Games to Watch: MLS' playoff race hits high gear

A quick thought at the top: there are huge games all the way across Major League Socer this weekend. It's a good time to get MLS Live for the games that aren't on national television. And whether you're Philadelphia, Montreal, Vancouver, Chicago, Seattle or any other team, here's a bit of advice: Go out and win this weekend, and then come talk to us later.

Yes, John Hackworth, that means you.

D.C. United at Sporting Kansas City

8:00 p.m. Friday (NBCSN)

With two weeks to go in the MLS season, there's still much at stake for teams across the Eastern Conference. Kansas City is a point out of first place in the East, and is battling five other teams for the Supporters Shield.

KC will be led by Graham Zusi, who scored a big goal for the U.S. national team in their World Cup qualifying finale on Tuesday. D.C., MLS' worst club, will look to Chris Pontius to try to pull off an upset.

Sporting coach Peter Vermes doesn't take any game for granted. But it's worth noting that his team has a CONCACAF Champions League game on Wednesday, then heads to Philadelphia for their season finale on October 26. If there's a game when Vermes' players can briefly step off the gas pedal, it's this one.

Manchester City at West Ham United

12:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC)

City has scored more goals than any other Premier League team this season, thanks to Sergio Agüero and Yaya Touré. But they're only in fifth place because they've yet to win away from home. West Ham, led by rising English star Ravel Morrison, will look to extend City's road woes.

Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas

2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC)

This is what American soccer fans dreamed of when NBC bought Premier League TV rights: a EPL-MLS doubleheader on network television. It's a huge game for the reeling Sounders, who haven't won since September 13. Even worse, star Clint Dempsey hasn't scored since joining Seattle in August. A Texas homecoming would be the perfect time to break that drought.

Australia at United States women

1:30 p.m. Sunday (NBC)

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and the rest of the U.S. women's national team heads to the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas to face an Australian team led by veteran Lisa De Vanna. U.S. coach Tom Sermanni has started to mix in a new generation of youngsters with his veterans. Rising stars to watch include defender Kristie Mewis and forward Christen Press.

New York Red Bulls at Houston Dynamo

4:00 p.m. Sunday (UniMás)

Tim Cahill and the Red Bulls would take a huge step towards winning the Supporters Shield by winning this game. But Brad Davis and the Dynamo are once again mounting a late-season charge up the standings, and are one of MLS' toughest teams to beat at home. A Houston win could seal a playoff berth for the two-time reigning Eastern Conference champions.

San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles Galaxy

9:00 p.m. Sunday (ESPN)

Chris Wondolowski and the Earthquakes have quietly risen to within a point of the Western Conference playoff places. They could make a loud statement by beating their longtime California rivals. But Landon Donovan and the Galaxy have lots to play for too. They're one of four teams within two points of the top of the standings.

Juventus at Real Madrid

2:30 p.m. Wednesday (Fox Sports 2 and Fox Deportes)

Two perennial European powerhouses clash in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tévez lead Juventus into the famed Estadio Santiago Bernabéu to face a Real squad led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.