Friday, April 22, 2011

INFTH MLS Predictions

Colorado vs Seattle- MLS's Friday night match and an interesting one too, pitting together a pair of Western Conference rivals.

After a vibrant start, Colorado have gone off the boil a little with consecutive losses to Dallas and RSL. Meanwhile, Seattle have continued to toil, drawing last week at Philadelphia, after claiming a first three points of the season at home to Chicago.

Expected to return to the line-up for Seattle is Colombian forward player Fredy Montero. Montero made a decent impact coming off the bench last week, and Seattle should pose the Colorado defense some problems with both Montero and Zakuani in the side.

For Colorado, this match must be used as a way of putting two consecutive defeats into the past and concentrating on the future. As they are at home, the Rapids are favorites to win this one and given Seattle's indifferent home form, I think Gary Smith's men will roll all over the Sounders.

Prediction: 3-1

San Jose vs Chivas USA- Last week, San Jose were victims of New York's return to form and Frank Yallop will hope that that defeat doesn't pray on the minds of the San Jose players.

Meanwhile, Chivas USA have suffered a disastrous start to the season, and the Goats are still yet to claim a win under new boss Robin Fraiser. This week, Chivas passed up the chance to sign veteran American player Benny Feilhaber, so it will be interesting to see how they fare without a player of that stature. Upfront, last year's sensation Justin Braun has been misfiring, and if that continues so will Chivas' winless streak.

Key to the Earthquakes' hopes as always are attacking duo Bobby Convey and Chris Wondolowski. Both are capped USA internationals, and, despite iffy starts to the season for the pair of them, their combination poses a threat to anyone.

I fancy San Jose to win this game, Yallop should have his charges riled up after last week's loss, and it's about time that the Convey-Wondolowski show started its 2011 edition.

Prediction: 2-0

Toronto vs Columbus- Arguably, this is a match which pits MLS's worst defense against its best. Last week Toronto continued to look shaky at the back, giving up three goals in a home loss to DC. Meanwhile, Columbus posted their fourth shut out of the season, as Robbie Rogers' goal led them to a 1-0 win over Sporting KC.

Away from home, life will be a lot tougher for the Crew, but with their back four performing so admirably, it's hard to see the likes of Alan Gordon troubling them. Upfront is where the real problem lies for Columbus, Mendoza has yet to convince, and goals from midfield cannot be relied upon.

Personally, I see this game as another disaster for Toronto and Aron Winter. The Dutchman is trying to teach his Toronto team how to play expansive football, and it just isn't working. Meanwhile, the Crew are continuing to play to their own strengths, and I see Chad Marshall leading them to another clean sheet.

Prediction: 0-1

Vancouver vs FC Dallas- Last week, Dallas were turned over by the inspired Portland Timbers, a disappointing result, Hyndeman had thought that his team's early season struggles were behind them.

Vancouver have looked highly exciting this season, Hassli, Camilo and Harris are dangerous upfront and midfielder Chiumiento is creating chances at will. At the back things are less rosy though, but they did keep a clean sheet last week against Chivas.

Towards the end of Dallas' loss at Portland, the Texans made an interesting tactical move, playing Brek Shea further up the field, a maneuver which worked a treat as Shea went on to score a goal and create one too.  I would love to see Schellias Hyndeman start out with Shea further up the park, and if he takes my advice, Dallas should win.

Prediction: 2-4

New England vs Kansas City- Sporting's long run of away matches will continue on Saturday as MLS's newly re-branded franchise travels to Massachusetts to face off with the Revs.

Last week, both these sides fell to tight away losses, and both Peter Vermes and Steve Nicol will be keen to see an upturn in fortunes. Even without the injured Omar Bravo, Sporting boast a collection of attacking riches, Sapong, Bunbury and Kamara are all dangerous.

Returning for New England will be midfield duo Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan, a huge boost to the two time losing finalists. New England are strong at home and I expect them to pick up the maximum here, Sporting look to be turning into weary travelers.

Prediction: 2-1

Chicago vs Houston- Chicago are really starting to struggle now, they are occupying one of the bottom spots in the Western Conference, and are coming off three consecutive losses which have put pay to a good start.

Meanwhile, Houston have been in great form, with Cam Weaver rediscovering his goalscoring touch and Brad Davis as ever, imperious in midfield. It will be interesting to see which attacking midfield player, Pappa or Davis, goes on to dominate this one, here's to a good performance from both of them.

Upfront for Chicago, Chaves has been the main man so far, but new signing Oduro managed to score his first goal last week, a terrific finish that couldn't stop LA from taking home the maximum. That goal should help Oduro to forget his terrible opening day miss, and hopefully he will be able to kick on for the rest of the season.

Prediction: 2-2

Los Angeles vs Portland- Everybody loves the Portland Timbers. From likable manager John Spencer, to a playing staff full of attacking talent, Portland are fast becoming everybody's second team.

However, despite two impressive home wins, I think a trip to LA could be a bridge too far for the brand new MLS franchise. Galaxy stars Landon Donovan and David Beckham are set to return after their respective absences, and that should add all kinds of attacking impetus to the Galaxy.

For Portland, experienced DP Kenny Cooper will be the man relied upon to produce the goals, his partnership upfront with Perlaza is starting to blossom. Last week, Ghanaian born Alhassan was voted player of the week by several popular websites, and it will be fascinating to see how he reacts to the pressures of a trip to arguably MLS's most famous team.

Once again, I feel the need to reiterate how much I love the Timbers and their fans, but I just can't see them taking anything from the Home Depot Center.

Prediction: 4-0

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