Thursday, April 28, 2011

INFTH MLS Predictions

Houston vs DC United- After a fine start to the season, Ben Olsen and DC United must have thought that they were ready to compete at the top of MLS. However, last Thursday, the record MLS Cup winners were given a footballing lesson by the best team in the East, if not the entire league.

A tough away trip, but DC will be focussed on bouncing back from their 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls, however, standing in their way is a hard working Houston Dynamo team, who have encountered some success as well thus far. Last week, they found a late equalizer away in Chicago, and that result has helped them to maintain mid table status in the Western Conference.

Against New York, Charlie Davies started only his second MLS game of the season, despite being Major League Soccer's top scorer. Teammate Chris Pontius has also been in form, and Dominic Kinnear will be targeting those two, as the men who need to be kept quiet.

Prediction: 2-0

Philadelphia vs San Jose- Quite honestly, the Union didn't need that bye last week. Last year's expansion team had been in fine form, but a break in their MLS rhythm combined with New York's win over DC has led to them surrendering first place in the East.

However, at home to San Jose in Saturday's afternoon game, the Union will have the opportunity to move back on top against a team that was ripped to shreds by New York on the occasion of their last visit to the East coast. Amazingly, Philadelphia have enjoyed this fine start to the season without last year's star man Sebastian Le Toux scoring a goal, instead, MLS veteran Carlos Ruiz has ruled the roost scoring two goals so far.

Last season, San Jose enjoyed a fruitful season which ended with a fine play off run but it's tough to see them coming close to that achievement this time around. Entrenched in the league's strongest conference, San Jose face a battle to get into the play offs let alone make a run, and if they are to have any hope then they'll need Wondolowski and Convey on top, top form.

As this match is at PPL Park, I'm going to tip Philly for the win, the Union is beginning to develop a spine, and their back four has been brilliant so far.

Prediction: 2-0

Columbus vs Vancouver- The story this season for Columbus has been one of total defense, with the Crew boasting one of the better defensive records in Major League Soccer. However, midweek, attacker Rentaria  claimed that the Crew forward line deserves and "A," but I beg to differ. Last week, Columbus only managed to score one against a ten man Toronto side that happens to sport possibly the worst back four in the league. Shameful.

The Crew's opponents this week also boast a porous defense, the Whitecaps have been anything but solid thus far. However, upfront it's a different story, Chiumiento is minting assists and Hassli and Camilo are dangerous up top.

At home, it would be easy to tip the Crew for a win, but I reckon that Vancouver's superb attack will have enough to cut through the Crew, and I doubt that a forward line led by the uninspiring Mendoza will pose the Canadians many problems.

Prediction: 0-1

New York vs Sporting KC- After an inauspicious beginning, New York have clicked into gear, scoring seven goals in their last two matches. Agudelo, Henry, Rodgers, Richards and Lindpere all score goals, so even if one of them is off their game, Backe's side have more than enough options in attack.

At the back, NY have been solid, save Ream's error in Philadelphia, and they should be good enough to keep out Sporting's Bunbury and Kamara, a more than capable strike duo. In the midfield, NYRB are looking better every week, De Rosario is starting to mesh with his teammates, and Teemu Tainio has been arguably the signing of the season.

On the road, life is always tough, and you have to feel sorry for Sporting who have faced a baptism of fire in their first season under the new brand name. However, Livestrong Park is edging towards completion, and fortunes should change once KC play a few home matches.

Prediction: 3-0

Colorado vs Chicago- After a blistering start to their title defense, the Rapids have lost momentum fast with three straight defeats. Luckily for the reigning champs though, Chicago are one of the worst teams in the league at the moment, and Gary Smith will expect his team to take the maximum from this one.

In Marco Pappa Chicago have one of MLS' best midfielders, however, apart from him and Diego Chaves the squad is short of quality, particularly in defense as illustrated by their collapse away to Portland. On the other hand, Colorado is lined with quality, though they will be weakened by Brain Mullan's highly overblown suspension. In attack, Caleb Folan, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings are menacing, and throughout the side, Colorado have plenty of experience.

At home, the Rapids are clear favorites to win, and it will be interesting to see whether their players get right behind the wronged Brian Mullan.

Prediction: 3-1

Seattle vs Toronto- The loss of Steve Zakuani is a huge blow to Seattle, but they still should have enough to overcome a mediocre Toronto side at home.

Last week, Fredy Montero found the net for the first time this season, and Zhiggi Schmidt will hope that the lively Colombian keeps up his goalscoring form. However, if Montero does have an off day, the Sounders still have attacking options, Rosales, Friberg and White all have the potential to produce something when called upon.

After his bizzare sending off, Tony Tchani is suspended for this one and that his a fairly huge blow to Aron Winter's side. Apart from some sparky play by the likes of Santos and Martina, things have been pretty gloomy at BMO Field, but they have enjoyed some success this week in the NCC.

Having played games midweek, Toronto are likely to be a little short of energy, and I fancy Seattle to take full advantage of that.

Prediction: 3-1

Chivas USA vs New England- Last week, Chivas finally won their first game of the season and it's no coincidence that that result came directly after Robin Fraser's decision to move Justin Braun back to the center of the attack.

Steve Nicol's Revolution team look really exciting at the moment, striker Lekic and midfielder Feilhaber were fantastic against Sporting KC, impressive as both were debuting for the Revs. That result left New England fifth in the East, but the middle of that conference is very congested, and a run of results could put the two time finalists near the top.

Chivas USA should be lifted after their first win, but unless their strikers start finding the net on a more frequent basis the team will continue to struggle. Re-jigged after a host of transfers, New England look good, and I think they will win on the road here.

Prediction: 0-2

Portland vs Real Salt Lake- Timber Joey, Kenny Cooper, John Spencer, MLS' newest franchise boast so many likable characters. At home they are a formidable side, and Spencer will certainly feel that they are playing Real Salt Lake at the right time.

After earning a fine result in Mexico, Real failed to complete the job at home in the Concacaf Champions League final second leg, and they must lift themselves after a heartbreaking defeat. It is cruel scheduling which has led to them playing the Timbers so soon after such a morale sapping loss, but Kreis will demand that his players respond anyway.

There is no question that Salt Lake are a superior side to Portland, Borchers and Olave form a formidable back line and Morales and Espindola are at times unplayable in midfield. However, it is unclear whether any of those players will start on Sunday, and certainly, the door is open for an upset.

Prediction: 2-1

FC Dallas vs Los Angeles- Much like Seattle, Dallas lost their best player to serious injury last weekend, with Davide Ferreira facing a long time out after breaking his ankle. In Brek Shea, Castillo and a host of other, Dallas still have a few attacking weapons, but Ferreira was always the lynch pin, and he will be missed.

For LA, last week was a celebration of the return of a star rather than the loss of one, as Landon Donovan returned to goalscoring form with a brace against the Portland Timbers. LA were superb in all departments during that game and, in the wake of Real Salt Lake's break from action, the Galaxy have moved top of the West.

David Beckham will be jetted back to Dallas directly after the conclusion of the Royal Wedding, and with the Englishman starting to ping the passes around, Arena will be glad to have him. Up top, new signing Chad Barrett has finally started to fire with two goals in two games and I reckon that his form combined with help from Beckham, Donavan and Angel will lift the team to victory.

Prediction: 0-2

1 comment:

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