Armchair Analyst: Complete guide to an abbreviated Week 33 slate

Most eyes are on the world of international soccer, but fans of eight MLS teams will be busy with the club game this weekend.

Let's take a look:

Viernes de Futbol

LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo
10 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

LAFC went to Commerce City and blew Colorado's doors off last weekend but beware: The Rapids are not a good gauge of how well you are (or aren't) playing. And that's because the Rapids simply do not protect the most valuable real estate on the pitch – the real estate that runs right up the middle of the field.

Here's a map of LAFC's key passes (yellow arrows) and assists from last weekend's 3-0 win:

This is borderline comedy.

Note that the majority of the damage was caused by Benny Feilhaber (No. 33) and Lee Nguyen (No. 24), two erstwhile playmakers who have moved deeper and deeper over the course of this season in Bob Bradley's scheme. On that particular day they were playing as a double-pivot in a 4-2-3-1, supporting the four attackers with their ability to get on the ball, circulate possession, and pull Colorado defenders upfield.

Once that happened the forwards and wingers had more room to work with. Adama Diomande obviously made the best use of it.

Houston will almost certainly let those guys dictate the game from deep instead of coming upfield to pressure them. Even without Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto they're at their best sitting deep and compact, then springing upon counterattacking opportunities when they arise. And they will arise – LAFC's high-risk/high-reward system means their opponents get into the open field every now and then.

Saturday Slate

Minnesota United vs. Colorado Rapids
2 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Minnesota are 10-4-1 at home, while Colorado are 1-11-3 on the road. The Rapids are on a seven-game losing streak in which they've been outscored 22-1 – their second losing streak of 7 or more games this season (if they lose this one they'll be the first team in MLS history with two separate eight-game losing streaks in the same season).

Don't overthink this. Darwin Quintero, who's been one of the most productive attacking players in the league, should be the captain of your fantasy team this weekend:

D.C. United vs. FC Dallas
4:55 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Easily the marquee match-up of the weekend. If D.C. win they'll finally vault ahead of Montreal on total points and into sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. If FC Dallas win they'll juuuuuust about have clinched the top spot in the Western Conference, and Oscar Pareja will be the first coach in MLS history to have three separate 60-point (or more) seasons.

Job 1 for Dallas is to understand and limit the combination play of Wayne Rooney and Lucho Acosta. Good luck.

Rooney's movement just forces so many rapid-fire decisions from opposing center backs. Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler have been amongst the best pairings in MLS at keeping play in front of them, so expect them to focus on containment rather than confrontation. 

On the other sides, expect FCD to do their damage via either set pieces or transition. In particular, watch their left winger – I'm guessing it'll be Santiago Mosquera, though that's not a given – playing primarily off the ball and then coming into the play late as a direct-to-goal threat. This could be a way of punishing D.C. for (again: best guess here) playing an attack-minded right back in Paul Arriola.

Ben Olsen made good adjustments last week once the game was in danger of getting away from his team. He'll probably have to conjure more of the same this week.

New England Revolution vs. Orlando City
7:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

New England have won just three of their last 21 games. Orlando City have won just one of their last 21. Brad Friedel has used darts to pick his lineup lately, while James O'Connor has done his level best to squeeze as many defense-minded midfielders onto the pitch as possible.

It'll be at least a little bit interesting to see who's in the respective XIs here, as it could be a tip-off as to who'll be back in 2019. But regardless, I think it's safe to assume massive overhauls are in the offing for both teams.

One More Thing to Ponder

Happy weekending, everybody.

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