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MLS Week 34: Complete Schedule and 5 Things to Watch for This Weekend

Eduardo MendezCorrespondent IIOctober 17, 2013

MLS Week 34: Complete Schedule and 5 Things to Watch for This Weekend

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    Real Salt Lake stares down their destiny in Week 34.
    Real Salt Lake stares down their destiny in Week 34.Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Playoff-clinching scenarios will be the story to watch in MLS Week 34, 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 34?

    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?Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Before we delve into the featured storylines for this weekend's action, here is the complete schedule and guide for Week 34. The result from Wednesday's match is posted as well.

    Chivas USA are idle.

     

    Wednesday

    Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 Montreal Impact

     

    Friday

    Sporting Kansas City vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

     

    Saturday

    Montreal Impact vs. Philadelphia Union, 2 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC

    Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 6 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

    Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live

     

    Sunday

    Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m. ET, UniMas

    Los Angeles Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Story to Watch: Playoff-Clinching Scenarios

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    Who joins Sporting Kansas City and New York in Week 34?
    Who joins Sporting Kansas City and New York in Week 34?Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    The Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City have already punched their ticket to the postseason. But who will join them after the weekend?

    The playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 34 are posted below.

     

    Houston will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if the club defeats the Red Bulls on Saturday and either of the following occurs:

    • The Fire lose or draw with Toronto FC on Saturday
    • The Revolution lose or draw with the Crew on Saturday

     

    Montreal will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if:

    • The club defeats the Union on Saturday
    • The Revolution lose or draw with the Crew on Saturday

     

    The Fire will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if:

    • The club defeats Toronto FC on Saturday
    • The Impact defeat the Union on Saturday
    • The Revolution lose or draw with the Crew on Saturday

     

    The Portland Timbers will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if either of the following occurs:

    • The club defeats or draws with Real Salt Lake on Saturday
    • The Earthquakes lose or draw with the Galaxy on Sunday
    • The Rapids lose or draw with the Whitecaps on Saturday

     

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

    • The club defeats the Timbers on Saturday

     

    Real Salt Lake can also clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if the club draws with the Timbers on Saturday and either of the following occurs:

    • The Rapids lose or draw with the Whitecaps on Saturday
    • The Earthquakes lose or draw with the Galaxy on Sunday

     

    The third and final clinching scenario for Real Salt Lake is as follows:

    • The Rapids defeat the Whitecaps on Saturday
    • The Galaxy defeat the Earthquakes on Sunday

      

    The Sounders will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs if:

    • The club defeats FC Dallas on Saturday

     

    The Sounders can also clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if the club draws with FC Dallas on Saturday and either of the following occurs:

    • The Rapids lose or draw with the Whitecaps on Saturday
    • The Earthquakes lose or draw with the Galaxy on Sunday

     

    The third and final clinching scenario for the Sounders is as follows:

    • The Rapids defeat the Whitecaps on Saturday
    • The Galaxy defeat the Earthquakes on Sunday

     

    The Rapids will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs if:

    • The club defeats the Whitecaps on Saturday
    • The Galaxy defeat the Earthquakes on Sunday

     

    The Galaxy will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoffs if:

    • The club defeats the Earthquakes on Sunday

     

    The Galaxy can also clinch a berth in the MLS Cup playoff if either of the following occurs:

    • The club draws with the Earthquakes on Sunday
    • The Rapids fall to the Whitecaps on Saturday

The Number to Watch: 3

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    Another loss and head coach Sigi Schmid might be pulling that hair.
    Another loss and head coach Sigi Schmid might be pulling that hair.Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Okay, so maybe the third time's the charm.

    The Sounders have been one win away from clinching a playoff berth in the Western Conference for the past two weeks. How did the club choose to respond? 

    By being shellacked by a combined score of 5-1. 

    Ironically enough, that's the same scoreline Seattle suffered at the hands of the Rapids in Week 32.

    But that cannot be dwelled on entering Week 34. A trip to Frisco, Texas presents the Sounders with the opportunity to finish the task at hand. FC Dallas has already been eliminated from playoff contention and boast just three wins since Week 11.

    Opportunity is knocking, Seattle.

    Eventually, you're going to have to answer.

The Player to Watch: #DiVaio2014

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    Enjoy watching him now.

    There's no telling how much longer you will...never mind.

    That was the uneasy lede in our Week 29 preview. No more need to fret, Montreal. There's an official timetable for Marco Di Vaio's playing career, and it extends beyond this season. The Impact confirmed on Tuesday that their 37-year-old striker will return in 2014. The club exercised its option on Di Vaio. The Italian agreed to return.

    Di Vaio expressed his pleasure with the decision via a club statement.

    Olivier Tremblay has the story on MLS' official website:

    I am very pleased to be back with the Impact in 2014. After discussions with my family, it was clear that I wanted to keep playing and I am happy to be in Montreal for another season.

    In his first full season in Montreal, Di Vaio has made the most of his league-leading 19 goals.

    But his club enters Week 34 in dire straits.

    A five-match winless streak was extended Wednesday night following a 1-0 loss to the Galaxy. Montreal has dropped five of its last six and is in danger of finally dropping below the red line in the Eastern Conference.

    Get ready to carry an entire city, Marco.

    That scoring touch you're synonymous with is being called upon.

The Club to Watch: The New York Red Bulls

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    One at a time, New York. One win at a time.
    One at a time, New York. One win at a time.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Destiny.

    The word carries a different connotation when it's actually in your own hands.

    The Red Bulls enter Week 34 with a playoff berth and 53 points. There are no more games in hand to fear. There is no deficit to overcome. The only competition left standing is the tropyhless reflection in the mirror. 

    New York finally controls its own destiny.

    Normally, that very notion would strike the fear of God into the hearts of every New Yorker. Especially after religiously falling victim to comical occurrences in the playoffs year after year. Even Kenny Cooper was subjected to his own "That's so Metro" moment in 2012.

    But according to Franco Panizo on the club's official website, head coach Mike Petke believes he has finally impacted the losing culture in New York:

    I don't need to put any more pressure on my players than are already on it. However, I think we have a good mentality this year. I think my players have showed me and the coaching staff a good mentality as far as coming up big at the right times...It comes down to us now. There's not a team that can knock us off our pedestal except for the New York Red Bulls to knock ourselves off, and I think that they're up for the challenge.

    And a challenge it will be.

    The Red Bulls return to BBVA Compass Stadium Sunday afternoon. It only took seven tries, but the club captured its first-ever victory on those hollowed grounds in Week 28.

    Another will be needed if New York hopes to eradicate 18 years of frustration.

The Match to Watch: Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake

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    It's all on the line in Week 34.

    Playoffs. The top spot in the Western Conference. The whole enchilada. 

    Two of the more aesthetically pleasing clubs in MLS will do battle Saturday night. After three epic encounters in August, Portland and Real Salt Lake enter Week 34 ready to wage another chapter of greater importance. Only one point separates the two in the standings. 

    Portland narrowly clings to the Western Conference lead by the slimmest of margins.

    Some demons must be exorcised if the club is to clinch the No. 1 seed this Saturday.

    As Richard Farley points out on Pro Soccer Talk, the Timbers have failed to defeat RSL since 2011. They have but one victory to take solace in after three years and eight competitive matches. Even worse, Portland has conceded 19 goals and boast a minus-nine goal differential.

    But RSL head coach Jason Kreis isn't resting on his laurels in Week 34. The seven-year coach is aware the foundation is being laid for another intense MLS rivalry.

    Scott Pierce reports the story on MLS' official website:

    To play the same opponent in really important matches is what starts rivalries. That's why we're where we are with Seattle after playing them in the playoffs so many times in a row...Really stressful matches that mean something. Somebody taking the lead in the conference at that time or an Open Cup game.

    Both clubs can clinch a playoff berth with a win at JELD-WEN Field this weekend. Both are still in play to capture the Supporters' Shield.

    It's a chase for preeminent glory, but only one will capture it after Week 34.

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