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The Big Numbers: 3, and 8

The Quakes are three points shy of a playoff spot with eight games left on the regular season schedule.

No other MLS club has had a longer unbeaten streak this season than San Jose’s current run of seven, but the climb up gets a bit steeper the next three weekends as DC United comes to Buck Shaw, followed by home-and-home games with Houston.

If this were any other league in the world, DC United would be recognized as back-to-back champions. Don’t be fooled by DC’s mediocre record so far. They’ve missed Marcelo Gallardo and Fred, both injured for big chunks of the season, and both those guys have been working their way back to match fitness. Fred played the last 50 minutes of their US Open title win Wednesday night, Gallardo played 10. Luciano Emilio is out, but Jaime Moreno is still going strong.

This could be the best game of the year… until Houston comes to town the next week.

Big games everywhere I look these days. The U.S. men's national team gets back at it this weekend with a trip to Cuba, and once again, you, and I, and a big slice of the American soccer nation will have to choose between club and country. The 8:00 Eastern kickoff means this World Cup qualifier will be played while MLS games are under way in Columbus and Chicago.

Um… Chicago and Columbus have their own stadiums, so they have some control over scheduling issues. The U.S. Soccer office is in Chicago, so it wouldn’t even be a toll call for the Fire to give ‘em a ring (or vice-versa). I know I’ve asked this before, but if MLS has to play on World Cup qualifying days, could somebody at least please schedule the games so folks can see both matches?

Commissioner Garber, when you’re done fielding phone calls from possible expansion cities, please Do Something about this.

As for the Quakes, their kickoff Saturday is scheduled about the time the US/Cuba match will be ending, but fans hoping to catch the World Cup qualifier on the big screen at Buck Shaw before the MLS match are out of luck. I called the Quakes office and was told that they have a problem getting a satellite connection, so they won’t be showing US/Cuba on their huge TV. Sigh.  If you’re heading down to Santa Clara, your best bet might be a stop at University Chicken (just around the corner from the stadium) before the Quakes game.

I’m excited to see the Americans moving down the road to South Africa 2010. As someone who sat through Torrance 1986 (hopefully you’re too young or too senile to remember that bitter, bitter loss to Costa Rica, and the days when the U.S. couldn't come close to reaching a World Cup), it’s great to see how Our Team seems to get deeper every four years. But I am worried a bit at how the lineup is shaping up.

For instance, while I can easily see Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan in the starting eleven, and I can see one of them playing forward and another at right midfield, I don’t understand why LD’s the guy lining up on the wing while Dempsey’s starting up top. Oh well — as long as Bob Bradley beats Cuba this weekend, and T&T next Wednesday, he can play whoever wherever he wants.