Pictured: LAFC fans celebrate an LAFC goal. Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea (USA Today / IMAGN).
With just two weeks remaining in the 2022 MLS regular season, Week 33’s matchups will have a critical impact on the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs picture for more than half of the league’s teams. Eight positions in the postseason remain up for grabs, with 15 still in contention for a coveted spot.In the Eastern Conference, six teams either sit in playoff position or within three points of the playoff line, including the defending MLS Cup champions New York City FC (49 points, 14-11-7), which are in position to clinch a postseason berth this week. FC Cincinnati (45 points, 11-8-12), which play two matches this week, look to continue their terrific turnaround campaign by securing the first playoff position in club history, while expansion side Charlotte FC (38 points, 12-17-2) aim to stay alive in the race to the postseason.In the Western Conference, seven teams remain in contention for the final four playoff spots, , including five teams who advanced to the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, as well as Nashville SC who earned an Eastern Conference playoff berth in 2021. Nashville SC (47 points, 12-9-11), led by Landon Donovan MLS MVP frontrunner Hany Mukhtar, looks to lock up a spot in the postseason as they take on Houston Dynamo FC at GEODIS Park on Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE on ESPN+). The Portland Timbers (46 points, 11-8-13), who advanced to last year’s MLS Cup, can take one step closer to the postseason with a result over LAFC on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN Deportes).With each of the weekend’s 14 matches carrying postseason implications via clinching, elimination, or seeding, excitement abounds at the MLS season races towards the finish.
LAFC On the Brink of Supporters’ Shield Title
As a stellar regular season comes to a close, the Los Angeles Football Club (64 points, 20-8-4) sits on the brink of history, as the club can secure its second Supporters’ Shield title in four seasons in Week 33. LAFC would earn the title of the league’s best regular season club in 2022 with a victory over the Portland Timbers on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN Deportes) combined with a Philadelphia Union loss at Charlotte FC on Saturday (5:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE on ESPN+). LAFC look to punctuate one of the best regular seasons in league history, as the club sits on the verge of winning with the Supporters’ Shield and joining some of the top teams in league annals. With victories in each of their last two matches, LAFC would tie the 2018 New York Red Bulls and the 2021 New England Revolution for the most wins (22) in non-shoot-out seasons in MLS history and would propel the club to become just the fourth different team in MLS history to produce at least 70 points in a single season. A Supporters’ Shield title would be the club’s first since 2019 and would make LAFC only the sixth club in league annals to record multiple Supporters’ Shields, alongside the LA Galaxy (four), D.C. United (four), Columbus Crew (three), New York Red Bulls (three), and San Jose Earthquakes (two).Will LAFC continue their historic run this weekend or will Philadelphia keep the race for the Supporters’ Shield open until Decision Day?
Teams on Major Streaks Fight Their Way into Postseason Contention
With spots in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs available for the taking, three clubs – FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC, and the Portland Timbers – have produced impressive and clutch unbeaten streaks in recent weeks. All three clubs aim to further cement their place in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs race if their undefeated runs continue this week.
- Searching for their first-ever postseason berth, FC Cincinnati has not lost since July 17, posting a club-record 10-game unbeaten streak(4-0-6). First-year head coach Pat Noonan leads the club into a crucial week with a Tuesday night trip to face Seattle Sounders FC (10 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE on ESPN+) at Lumen Field, followed by a home contest against Chicago Fire FC on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE on ESPN+). If Cincinnati earns positive results, they will have an opportunity to punch their postseason tickets.
- With the Western Conference playoff picture fluctuating weekly, Nashville SC rose to the occasion, winning four of their last six games without a defeat. Landon Donovan MLS MVP candidate Hany Mukhtar has seven goals in his last four starts and the club looks to lock up a playoff spot on Sunday against Houston Dynamo FC (8:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE on ESPN+).
- The Portland Timbers are on another late-season surge with wins in four of their past five contests – all by a one-goal margin. The Timbers are eyeing their sixth consecutive postseason appearance but will have to take down Supporters’ Shield leaders LAFC on Sunday at Providence Park (3 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN Deportes) to do so.