Man did last week hurt. As an RSL fan it saw two things that just don't happen to this team as of late, tallies in that L column. Both games had one thing in common. A lack of ability to finish. In the CCL match Espindola had some great chances that were close, but overall there weren't many other ones that I liked the finishing on. As to Portland, I can't say that either Sabo or Alvarez really sold me on their play for that game. With Fabian back in SLC, and Paulo Jr. fairly unavailable due to injury there weren't many options up front to get new blood in there. I liked the half time changes and had really thought they would make more of a mark on the game. In the end two losses at 1-0 each are what we ended up with.
For the rest of the league an amazing cross/lob by Shea pushed Dallas past L.A., but it's Castillo's goal earlier in the game that I thought was the better of the two. Seattle tore TFC up, Houston served another crushing blow to DCU, Chicago held Colorado to a draw at DSG Park, Columbus continued the great run they have been on, Philly held it's form on defense, and New York keeps beating everyone. The real story though is Chivas and the way they have managed to go from being in most people's eyes from the worst in the league to one of the best on the month of April. Now granted their opponents haven't exactly been quality teams, but in the last two games Chivas has come out and scored 5 goals while only allowing 1. Before these games they were sitting at a -3 GD, now they are at +2, a great swing that may be showing that Fraser's boys may have found their game. In the end I finished the week with one dead on pick (Philly/SJ), 3 correct choices with different score lines, and a slap in the face 6 misses.
Predictions and previews after the jump.
Wednesday May 4th
D.C. United vs Seattle Sounders - Seattle seems to be hitting their stride having won 3 of their last 5 with the other two being draws. That 11 points has pushed them back up near the top of the Western Conference. D.C. is going the opposite way with 3 of their last 5 being losses (by a large margin overall) with one win and one draw making up the remaining two. Seattle has also shown they have depth up front having lost Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White recently and still coming out on top against Toronto with a 3 goal margin. This game will be tougher for them to get the same result out of, but with D.C.'s recent slide I think they will be able to at least hold and get a draw out of. 1-1.
Houston Dynamo vs Colorado Rapids - You could basically read above for a general outline of these two teams with Houston showing some great play and Colorado falling time and again recently. Houston is 3-0-2 with a +6 GD across those games. They haven't allowed more than one goal in a single game in those games either. Colorado on the other hand is 1-3-1 with a -2 GD. Not the worst, but do realize that 4 of those came in their one win during this time, remove that game and it goes to a -5 GD. The real scare for Colorado needs to be that they haven't been able to score more than a single goal in a game since that game against D.C., which amazingly is the same score this Houston team beat that same team last week. Being away, being short the people they are, and in general not being able to produce offensively is going to bite the champs as they fall 3-1.
Friday May 6th
Portland Timbers vs Philadelphia Union - Soccer Night in America, not sure how I feel about the title FSC. I do like the promotion of the sport though so I'll go with it. The confidence boost that Portland has to be riding after Saturday is going to have to carry over to this game if they want to keep their perfect home record going. Philly is sitting on the stingiest (well 3 way tie for it) defense in the league. The thing working against Philadelphia in this game though is that they also have the fewest goals in the league. They have found a way to score in most games, and have held onto several clean sheets this year, but Portland is very prolific at home in scoring and this will prove a tough match for both. I'll skip a Portland away game just because they don't play well at all, but with this being at home for them, and with the strength of the Union's defense this will be a great game to watch. 1-1 draw in the end though with Philly evening it up pretty late.
Saturday May 7th
Real Salt Lake vs Chivas USA - This I think is a defining game for this RSL team. To prove they have deserved the hype they have received through the off-season and into the season thus far. There is no reason to panic though. Every team loses. Even the great Barcelona fell a few times this year so I am sure RSL can too and it not be the end of the world. This week will be a great chance to return to form and prepare for the rest of the MLS season and the USOC. They face an up and coming Chivas team who has been able to build some confidence recently and turn around an ugly start to their season. They also come in with an advantage most teams can only dream of. Last year Chivas head coach Robin Fraser sat on the RSL bench as the assistant coach. He knows the team, knows how they work, and will be able to recognize things that are going on on the field that others would not pick up on. I'm sure Jason has some new surprises in store for him as well though. The thing about Chivas' recent run is the quality of teams they have played. They haven't exactly been the cream of the crop. This will end up being a big test for this team, but one they will ultimately fail. 3-1 RSL.
Toronto FC vs Houston Dynamo - Toronto is in a bad spot right now, and with last year's knee jerk reaction I fear for the future of this team. Last year's house cleaning put them in a bad spot to start with for this year, and having something like that occur mid season is not going to help, here's to hoping they either can get it together or the ownership of TFC can have some patience. They may get lucky here though with Houston doing double duty this week. After a game on Wednesday and travel from Houston to Toronto of 1300 miles (in flight) presumably the next day they are going to be tired. This match will be a bit more even than if Houston played only one game for the week and the one who benefits from that is Toronto. On the other hand Houston has been very strong and even though they are tired with Toronto being their opponent they may still eek this out. 1-1 in the end, and I can't say either side will be overly impressive.
D.C. United vs FC Dallas - If you are D.C. you have to be dreading this game more than the midweek match you had to play already. Dallas is still not quite as consistent as they need to be to make a serious run of things, but they show they have the skill for it. I didn't see Brek Shea's goal live after the game got delayed and other things took my attention, but when I saw it later I was floored. Intentional or not it was a great goal, but as I said before Castillo's mid air redirection was far more impressive to me. If Dallas continues to develop him I think he will be a great outlet for David Ferreira in the future. He just needs the experience he lacks at the age of 18, once he gets that feel for the game he will be a great asset. D.C. is going to need to get their midfield together a bit better and their back line a lot better if they want to have a chance of pulling any points from this contest. At the end of the day though, Dallas walks away with 3 points 2-0.
Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders FC - This is the "not televised on national TV game of the week" I think. Both of these teams have really shown their stuff lately. I have been harsh on both all year and all I can say is that they have proved me wrong in the last few weeks. Seattle's win over Colorado still looked sloppy but the psychological aspect of Zakuani had to be part of that. They came back this week and Toronto got to feel what the Sounders can be. Columbus on the other hand has been pretty consistent on defense in allowing only 5 goals so far this year. What they still need to figure out is their offense. They have had some weaker opponents that they have been able to let it go for somewhat, but if Seattle shows up again they may be in for some trouble. Call it the clash of ugly uniforms if you would like, but in the end Columbus will win because Seattle will be tired from their first game on Wednesday. 2-1.
New England Revolution vs Colorado Rapids - Four teams this week have to play twice (I'm not complaining, the more games on the better) and this is the last of them in Colorado. Travelling from Houston to Boston will not be a trip they will enjoy. New England was on top of the Eastern Conference just a few weeks ago, and in their last 4 have managed to come out 1-3-0 with a goal differential of -6. A home game against a tired team may just be what is needed to put them back on track. I want to find something good and hopeful to say for Colorado but with how they have played recently I can't say I see it happening in this game, if you can't beat Chicago at home I don't know that you can beat the Revs when they are your second game of the week and you just came from Houston. 2-1 Revolution.
Chicago Fire vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC - This will be the game you should just go get dinner during. Vancouver away is nothing to be excited about and Chicago is... well Chicago. This game is up for the taking from either team, but I don't know that either team really does. 0-0.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs New York Red Bulls - There's a reason this game is on ESPN2, and it's the stars. Beckham and Donovan vs Henry, Marquez, and Agudelo. JPA goes up against his old club, top of the east against the top of the west. Stat wise things go in New York's favor. A +8, league leading, goal differential is not an unearned thing and stands up well to LA's +2. They have only dropped one game where the Galaxy have lost twice. Once was a trouncing, the second part fluke, part skill. However the thing to remember is that this is L.A. and they don't come off of losses very well (for the other team). This is a very tough game to call, no clear advantage is with either team, and a great back and forth is upcoming as an end to your week. 2-2 draw.
There they are, if you want to disagree, or point out forgotten and/or incorrect statements, leave a comment below.