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Major League Soccer - Week 3 previews and picks

Well Real Salt Lake may not be in action this weekend but that isn't going to prevent me from taking a look at all the other goodness that Major League Soccer has to offer.  Last week was another stinker for my picks as I only had 4 correct outcomes (no exactos) and 5 wrong outcomes.  Hopefully this week I will do much better, also check out Scott's previews and picks for this weekend.

FC Dallas at Columbus Crew - Friday 5:30pm MT - Fox Soccer Channel

One would normally expect this to be an exciting match between teams who were in the thick of things last year, but so far in 2011 neither side has gotten a win yet.  In fact both sides have scored just a single goal in their first two league matches, while both giving up three goals.  Both sides let a number of their big names, big minutes guys go in the off season and clearly neither has fully found their form heading into week 3.  The history between these two sides is so even it is simply scary.  They have faced off 38 times, each team has 15 wins, while 8 times the match ended in a draw, and in typical MLS form the home side holds a distinctive edge as Columbus is 10-4-6 against FCD at home.

For me the difference in this match will come down to defense both in the midfield and on the back line and I have to give the advantage to FC Dallas in both cases, still hard to pick against the home side.  This one ends a 1-1 draw.

After the jump the rest of the MLS weekend previewed and picked.

Chivas USA at Toronto FC - 11am MT-

Two teams with new coaches, two teams clearly in the rebuilding mode, and two teams that have given up 4 goals each in their first two matches.  While the rumors of a trade involving Dwayne De Rosario and the New York Red Bulls is still very much up in the air, the chaos around TFC is nothing new.  While Chivas USA has their own issues they made a great move in picking up Robin Fraser as head coach, the question remains without results how long will they let him have to rebuild the team.  For both of these sides the first half of the year is going to be very interesting to say the least, in their 4 meetings at BMO Field, they have split with each team getting two wins, and in 8 meetings there has never been a draw between the two teams.  I think with or with De Ro that Toronto will get the better of this one 2-1.

Sporting KC at Vancouver Whitecaps - 5pm MT - Direct Kick

Well the road trip doesn't end for Sporting, they now head north of the border and will face expansion side Vancouver, but both teams will be without their big name stars as the Whitecaps will be without Eric Hassli, and SKC will be without Omar Bravo.  So 4 of the 9 goals these two teams have scored will be out of the match, and both sides have a number of injuries that will make an impact.  Vancouver will also be without their #1 overall draft pick Omar Salgado who is with the US U20 team.  Perhaps the biggest impact will be if Kei Kamara is ready to go for Sporting KC, he has been on national team duty but returns to the team for this match.  He opens up their offense and could be a real difference maker, but Vancouver was great at home in their opener.  Tough match but a 2-2 draw is how I think this one ends.

Portland Timbers at New England Revolution - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Perhaps the biggest surprises in the first couple weeks of the season, Portland for how they have struggled and New England for how they haven't.  New England have mastered the quick goal in their first two matches and Portland will need to be ready to go from the first whistle or they could find themselves fighting from behind once again.  The Timbers are one of a few teams to have given up 5 goals already in league play, and with just a single goal scored they will need to make some adjustments to say in this match.  While the weather today is anything but nice in the Northeast, tomorrow should be better but windy. I think this is a match were an experienced and very talented Shalrie Joseph simply takes over and imposes his will on both sides of the ball.  Portland will need to look somewhere else for their first MLS win, as New England pull out a 2-0 win.

Houston Dynamo at New York Red Bulls - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Well it looks like the Red Bulls have their band back together in time to host the Houston Dynamo, only Sacir Hot is still on international call up (US u20) and only 2 players on the injury Out list: Chris Albright and Greg Sutton.  So unlike last week when they stunk up the pitch at Columbus you have to believe they will be able to show what all the money and hype are about with an impressive display.  I think Houston some huge issues still as they try to figure out their back line and how they are going to get goals this year, the aged veteran Brian Ching, or the promising rookie WIll Bruin,  or someone else, so far their only goal of the year has come from Geoff Cameron.  New York has the names but perhaps the most impressive thing is that they haven't given up a goal in their first two MLS matches, clearly the move of Rafa Marquez to the back line was the right move to make.  I think clearly New York should be the better team and pull out the 2-0 win at home.

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

Well this turns out to be a very interesting match up, LA has looked very pedestrian at 1-1-1 with 3 goals for and 5 against, while the Union have looked like a team that knows how to get wins.  Neither of the Union's two wins have been pretty, but they still haven't given up a goal and they have found a way to get game winners.  Of course for LA the news is that Landon is back and not a minute too soon as the team looked awful in their 4-1 loss to RSL last weekend without him.  For me the key for the Union will be getting out to a quick start, if they can get an early goal like they did at Houston they could make this match real interesting.  I think that LA will find a way to get back on the right path, if they can get Beckham to stay focused for the entire match.  LA wins 2-1 in a good match.

Seattle Sounders at San Jose Earthquakes - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick

I don't know anyone who thought Seattle would be without a win after their first 3 MLS matches or that they would have scored a single goal, but that is exactly the case as they head down to the bay area to face the San Jose Earthquakes.  For me this match is perhaps the most interesting of the weekend, I really can't wait to see the midfields of these two teams clash, Bobby Convey, Simon Dawkins, Joey Gjertsen, and Chris Wondolowski vs. Steve Zakuani,  Brad Evans, Erik Friberg, and Osvaldo Alonso.  That is worth the price of admission alone, but if San Jose plays like they did the final 20 minutes against RSL two weeks ago, or the entire match against Dallas last week it could be a long night for the Sounders.  San Jose 2-1 in an exciting match to watch.

D.C. United at Colorado Rapids  - Sunday 5:00pm MT - Direct Kick

DC will look to rebound from a disappointing weekend at New England and this weekend won't be any easier as they will head to the Rocky Mountains to face the defending MLS Cup Champions who have started 2011 like they ended 2010 and are one of three teams at 2-0.  Colorado have only given up one goal in their first two matches, while half of DC's goals this year have come from the PK spot.  This should be a great match for Charlie Davies to show what he can do on the pitch, but I think the difference maker for DC could be Josh Wolff.  For Colorado they found a way last weekend to get it done without Cummings and Casey, this week both should be back and that will be a real test for the United defense.  DC has had some interesting calls in both of their first two matches this year, it would be nice to see them get to play in a match not decided on the PK spot.  It is early in the season and playing at elevation is tough when you are in mid season form, this give the Rapids a huge advantage and they will pull out a 2-1 win.

OK, there you go my thoughts on this weekends action.