MLS Week 32: Complete Schedule and 5 Things to Watch For This Weekend

Eduardo MendezCorrespondent IIOctober 3, 2013

MLS Week 32: Complete Schedule and 5 Things to Watch For This Weekend

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    The New York Red Bulls will have plenty more to celebrate with a win in Week 32.
    The New York Red Bulls will have plenty more to celebrate with a win in Week 32.Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    Playoff-clinching scenarios will be the story to watch in MLS Week 32, but an additional four storylines will complete your weekend preview.

    In the coming slides, a majority of the nine matches scheduled for this week will be covered in great detail. Each match selected will be dissected from a unique angle to intensify your viewing pleasure.

    So, what exactly warrants your attention in Week 32?

    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

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    Which match will you—the fan—be watching this weekend?
    Which match will you—the fan—be watching this weekend?Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

    Before we delve into the featured storylines for this weekend's action, here is the complete schedule and guide for Week 32. 

    The San Jose Earthquakes are idle.

     

    Friday

    Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

    Houston Dynamo vs. Montreal Impact, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

     

    Saturday

    New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas, 9 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders, 10 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

     

    Sunday

    Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chivas USA, 5 p.m. ET, UniMas

    Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers, 8 p.m. ET, MLS Live

The Story to Watch: Who Will Be the First to Clinch a Playoff Berth?

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    Will the fans at Rio Tinto Stadium finally have something to celebrate Saturday night?
    Will the fans at Rio Tinto Stadium finally have something to celebrate Saturday night?Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Four weeks remain in the season, but the playoff push is already set to end for some conference powers. 

    Entering Week 32, as many as four clubs can clinch a playoff berth. New York, Seattle and Real Salt Lake all control their own destiny. Sporting Kansas City is in need of some additional help, but all four can punch their ticket to the postseason this weekend.

    The Red Bulls have an alternate scenario should they falter at Red Bull Arena.

    The clinching scenarios for all four clubs are posted below.

     

    New York will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs if:

    • The club defeats or draws with New England on Saturday

     

    New York can also clinch a berth if all three of the following occur:

    • The club falls to New England on Saturday 
    • The Fire lose or draw with D.C. United on Friday 
    • The Union lose or draw with Toronto FC on Saturday

     

    Sporting Kansas City will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs if:

    • The club defeats Columbus on Saturday

    And two of the following three occur:

    • The Revolution lose or draw with the Red Bulls on Saturday
    • The Fire lose or draw with D.C. United on Friday
    • The Union lose to Toronto FC on Saturday

     

    Seattle will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs if:

    • The club defeats Colorado on Saturday

     

    Real Salt Lake will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs if:

    • The club defeats FC Dallas on Saturday

The Number to Watch: 22

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    Where was this form during the MLS regular season?
    Where was this form during the MLS regular season?Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

    Congratulations to D.C. United.

    Despite a pitiful 2013 campaign, the club managed to capture another piece of hardware on Tuesday. A staggering 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake brought the U.S. Open Cup back to D.C. for a third time.

    As reported by Joe Beatty on MLS' official website, head coach Ben Olsen believes United's cup form can transfer to the end of the season:

    We took the Open Cup extremely seriously from the first game. Each game, our belief in the Open Cup grew. The size of the game helped us focus. Some of the guys who have a tough time focusing when it doesn't matter really did what they needed to do. If we [had lost] this one, it's back to the drawing board. Now we have a new energy about us to finish the season in the right way and look forward.

    It's tough to rain on a parade, but the season better end "the right way."

    Trophy or not, DCU is in danger of becoming the new putrid benchmark in MLS.

    Since 2000—the first year MLS opted to do away with the nonsensical shootout that plagued its reputation—no club has lost more than 22 games in a single season. Both Real Salt Lake (5-22-5) and Chivas USA (4-22-6) had the honor of carrying that dubious distinction in 2005. D.C. came close to matching it in 2010, but the club managed to escape with whatever shred of dignity a 6-20-4 record can carry.

    The Black and Red are challenging that benchmark once more.

    DCU enters Week 32 with 21 losses (3-21-6). Another defeat on Friday would see them join both RSL and Chivas in the pantheon of dreadful football. It'll take four consecutive victories to avoid that achievement.

    But should United fail, they can take solace in this fact: MLS doesn't relegate the woeful.

    If only Wigan Athletic were so lucky.

The Player to Watch: Boniek Garcia

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    Nobody puts in work like Boniek Garcia.
    Nobody puts in work like Boniek Garcia.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    It's not difficult in the modern game to statistically measure the value of a footballer. Especially when the statisticians at WhoScored provide enough data to corroborate performances worthy of high praise.

    This week, the site will assist in the praising of Oscar Boniek Garcia.

    The 2012 Latino del Ano—as voted by the fans on the league's official website—has continued his ascendancy over MLS competition in 2013. True, his goals and assists this season are slightly below his first-year average.

    But you have to look beyond the scoreline to find Garcia's value for the Dynamo.

    With a box-to-box prowess, the Honduran has averaged 3.1 tackles in his 18 appearances this year. That total is the highest of any attacking midfielder in the league. Offensively, Garcia's 2.8 key passes per match is enough to land him in the top four among all footballers in MLS.

    Impressive as that is, his performance has picked up of late.

    In his last two starts, Garcia has two goals and an assist. It's no coincidence the Dynamo have collected four points during that stretch. Under the ascendancy of the 29-year-old midfielder, Houston will look to collect three more in Week 32.

    That task comes Friday when the Impact visit BBVA Compass Stadium.

The Club to Watch: The Columbus Crew

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    The Crew have been soaring under their new regime.
    The Crew have been soaring under their new regime.Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Is this the club no one wants to face?

    Since the firing of head coach Robert Warzycha, the Crew have won four of their last five matches. Three of those victories have come against serious playoff contenders in the East (Houston, Montreal and Chicago).

    Thanks to some scorching performances on the pitch, the club has surged in the standings

    Columbus enters Week 32 within a point of the red line in the Eastern Conference.

    For three consecutive weeks, Dominic Oduro has successfully torched opposing defenses. The Ghanian's three goals in as many matches has propelled him to a club-best 12 goals this season. With three matches remaining, Oduro has the opportunity to surpass the career-high total he posted with Chicago in 2011 (12).

    But don't sleep on Federico Higuain, either.

    The Argentine has scored in consecutive matches, pushing his season total to 11 goals. Three of his club-best nine assists have come during Columbus' current three-match winning streak. His recent performance has entered his name into the MLS MVP discussion.

    But much like Mike Magee, that award will be contingent on a playoff appearance.

    Higuain and company can push toward that goal with a victory over Kansas City this Saturday.

The Match to Watch: Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders

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    With so much on the line, expect the playoff intensity to ratchet up another level when Seattle visits Colorado.
    With so much on the line, expect the playoff intensity to ratchet up another level when Seattle visits Colorado.Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

    Seattle and Colorado enter Week 32 on opposite ends of the spectrum. 

    One point carries a weighted significance for both clubs, but for entirely different reasons.

    The Rapids enter the weekend holding a one-point cushion for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Hot on their heels are the surging Earthquakes. But with a game in hand, the opportunity is there for Colorado to extend its playoff cushion. 

    Saturday's clash with the Sounders is that game in hand.

    A midweek visit to San Jose is scheduled for Week 33. A loss or draw this Saturday would put Colorado in very precarious position. The club can tumble below the dreaded red line in an instant if the next two results end up in the wrong column. 

    Seattle, on the other hand, sees the significant point under a different light.

    With a pair of games in hand, the Sounders are in search of the top spot in the Supporters' Shield race. The club had the opportunity to claim it, but a 1-1 draw with the Red Bulls kept the New York club atop another week.

    A result is of the utmost importance if Seattle hopes to keep pace with the Eastern Conference power.

    One club chases glory. The other, survival.

    But only one will continue the chase unscathed after Week 32.

     

    Three match notes to consider:

    • This will be the third and final matchup between the two clubs. Seattle captured a 1-0 victory in Week 8. The two played to a 1-1 draw in Week 21.
    • As reported by Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times, Clint Dempsey (hamstring) did not travel with the club.
    • Two members of the Rapids are in danger of a suspension entering the weekend. Shane O'Neill and Dillon Powers will face a one-match ban if they are cautioned on Saturday.

     

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