being bad and a loss against the Union would help with that.

Disagree with the prognosis? Let us know in the comments. Plus, if you are going to be watching any of these games, feel free to discuss them here.