Major League Soccer kicks off Week 18 with a bunch of midweek matches - Previews and Picks

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Well nothing says midweek holiday like 7 midweek MLS matches, with two matches on Tuesday night and 5 matches taking advantage of the July 4th holiday on Wednesday. So lets get started with the Tuesday matches:

Chicago Fire at Houston Dynamo - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live

The Fire could move into 3rd place in the East with a win, and the Dynamo will be looking to keep their hold on the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. it is very likely that we will see new Houston DP Boniek Garcia in his second MLS match, can he boost the Dynamo who are 2-2-1 in their last 5 matches? The Fire have won 3 straight matches for the first time in a long time and will look to add number 4 at Houston, the Fire have only been held scoreless 3 times this year, so we can expect that this won't end as a 0-0 draw. I think the Fire are in good form and I am going with a mild upset 2-1 for the Fire.

San Jose Earthquakes at Portland Timbers - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live

San Jose showed again on Saturday night why they are the best team in MLS right now, as they came back to get a huge 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy. The Timbers came into the season with high hopes and expectations but continue to struggle with just a 4-7-4 record, and while they gained a bit of swagger with their recent home win over the Seattle Sounders, this team has issues on both sides of the ball. There aren't many defenses who can deal with Chris Wondolowski and I don't think the Timbers will be able to stop him, the Quakes cut down the Timbers 2-0.

The Wednesday matches after the jump:

Sporting Kansas City at Montreal Impact - 5:00pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live

A little bit funky to have a US team playing in Canada on the 4th of July, but welcome to the crazy world that is the MLS schedule. The Impact continue to make changes to their roster, but they also continue to be very inconsistent, so will the team that upset SKC 2-0 on the road be able to do it again at home? Sporting KC looked so go for so long that a lot of people still don't know what to make of their recent form (just 2 wins in their last 9 matches), but the talent is there with guys like Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, and others, it is just a question of delivering the goods. I am going with a US upset on the 3rd of July as I think Sporting gets a 2-1 win on the road and a bit of redemption.

Toronto FC at FC Dallas - 7:00pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live

At 3-9-5 is there a team that has been a bigger disappointment this year in MLS than FC Dallas? I don't even think that the 2-10-3 record of Toronto FC comes close, we knew there were big issues at BMO field, but Dallas showed so much potential. For TFC they actually have 4 straight results, including a big result against the New York Red Bulls last weekend, can they capitalize on the misfortunes of FC Dallas? There is no doubt that injuries have played a huge role in the troubles of FC Dalals, but mental breakdowns have also played a role, so the question is can Jackson, Brek Shea, Daniel Hernandez, and the rest of the team stay focused on getting a result? I have a bad feeling that this could be a 0-0 draw.

Vancouver Whitecaps at Colorado Rapids - 7:30pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live

These two teams sit in the final two playoff spots for the Western Conference but with the fast charging LA Galaxy closing the gap quickly both teams are in need of a result. The Rapids have been dealing with a laundry list of injuries all year long and that has caused them to shift formations to try and put out a team of healthy players. The Vancouver Whitecaps have established themselves as a real contender this season and with the addition of Barry Robson should provide a bit more creativity to the offensive side of the game for the Whitecaps. I think this actually could be a darn good match, but I think it likely ends up a 2-2 draw.

Seattle Sounders at Real Salt Lake - 8:00pm MT - CW30, Direct Kick & MLS Live

A full match preview of this one will be coming shortly.

Philadelphia Union at Los Angeles Galaxy 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live

Oh my one has to wonder what the 4-3 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes may have done to the psyche of the LA Galaxy and will the Union be able to pull off a huge upset? Well to boost morale the LA Galaxy have moved Omar Gonzalez to the Active list, now will he play? I have a hard time imagining that he is really match fit after the injury he suffered but even being at practice or on the bench would provide a big boost to that damage psyche. The Union continue to have a lot of chaos in their front office and on the pitch, but with all the changes you know that a lot of guys will be doing all that they can to secure their space on the roster. I think LA is able to rebound and I have to believe they pick up a 3-1 win.

OK now you have my thoughts on all the midweek action, enjoy the matches and have a great week. Remember to be safe, if you are in one of the dry states, just common sense and beware of the fire risk.

OFF MY SOAPBOX

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