Although many eyes will be on the Cincinnati invasion of the Prairie State this weekend, Hot Time In Old Town's continues its selfless service to let you know how to think. Welcome to the weekend edition of the "Who to Boo" report. In the East, only DC and Toronto are teams I'm ignoring - I'm still counting in America's Hardest Working team as being in play.
Let's get a load of the weekend docket! Teams of interest are in ALL CAPS. We'll start with the no-brainers
CHICAGO @ Seattle
Who to boo: Really?
If you're not sure who to root for in this game, maybe you should be discussing next Tuesday's TIFO display in Columbus rather than reading this article. Whatever the opposite of a bromance is, that is my relationship with the Sounders. Sure, it's pure envy. But, any empathy I might be able to drum up while watching a team being taken to the woodshed for a good hiding would be notably absent if our boys could put together a laugher. Reading the "but we had guys away on international duty" excuses would be all the more sweet. I mean, we're missing Joel Lindpere. We're a weakened side as well.
PHILADELPHIA @ San Jose
Who to boo: Philadelphia
There is no downside to the ‘Quakes taking this game. Assuming the Fire win (and from now on, I'm assuming this), we draw within 1 pt. of the Union with 2 games still in hand.
Now for the inter-conference games involving teams battling for those 5 precious spots.
COLUMBUS @ KANSAS CITY
Who to boo: Sporting KC
Columbus got up by a goal over Houston and adopted a unique strategy. They continued to press the attack and even got a second goal. Imagine. Although another Crew victory would bring them within striking distance of Chicago (and possibly even), the Fire will still have two games in hand. As the season progresses, we may go back to rooting differently - but for now, a Crew victory is to our advantage. Every one of their remaining 7 games is against teams currently in contention for an Eastern Conference playoff berth, so every game will have an impact.
MONTREAL @ NEW ENGLAND
Who to boo: New England
We're conceding a playoff spot to Les Impact. They have 1 or 2 games in hand on every team except Chicago so it would take one heckuva meltdown to knock them out. One surprisingly big home defeat to the Dynamo does not portend such tragedy. But a New England loss, coupled with our already-assumed Fire victory nudges us above them with a game in hand. Even a tie in a home game that Revs are surely desperate to win before their next game in Toyota Park, would be palatable.
NEW YORK @ HOUSTON
Who to boo: Houston
Both teams are ahead of us, but Houston is the team within striking distance. Their mid-week loss in Columbus gives the Fire a chance to leapfrog them in the standings with a legitimate game-in-hand. There has been much beating of breasts about last Sunday's game in Bridgeview, but one positive takeaway is that the Fire owned this team for much of the game until the God of the Bunker swooped down and bestowed an undeserved road point.
A Red Bulls victory would also be significant due to the glut of home games the Dynamo is sitting on to finish off the season. Apart from Chivas, all those games are against playoff teams. So, like Montreal, I'll concede NYRB their place in the standings and hope they give us some help.