For most, Week 33 was about creating momentum heading into Decision Day this upcoming Sunday. LAFC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC passed that test with flying colors, allowing for leading roles on the latest Team of the Week presented by Audi.
LAFC have the 2022 Supporters’ Shield locked up after a 2-1 win at the Portland Timbers, with forward Dénis Bouanga’s 95th-minute goal (his first in MLS) bringing home the regular-season prize. First-year head coach Steve Cherundolo leads the TOTW group, with LAFC able to hit the 70-point mark on Decision Day when hosting Nashville SC.
Vancouver, thanks to a 2-0 win over Austin FC, now have a win-and-you’re-in situation at Minnesota United FC on Decision Day. To get a third straight victory, midfielder Ryan Gauld had 1g/1a and goalkeeper Thomas Hasal posted a five-save shutout.
Chicago Fire FC are already eliminated from Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs contention, but they aren’t going out quietly after blitzing FC Cincinnati for a 3-2 win. Homegrown midfielder Brian Gutiérrez had one goal and two assists, while striker Jhon Durán bagged his third brace of the year – two sterling showings from their teenage attackers.
Charlotte FC striker Daniel Ríos and Houston Dynamo FC striker Sebastián Ferreira join Durán up top in the 3-4-3 formation. Ríos had an astounding four goals in a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Union that helped deny the Eastern Conference leaders a chance at the Supporters’ Shield, while Ferreira’s brace in a 2-1 win at Nashville spoiled news of the hosts’ third-straight playoff berth.
The last wide midfield spot belongs to Columbus Crew’s Derrick Etienne Jr., who came off the bench to score twice in a 2-1 comeback victory over the New York Red Bulls, reigniting playoff hopes. He became the fourth player in MLS history to score a game-tying goal in the 89th minute or later and go on to score the game-winning goal in the same match.
Lastly, the backline has Alexander Callens (New York City FC), Gabriele Corbo (CF Montréal) and Nathan (San Jose Earthquakes). Callens scored the equalizer in an eventual 2-1 win over Orlando City SC as the defending MLS Cup champs booked their playoff return. Corbo was lockdown in a 1-0 win over D.C. United and Nathan was the same in a 2-0 win over Minnesota.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Thomas Hasal (VAN) – Alexander Callens (NYC), Gabriele Corbo (MTL), Nathan (SJ) – Derrick Etienne Jr. (CLB), Ryan Gauld (VAN), Brian Gutiérrez (CHI), Dénis Bouanga (LAFC) – Jhon Durán (CHI), Daniel Ríos (CLT), Sebastián Ferreira (HOU)
Coach: Steve Cherundolo (LAFC)
Bench: Stefan Frei (SEA), Claudio Bravo (POR), Carles Gil (NE), Diego Rubio (COL), Douglas Costa (LA), Gonzalo Higuain (MIA), Talles Magno (NYC)
Audi Goals Drive Progress
MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $500 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.