The Fire's well-documented September to forget - a month in which they dropped nine points with mistakes in the final minutes of games - is history now. Certainly it is frustrating to look at those points, size up the table, and think about what might have been. What if Segares gets his feet sorted and doesn't let Zach Scott's cross bang off his shinguard? What if Anibaba and Nyarko step into Adam Moffat? What if Soumaré doesn't olé that scudding cross from deep against Toronto?
It is what it is. Chicago's fate this season is still a delicate web of possibilities: With three games left, almost any ending to the season could happen. The Fire could fade, just miss the playoffs, and rue those points; or win the next three on the trot and enter the postseason as a dark horse; or collapse entirely amid bickering; or any admixture of these and other possibilities. After 31 games, nothing is settled and any ending plausible. Life on the knife-edge is never dull.
Which is where Who To Boo comes in, natch. The Fire are in a dogfight for the final playoff spot with Columbus, New England and Philadelphia, and each of those teams plays this evening. All of the games are on MLS Live or Direct Kick. And you won't have to dedicate your whole evening to football - the three matches kick off within 30 minutes of each other.
Houston defeating Montreal has changed the table significantly. The Impact's late-season free-fall continues, and they could be in the Who To Boo mix by next week, depending on tonight's results. After Friday's games, the Eastern Conference table looks like this:
|1||New York Red Bulls||52||31||1.68||15||9||7||48||37||11||27||15||21||-4|
|2||Sporting Kansas City||48||30||1.6||14||10||6||43||29||14||28||13||15||1|
|8||New England Revolution||41||30||1.37||11||11||8||42||34||8||26||12||16||-4|
New York vs. New England, 6 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick
Who to boo: New England
As strange as it may be to cheer the Metrostars in any endeavor, I'm willing to overlook Bob Bradley, Juan Carlos Osorio, Wilman Conde and all the other garbage they've pulled so long as they punch New England's playoff chances in the throat for us. Drinking game: Sip for every stereotypically Gallic expression made by Thierry Henry; chug when he scowls at or scolds teammates.
Columbus vs. Kansas City, 6:30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick
Who to boo: Columbus
The Crew are reborn under Brian Bliss, and Frederico Higuaín is the mind at the center of the movement - his ability to find pockets of space, even against opponents determined to mark him out of the game, is remarkable. Thing about Kansas City is, when they're playing well, there's just not that much space to exploit - the Sporks will run and press right out to the margins. Drinking game: Sip when Peter Vermes whines to an official; don't chug, because you will be sipping non-stop for 90 minutes.
Philadelphia vs. Toronto, 6:30 p.m., MLS Live/Direct Kick
Who to boo: Philadelphia
The Phunions have made a great display of being, like, totally chill about the standings, as if the first tiebreaker were "inverse of anxiety." Toronto FC has somehow stood that idea on its head, remaining dazzlingly neurotic despite having zero chance at even the modest success represented by a playoff berth. Drinking game: Sip when either team completes three passes consecutively; chug when you clearly hear instructions from the (un-miked) bench
over what used to be the roar of the Greatest Support Evar (prior to the concepts of support and noise being invented by Seattle, naturally). (Gee, it sucks when you write a joke about one team's supporters which makes it obvious you thought the game was in Canada, not Philadelphia. Uhh, heh. Hey, it's still the same channel. But it's a home game for the Phunions. I apologize for any inconvenience - looking at you, international gambling cartels.)