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MLS week 16 - match previews

OK, we already had two matches this week as on  Wednesday night the KC Wizards shocked the Columbus Crew 1-0, then on Thursday night the Sounders went to DC and did the same thing beat DC United 1-0. In a league where home is usually a very good place to play, week 16 already shows that nobody is safe.  There are just 4 matches on Saturday and one on Sunday, thanks to SuperLiga.

Last week it was a last minute meltdown by the Philadelphia Union that cost them a result at home, now they have to face a TFC side that hasn't lost in their last 8 MLS matches (4-0-4).

Toronto FC at Philadelphia Union - 1:30 MT - Direct Kick

It was heartbreak for the Union last weekend as they lost 2-1 to San Jose on a stoppage time goal to Arutro Alvarez, then in what many Union fans consider a snub, Sebastien Le Touz (6 goals and 6 assists) wasn't named to the MLS First XI for the 2010 All Star match.  The Union have a 3-8-2 record, fairly typical for a MLS expansion side, but 9 of those matches were on the road, so they will have a chance to rebound as 11 of their final 17 matches will be at their brand new PPL Park.  Injuries are going to play a part of this match for the Union as they have a number of impact injuries: OUT: MF Shea Salinas (L fibula stress fracture); QUESTIONABLE: MF Roger Torres (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: MF Kyle Nakazawa (R knee sprain); FW Alejandro Moreno (R knee contusion), and I hear that Moreno is actually going to be out for this match.  This will add a lot of pressure on Fred and Torres to find a way to get Mwanga and Le Toux the ball in dangerous positions.   

Toronto FC has been great at home, but struggled on the road, 1-4-1 with just 6 goals scored and 12 allowed.  The biggest question for TFC is still who other than Dwayne De Rosario can contribute to their offense?  Sure Barrett has 4 goals, but with 8 goals and 3 assists, 65% of their offense comes from DeRo.  So much hype has been made about Julian de Guzman but he hasn't done much to impress me, so will Mista (Miguel Ángel Ferrer Martínez) the new TFC designated player be the difference maker for this team?  He comes from an impressive list of teams in Spain, but has played in just 61 matches with 5 goals over the last 4 seasons.  For now TFC will likely have to keep their hopes on the back of DeRo, which isn't a bad player to put your hopes on.

Thinking this one ends up in a 1-1 draw.

More after the jump:

On paper this is likely the biggest matchup of the weekend, given this weeks headlines for MLS.  Who will come out on top of the Eastern Conference, Columbus have 28 points and are in first place.  While New York, before the arrival of TH14, were an impressive 8-5-2 with 26 points and hot on their heels.

New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew - 5:30 MT - Direct Kick

All the headlines this week for the Red Bulls have had to to with the arrival of Thierry Henry, but the reality is that they had put together a solid team before he got there. From last in MLS in 2009, to just 2 points out of the top spot in the East, and a fairly impressive 3-3-1 away from their new home stadium.  The reality is that for the Red Bulls their star Juan Pablo Angel (9 goals and 2 assists) was enough on the field, but TH14 gives them more offense and the name to fill their stadium.  Offensively once you get past JPA, only two players ( Salou Ibrahim-3, Seth Stammler-2) have found the back of the net more than once.  Their defense is nothing fancy, but when you consider they are anchored by a rookie Tim Ream, they are solid but they are only as good as their keeper Bouna Coundoul is as physically talented as any keeper in MLS, but mental mistakes often cost him and his team.

Columbus will look to rebound from a midweek loss to the lowly KC Wizards.  The Crew rely on GBS (Guillermo Barros Schelotto) 5 goals and 4 assists, and Eddie Gaven 3 goals and 3 assists to be their main creative forces on the pitch as the revolving door of forwards continues (Garey, Lenhart, and Renteria).  Until their midweek loss the Crew had been an impressive 5-1-0 at home, and even now they still hold an impressive +5 goal differential at home.  Their backline will be anchored by Marshal and Iro, and one has to wonder how long Frankie Hejduk will keep his starting spot as his quality of play has dropped off a lot this year.  

This one should be a great battle, but like many battles the french will have little or nothing to do with the final result as TH14 will not see action in this match.  The Crew will look to rebound at home and prove their critics wrong, but look for this one to end up in a 2-2 draw as neither side does enough to claim superiority.

Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas - 6:30 MT - Direct Kick

Read the full match preview here

Kansas City Wizards at Colorado Rapids - 7pm MT - Direct Kick

Well if you were talking about these two teams a week ago the story was probably a lot different, Colorado hadn't lost since May 8th, but had a lot of draws but they played an ugly match and got beat by TFC 1-0.  KC had just one win since April 10th and after a shocking 2-0 home loss to Chivas USA, they headed midweek to Columbus to face the top team in the East.  KC shocked everyone, even themselves as they held onto a lead from the 14th minute and got the 1-0 win.

KC is still not a good team, but if they can score they can do know how to play defense and the pickup of Thomas to secure their backline has already paid off.  To fire up their offense they are going with a 4-5-1 with Bunbury up top and Smith, Kamara, and Arnaud in the midfield playing offense.  That group should be able to do some good things on offense.  The problem is that the win over Columbus was their first on the road where they are 1-5-1 with just 3 goals for and 11 against.

Colorado actually hasn't played badly this year and have a 6-4-4 record but they haven't gotten a win since their June 5th win against Columbus, they are 0-1-3 in their last 4 matches.  The good news is that Casey and Cummings have both started scoring goals, Conor has 6 (3 from the PK spot) while Cummings has 4 goals.  They have improved their defense and have only allowed 13 goals, which is tied for third best in MLS.

I have a feeling this one actually ends up being a fairly ugly and boring match, at least based on how both sides have played recently.  End result is a 0-0 draw.

LA Galaxy at DC United - 5:30pm MT Sunday - Fox Soccer Channel

Coming Soon

I should have the other previews done shortly after the TFC vs Philly match.