Major League Soccer Week 18 match previews

Well MLS is now in the second half of the season and no team is more than 8 points out of what could be a playoff spot but the gap between the top team, Los Angeles Galaxy with 39 points, and the bottom team Vancouver Whitecaps (14 points) is 25 points.  There are 8 MLS matches on the schedule this weekend along with some friendlies and the Women's World Cup final between the USA and Japan.  It simply is a very good time to be a soccer fan.  So let's get started:

Colorado Rapids at Seattle Sounders - 2pm MT - Fox Soccer

Well the Sounders have 4 wins in their last 5 matches and look like a championship side with a 9-4-8 record and 35 points, which are good enough for 2nd place in the West.  While the defending MLS Cup champs Colorado have just 1 win in their last 5 matches and their 6-5-9 record with 27 points would get them in the playoff via a wildcard spot.

These two sides faced off back in April when Seattle got a 1-0 win at Colorado and in the 5 times these two teams have faced off the Sounders hold a 3-1-1 edge, and are 2-0-0 at home against the Rapids.  The Rapids have looked to boost their offense (only 5 of 20 matches have they scored multiple goals) by moving Omar Cummings to the midfield according the projected lineups, but consider that their only wins in their last 10 matches have been over the 2011 expansion teams.  The Sounders have scored 9 goals in their last 4 matches and now have 7 players with multiple goals, they are lead by Fredy Montero who has 5 goals and 4 assists. Brad Evans and Alvaro Fernandez both have 4 goals, and Osvaldo Alonso has found the back of the net 3 times so far this year.  Seattle is going to win this match and I can see it being a 2-1 score.

more after the jump:

Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps - 2pm MT - Direct Kick

Well I will do an in depth match preview Saturday morning but on paper this should be an easy RSL win but it really depends which team shows up, if the team that lost to FC Dallas on Tuesday is there it could be ugly, but if the team that beat FC Dallas 2-0 last weekend.  Vancouver lost to RSL 2-0 when they played at Rio Tinto but they didn't have their top scorer Eric Hassli, and recent arrivals Jordan Harvey and Mustapha Jarju could play a role in the match.  You can check out my full match preview here.

San Jose Earthquakes at Columbus Crew - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Well the Crew were busy on the first day of the transfer window as they sent Andy Iro and Leandre Griffit to Toronto for midfielder Tony Tchani as the Crew are still looking for a creative guy to lead their midfield, not sure if they will play Tchani or not but he could be a difference maker for the team.  It has been a month since San Jose got a win and they are 0-2-3 in their last 5 matches with just 2 goals scored (they scored 13 in their previous 5 matches). The Crew are 3-2-0 in their last 5 matches, but they were beat 3-0 earlier this year when they traveled to San Jose to face the Quakes.  I have to believe that former Crew player Steven Lenhart will be looking to add to his 5 goals and 2 assists that he has for his new team San Jose.  This one has 1-1 draw written all over it.

Sporting Kansas City at Houston Dynamo - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Well Sporting KC have gone from the bottom of the East by not losing a match in their last 10 matches (4-0-6) and would find themselves fighting for one of the wildcard playoff spots with their 22 points from a 5-6-7 record. The Houston Dynamo are just a point better than SKC with 23 points from their 5-6-8 record.  Houston has a really strange pattern going, in their last 10 matches they have alternated between being shut out and scoring two goals, and last weekend they got a 2-0 win over Toronto FC, so they should get shut out by Sporting KC. SKC have only been shut out once in their last 7 matches and they are lead by Omar Bravo with 4 goals, and they have 4 players with 3 goals.  I have to pick this one as a 1-0 win for Sporting KC.

Portland Timbers at Chicago Fire - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick

This is a match up of two of the worst teams in MLS, the Portland Timbers have 6 losses in their last 7 matches and the Chicago Fire have just one win since March 26th and just two wins on the season.  Now I have to say that the Fire have played well enough to lead MLS with 12 draws in their 19 matches played and have given up just 5 goals in their last 8 matches.  Portland looked good early in the year, boosted by 5 wins at home, but on the road they are 0-5-2 with just 3 goals scored and 15 goals allowed.  It was crazy the last time these two teams faced off a match that Portland won 4-2 at home.  This match could either be one of those crazy matches or more likely it will end up a rather dull 1-1 draw.

DC United at FC Dallas - 7pm MT - Direct Kick

Well this match will come down to one simple fact, which DC United team will show up?  Will you see the team that battled with New York and got the 1-0 win last weekend, or will you see the team that has given up 9 goals in their last 5 matches and 29 on the season?  You just never know and you have to remember that 25% of DC United's 24 goals this year have come from the PK spot.  FC Dallas is simply one of the top teams in the league this year, they play an exciting and fast paced style that is entertaining to watch.  It will be interesting to see if Brek Shea can add to his 8 goals and 1 assist that he has chalked up already this year?  I can't pick against FC Dallas at home where they have a 7-2-2 record, so I am picking them to get a 2-1 win in this one.

New York Red Bulls at Chivas USA - 8:30pm MT - Galavision

Chivas USA pulled off a big upset on May 15th when they beat the Red Bulls 3-2 in New York on the strength of a Justin Braun hat trick, so you know New York will be looking for some revenge on Sunday.  As surprising as it might seem both of these teams have just 1 win in their last 5 matches and both are 1-2-2 in their last 5.  The Red Bulls are 6-4-10, while Chivas USA are 5-7-7 and this match should be an exciting one.  If you simply look at the names on the teams you would think that Hans Backe's team would simply walk all over Robin Fraser's squad and that might just happen.  The biggest issue with Chivas USA in recent weeks has been consistency, heck the same can be said about New York who have some of the biggest names in MLS on their roster.

I am going to pick this one to be another wild match, look for a 2-2 draw as Chivas USA battle hard for the point at home.

USA at Japan - Women's World Cup final - 12:45pm MT - ESPN

This one is the physical abilities of the USWNT vs the skill and team play of the women from Japan.  It should make for a very interesting match, and perhaps no player will be more in the spotlight than US Keeper Hope Solo who might have a very busy day.  I have to believe that the number of individuals with incredible athletic ability on the US team will prove the difference but this isn't going to be an easy match.  I look for the US to pull out a 2-1 win, but don't be surprised if it takes extra time to get there.

Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution - Sunday 5pm MT - Direct Kick

A battle of the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Philly Union (28 points 7-4-7) with 21 goals for and 16 goals allowed, while the New England Revolution are the bottom team (16 points 3-8-7) with just 16 goals for and 24 goals allowed.  New England's last win was a 1-0 decision over Vancouver back on May 14th, The Union have struggled a bit after a hot start and are just 1-1-3 in their last 5 matches and have failed to score in 3 of their last 5 matches.

For me the difference in this match is simple, Shalrie Joseph won't be playing he is suspended as is Ryan Cochrane and I think that will allow Philly to control the midfield action and get a 2-0 win over the Rev's

OFF MY SOAPBOX

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