MLS Week 33: A Look Ahead

MLS Week 33: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 33: A Look Ahead

May 13, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) moves the ball past Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti (10) during the second half of an Amway Canadian Championship game at BMO Field. Toronto won 3-2 but Montreal advances on aggregate score. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports

The final two weeks of the MLS regular season are upon us, but there are still a few playoff spots up for grabs.

The fiercest playoff race is in the Western Conference with FC Dallas hosting the Seattle Sounders, while the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers will kick off at the same time. FCD and the Rapids are both fighting for the Supporters’ Shield, while the Sounders and Timbers are battling for one of the final postseason berths.

Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake are also in the thick of the fight in the West. RSL is currently level with the Sounders in fourth place, but SKC is only two points above the Timbers for the sixth and final postseason spot in the conference.

Like the West, the Eastern Conference still has three spots left to be determined. The Montreal Impact will host Toronto FC in an effort to clinch a berth, but it won’t be easy as Sebastian Giovinco is set to return this weekend.

The New England Revolution, three points adrift of the top six, face the lowly Chicago Fire as they try to chase down the Philadelphia Union, who square off with Orlando City. D.C. United could wrap up a berth, but will need to defeat New York City FC. NYCFC is currently tied for the top spot in the East with the New York Red Bulls.

Here is a closer look at the action in Week 33.

CHICAGO FIRE VS. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (SUNDAY, 3 P.M., MLS LIVE)

It is now or never for the New England Revolution.

The Revolution are three points away from a playoff spot, but dropping points would eliminate them from contention depending on other results in the Eastern Conference. The Revs are 2-9-5 on the road, but the bottom-dwelling Chicago Fire own one of MLS’ worst home records. New England has been boosted with the return of Juan Agudelo from U.S. Men’s National Team duty, plus Gershon Koffie and Jose Goncalves returned to training this week.

D.C. UNITED VS. NEW YORK CITY FC (SUNDAY, 3 P.M., MLS LIVE)

The playoffs are within reach for D.C. United, as is the Eastern Conference’s top seed for New York City FC.

D.C. appeared to be down and out a little over two months ago, but the Black and Red have only lost one of their past 12 league games. The only team to defeat United during this run is NYCFC, which won, 3-2, at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 1. This match is at RFK Stadium, but Patrick Vieira’s side has seven road victories, more than any other club. Frank Lampard is the only big injury concern for the visitors, while D.C. is still missing defender Sean Franklin.

MONTREAL IMPACT VS. TORONTO FC (SUNDAY, 3 P.M., ESPN)

The all-Canadian clash between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC is one of the most important rivalry matches in recent memory.

Despite Montreal’s lackluster form in September, a win could pull the hosts to within two points of Toronto heading into the final round of the regular season. The Impact have won back-to-back games, while TFC has just one win in its past six matches. The Reds are two points away from claiming a first-round bye to begin the playoffs, and the imminent return of Sebastian Giovinco would surely boost their chances this weekend.

NEW YORK RED BULLS VS. COLUMBUS CREW (SUNDAY 3 P.M., MLS LIVE)

The New York Red Bulls would love nothing more than to pip New York City FC to the Eastern Conference’s top seed.

The defending Supporters’ Shield winners have a tremendous opportunity to top the East at home versus the Columbus Crew on Sunday afternoon. The Red Bulls are unbeaten since July and have won back-to-back matches in MLS. Another win would virtually secure first place in the conference depending on NYCFC’s result against D.C. United. Defender Ronald Zubar returned to training and should be available this weekend, which is a big boost ahead of the postseason.

PHILADELPHIA UNION VS. ORLANDO CITY (SUNDAY, 3 P.M., MLS LIVE)

It is a simple objective for the Philadelphia Union this weekend: win and in.

A win will practically guarantee a playoff spot for the Union, even if the New England Revolution are victorious in their game. Orlando City is eliminated from playoff contention, Philadelphia is hosting, so it has a great opportunity this weekend. The downside is the hosts are winless in five straight games. With the New York Red Bulls looming next week, it might be now or never for Jim Curtin’s side. Alejandro Bedoya and Ilsinho are both questionable with injuries, but have participated in training.

FC DALLAS VS. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (SUNDAY, 5 P.M., MLS LIVE)

Few games are as important as the one at Toyota Stadium this Sunday.

FC Dallas is being chased by the Colorado Rapids for the Supporters’ Shield, while the Seattle Sounders are trying to solidify a playoff spot. They have a four-point advantage over the Portland Timbers, but winning in Texas will be a difficult task. Dallas has lost just once at home all year long and the Sounders have been less-than-impressive in warmer climates.

HOUSTON DYNAMO VS. LA GALAXY (SUNDAY, 5 P.M., MLS LIVE)

The LA Galaxy have their playoff spot wrapped up. However, they can clinch a home playoff game with a win over the Houston Dynamo.

The Galaxy cannot finish any higher than third place after the Colorado Rapids clinched a first-round bye. LA will be sweating on the fitness of Giovani dos Santos, who returned from international duty with Mexico. Steven Gerrard is still out, so if dos Santos is ruled out, Bruce Arena will have a selection headache.

PORTLAND TIMBERS VS. COLORADO RAPIDS (SUNDAY, 5 P.M., ESPN)

The second of two nationally televised games on ESPN is as crucial as it gets for a pair of Western Conference contenders.

The Portland Timbers welcome the Colorado Rapids to Providence Park with plenty on the line. The Rapids are two points adrift of league leaders FC Dallas, but Portland is on life support. The Timbers are two points below the top six in the Western Conference and could miss out on the playoffs entirely. The MLS Cup champions are 11-3-2 at home and will be hoping to avenge the 1-0 defeat to Colorado on Oct. 1.

REAL SALT LAKE VS. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (SUNDAY, 5 P.M., MLS LIVE)

Sporting Kansas City could determine its fate this weekend, but they will have to top a fellow Western Conference contender.

A victory for Sporting over Real Salt Lake would lift it over the Claret and Cobalt by one point entering the final weekend. A loss and a Portland Timbers would bump SKC out of the top six. Lawrence Olum and Chance Myers are still injured, as is Aaron Maund for RSL. Sporting KC has won one of its past five matches, while the hosts are winless in five straight games.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES VS. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (SUNDAY, 5 P.M., MLS LIVE)

The only match without any playoff implications is the San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps.

There is still one reason to watch this game, though. Fifteen-year-old Alphonso Davies has been turning heads all over the world, including Manchester United’s. He dazzled fans in Vancouver’s 2-1 loss against the Seattle Sounders and will be the one to watch this weekend if he plays. Whitecaps FC II have a conference final on Saturday night on the road, and it’s highly likely that the teenager will feature in that match.

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