By DAN KARELL
While the Portland Timbers have returned to their winning ways, the Vancouver Whitecaps play the first of two Cascadia Cup matches to save their playoff hopes.
Maxi Urruti scored his first goal for the Timbers when Caleb Porter’s club defeated the LA Galaxy last Saturday, 1-0, keeping the Timbers unbeaten in four games with three wins in that span. The Whitecaps meanwhile are winless at home in their last three, giving the Timbers plenty of confidence when they take the field at BC Place on Sunday.
Elsewhere around MLS, the New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting Kansas City could all clinch places in the 2013 MLS playoffs with victories this weekend. The LA Galaxy also look to return to winning ways in the third installment of the SuperClasico on Sunday.
Here is a rundown of the Week 32 slate:
D.C. UNITED vs. CHICAGO FIRE (Friday, 8pm, NBC Sports Network)
D.C. United enters this nationally televised match against the Fire on a high, having won the U.S. Open Cup in stunning fashion Tuesday.
However, as they return to earth, D.C. United faces a Fire side that is scoring goals for fun, with Mike Magee racking up 18 goals so far this season. More importantly, with the Fire just two points out of a playoff spot, they have much more to play for at this point than D.C. United, which is already eliminated from the playoffs. It remains to be seen how much of D.C. United’s first team squad suits up at Toyota Park.
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs. MONTREAL IMPACT (Friday, 8:30pm, MLS Live)
The Dynamo are unbeaten in three as they head into a key match against the Impact, the club that handed Dom Kinnear’s side its worst loss in club history in August.
Will Bruin has scored in two straight games for the Dynamo and he’ll be buoyed by the fact that the Impact defense has struggled mightily in recent weeks. Marco Di Vaio has continued to score, leading the league with 19 goals this season. With a win at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo would leapfrog the Impact in the Eastern Conference standings.
NEW YORK RED BULLS vs. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (Saturday, 7pm, MLS Live)
With a key draw last week at the Seattle Sounders, the Red Bulls now can extend their lead atop the Supporters Shield standings and clinch a place in the MLS Cup playoffs with a win or a draw on Saturday.
Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave are set to return to the side after missing Sunday’s match.
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. TORONTO FC (Saturday, 7:30pm, MLS Live)
Last weekend, the Union kept their playoff hopes alive with a massive 1-0 victory at Sporting KC, and they can keep their place in the playoff picture with a home match against struggling Toronto FC.
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen is reportedly considering starting new acquisition Bright Dike up top with Robert Earnshaw, who has largely been a disappointment in his first year in MLS despite racing out of the blocks at the beginning of the season. The Union have no lingering injury concerns, though Matias Laba and Danny Koevermans are still out for TFC.
COLUMBUS CREW vs. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (Saturday, 7:30pm, MLS Live)
Sporting KC will look to rebound from a shocking home defeat, but to do so they’ll have to take on one of the hottest teams in the league.
Since Robert Warzycha and the Crew parted ways, the Black and Gold have won four of their last five games. However, the one match they did lose was on the road to Sporting KC, meaning that the Crew, just two points out of a playoff spot, will be playing for revenge. Interim head coach Brian Bliss says that Dominic Oduro, Federico Higuain, and Bernardo Anor are all fit for Saturday’s game. Sporting KC midfielder Ori Rosell is out due to yellow card accumulation.
REAL SALT LAKE vs. FC DALLAS (Saturday, 9pm, MLS Live)
Two teams coming off devastating losses will hope to return to their feet when they meet at the Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday evening.
RSL’s stunning loss to D.C. United in the U.S. Open Cup opened previous wounds of the team’s inability to execute in a final, while FC Dallas lost its third straight game, this time at home to the Crew, 4-2. RSL are still firmly in the playoff picture and can clinch a berth in the playoffs with a win in Texas, but for FC Dallas, a loss would likely mean they are out of the postseason conversation.
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (Saturday, 10pm, NBC Sports Network)
The Sounders will play in front of a national television audience for the fifth consecutive week when they visit the Rapids on Saturday.
Sigi Schmid’s team feels that they should have defeated the Red Bulls last Sunday and Clint Dempsey’s status is still day-to-day as he comes back from a hamstring injury. Djimi Traore has been ruled out and Leo Gonzalez is likely to miss the match too. The Rapids are well rested after having last week off and are as healthy as they’ve been all season.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY vs. CHIVAS USA (Sunday, 5pm, UniMas)
With Chivas USA already eliminated from playoff contention, there isn’t as much of a buzz around the final SuperClasico of the 2013 season.
The Galaxy are still without A.J. DeLaGarza but Robbie Rogers has returned to training after a hamstring injury and illness, while Landon Donovan’s ankle sprain continues to improve. Bruce Arena’s side is hoping to exit a four-match winless streak with a win on Sunday. Osvaldo Mina misses the match for Chivas USA due to yellow card accumulation.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS (Sunday, 8pm, MLS Live)
The Whitecaps play the first of two late-season Cascadia Cup matches when they host the streaking Timbers at BC Place on Saturday.
After a midseason slump, Caleb Porter’s side have won three of their last four with new acquisition Maxi Urruti scoring in a victory against the LA Galaxy. On the other side, the Whitecaps haven’t won at home in three games, and have won just once since August 10. The teams played to draws in their first two meetings this season.