MLS Week 33: Complete Schedule and 5 Things to Watch For This Weekend
Playoff-clinching scenarios will once again be the story to watch in MLS Week 33, but an additional four storylines will complete your weekend preview.
In the coming slides, all four matches scheduled for this week will be covered in great detail. Each match will be dissected from a unique angle to intensify your viewing pleasure.
So, what exactly warrants your attention in Week 33?
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 33. The results from Wednesday night's matches are posted as well.
The New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps and Chivas USA are idle.
Houston Dynamo 0-0 Sporting Kansas City
Seattle Sounders 1-4 Vancouver Whitecaps
San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Colorado Rapids
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 2:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 7 p.m. ET, MLS Live
FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Story to Watch: Playoff-Clinching Scenarios
The Red Bulls have already punched their ticket to the postseason. But who will join them after the weekend?
The playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 33 are posted below.
Sporting Kansas City will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if either of the following occurs:
- The Fire lose or draw with FC Dallas on Saturday
- The Union lose to D.C. United on Saturday
Houston will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if the following occurs:
- The Revolution lose or draw with Montreal on Saturday
- The Fire lose to FC Dallas on Saturday
Seattle will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if:
- The club defeats Portland on Sunday
The Number to Watch: 15?
He was once heralded as the unpolished diamond of American soccer.
His inclusion to the United States men's national team for the 2013 Gold Cup was a stepping stone toward greatness. His 10 goals through the first 17 matches of the season launched him into a midseason MLS MVP discussion. It even landed him at No. 4 in the MLS 24 Under 24 rankings.
Fast forward a few months.
Jack McInerney's praise has far exceeded his play.
This once-glorified youngster has taken a tumbling turn since the 2013 calendar reached June. As the summer heat turned up, McInerney's play turned down. The 21-year-old striker has failed to find the back of the net since his stoppage-time equalizer in Week 14.
That's 14 consecutive scoreless performances, Jack.
Is No. 15 on the horizon?
To make matters worse, McInerney hasn't played a full 90 minutes for the Union since Week 24. No injuries. No international duty. The only thing getting in his way lately is opposing goalkeepers.
Thirty-six attempts. Thirty-six failures.
Philadelphia is desperately clinging to the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If the legends are true and McInerney can indeed score, then a contribution would be welcomed in Week 33. Especially from one of the club's leading goalscorers.
The Player to Watch: Kenny Cooper
This hasn't been a dream season for striker Kenny Cooper.
After being acquired in the offseason, the 28-year-old returned to the scene that saw him capture 40 goals in 86 starts. Those red Hoops benefited from a productive four years (2006-09). But it's been an entirely different story in 2013.
Cooper has just four goals in 17 starts this season.
The fact that he's failed to make a start since Week 21 doesn't help, either. But opportunity knocks for the Baltimore-born striker in Week 33.
Panamanian forward Blas Perez is currently away on international duty. With a club desperate to stave off a season-ending blow, the opportunity is there for Cooper to build on his Week 32 equalizer. It's an opportunity the 6'3" striker is relishing.
Daniel Robertson has his comments on the club's official website:
I'm really hungry to be out there, the games are really important and I'm sure everyone feels the same way and wants to be out there on the field.
Just how important is Saturday's clash for Dallas?
Win, and the bleak playoff hope continues. Lose or tie, and start preparing for 2014. The Hoops will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention if they fail to capture three points against the visiting Fire this Saturday.
Get ready to carry an entire city, Kenny.
That scoring touch you're synonymous with will be needed once more.
The Club to Watch: The Montreal Impact
Careful, Montreal. You're teetering on a potential collapse for the ages.
True, the Impact enter Week 33 with a reasonably comfortable 46 points. The total is just enough to keep the Canadian club three points above the dreaded red line in the Eastern Conference. But recent form has heightened the intensity for Montreal down the stretch.
The club has only captured one point in its last four matches.
Fortunately for the Impact, a reinforcement is on the way.
As reported by Olivier Tremblay, the Argentinian is ready to lace his boots:
I'd just arrived, I had four, five games where I felt good physically, so it hurt not only physically, but mentally as well. It's a shame, but it's behind me now and I'm glad to be back with the team.
Bernardello will be a welcomed addition for a struggling side. The statisticians at WhoScored calculated the 27-year-old's passing accuracy at 85.5 percent and praise his tendency to play the ball on the ground often.
The Impact will need every bit of that consistency when the Revolution visit Saputo Stadium this Saturday.
The Match to Watch: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders
Seattle Sounders. Portland Timbers. Round three. Fight.
Get ready for another Cascadia clash in Week 33. This time, the city of Portland will serve as the backdrop for the most intense rivalry in MLS.
For Seattle, Sunday night's clash with the Timbers will be the club's third opportunity to clinch a playoff berth in the Western Conference. The Sounders have failed miserably in their previous two attempts, being out scored 9-2 in the process.
Is the pressure getting to the Sounders?
After a crushing 4-1 loss at home, defender Djimi Traore thinks so. Jeremiah Oshan has his comments on MLS' official website:
I don't know, maybe it's the pressure of the end of the season, the playoffs, the first time the club is in position to win the shield. It's not easy to deal with it. But now we need to show some character and as experienced players we need to step up and drive the team.
Step up or be stepped on, Seattle.
The Timbers smell blood...and opportunity is knocking at their door.
Portland sits just two points behind Real Salt Lake for the top spot in the West. A pivotal three points would launch the moss-green club to the top of the conference with just two matches remaining.
Both clubs chase preeminent glory.
But only one will capture it after Week 33.
Three match notes to consider:
- This is the third and final match between the two clubs. The two played to a 1-1 draw in Week 3. The Sounders captured a 1-0 victory in Week 26.
- Both clubs are missing key contributors due to international duty. The Timbers are without Rodney Wallace, Ryan Johnson and Alvas Powell. Seattle is without Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans.
- Sounders defender Zach Scott is still serving a suspension due to a red card and yellow-card accumulation.
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