Well it is that time again,and the last for a few weeks as MLS will head into a FIFA break for a couple of weeks following this weekends action. So a final chance for teams to gains some points before the break, 9 matches fill the weekend for MLS so let's get started.
Los Angeles Galaxy at Houston Dynamo - 12:30pm MT - NBC Sports
How tempting this match must have looked before the season started, a holiday weekend kicked of with a rematch of the 2011 MLS Cup, but oh my how things have changed. The Houston Dynamo started their season with 7 straight road matches before opening their new home stadium, and find themselves with just a 3-3-4 record and in 7th place in the East. The LA Galaxy wish they were in 7th place, instead they are 3-7-2 and in last place in the West and are 0-4-1 in the last 5 matches. LA is simply dealing with a lot of issues including the fact that they will be without Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane who like Houston's Geoff Cameron are on national team call ups, LA is also dealing with just a lack of cohesion on the pitch. Houston have had their own issues as their usually very stingy defense hasn't lived up to it's reputation and on offense neither Brian Ching or Will Bruin have looked really dangerous this year. I can see this one a 0-0 or 1-1 draw.
Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC - 2:30pm MT - Direct Kick and MLS Live
The bottom two team in all of MLS will do battle as TFC look for their first points of the MLS season just days after claiming a spot in the Champions League by winning the Canadian Championship. This could be a make or break match for the coaches of each of these teams as well, in fairness both sides have dealt with a lot of injuries this year and for Philly you can add in a ton of roster changes since last year. Toronto FC have listed Torsten Frings on their probable lineup and if he plays it could be the shot in the arm that the Reds need to get some points. Freddy Adu is back after his red card suspension and if he can play like he did a couple weeks ago he could spark some good things for the Union. Still this is likely to be a "hot mess" on the pitch, but I am going with TFC to pick up their first win 2-1.
the rest of the weekend after the jump:
Believe it or not, this would actually be the wildcard match in the East if the playoffs started today, and both of these sides are getting better as the weeks continue. If I said I wasn't completely shocked by the Crew picking up a huge 2-0 at Seattle on Wednesday it would be a lie, it wasn't pretty but for the 3rd straight match they got a goal from Justin Meram. The Fire picked up a very controversial 2-1 midweek win over FC Dallas in a match were they really didn't look that good. The rivalry between these two teams is usually one of the more entertaining in MLS, but the Fire hold an edge 20-11-13, and even in matches played in Columbus the Fire have the edge 9-6-6. I think this one has a 1-1 draw as the most likely outcome.
DC United has to be excited at the opportunity to take over the top spot in the Eastern Conference if they can pick up a win over the Revolution, for New England a chance to pick up points before the break and to move themselves up the table after a very mixed start of the season should have them motivated. This actually could be one of the more exciting matches of the weekend as you get Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar and DC's midfield going against Sharlie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen who have looked very good at times for the Revs. It will be interesting to see if Saer Sene can steal the spotlight in this match as he has done so many times already this season? Still I have to go with DC who look very good so far this season, I see a 3-2 shootout with DC moving to the top of the East.
FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake - 7:00pm MT - CW30, Direct Kick and MLS Live
A full match preview of this one will be coming up shortly, but it is a cold and rainy day in Salt Lake City, which could impact both sides on Saturday night.
Both of these teams will be looking to establish some momentum going into the break, for both sides they have shown flashes of being very good teams but also made a number of missteps to start the season. The Rapids are still a team dealing with a big number of injuries to very important players like Pablo, Marvell, Omar Cummings, and yes Conor Casey again, each absence will impact what the Rapids can do. For Montreal they are still figuring things out as this expansion side looks less and less like a first year team each week. This week they announced the signing of Marco Di Vaio, who should eventually boost their offense, can they improve on their 1-5-1 road record? I am going to go with the upset pick as the Rapids are just missing too many pieces, I can see this being a 1-0 Impact win.
The Whitecaps held on to secure a 2-2 draw with Seattle in the first match of the Cascadia Cup last weekend, while the Timbers got a much needed boost from a 2-1 win over Chicago last weekend. These may be the two most healthy teams in MLS but a lot of questions still exist for both teams, for Portland the question is if/when will this team live up to their potential, guys like Kris Boyd and Franck Songo'o simply haven't lived up to the hype. For Vancouver it still comes down to when will all this offensive power (Eric Hassli, Camilo, Sebastian Le Toux) start to live up to expectations. I think this one is a fun battle to watch and likely ends up being a 2-2 draw.
The last two weeks couldn't have been more different for these two teams, the Sounders started off the season with an impressive run but the last two weeks they are 0-2-1 with a midweek 2-0 loss at home to the Columbus Crew. Chivas USA started the year looking like a club in total chaos, but they are 1-0-2 in their last 3 matches against some of the biggest teams in MLS, with 1-1 draws on the road against both San Jose and New York, oh and a huge 1-0 win over the Galaxy last weekend. The Sounders have had to deal with a number of injuries all year, and this weekend they will be without the cornerstone of their midfield as Osvaldo Alonso was suspended by MLS for a tackle made against the Crew. Chivas USA might get a real boost if Juan Agudelo, who was released from the USMNT camp can provide some minutes. This one has the look of a 1-1 draw.
Well this is the marquee match of the weekend, San Jose holds on to the top spot in MLS and Sporting KC started out the season with 7 straight wins. Yet the biggest storylines of the match are likely going to be who doesn't play for San Jose, Chris Wondolowski and his 11 goals and 3 assists are with the USMNT and Steven Lenhart, who has 5 goals this year and is always a center of controversy is out for yellow card accumulation. This means that Alan Gordon will be pushed into being more than a super sub and need to contribute in a big way. Sporting showed last weekend with their 2-2 draw at Colorado that they still can be a dangerous team, but the team that gave up just 1 goal in their first 6 matches has given up 6 in their last 3, can their defense hold the Quakes offense that has 26 goals scored in check? Without their big guns the Quakes will need to be perfect on the defensive side of the ball, and against a good SKC attack, I see this being a 2-1 SKC win.
OK, there you go a full weekend of MLS action, and now you know what I think is going to happen and what to keep your eyes on.
OFF MY SOAPBOX