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MLS week 9 previews and picks

Well my midweek picks sucked, Columbus won over a game New York side (damm bars and posts), while LA wasn't the better team but got the goal and the result against FC Dallas.  I will need to really pick it up with my weekend picks.

New England Revolution at Toronto FC - 11am MT - Direct Kick

Well both teams are coming off draws last week against Western conference foes, but TFC were the more impressive earning a 0-0 draw against the powerful LA Galaxy on the road.  The Rev's did something they had struggled with and defended their home turf against San Jose to earn a 0-0 draw. While these two teams often battle to draws at BMO field, the Red's have notched all 3 of their wins at home this year scoring 8 goals while only allowing 2.  New England will be looking for a way to spark a struggling offense that has just 4 goals in their last 6 matches, including 3 where they failed to find the back of the net at all.

We all know that war is hell, for the Revolution hell is the list of players MIA; Out with injury are Taylor Twellman, Matt Reis, Emmanuael Osei, Mike Videira, and Darrius Barnes, Ed Jankauskas is listed as questionable, and of course Shalrie Joseph is still dealing with personal issues.  So when they take the pitch you are more often seeing names like Sinovic, Niouky, Schilawski, and for most Rev fans the 2-5-2 record is something they are very unfamiliar with and they will be looking to Steve Nicol to start pulling off some of the football magic like he has done in the past.  I expect this will be one of the sides that is very busy when the summer transfer window opens.  Their leading goal scorer is rookie Zack Schilawski with 4, but 3 of those came in a single match back in week 3 against TFC (they won't be watching him closely will they), Kenny Mansally and Zak Boggs both have 2 goals this year but for each of them their goals came in single matches.  Mansally got both goals against DC, and it was enough for the win, Zak got both of his two weeks ago in a 3-2 loss at Columbus.  So who will score for New England this week?  Or will it be the 4th match of the year they go goalless? 

Up to last week the boys from Toronto were a known, win at home, get beat up on the road.  Heck even New England beat them up back in week 3 of the season 4-1, but then a trip to the Home Depot Center to face the mighty LA Galaxy (8-0-2) changed everything, they hope.  When you face the team that has scored the most goals in MLS this year (16) at home the last thing you are thinking is that you have much of a chance of shutting them down, but TFC did just that.  I don't think it was LA's best effort of the year, but getting a 0-0 draw on the road against a powerful team is just the type of confidence boost that the Red's needed.  Now their 3-0-0 home record and their +6 home goal differential (8 scored and 2 allowed) can be defended with some swagger in their step, but they are still just 3-4-1 overall and while that is good enough to sit in 3rd place in the East, it would leave them out of the playoffs once again. So the question is with injuries keeping Gomez and Harden out, de Guzman and Attakora as questionable, and impacting the play of Gargan and White, a red card suspension for Usanov, and a Canadian National team callup for De Rosario, can TFC adjust and overcome?  At home against a struggling Revolution side, I think they can and getting a bit of revenge for their 4-1 loss earlier in the year will probably fire up Preki's boys to pull out a 3-1 win.

More Previews after the jump:

San Jose at Seattle Sounders - 4pm MT - FSC

Going into last week many fans and pundits began to wonder about Seattle, what was wrong with the team that played so well last year, they were sitting at 2-3-3, including as many losses at home in 5 matches as they had all of last year.  The Pundits were also wondering where did this San Jose team come from, having gone 4-1-1 after their opening day loss to RSL.  Well Seattle silenced some critics by going to New York and pulling out a late win, getting some revenge for one of their home losses.  So San Jose now has to go to Seattle, a place they lost two matches last year, and see if they can get another important road result to boost their 1-1-1 record.

The Quakes are still battling some injury issues, but with just Eduardo listed as out and Arturo Alvarez and Joey Gjertsen listed as probable, their lineup should be as close to 100 percent as possible. For me the early season success of rookie defender Ike Opara has been one of the keys to San Jose's turnaround, they have only allowed 7 goals this year and their offense have provided 11.  That defensive number is more impressive when you consider they gave up 3 in their first match, it has left Joe Cannon with a 1.00 GAA but 4 clean sheets out of 7 matches played.  While the scoring has been done by 7 different players it has been Chris Wondolowski's 4 that lead the team, Convey has added 5 assists and Ryan Johnson has 4.  The Quakes appear to have righted their ship from last year and are looking for a playoff spot this year.

If one wants to know one of the major factors in what may be perceived as a slow start for Seattle, you only need to look at their injury list as Jaqua, Vagenas, and Fucito are listed as out, Evans is questionable and Alonso is now listed as probable, but just days ago Montano and Noonan were on that list as well.  The struggle has also been how to score goals, in 9 matches just 9 times has the powerful Sounder offense found the back of the net.  Three times they haven't been able to score a goal, shockingly two of those have come at home, while Fredy has found the back of the net 3 times, Freddie has yet to get a goal.  It looks like Seattle will be making some big changes to their lineup and formation as Sigi looks to respark the magic of last year.  This will be a close match, going to give the home team an edge here and say this ends 1-0 Seattle.

DC United at Houston Dynamo - 6pm MT - Galavision

Can anyone say mismatch?  Sorry but the 4-4-1 Houston Dynamo has looked like a mixed bag this year, including two losses at home, but expect a rebound from last weeks 3-1 loss to RSL.  The other side of the match is the 1-7-0 DC United, who have scored just 4 goals, while allowing 16, both of those are the worst in MLS.  I would suggest nobody expect a blow out in this match, in fact don't be surprised if United actually look like the better team in the match.

You have to believe that at some point of the year that DC United will find a way to finish, in many of their losses they have played well, only to fail to score when given chances and to finish out matches on defense.  If United can overcome their long list of injuries, Burch, Jakovic, Namoff, Quaranta, and Quin listed as out, Pontius is questionable, they should get a boost by the way Clyde Simms has been playing.  The simple reality is that DC United can't get better unless they find a way to score, 6 times this year they have failed to do so.  Their defense has gotten better, allowing just a single goal in each of their last 3 matches, but without goals that still equates to losses.

So picking this one is easy, Houston will win.  Look at their last 8 matches, win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-?? if things follow form Houston will get a win.  They will have to do so without Ching, Onstad, and Hainault who are all playing with their national teams.  They will also be without Cameron who is out for the season, but Weaver and Robinson who have missed matches in recent weeks are now listed as probable.  I think the upside for Houston is that their 12 goals have come from 9 different players and that means you can never just try to shut down just one player.  It is that team effort that DC United is lacking, and it is that type of team play that will get Houston a 2-1 win over United.

Real Salt Lake at Chivas USA - 8:30 MT - DIrect Kick

I already did this one RSL wins 2-1

Columbus Crew at Kansas City Wizards - 2pm MT Sunday - Direct Kick

After two wins to start their season, the Wizards have gone 0-3-2 with their draws coming at home and losses on the road.  The Crew are 5-0-2, and one of only two undefeated teams left in MLS, a bit troubling is their 1-0-2 record away from their home turf, where last minutes calls and no calls have helped them out.  The Crew did go to New York midweek and thump the Red Bulls 3-1 to add some credibility to their early season resume.  This will be the 40th time the two teams have faced off, the series is fairly even 18 wins for the Crew with 69 goals scored, KC has 16 wins with 61 goals and only 5 times has it ended up as a draw.  In KC, the Wizards hold a 9 to 7 edge with 2 draws.  So can KC find a way to right their ship at home on Sunday?

KC is another of the Eastern Conference teams with a new coach and lots of new players, 14 have played in fewer than 30 MLS matches.  The question for KC is can they score goals on a regular basis, they have scored 8 goals this year, but 4 of those came in their opening match.  Their saving grace may be Kei Kamara, who has 5 of their 8 goals including 3 in their last two matches.  The failure to score goals has put a lot of pressure on their defense, and after giving up just a single goal in their first 4 matches, they have given up 7 in the last 3 matches.  They will need to replace Espinoza who has played in ever match for KC this year as he was called up to Honduran National team.  Getting Jimmy Conrad back and healthy is an important key for KC, but they will need more than him when they face the Crew.

So the Crew went to face the top team in the East (New York) on Thursday and they did so without GBS who was suspended, without Robbie Rogers and Chad Marshall, who are with the USMNT and yet they still found a way to get a 3-1 win on the road.  Now they did get lucky that New York could only hit the posts and not the net but it was a solid effort by the boys in yellow.   GBS will be back with his 4 goals and 1 assist, and now they have Gaven, Iro, and Renteria coming off goals in their last match, and the reality is that in the East no team has the depth of Columbus and it showed on Thursday and it will show again as they get another road result 2-2 draw against KC.

My Picks
Toronto 3 - New England 1
Seattle 1 - San Jose 0
Houston 2 - DC United 1
RSL 2 - Chivas 1
Columbus 2 - Kansas City 2