MLS Week 20: Complete Schedule and 5 Things to Watch for This Weekend
The MLS action heats up in Week 20. Unfortunately, that might be too much for some to handle.
After a five-day layoff, the time has come to rededicate your focus to some important MLS fixtures. A total of eight matches are scheduled for this weekend. But with so much action on tap, what warrants your attention?
Read on to find out.
Note: Unless otherwise mentioned, credit all statistics to the official MLS Press Box Stats and Standings.
Complete Schedule and Guide
Before we delve into the featured storylines for this weekend's action, here is the complete schedule and guide for Week 20.
The Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew and DC United are idle.
Philadelphia Union vs. Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
New York Red Bulls vs. Montreal Impact, 7:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake, 9:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 11:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Chicago Fire, 7:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
The Story to Watch: An Exclamation Point on Portland's Week
This has been your week, Portland.
First, the fervent supporters of Soccer City USA put on a breathtaking display Tuesday night. Forget the U.S. men's national team 6-1 scoreline against lowly Belize. There are few American tifo's that resemble the efforts of Borussia Dortmund’s supporters culture.
Then, MLS announced on Wednesday that JELD-WEN Field will host the 2014 All-Star Game. According to the league’s official website, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson ensures the MLS' opposition will be the “biggest global name” to ever play in Portland.
Now, the week-long glare of publicity will culminate in a Western Conference showdown this Saturday.
Neither Portland nor L.A. were able to impact the scoreboard in Week 17. The two played to a scoreless draw at the newly christened StubHub Center.
Don’t expect a similar result this weekend.
The Timbers enter Week 20 with a 1.75 home goal-scoring average. Few home teams can match Portland's offensive prowess. In fact, only five MLS teams boast a higher average.
That doesn't bode well for the Galaxy.
L.A. has conceded 19 road goals this season. Only the Earthquakes—who have conceded 21 goals—have been more inept on the road this year.
If both teams hold to form, expect Portland to put an exclamation point on an already eventful week.
The Number to Watch: 419
It's been a while, Thierry Henry. Well, 419 minutes to be exact.
The French footballer has failed to score in his last 419 minutes of play (stoppage time not included). His final tally came in Week 13 against the Crew. Since then, Henry has gone scoreless in his last nine halves of football.
But a familiar foe visits Red Bull Arena in Week 20.
Henry shared his greatest success of 2013 in New York’s 2-1 victory over Montreal in Week 11. The 35-year-old netted his only brace of the season in spectacular fashion.
The opportunity is there for Henry to have a repeat performance.
Montreal enters Week 20 conceding 8 goals in its last three matches, and the team is experiencing a summer swoon of its own. A three-game winless streak—highlighted by a pair of draws against Toronto FC and Chivas USA—has put a dent in the Impact’s armor.
The time for Henry to lay another crushing blow is now.
The Team to Watch: FC Dallas
Change of seasons, change of fortune.
Before the summer solstice occurred, Dallas found itself atop the Supporters' Shield standings. A blazing 6-1-1 start left the residents of Frisco, Texas optimistic about the club's future.
But Dallas' scorching form has been extinguished in recent weeks.
The Hoops enter Week 20 riding a six-game winless streak. If you further date the team's run of form, Dallas is 1-3-6 in its last 10 games. That one win came against San Jose at home in Week 13.
Just for some perspective, the Earthquakes are averaging a pedestrian 1.05 points per game.
Ten weeks. Nine points. Zero signature wins.
The plot thickens in Week 20.
A visit from Real Salt Lake—the current Supporters' Shield leaders—awaits Dallas on Saturday. Clashes against Montreal, Seattle, L.A. and Portland will follow in consecutive weeks. All five teams have earned a combined 149 points in 2013.
A quick turnaround is of the utmost importance for Dallas.
Should the team wither under the summer heat, another playoff drought could potentially follow.
The Player to Watch: Camilo Sanvezzo
True, Marco Di Vaio and Mike Magee are tied atop the MLS Golden Boot Race. And yes, Jack McInerney is slightly trailing behind with 10 goals this season.
But is there any player riding a better run of form than Camilo Sanvezzo?
Entering Week 20, the Brazilian footballer has already doubled the five goals he scored in 2012. Like Jack McInerney, he too trails the MLS Golden Boot leaders by one goal. But since June 1, Camilo has netted seven of his 10 goals.
That's one less than Magee, McInerney and Di Vaio combined during that same time span.
Very quietly, Camilo has been at forefront of Vancouver's summer revival.
The Whitecaps entered June with just one win in nine matches. Since June 1, the team has responded with a 5-1-1 record. That impressive run culminated in Vancouver’s first-ever Cascadia Cup victory of the MLS era.
Forget the household names; keep your eye on Camilo and the Whitecaps this Sunday.
The Match to Watch: New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo
True, the top four teams in the Western Conference will meet in a pair of epic encounters. But playoff positioning will be on the line at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
The Dynamo currently hold the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 26 points. The Revolution are hot on their heels. The team enters Week 20 just two points behind with 24.
There could be a potential shake up in the Eastern Conference.
Unless, of course, the Dynamo exact their revenge.
In Week 12, the Revolution handed Houston a shocking 2-0 loss at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Both teams were sent down to 10 men after Bobby Boswell and Dimitry Imbongo decided to engage in extracurriculars. It was Boswell who instigated the scuffle with a headbutt inside the area. Imbongo retaliated with a headlock/chin toss that belonged in the squared circle, not the pitch.
Throw in some MLS Cup history, and the stage is set for another wild affair between these two Eastern Conference foes.
Fingers crossed all 22 men walk off the pitch this time.
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