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MLS weekend preview: Vancouver, Columbus desperate in British Columbia

2015 MLS Cup - Portland Timbers v Columbus Crew SC

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 6: Head Coach Gregg Berhalter of the Columbus Crew SC watches his team play the Portland Timbers for the MLS Cup on December 6, 2015 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Portland defeated Columbus 2-1 to take the MLS Cup title. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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You may have heard by now that Landon Donovan is returning to Major League Soccer.

I know, right?

[ MORE: How effective can Donovan be? ]

But there’s plenty more going on this weekend in the top flight for Canada and the United States, as results take on the feel of necessity with the stretch run at hand.

Orlando City at LA Galaxy -- 7 p.m. Sunday

The Lions have beaten New York City and Montreal in back-to-back contests, and Kaka’s boys are two points clear of the red line in the race for the playoffs. Orlando also has managed to snag a point from 8 of 13 road matches, and doing that at a fired-up StubHub Center is going to be a test. But LA has been hit by injuries -- hence LD -- and has a bit of a glass half-whatever situation in its past: The Galaxy have points in seven of eight, but just one win.

Vancouver Whitecaps at Columbus Crew -- 6 p.m. Saturday

Win or nothing. That’s the set-up for both sides, but especially so for the 2015 Eastern Conference champs. Due to MLS parity, the Crew’s miserable record and East-worst performance has yet to doom Gregg Berhalter’s crew this tumultuous 2016 (Doesn’t it feel like ages ago that Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara had the MLS falling out of all MLS falling outs?). Columbus in eight points behind Orlando for the final playoff spot, and the Lions have been pretty darn hot. Three points is a must for the Crew.

Carl Robinson’s Caps have failed to live up to their potential in almost as surprising of a failure. Vancouver is just four points back of a playoff spot, though, and stands a chance in the West.

Seattle Sounders at San Jose Earthquakes -- 10:30 p.m. Saturday

It’s a similar situation South of the border in Washington, where Clint Dempsey-less Seattle four points back of Portland but holding two matches in hand on the Timbers. The Quakes also have two matches in hand -- and one more point -- and Saturday night’s duel will help settle things. San Jose has snagged one point from its last three matches, and the competition suggested there should have been more.

Full schedule (all times EDT)
Houston at Sporting KC -- 8 p.m. Friday
Vancouver at Columbus -- 6 p.m. Saturday
Montreal at Philadelphia -- 7 p.m. Saturday
NYC at New England -- 8 p.m. Saturday
Chicago at Toronto -- 8:30 p.m. Saturday
Colorado at Dallas -- 9 p.m. Saturday
Seattle at San Jose -- 10:30 p.m. Saturday
Real Salt Lake at Portland -- 10:30 p.m. Saturday
DC at New York Red Bulls -- 1 p.m. Sunday
Orlando at LA Galaxy -- 7 p.m. Sunday

Follow @NicholasMendola