Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – Vancouver looking to win conference as playoff race heats up

Western Conference Predictions: MLS Week 32 – The playoff race in the Western Conference is set to go down to the wire. The Vancouver Whitecaps lead Sporting Kansas City by three points heading into what should be an action-packed Week 32. Ten of the eleven Western Conference sides play each other, while Portland host DC United in the only inter-conference matchup of the weekend.

All of this week’s games involving sides from the West will kickoff at the same time on Sunday night at 19:30 ET (00:30 BST). So you can guarantee there will be drama as some teams look to nail down playoff berths, and others are fighting to keep their dreams alive. Read on for all of this weekend’s Western Conference predictions: MLS week 32 should be a good one…

Colorado Rapids 1-1 Real Salt Lake

This late-season Rocky Mountain Cup clash is a big deal. Real Salt Lake are still fighting to get into the playoffs with two games to go. But they must travel to the home of their fiercest rival in MLS. The Rapids’ playoffs hopes have been over for some time but they would love nothing more than to ruin RSL’s season on Sunday night. Real Salt Lake, though, have only lost one of their last six. A loss would likely spell the end to their season, depending on other results, so they must avoid defeat.

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 Houston Dynamo

These two meet for the second time in five days on Sunday. The Dynamo prevented SKC going joint-top of the West with Wednesday night’s 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium. They gave their own playoffs hopes a huge boost with that win and will be looking to take at least one more point off of SKC here. Sporting KC haven’t yet secured a playoff berth, despite sitting second with two games to go. A victory would solve that issue, but the absence of goalkeeper Tim Melia could be significant.

LA Galaxy 2-3 Minnesota United

Few people would have thought LA Galaxy would be coming into the penultimate weekend of the season seven points behind Minnesota United. But the problems in LA this season have left them with a year to forget. They will want to avoid finishing dead last in the West and need to try and end the season on a high. But Minnesota are in fairly good form, having only lost one of their last five. They beat Atlanta United in their latest road trip and could add to LA’s misery on Sunday.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 FC Dallas

Both these sides come into the weekend in playoff spots, but know a defeat on Sunday could put them in real trouble. Seattle have two home games remaining. They sit fourth and could still finish the season with a Knockout Round bye. FC Dallas are in a much more precarious position. They are only a point above RSL and San Jose in the final playoff spot and can’t really afford to drop any points. Head coach Oscar Pareja has called this game “the season”, and he’s not wrong. But they aren’t in good form and have lost four-straight games at CenturyLink Field.

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes

The Whitecaps are the only Western Conference side to have sealed a playoff berth with 180 minutes of football to go. That’s quite incredible but also testament to their consistency this season. They can guarantee a Knockout Round bye with a home win agains San Jose on Sunday. But the visitors are fighting for their lives too. The Quakes beat Portland last time out to keep their top six hopes intact. But they still need to overtake RSL and Dallas to seal a playoff spot. Vancouver are a real force at home and should prove too much for San Jose.

Portland Timbers 3-0 DC United

Portland missed the chance to seal their playoff spot when they fell 2-1 at San Jose last time out. That result also saw them drop out of the top two. They do now have two home games to finish the season though and will expect to beat DC on Sunday. The Eastern Conference playoff race is over and DC United won’t be playing postseason football. They’ll still want to show some fight but the fact is they will finish bottom of the East after a poor season. Don’t expect them to spoil things in Portland.

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Returning Timbers star thrilled with midweek win over DC

Portland Timbers star Will Johnson was left satisfied with their 1-0 win over DC United on Wednesday night. The Portland star returned after a long time out injured with a broken leg and is now looking to push on following Wednesday’s victory.

Johnson was quick to point out his satisfaction that the Timbers picked up the three points and was even more happy to be back: “Yeah that part was awesome, really really good,” Johnson told The Oregonian.

“I wasn’t always sure it was going to happen. This was a really big game for us, and I tried to play down that it was about me.”

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Johnson was quick to point out that the result was more important than his comeback, but you can’t help but realise that Johnson’s presence directly affected the result. After a long time out, Johnson is back and ready to kick on.

“There’s no setbacks, no muscle injuries, no nothing like that. It’s just wear and tear at this point.”

The win ended a run of only one in five and they are now just two points off the playoffs, a position Johnson thinks is vital.

“Huge, the only thing that matters tonight is not me, it’s three points for this club, we needed it badly to get going in the right direction quickly. We spoke a lot about urgency this week.”

Can Portland Timbers finally find form now that Will Johnson has returned?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Portland Timbers vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers vs. DC United 

Venue: Providence Park – Wednesday, May 27 – 22:30 ET (03:30 BST)

Match Odds: Portland Timbers 8/11 – Draw 5/2 – DC United 4/1

Match Preview

Portland Timbers welcome MLS Supporters’ Shield leaders DC United to Providence Park on Wednesday night as they look to move away from the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

Portland have had a mediocre start to 2015 in Major League Soccer and have only won one of their last five, and with only one win at home all season, the Timbers are struggling to find a run of form.

However, Portland have won their last two against DC and will want to make it three in a row in Wednesday night’s meeting.

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Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Toronto was Portland’s second on the bounce and they need to try and get points from this one before the weekend’s trip to Colorado.

Portland Timbers’ record this season: P12 – W3 – D4 – L5

DC United have been the opposite of Portland and have been impressively resolute to remain at the top of the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings after 12 weeks.

Only losing once in their last ten, DC have been good value for their current position, and integral to their success is their defensive performances as they have only conceded ten in their 12 matches so far.

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However, their away form has been somewhat a hindrance to their potential as their last win away from RFK Stadium came in April.

DC United’s record this season: P12 – W6 – D4 – L2

They will look to leave Providence Park with maximum points on Wednesday night ahead of the weekend clash with Philadelphia Union at home.

Team News

Portland Timbers are without Ben Zemanski, who is still out with a knee injury, while Will Johnson and Diego Valeri are both doubts as they are still carrying minor injuries. Gaston Fernandez is expected to deputise for Valeri should he miss out with an ankle injury picked up in Saturday’s loss to Toronto.

DC United are without Eddie Johnson, Fabian Espindola, Collin Martin, Luis Silva and Nick DeLeon all though injury. Jairo Arrieta should start after scoring from the bench against New England Revolution. However, Ben Olsen could revert back to 4-4-2 and start Chris Pontius and Conor Doyle upfront as he will look to keep his squad fresh with another game this weekend.

Key Points

Portland’s last five: L/D/W/L/L

DC’s last five: W/D/W/L/D

Key Stat: Portland have not lost to DC United since May 2011 in a 3-2 loss at home.

Key Player: Bill Hamid – USMNT ‘keeper Hamid is crucial to DC’s MLS Cup hopes and will be influential in keeping out Portland on Wednesday night.

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Score Prediction

Portland Timbers 0-1 DC United – DC are too strong to lose to Portland side struggling for form, and the Timbers will find it hard to break them down in what should be a tight affair.