Friday, April 15, 2011

INFTH MLS Predictions

Philadelphia vs Seattle- Last week, both these teams enjoyed hugely important victories, for two very different reason. Philadelphia was in euphoria after an opportunistic 1-0 win over the Red Bulls, while Seattle got a huge monkey off their back by winning 2-1 at home to Chicago.

Seattle aren't nearly as strong away from home as they are at Qwest Field, so the Union will fancy their chances at securing a fourth win of the season, and stretching their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference.

On the other hand, Seattle will know that they have to start racking up wins if they are to have any chance of progressing to the playoffs through a strong Wester Conference. If the Sounders are to go on a winning run, then they'll have to hope that Fredy Montero rediscovers the type of goalscoring form which saw him dubbed as one of the most talented players in the league, however, even if the Colombian is on form and raring to go, it will still be tough for Schmidt's side to break down a tight Union defense.

Prediction: 2-0

Toronto vs DC United- After a shaky defensive start, Aron Winter's Toronto FC are beginning to build up some momentum. They're unbeaten since an opening day loss at the hands of Vancouver, a run made all the more impressive by huge line-up changes sparked following De Rosario's high profile trade.

In the wake of De Ro's exit, former LA man Alan Gordon has stepped up to the mantle, scoring twice in two games before firing a blank in a 0-0 stalemate with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

For DC, Charlie Davies has been in brilliant form, scoring four goals so far this season, albeit three from the spot. Davies will have to be on good form on Saturday though, Toronto keeper Frei has been excellent this term, and the whole back line will be full of confidence following a clean sheet against LA.

Prediction: 1-1

Vancouver vs Chivas- Eric Hassli will return for this game after yet another suspension, but given his red card record this year, it's unlikely that he'll finish the match.

Brazilian striker Camilo has been the man scoring all the goals for the Whitecaps during Hassli's suspensions, and Vancouver fans will relish the chance to see him play upfront alongside Hassli and Atiba Harris.

While the season for Vancouver has been filled with ups and downs, Chivas' 2011 has been made up almost totally by downs. Robin Fraser's team are the only team in MLS without a win, and that run is likely to continue on Saturday, away trips to Canada are always difficult.

Prediction: 3-1

New York vs San Jose- In a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference semi final, an under performing Red Bulls side takes on a San Jose team looking to build on last year's solid showing.

Last week, New York were the victim of their own profligacy, missing chances before being punished by a Philadelphia sucker punch. Hans Bake knows his team cannot afford to be so lackadaisical in front of goal this time around, and the Scandinavian coach will be insistent that his side turn possession into goals.

Key to San Jose's hopes will be duo Bobby Convey and Chris Wondolowski. The pair combined to devastating effect during last year's playoffs, and coach Frank Yallop will hope that lightning strikes twice at Red Bull Arena.

Despite their current troubles, I suspect that the New York's attack will start to click in this game. With so many talented players, it's only a matter of time before the dam breaks.

Prediction: 2-0

Columbus vs Kansas City- Even without Omar Bravo, Sporting KC boast an absolutely devastating combination of strikers in Teal Bunbury, Kai Kamara and rookie Eric Sapong. In the wake of  all the attention that has been devoted to Juan Agudelo, Bunbury will be looking to get his name back on the headlines, and the American should feel confident of continuing his fine early season form in this game.

The kings of the nil-nil draw, Columbus will be focusing on success at the other end as they take on Sporting. The return of DP Mendoza should herald the return of goals for the team from Ohio, but following some poor early season performances, the KC back line will hardly be quivering in their boots.

The Crew have yet to concede a goal at home, so the Kansas City attacking triumvirate will be hard pressed to find the net, but if they do, it may well be enough.

Prediction: 0-1

Chicago vs Los Angeles- Both these teams played midweek, so tiredness may be a factor on Sunday. LA toiled to a nil-nil draw at Toronto, while Chicago fell to defeat in Portland's home opener.

Goalkeeper Shaun Johnson was especially poor in Oregon, so Fire fans will hope that the recently capped USA international is back on form for Sunday's match. While Chicago struggled on the defensive end against Portland, LA have been struggling on the attacking one. The Galaxy are yet to score more than one goal in a single match, and Bruce Arena will hope that strikers like Juan Pablo Angel and Chad Barrett start to improve their goalscoring form.

As usual, key to Chicago's chances will be 23 year old Guatemalan Marco Pappa. The young midfielder was arguably the Fire's one decent performer on Thursday night, scoring an absolute beauty of a goal, that unfortunately was rendered academic by the Timbers' quick response.

On the basis of current form, I have to go with LA in this one, but Bruce Arena will know that any lapse in  concentration will be punished on the road, and with his striker's hardly minting goals, life is unlikely to be easy.

Prediction: 1-2

Portland vs FC Dallas- Fresh off an opening day win, John Spencer's men will be full of confidence heading into this one. However, FC Dallas are also in good form, with Davide Ferriera starring in last week's victory over champs Colorado.

Striker Perlaza was the star for Portland on Thursday, so Timbers fans will be looking for him to deliver more of the same on Sunday. Also, new signing Diego Chara will likely make his debut, and give Portland another attacking dimension.

As I mentioned before, FC Dallas are entering this game off the back of a hugely important win, and the feel good factor is starting to return to the Texans. Davide Ferreira scored twice in that game, and I fancy the Colombian to lead Dallas to victory over highly inferior opposition on Sunday.

Prediction: 2-3

Houston vs New England- In one of Major League Soccer's most historic match ups, the inform Dynamo battle Stevie Nicol's New England Revolution.

In years gone by Houston and New England were both perennial MLS Cup finalists, with the two disputing two championships in a row a few years back. Today however, the two are average MLS side's, boasting aspirations no higher than to attain a play off place.

It would be easy to tip Houston as they are at home, but I have a feeling that the Revs will be up for this one, and ready to avenge their two straight MLS Cup Final defeats.

Prediction: 1-2

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