Major League Soccer - Week 22 Previews and picks

Well with ESPN focused on Little League baseball, there were no midweek MLS matches and that means that every Major League Soccer team will be in action this weekend.  7 matches on Saturday, and 1 on Sunday, with so much action this weekend my reviews might be a little bit shorter than usual, but they will still be the best ones on the web.

FC Dallas (9-2-9 36 pts) at Columbus Crew (12-5-4 40 pts)- 2pm MT - Telefutura

Folks this is probably the biggest match of the weekend and it is a bit of a shame that it will only be available locally or in Spanish, but two of the top 4 teams in my Power Rankings will battle it out and while 4 just  points separate these two teams, for the Crew it is a chance to get a quality win over a top tier Western Conference opponent as FC Dallas haven't lost a match since May 20th.  The Crew are just 4-4-4 against the West.

The Crew did have a midweek match down in Mexico, and the 1-0 loss came with a lot of controversy and they will need to get focused quickly as FC Dallas is a very dangerous team.  Injuries also could pose an issue for Columbus as Robbie Rogers and Emmanuel Ekpo are both listed as out for the match, and Gino Padula and Danny O'Rourke are listed as probable.  The match could well come down to how well Guillermo Barros Schelotto plays as he leads the team with 6 goals and 8 assists, or roughly half of the teams goals have involved GBS.

FC Dallas is one of the hottest teams in MLS, but they still haven't cracked double digits on wins yet.  Their 2 losses prove that this is a quality team but getting just a single point in 9 of their 20 matches has held them back from being a force in the race for the Supporters' Shield.  The recent form of David Ferreira, Jeff Cunningham, and Brek Shea have gotten them 3 straight wins, but none against a team of the quality of Columbus.

Another draw for FC Dallas as this one likely ends up 1-1.

more after the jump:

Real Salt Lake (11-4-6 39 pts) at Toronto FC (7-8-5 26 pts) - 5pm MT - Direct Kick

This preview will be coming Saturday Morning with my in depth preview of this match, preview is now up.

San Jose Earthquakes (8-6-5 29 pts) at New York Red Bulls (10-7-4 34 pts) - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

This should be a real barn burner as the Quakes head to the Big Apple, both teams made statement wins last week as San Jose beat LA 1-0 at home, while the Red Bulls got a 4-1 win at Toronto.  For the Red Bulls this match gives them a chance to beat someone other than Toronto with their new 3 DP lineup, and to show that the 4 goals is no fluke for the dual DP forward combo that they can field.  San Jose will be looking to get their own DP into action as we see Geovanni for more than 18 minutes in this match.

As much as I think San Jose could pull and upset in this one, you have to give the edge to the Red Bulls at home and I think while they won't be able to score 4 on the Quakes defense, this one will probably end 2-1.

Philadelphia Union (4-11-5 17 pts) at New England Revolution (6-11-3 21 pts) - 5:30 pm MT - Direct Kick

Two of the bottom teams in the East will face off for the second time in a month, the last time was a 1-1 draw at PPL Park, this time they will match up at Gillette Stadium.  After some success in SuperLiga, and a couple wins in MLS action, many thought New England may have found the form that has often lead them to the MLS playoffs, but a pair of road losses will put a lot of pressure on the Rev's to get a home result.  The Union are an expansion team and the reality is that they are struggling just like most expansion teams do, but they have found a way to get some results recently as they are 1-3-3 in their last 7.  A huge list of injuries for New England make it tough for them to keep a solid lineup week in and week out.  

I expect that we will see another draw between these two teams, and likely 1-1 again.

Houston Dynamo (6-10-5 23 pts) at Colorado Rapids (7-6-7 28 pts) - 7:30pm MT - Fox Soccer Channel

This matchup would normally be for one of the top spots in the West, but instead Houston is looking to climb from 7th place and Colorado is sitting in their way at 6th place. Colorado has one win in their last 9 matches and Houston has just one win in their last 11 matches.  Houston found a way to battle to a 4-3 win over Chicago last weekend in a match where they showed a ton of heart and thanks to the hat trick by Brian Ching they got the full 3 points.  The upside for Colorado is that Conor Casey should be able to return to the starting lineup and he could be a real difference maker for the Rapids who have failed to get more than a single goal in a match since June.

It may come down to Casey vs. Ching on who can get the ball into the back of the net, I think this might be the match Colorado gets a win in, as the Dynamo are just 1-7-2 on the road.  Colorado 2- Houston 1.

Chicago Fire (6-6-6 24 pts) at Seattle Sounders (8-8-5 29 pts) - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick

The Fire will look to rebound from their heartbreaking loss at Houston last weekend, the Sounders will look to regain their form after a midweek home loss in Champions League action.  The Sounders have been great since July 4th in MLS action 4-0-2, and are 5-4-1 against the East.  The Fire will be without one of their DP's as Castillo didn't make the trip to Seattle, both sides will be missing one of their best defenders as the Fire's William Conde, and Seattles Leo Gonzales are both serving suspensions for this match.  The key to the match may be that the Fire's Marco Pappa has just one goal in their last 5 matches, while the Sounders' Fredy Montero has 3 in their last 5 matches.  

I am going pick the Sounders to continue their great run of form, as I am not really convinced that the Fire are anything more than a very average team.  1-0 Sounders.

Kansas City Wizards (6-9-5 23 pts) at Los Angeles Galaxy (13-4-4 43 pts) - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Twenty points separate these two teams, in fact if KC was in the West they would be in 7th place, while LA has been atop the West since the start of the season.  The Wizards have struggled to score goals all season as their 19 goals scored is the second lowest total in the league, but they are still alive in the East in thanks to their defense which has allowed just 23 goals, in fact only one team in the East has allowed fewer, Columbus.  The once mighty Galaxy have just one win in their last 4 matches (1-2-1) in league play, they were bounced from the Champions League by the USL's Islanders.  They will need their go to guys to step up, 18 of their 32 goals have come from either Edson Buddle (13 goals, 2 assists) or Landon Donovan (5 goals, 11 assists).  KC will just be praying that someone can score for them.

As much as I would love to see KC pull off an upset, you have to believe there will be no easier match for the Galaxy to get back to their winning ways, this one ends 2-0 LA.

DC United (4-14-3 15 pts) at Chivas USA (5-11-4 19 pts) - Sunday 8pm MT - ESPN2

The battle of cellar dwellers will get on National TV, while so many quality matches get overlooked.  Just another example of why ratings are less than they should be.  Two teams that are playing with new coaches, in the case of DC United their second new coach of the season, but both teams are clearly rebuilding.  Both teams have some talented players and can reach out and surprise people, just ask Columbus who fell 3-1 to Chivas or Seattle who was beat by DC United back in June.  This is likely to be an entertaining match, despite the records of the teams involved but for casual fans, there is little here that will get them to watch on Sunday night.

I think Chivas is more organized than DC United, and the Goat's -4 goal differential is just so much better than DC's -20. This one ends up 1-0 Chivas USA.

OK there you go, MLS week 22 previewed and picked just for you.

OFF MY SOAPBOX

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