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MLS Week 15 Previews- everyone plays as we hit the middle of the season.

Well after Thursdays win by Real Salt Lake over Chicago, the rest of the MLS is lining up for action this weekend, the good thing is that everyone will play so there are 7 matches to go along with the World Cup final on Sunday.

So lets take a look at the action:

Colorado Rapids at Toronto FC - 10:00am MT - Direct Kick

Yes you will have to get up early to see if TFC can continue their unbeaten at home streak, but they face a Rapids side that already has results in 5 of their 7 road matches (3-2-2).  The Red's will be without Sanyang and de Guzman who are on red card suspension, then you can toss in some injuries: OUT: DF Emmanuel Gomez (R knee osteochondral injury); QUESTIONABLE: MF Joseph Nane (R shoulder separation); PROBABLE: FW Dwayne De Rosario (L adductor tightness).  TFC is coming off 3 straight draws, all at home but each time they have faced Colorado at BMO field, they have come away with a win.

Colorado is also coming off 3 straight draws, including two on the road and the injury list for Colorado is much shorter: OUT: MF Ciaran O'Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: DF Julien Baudet (R hamstring strain).  It will be a bit of a homecoming for the Rapids Marvell Wynne who was traded for Nick LaBrocca before the season kicked off.  The Rapids will be looking to prove that the 3-1 win in April at Dick's wasn't a fluke.

I think that TFC will get a win in this one 2-1.

more after the jump:

San Jose Earthquakes at Philadelphia Union - 4pm MT - Fox Soccer Channel

Well the Union are home again, for the second time they will take the pitch at PPL Park, this time hosting the San Jose Earthquakes.  This will be the first time the expansion side will face the Quakes, and both sides are unbeaten in their last two matches.  Philly got a win over Seattle when they opened PPL, and a draw last weekend against Chivas.  San Jose got a draw against RSL two weeks ago and one last weekend against DC United.

San Jose went from one of the surprises of the first part of the MLS season, winning 5 of their first 8 matches, to now being winless in their last 5 and the clear cause is defense.  In their first 8 matches they had 5 clean sheets, and they have just one in their last 5.  They have shuffled their lineup a number of times trying to regain form, and because of injuries but still haven't looked like the team that beat the Red Bulls 4-0 back in early May.  Can they rebound against the expansion side Philly?

The Union have started their season with the most brutal road schedule in MLS history, 9 of their first 12 matches have been on the road.  Despite that they have managed to post a 3-7-2 record, which is about what one would expect from an expansion side, but there is an upside for the Union.  Danny Mwanga has started to emerge as a real talent and has racked up 5 goals and 1 assist in just 416 minutes of playing time, but more impressive is the former Sounder Sebastien Le Toux who has 6 goals and 6 assists (out of 15 total Philly goals) to lead the team in both categories.  I like the way the Union play, they don't look to sit back and defend, they look to attack and keep possession and as the team continues to adjust to their coach and each other they will make things rough on teams.

The Union are still an expansion team and San Jose is talented but this one ends up in a 1-1 draw.

DC United at New York Red Bulls - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

If you had asked most people to guess which team would have 25 points going into their 15th match and which team would have just 11, before the season started very few would have gotten this one right, but the Red Bulls are proving themselves contenders in the East, while DC is more questions than answers since Curt Onalfo took over.

For DC United the problem is fairly simple a -14 goal differential is worst in MLS, no team has scored fewer goals than their 11, and only one team has allowed more than their 25.  While there have been signs of improvement, the emergence of Andy Najar, this is still a team that isn't impressive despite their 2-1-2 record in their last 5 matches. One of the major issues facing DC is injuries, here is their list for this match:OUT: MF Brandon Barklage (L ACL tear); DF Marc Burch (R foot surgery); FW Luciano Emilio (concussion); DF Bryan Namoff (post-concussion symptoms); GK Andrew Quinn (R meniscus tear); DF Juan Manuel Pena (R quad strain); DF Rodney Wallace (L fibula fracture); PROBABLE: DF Carey Talley (concussion).  So can the 1-5-1 road team find a way to upset New York who are 5-2-0 at home?

Well for the last few weeks if you follow the Red Bulls, the story hasn't been a team contending for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, instead it has been their soon coming "DP".  I find it all interesting, and I hope the "Handball Henry" can add to the team, and sell some lightup jerseys, but I am a bit baffled by it all.  This is the type of hype that surrounded Beckham coming, and the reality is that the distraction hurt the Galaxy on the field but made them darlings of the media and merchandise vendors.  New York has a solid team that has already more wins than they had in all of 2009, and they have done it by improving their defense, which last year allowed 47 goals against and the team had a -20 goal differential, now they sit at the midway point with just 17 allowed and a +1.  I hope the hype doesn't distract from the issues at hand.

I am going to pick a bit of an upset this week and say this one ends in a 1-1 draw as many in New York are focused on events other than the match.

LA Galaxy at New England Revolution - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

So what happens when you take one of the worst teams in MLS this year and have them face the best team?  In all likelihood you get a very ugly match.  Last weekend New England faced RSL (perhaps the second best team in MLS) and it was a 5-0 thrashing, while the Galaxy (the best team in MLS) got an impressive 3-1 win over Seattle. Maybe the only question is how many goals will LA win by?

Listen up, New England has struggled all year and there is a clear reason why, Injuries.  Here is their injury list: OUT: FW Zak Boggs (concussion); GK Preston Burpo (R lower leg fracture); MF Nico Colaluca (R ankle sprain); DF Cory Gibbs (L quadriceps strain); FW Edgaras Jankauskas (L adductor strain); FW Taylor Twellman (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Steve Ralston (L elbow dislocation); MF Khano Smith (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: DF Darrius Barnes (R ankle/foot sprain); MF Shalrie Joseph (L ankle sprain). Those issues aren't going away this weekend as the Rev's will start 11 guys and half of them are names that most fans have never heard of.  A tough task in facing LA, becomes even tougher with so many injuries.

For most people the question isn't will LA beat New England, but how many goals will they score? and can they continue to be the stingiest defense in recent MLS history?  LA have scored 25 goals in 15 matches, and allowed only 5 goals for an impressive +20 goal differential.  Edson Buddle is the top scorer in MLS despite being gone for weeks with the USMNT, Landon Donovan continues to lead the league in assists, and he too was gone to the World Cup.  Many people wonder how long Landon will be with the Galaxy as the July transfer window opens in just 5 days, and suitor Man City coming to the states for some preseason matches.

It won't matter much how long Landon plays or if he plays against New England, the Galaxy will get the win 2-0.

Chivas USA at Kansas City Wizards - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Perhaps no two teams have been bigger disappointments at this point of the MLS season, than Chivas (3-9-2 11pts) and KC (3-7-3 12pts).  Both teams have had a lot of changes to their rosters, and both teams have fairly new coaches, it is interesting that both teams also have -6 goal differentials.  Both sides will be looking to finish the first half of the MLS season.

For Chivas this has been their longest winless streak in team history as their last win came back on May 5th, and since then they are 0-6-1.  There are plenty of issues for Chivas, but unlike most teams injuries aren't  the issue as they have no reported injuries, but perhaps the fact that they have only two clean sheets on the season is one of the issues?  Lot's of new players trying to get used to a new coach and a new system have left a team that had made the playoffs each of the last three years, on the outside looking in at this point.

KC started with back to back wins this season, but in the next 11 matches they have only been able to get one win. In the offseason a lot of changes where made on the KC roster, but looking at their projected lineup for this match you see a lot of familiar names back in their starting 11.  Perhaps they are beginning to realize that changing for the sack of changing isn't always the best thing to do to a team.

It will be interesting to see how the teams matchup on the narrow Community America pitch, think this one ends up a 1-1 draw.

Columbus Crew at Houston Dynamo - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick

3 of the last 4 MLS Cups have been won by these two teams, and while Columbus sits atop of the Eastern Conference, the Dynamo find themselves struggling a bit more than usual at this point of the season.  It should lead to an interesting matchup at Robertson Stadium in Houston, where the Crew have never won, but the Dynamo have already lost 3 matches there this year.

I said in my preseason look at Houston that I expected them to struggle this year, they lost two All Star/ USMNT players in Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark, and looking at their projected lineup you see Lovel Palmer and Richard Mulrooney in their places and that it a tough situation for any player to try to do well in.  The Houston defense also has to take a huge part of the blame for the struggles, in 2009 they allowed 29 goals against all year, and now they have already allowed 22. On the offensive side, no player has more than 3 goals, but 14 players have scored goals for the boys in Orange.  Can they find the back of the net against Columbus, can they get their first win since May 22nd?

The Crew have struggled against Western Conference foes, in fact both of their losses have come to teams from the West and only two of their 8 wins have been against teams from the West, and they have yet to beat a Western team on the road.  For the Crew it is all about GBS (Guillermo Barros Schelotto), who leads the team with 5 goals and 4 assists, which means he has been involved in 9 of their 20 goals.  Teams also have to account for Eddie Gaven who has 3 goals and 3 assists.  The question is can the Crew get their first ever win in Houston, dealing with a desperate team, a heat index above 100, and a bad air alert that will turn a tough place to play into one that is almost unbearable.

Upset of the week Houston 2 - Columbus 1

FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders - 8:30pm MT(Sunday) -Direct Kick

After the World Cup is over, and you are back home relaxing you can catch a late night match between a struggling Seattle side (4-8-3) and a surprising FC Dallas side (5-2-6).  Seattle is coming off a big US Open Cup win over LA midweek, while FC Dallas will be looking for revenge at Qwest Field, where their season ending loss last year kept them out of the playoffs once again.

FC Dallas has been picking up points by not loosing, they lead the league with 6 draws and only LA has fewer losses than their 2.  FC Dallas has been doing it with solid defense, they have only allowed 12 goals this year, and only RSL and LA have allowed fewer, but their offense has only scored 16 and last years Golden Boot winner for MLS Jeff Cunningham has found himself moved to the bench as the team has moved to a 4-5-1 formation. It is hard to argue with the move as FC Dallas have won 3 straight matches and they are 3-1-1 in their last 5 matches, so can they get their first ever win over Seattle?

0-4-2 against Western Conference opponents, 3-4-1 at home, and 1-4-0 in their last 5, none of those are numbers you would expect to hear about Seattle.  Last years darlings, have run into a number of issues in 2010 but perhaps none has been more damaging than injuries.  They have lost players that were a vital part of their 2009 success, and while some are finally returning to action, their injury list is still lengthy: OUT: MF Brad Evans (R knee meniscus); MF Michael Fucito (R knee contusion); DF Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: MF Osvaldo Alonso (R quadriceps strain); MF Freddie Ljungberg (L ankle sprain).  4 of those 5 players were keys to the success the Sounders had last year.  Seattle has to find a way to control possession of the ball and stop leaking goals, their 23 allowed is the most in the Western Conference, they allowed just 29 in all of 2009.  They are going to be looking to build momentum from that Open Cup 2-0 win over LA, and if they can get the ball to Jaqua in dangerous positions they might be able to keep that momentum going.

A minor upset pick, as I think Seattle gets a huge home win 2-1 over FC Dallas, it will be interesting to see how many fans show up on a Sunday evening, and how they react to their struggling side.

OFF MY SOAPBOX