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For the first time this season a full Saturday schedule, 9 matches featuring 18 of Major League Soccer's 19 teams. Only league leaders Sporting Kansas City aren't in action on Saturday, I do like that a lot of the action is spread out as it makes it easier to catch as much of the action live as possible. The day will start early for those of us not on the East coast, first kickoff is noon:
This could be one of the more interesting matches of the day, as the Portland Timbers are desperate to build on their upset win over Sporting KC last weekend, and Montreal have kept coming closer and closer to adding a second win to their expansion year total. The crowd in Montreal won't be as loud or as organized as what Portland is used to at home, but Montreal will have the benefit of playing on the worst turf in MLS which at least they are used to. For me this match comes down to can Montreal's defense keep the potentially lethal Portland offense from becoming lethal? Will Kris Boyd or Darlington Nagbe add to their 3 goals each has scored so far this year, or can the worst defense in the league come up with some support for Donovan Ricketts in goal? I like Montreal at home but I am going to say this one ends a 1-1 draw.
I am sure that NBC Sports is hoping and praying that the Red Bull team that got spanked by DC United last weekend isn't the team that shows up today, for New England you are also left wondering what teams will show up, a month ago they went to LA and beat up the Galaxy, since then they have a pair of losses. Jay Heaps is finding out what Hans Backe knows, this MLS coaching gig isn't an easy nut to crack. For the Red Bulls you know where the offense will come from, Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry, but with New England they have scored just 5 goals this year and only Saer Sene has more than one (he has 2). I am sorry but I think the Red Bulls get back on the winning track 3-1 in this one.
The rest of my previews and picks after the jump:
I don't think there is a pair of teams dealing with more injuries, suspension, and controversy over the last week than these two. Combined 14 players listed as questionable or worse, oh and Philly will be without their head coach Peter Nowak as well, one simply has to wonder what we will see when these two clash on Saturday. The Union have struggled on offense, with just 4 goals scored, while the Quakes have scored 13 lead by Chris Wondolowski, who leads MLS with 8 (tied with TH14). I did find some humor that in their game guide, San Jose doesn't have Steven Lenhart listed as a starter, hopefully they will keep him off the pitch so he doesn't bring more negative attention to a team that is playing really well. I don't see the Union ending up with more than a draw in this one so I am going with a San Jose 2-1 win.
This is a match that could steal the weekend, DC United hasn't lost a match in their last 5, while Houston have only played 5 matches as they wait for their new stadium to be built. Houston is the definition of even keeled, they don't score many goals, just 5 in their 5 matches, but they don't give up many goals, again just 5 in their 5 matches, which is why they are sitting a 2-1-2. DC struggled early but have improved to 3-2-3 and find themselves in second place in the Eastern Conference. Each week for DC it has been someone stepping up, what amazes me is that neither Dwayne De Rosario or new signing Hamdi Salihi have scored a goal yet, DeRo does have 4 assists, but it has been Maicon Santos, Nick DeLeon and Chris Pontius who have been finding the back of the net and doing it well. For Houston it is all about when will Brad Davis be back from his latest injury? With him they are a MLS Cup contenting team, without him they are a middle of the pack team. He doesn't play today, and DC United pick up a 2-0 win.
This could be the ugliest match of the weekend, The Crew are simply a boring team to watch as their rebuilding (again) continues and Vancouver has the potential to be an offensive juggernaut but they can't find the back of the net very well with just 6 goals in 7 matches. Lots of people jumped on the Whitecap bandwagon after the started the year with back to back wins but in the 5 matches since that they have just a single win. Columbus on the other hand has two wins this year, one over winless Toronto and one over 1 win Montreal, now they were able to get a 2-2 draw against Houston last weekend, but it wasn't impressive. This one has 1-1 draw written all over it.
Along with Houston, these two teams have played the fewest matches in MLS this year, each has just 5 matches under their belts. The Sounders have been playing lights out defense, giving up just 2 goals so far this year, which has allowed them to deal with the injuries that have haunted the start of their season. With names like Alvaro Fernandez, Mauro Rosales and Brad Evans on the injured list it explains why their lineup looks a bit jumbled at times this year. The Fire have been another of those teams have simply been average, they have scored 6 goals, allowed 6 goals and have a 2-1-2 record, not bad but not overwhelming. I do think their midfield with the 4 P's (Marco Pappa, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini, and Pavel Pardo) is going to be interesting to watch this year, a lot of quality players there. I think this one is tight, going to go with the home team to pull out a 2-1 win.
You can read my full match preview on this one, but I am picking RSL to get a win as the troubles of TFC simply are too much for them to overcome at Rio Tinto.
I loved the line last night on #OnFrame on KALL700, what result to you want when two Western Conference teams play? A tie, of course. It actually would be the first draw that either of these teams would have this year, It is strange that Chivas USA has won all their matches on the road and not just barely. With just one goal allowed in their 3 road matches, that is an impressive number, so far in 7 matches Chivas have only allowed 5 goals, a sign that Robin Fraser's plan to build defense first is working. Their problem is they have only scored 4 goals so far this year, but with Juan Pablo Angel cleared to play, that might change as soon as Saturday. For the Rapids the emotion of a new coach and new playing style paid off with 3 wins in their first 4 matches, but emotion will only get you so far and that is proven with their last 3 results all losses. Could the return of Conor Casey to the 18 man roster be the catalyst that the Rapids need? Not sure, I am going with a 0-0 draw in this one.
FC Dallas at Los Angeles Galaxy – 8:30pm MT – Direct Kick & MLS Live
The LA Galaxy have finally started to look like the team that most people expected with back to back wins, while FC Dallas continues to hold on despite a plaque of injuries. This could be a very fun match to cap off the busy MLS Saturday schedule. FC Dallas will have one of the most exciting additions to MLS this year, Blas Perez is back from his one match suspension, plus they get back Jackson who was called back from his loan. Then toss in Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo and you just never know what might happen. I remember how everyone was telling me, and I bought it that bringing back Edson Buddle would make the LA Galaxy unbeatable this year. Yeah, not so much as Edson has 1 goal and 1 assist in his 6 matches back. LA is the "3 man circus" it is all about David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane, as they go so go the Galaxy, the question is can they go against FC Dallas? Yes, yes they can and while I want this one to end a draw, I just don't see it happening, this one ends up 3-2 and I have to think LA gets a late goal to win it.
Last weekend was a tough one as I got just 3 of the 8 matches picked correctly, but I am sure this week I will get at least 5 of the 9 right, what do you think? Who are you picking this weekend?
OFF MY SOAPBOX