Well last week saw me improve my picks to a very solid 7 of 9 right, with the exact score on two of the matches, so what does week 3 of the MLS season hold? Well 9 matches again as the LA Galaxy get their bye week, and there are some very interesting matches that should provide for a weekend full of entertainment value, first up:
So a good test match for both sides as Houston looks to prove their 2-0 start is no fluke, and Seattle looks to continue their good start from last weekends 3-1 win over Toronto FC. The test will be can the offense of the Sounders, which looked good against TFC get a goal on the Houston defense that has yet to give up a goal, let alone be tested in a real way. For Seattle they are unlikely to have Eddie Johnson available but after the hat trick of David Estrada last weekend, does anyone notice? They will miss Mauro Rosales in the midfield, it might pull Fredy Montero back a bit to help the offensive efforts. Houston is a healthy as a team can be but are missing defender Kofi Sarkodie who is with the US U23 team. I have a feeling this might be a fairly entertaining match, and I am going with the home team 1-0 as they hand Houston their first loss of 2012.
San Jose Earthquakes at Toronto FC - Saturday 11am MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live
Both teams will be looking to rebound after losses last week, this marks the home opener (in MLS action) for TFC who will in all likelihood have their attention firmly on their Wednesday Champions League match against Santos, for San Jose it is their first trip to the Eastern conference and it is likely that the very early start time, could cause them some problems adjust not only to the new time zone but the early start. I have been a bit surprised that the offense hasn't clicked yet for the Quakes, but I still believe that the combo of Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski will prove to be a lethal one. For Toronto they showed that they may finally have the pieces in place to make a run in MLS as well as Champions League, beatting LA in the quarterfinals will give them the confidence they have lacked in the past. TFC will also have to deal with missing Torsten Frings who is out with a hamstring strain. I think this one ends up a 1-1 draw.
the rest of the weekends action after the jump:
These two teams are mighty banged up for this early in the season, New England has 7 guys on their injured list with 5 either out or doubtful, including Benny Feilhaber, Sainey Nyassi and Zak Boggs. Portland has 9 guys on their injured list with 7 being out, doubtful, or questionable, including Futty Danso, Eddie Johnson, Sal Zizzo, and Steve Prudy. So beyond getting their first win against Portland (0-1-1), or their first win of the year, the question is can New England get their first goal of the season? I think for me the highlight of this match might be Diego Fagundez in the starting XI, he could be the spark the Rev's need. For Portland, I expect that their offense should look a lot more like what we saw during their First Kick match against Philly. That means expect a lot from Kris Boyd, who is still adjusting to MLS, but showed he does have a goal scorers touch. I have to think that the road team gets the win 2-1 as New England get their first goal but not their first win.
So of all the teams in the East that I expect to under perform all year, I have to say that these two are at the top of my list. Montreal has some huge question marks on defense, and to me even more on offense, then toss in the fact that they are an expansion team and well their success this year is likely to come off great individual efforts. Columbus has gone from being one of the most feared teams, to where they have spend another off season rebuilding. It will be interesting to see if their consistency on defense will be able to help them get results this year but on the offensive side of the ball, it will be Emilio Renteria who will need to finally step up and be the go to guy. This one is likely to end up with a Crew 2-1 win, but don't be surprised if it is a 0-0 draw.
Perhaps no two teams have been more impacted by the US U23 team than these two, Chicago is missing starting keeper Sean Johnson, while Philly is missing Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams, and Fredy Adu. That however is the least of the Union's issues as it has been circulating on twitter today that Danny Califf won't be playing on Saturday, which makes one wonder how long he will be a part of the Union. Clearly Peter Nowak knows what he wants, but one has to wonder if the wheels have simply come off the bus within the Union organization? The Fire will be playing in their home opener and are looking to continue their form that saw them make a serious run at the playoffs last year. This year they will be expecting another big year from Dominic Oduro, if he can become a consistent contributor, the Fire could find themselves in real contention for the playoffs. I think the Fire get a 1-0 win in this one, but this one could be a bit of a snoozer.
Two more teams impacted by CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, Vancouver is missing Bryce Alderson and Russell Teibert, DC is gutted up the middle as Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen are with US U23 team, and Andy Najar who is with the Honduran squad. So can DC United with Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, and Dwayne De Rosario finally put some pressure on the Whitecap defense? So far nobody has been able to make Joe Cannon do much work, and while DC has some weapons that could force him into action, I don't see it happening. A 2-0 win for Vancouver is what I fully expect to happen on Saturday.
Well if 2 weeks ago you had asked me if one of these teams would be 2-0 and one 0-2 after two weeks of the season, I doubt many would have gotten it right. Yet the Rapids have shown up for their new head coach Oscar Pareja and while they haven't been tested much by Philly or Columbus, I expect that New York will be looking to end their 2 match losing streak. New York on the other hand has looked like a train wreck in their first two matches, but as they get Rafa Marquez back, could he provide some glue in the midfield to take some pressure off the backline that has some real question marks? For the Rapids their on field leader is Pablbo Mastroeni, but he is out for this match and with Jeff Larentowicz out it will be interesting to see how the Rapids deal with a very talented New York squad. I think NYRB get their first win, a 2-1 result at home will make the Red Bull fans a lot happier than they have been so far this year.
So perhaps these no two teams offer up more potential excitement than FCD and SKC, and while both sides will be missing some players due to national team call ups and injuries. I still expect that this could be a very exciting match as both sides, without Brek Shea (US U23), Carlos Rodriguez (Panama U23), and Fabian Castillo and David Ferreira both out with injuries, I have to expect that FCD will struggle a bit on the offensive side of the ball. Sporting KC is loaded for bear and while they will be without Teal Bunbury (US u23), they still have Bobby Convey, Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, and Kei Kamara. The question is will FCD test their defense that has yet to give up a goal? I think that without so many weapons that FCD will struggle and this one is a 2-0 win for Sporting who takes over the top spot in the East.
So there you go my look at this weekends MLS action, a lot of exciting matches that should keep fans entertained.
OFF MY SOAPBOX