Your Friday Kick Off

Week 30 Preview, Fulham honoring Dempsey …
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Kick Off: Playoff races heat up this weekend | Fulham to honor Dempsey Here is everything you need to know about MLS and North American soccer this morning:

Supporters’ Shield contenders at home

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Fresh off what could prove a crucial comeback victory, Atlanta United return home on Saturday to take on a Real Salt Lake that’s nearly as hot as they are (7 pm ET | TV & streaming info). The Five Stripes, who have won 4-of-5, took the only previous meeting by a 3-1 count. WATCH VIDEO | PREVIEW

The second place New York Red Bulls will also be at home to tackle a desperate Toronto FC side (5 pm ET | TSN – Full TV & streaming info). The defending champs are taking a three points-or-bust mindset into this huge weekend scrap. READ MORE | PREVIEW

West gets wilder on Sunday

West leaders Sporting KC will make a tricky Saturday trip to face Philadelphia (1 pm ET | ESPN, TSN – Full TV & streaming info). With Sporting close to clinching their eighth-straight playoff berth, Daniel Sperry takes a look at how Peter Vermes built a winning culture in Kansas City. READ MORE | PREVIEW

Vancouver will hope to close on the last playoff spot in the West when FC Dallas visit for an important Saturday match (7 pm ET | TSN – Full TV & streaming info). The Whitecaps are unbeaten in the last seven clashes between the two at BC Place. PREVIEW

The LA Galaxy will try to keep their postseason hopes alive when familiar foe Seattle invades on Saturday (7 pm ET | FS1 – Full TV & streaming info). Local blog LAG Confidential examines how many of the Galaxy woes seem self-inflicted due to poor personnel moves. READ MORE | PREVIEW

NYCFC return to action in Montreal, Revs chasing vs. Chicago

Presumably rested and ready to do away with their five-game win drought, New York City FC return from a two-week schedule layoff to visit a warming Montreal side eager to keep firm hold of the East’s last playoff slot (7:30 pm ET | TVAS – Full TV & streaming info). How have the Impact revived their season after dropping 10 of the first 13 games? Much of the credit goes to offseason signing Saphir Taider and his all-around midfield skills. READ MORE | PREVIEW

Elsewhere, New England will try to close on the playoff line in Saturday’s home game with Chicago (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). The Revs are winless in the last five series meetings (though only one of those was at Gillette). PREVIEW

LAFC, Portland look for traction in West

On Saturday, LAFC will wager their five-game unbeaten run against a visiting San Jose side still reeling from a wild midweek loss to Atlanta United (3:30 pm ET | Univision, Twitter – Full TV & streaming info). Meanwhile, Sam Stejskal reports that LAFC defender Walker Zimmerman has rejected an extension offer from the club and is weighing interest from Europe. READ MORE | PREVIEW

If LAFC drop points, Portland will have a chance to climb above them in Saturday night’s tilt at Minnesota United (8 pm ET | TV & streaming info). The Timbers, currently winless in five away from home, dropped a 3-2 decision on their only prior visit to Minnesota. PREVIEW

Sliding Rapids visit Columbus, Orlando host Houston

Columbus will try to hold onto fourth place in the East when punchless Colorado drops by on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). The Rapids have been shut out four straight times coming into this contest, while their hosts are shooting for a fifth straight win at MAPFRE. PREVIEW

Also on Saturday evening, Orlando City host Houston (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). The Lions, currently winless in nine, have only managed one goal in four competitive series meetings to date. PREVIEW

Fulham to honor Dempsey

Recently retired Seattle star Clint Dempsey is set to receive a retirement tribute from longtime EPL employers Fulham. The Craven Cottage club will hold a small ceremony at halftime of Saturday’s match with Watford. READ MORE

MLSsoccer.com Must-Watch

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Susannah counts down the Top 5 mascots in MLS

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