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Major League Soccer Week 7 - Match previews and picks

Well it is time for Major League Soccer to kick off week 7 or their season, there is one match on Friday Night, 7 matches on Saturday and one on Sunday.  That means that every team will play this weekend, there is no ESPN2 match this week so the only national broadcasts are FSC covering Friday Night, and Galavision on Sunday, these are the weekends I am happy to have Match Day Live and Direct Kick.  So let's get started:

D.C. United at Houston Dynamo - Friday 6:30pm MT - Fox Soccer Channel

Last year DC United gave up more goals than anyone, this year their defense has allowed 12 goals in 6 matches, only the Portland Timbers have given up more goals.  There is an upside for DC as last year they scored just 21 goals all season, and this year they already have 9 goals, thanks to 5 from Charlie Davies. I wonder which United team will show up?  The one who got hammered by New York 4-0 last weekend, the one that hammered TFC the week before 3-0, or the one that drew 1-1 with LA the week before?

The Dynamo haven't lost since opening weekend and haven't allowed more than a single goal in a match this year, thanks in large part to the work of Tally Hall in goal, and a fairly solid backline anchored by Bobby Boswell and Andre Hainault at centerback.  Their offense has done enough to get results, but one wonders how much they will be able to get from Cam Weaver (who I think is their best option), Will Bruin (how much can you get from a rookie), and Brian Ching (how many weeks will he be on the disabled list this year?)?  

I am thinking this one could be fun to watch, depending on what DC team shows up, both are teams rebuilding but it looks as if Houston is a bit further along, going with the Dynamo in a 2-1 win at home.

the rest of the weekends matches after the jump:

San Jose Earthquakes at Philadelphia Union - 2pm MT - Direct Kick

I have to be honest I expected more from San Jose this year than a 1-3-2 start with just 6 goals scored and 9 allowed, but they continue to tinker with lineups and formations looking for something that will work.  Half of their goals this year have come from Chris Wondolowski and until they can get regular offensive contributions from someone else, teams simply work to eliminate his touches and it is working. I am not sold on their defense just yet but I do think Ike Opara could be a star defender in the making.

The Union on the other hand have shifted from their open attacking style of play that I loved to watch but failed to get them results last year to a more defensive minded grind it out style.  Not as fun to watch but it has gotten results as the Union are 3-1-1 and just a point behind New York for the top spot in the East, with a match in hand.  Their defense has only allowed 2 goals so far this year, so the fact that they are the lowest offensive output team in MLS with just 4 goals scored isn't so bad.  Where is Sebastien Le Toux? Just one assist in 450 minutes, not the numbers that he had last year when people thought he was a MVP level player.

The Union are tough at PPL park despite all the "Bimbo's" in the stands, yes a cheap shot on their jersey sponsor.  I think this one ends up a 1-1 draw.

Vancouver Whitecaps at Columbus Crew - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

If this match were being held in Vancouver at Empire Field I would watch it, but considering how Columbus has played all year (boring, very boring) and the fact that the Whitecaps away from home are well, awful.  The Whitecaps without Atiba Harris, Jay DeMerit, and John Thorrington will be in tough shape, then add in the yellow card suspension for Eric Hassli and I have very low expectations of them as they trek to Crew Stadium.

The Crew are like a ship in the wind without a captain, they could go places but nobody knows where they will end up.  The questions up top between Emilio Renteria and Andres Mendoza continue, who will be the guy in the middle to control and create is still up in the air as it looks to be too much for Emmanual Ekpo, but at least their defense has been good Chad Marshall and Julius James keep it together in front of Will Hesmer who appears to be healthy again.

The Crew get a boring 1-0 win.

Sporting Kansas City at New York Red Bulls - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Well I was hoping we would get to see a matchup between Teal Bunbury and Juan Agudelo, but it looks like NYRB will go with Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry up top in their match against Sporting.  The Red Bulls scored just two goals in their first four matches of the season, but have 7 in their last two matches.  TH14 has 3 goals, while Luke has 2, if they can keep up this type of output perhaps they will fulfill the lofty expectations being set for them.  It is their defense that I think is actually more impressive as they have 4 clean sheets in their first 6 matches and have only allowed two goals so far this year.  Tim Ream and Rafael Marquez have proven to be a solid combo in front of Bouna Coundoul, Greg Sutton, and even Alex Horwath.

Sporting KC have been averaging two goals per match (10 in 5) which would make you think they would be better than 1-3-1 but their 10 match road trip to start the season hasn't been kind to them as they have given up 12 goal. You have to wonder how good this team will be if/when Omar Bravo is able to come back and when they get to play some matches at home.  They really do need some leadership on their backline and have to believe they will be looking for reinforcements as soon as they can, Jimmy Nielsen can only make so many saves.

I can't see this one being low scoring, going with a 3-2 win for the New York Red Bulls.

Chicago Fire at Colorado Rapids - 7pm MT - Direct Kick

I have to count the Fire as another team that has been a bit of a disappointment this year with just a 1-3-2 and having allowed 12 goals while scoring 9, the team seems to be lacking a leader on the pitch as often guys like Logan Pause and Marco Pappa appear to be on a very different page than Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari.  The defense hasn't been impressive as Sean Johnson looks green in goal and Cory Gibbs and Gonzalo Segares don't seem able to keep the defense organized.  Entertaining but not good.

The Rapids started off the season with three straight wins (Portland, Chivas, DC United) but when the level of competition raised (FC Dallas, RSL, and Seattle) the results went the other way and they now have three straight losses.  It is clear that when Pablo Mastroeni was off the pitch or less than 100 percent that this team isn't nearly as good as they are with him.  The Rapids haven't scored a goal in their last 3 matches as the chemistry between Omar Cummings and Caleb Folan just doesn't seem to be the same as Cummings and Casey last year.

The match is in Colorado so the elevation and conditions (windy with temps dropping and maybe rain/snow) will give the Rapids an edge as they get back on the winning path 2-1.

Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders - 8pm MT - Direct Kick

The Sounders are just 1-1-1 at home this year, but the upside is that Toronto is 0-1-1 on the road, TFC have been able to grind out a bunch of draws (4 of their last 5 matches) but have just 3 goals in those 5 matches. If you think the departure of Dwayne De Rosario didn't gut this team, their leading scorer is Alan Gordon.  Really.  Now they have some talented players but it will simply be a question of how long until they can play like a team?

The Sounders looked like they had figured things out after not scoring a goal in their first two matches, they had scored 6 in their last 4, and then came last Friday and "the tackle".  Last year the Sounders struggled with injuries that had them struggle for a good portion of the season, so losing your top two scorers O'Brian White and Steve Zakuani in one week has to be tough.  The question is who will step up?  Brad Evans, Nate Jaqua, or someone else? They still have a solid defense and with Kasey Keller in net you can usually count on him to keep things close.

The Sounders will grind out a 1-0 win in this one.

Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick

This match preview will be posted later tonight, but until then you can check out what Stumptown Footy thinks about the match. 

New England Revolution at Chivas USA - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick

The Rev's looked good the first couple weeks of the season, and last weekend they rebounded off back to back losses to get a huge 3-2 win over Sporting KC.  They got a striker who looks legit in Rajko Lekic, they added USMNT member Benny Feilhaber and now they will look to adjust their lineup and formations to support there new additions, it may take some time but I believe that the combo of Benny and Shalrie Joseph in the midfield will make them very dangerous.  I have a lot of question about their defense, can rookie A.J. Soares handle the pressure, is Didier Domi as good as the Rev fans think?

Chivas USA got their first win of the 2011 season last week as they beat San Jose 2-1 on the road.  This is clearly a team that is still rebuilding and I expect that we will see a number of lineups and players on the pitch for them as Robin Fraser looks for the perfect group.  I think when they get back guys like Tristan Bowen, Jimmy Conrad, and Paulo Nagamura they will be even better.  

This one ends up in a 1-1 draw.

Los Angeles Galaxy at FC Dallas - Sunday 5:00pm MT - Galavision

OK, waiting on the game guide for this one, so it will be up later.

OFF MY SOAPBOX