Friday, April 8, 2011

INFTH MLS Predictions

FC Dallas vs Colorado- Obviously, this match stands out as it is a rematch of last year's MLS Cup final. However, for FC Dallas at least, this game could have serious implications on this year's season.

Since kicking off with a one-one draw, Dallas have lost twice, leaving them bottom of the Western Conference, below even expansion team the Portland Timbers. FC Dallas supporters will hope that this poor start to the season is only an aberration, but with a large proportion of the team creeping into their thirties, the Texans opening struggles may well be a sign of a fast ending era.

On the other hand, Colorado have started this season in exactly the way reigning champions would be expected to, with a perfect record so far. Up front, Colorado  have brought in English forward Caleb Folan, and he showed his potential last weekend, scoring twice in a 4-1 win over DC United. With Folan, Cummings and Casey all options in attack, it could be argued that the Rapids boast the most potent strikeforce in Major League Soccer.

Prediction: 1-1

Seattle vs Chicago- Much like FC Dallas, Seattle have started this season in the worst possible way. After two years of under achievement, Sounders fans expected their team to make a run for the play offs, but after four games, Zhiggi Schmidt's side remains winless.

Missed chances are coming to define Seattle's season, and if they are to achieve a first win on Saturday, then they'll have to hope that star attackers Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani are bang on form and ready to go.

Chicago have started the season quite well, with a win last time out against Sporting KC and a draw on opening day with Dallas. Fire fans should be very much encouraged by that start, and given Seattle's poor form, a second win of the season in Washington might not be too far fetched an aim.

Prediction: 3-1

Philadelphia vs New York- This season's first edition of the tri-state derby, and one that both teams will be eager to win.

If it hadn't been already, the spotlight was firmly fixed on New York when, last Friday, they announced the signing of MLS veteran Dwayne DeRosario. DeRosario adds an extra dimension to an already powerful New York attack, and though unable to fire the Red Bulls to victory last week, it looks as though the Canadian has already struck up a good understanding with his new teammates.

Philadelphia's perfect start to the new season was ended last week by the Los Angeles Galaxy, but Union supporters should still be proud of their side's early season efforts. The trio upfront of Danny Mwanga, Carlos Ruiz and Sebastian Le Toux should pose Tim Ream, Rafa Marquez and the rest of the New York back four all sorts of problems on Saturday, but it is how the Philly defense deals with the Red Bulls' attacking threat which will probably decide the outcome of the match.

Prediction: 0-2

New England vs Real Salt Lake- Both these teams played in tough away games last week, with Real Salt Lake travelling South to finish off Saprissa, and New England travelling North to battle Vancouver.

Both team have come out of those game relatively unscathed, so the expectation will be for both manager to put out their strongest line-ups. Two weeks ago, Real crushed LA 4-1, a result which sent a clear signal of intent to the rest of Major League Soccer. Manager Jason Kreis will look to build on that win, while making sure not to be distracted by his team's Cocacaf Champions League final berth.

While New England have yet to pull out a result of quite that magnitude, they have still started the season in the right vein, and as of now they are undefeated, and top of the Eastern Conference.

Certainly if this game is anything near as exciting as the Revs' match in Vancouver, fans of MLS will be in for quite a treat.

Prediction: 2-2

DC United vs LA Galaxy- Charlie Davies hopes to return to the United team for this game, but LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham will definitely miss out, he's suspended after picking up cumulative yellow cards.

Last year, this match would have been a clear cut Los Angles win, but things have changed since then. DC are now considered a force to be reckoned with, even after their second half collapse last week in Colorado.

Meanwhile, the aura of invincibility that used to hover around Bruce Arena's Galaxy side has almost totally dissipated, with the team a shadow of the one they were at the start of last season.

Once again, all eyes will be on LA's strikers who have yet to impress this season, with a combined one goal scored by Angel, Magee and co. in the first four games of the 2011 MLS season.

Prediction: 1-1

San Jose vs Toronto- Both these teams started the season in inauspicious manner, but, credit to them, both have managed to rebound quite well.

San Jose were encouraged two weeks ago, by the goals of star striker Chris Wondolowski, after last year's top scorer drew a blank in week one. Last time out against Seattle though, it was Khari Stephenson who grabbed all the headlines, with a terrific goal from distance.

Toronto look to be improving under new coach Aron Winter, and the end of the Dwayne DeRosario saga should take a weight off the backs of many of the people involved with the club. More tangibly though, in that trade Toronto acquired defender Danleigh Borman, a player that Winter hopes will help tighten up the team's porous defense.

Prediction: 2-1

Chivas USA vs Columbus- Winless so far, Robin Fraser's Chivas USA team will hope to claim a first three points at home to an improving Columbus Crew side.

Last week, I saw the Crew play exceptionally well in a 2-0 win over Dallas and if the team can keep up that form then they'll be in with a great chance of claiming a first away win of the season. American midfielder Eddie Gaven was terrific in that match, and if Chivas USA can mark him out of the game, then they will have cut out one of the Crew's key supply lines.

Last week, Justin Braun was guilty of missing some very presentable chances, profligacy which cost Chivas dear in the end, as Toronto rallied to gain a point from that game. This time around, Chivas, and in particular Braun, will have to be a lot more clinical in front of goal, or risk falling even further behind in the race for the play offs.

Prediction: 3-2

Houston vs Vancouver- Once again, Vancouver enter a game without the suspended Eric Hassli, after the French forward contrived to get himself sent off for the second consecutive game. If possible, Hassli's latest dismissal was even more asinine than the first, with the striker removed for two bookable offenses following the removal of his shirt during a goal celebration. That sending off proved costly for Vancouver, as they eventually lost the lead Hassli had given them, falling from a winning position to a one-one draw.

Houston hold an advantage in this game having not played mid week, but worryingly, they will be without key duo Brian Ching and Brad Davis. Davis in particular is a huge loss, the former MetroStars man is an integral cog in the Dynamo machine, the string puller in midfield, and a huge source of assists.

Despite those absences, Dynamo fans will still expect to see their side win, and bounce back from a disappointing home loss against the Philadelphia Union on opening day.

Prediction: 3-1

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