Well no better way to kick off the Memorial day weekend with some Wednesday matches, there are 3 MLS matches, and the 2nd leg of the NCC between Vancouver and Toronto (tied 1-1 after 1st leg).
A lot of people looked at the lineup of the New York Red Bulls and crowned them champions before they ever took the pitch, then they added Dwayne De Rosario and more people jumped on the bandwagon. A few of us thought that perhaps there was just a bit too much offense and not enough defense and in their last two matches they have allowed 5 goals, after giving up just 3 in their first 8 matches. Now with Rafa Marquez listed as questionable (then Gold Cup) and Tim Ream going to the USMNT for Gold Cup duty, that defense will really be tested. Hopefully their offense will get Thierry Henry back, as Dane Richards is off on national team duty for the Gold Cup as well. TH14 leads the team with 5 goals and 3 assists, and Luke Rodgers has been a bit of a surprise with 3 goals and 2 assists.
For the Rapids it has been the injuries to their offense that has been the story of late, first down went Conor Casey (he made is comeback last weekend), then down went Caleb Folan, then Omar Cummings. That left the Rapids to look at guys like Andre Akpan and Quincy Amarikwa to carry the heavy lifting, and that has gotten them just one win since April 3rd. They have managed to leverage a better defensive effort lately, just 2 goals allowed in their last 4 matches to get a win and 3 straight draws. If they are going to withstand the offensive attack of the Red Bulls it will require some big play from their defensive midfielders and that means Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz both will need to step up big time. If the Red Bulls were healthy I would give them an edge but I have a feeling this one will end up a 1-1 draw.
Well these two teams are looking to establish themselves at the top of the Western Conference this year, both were playoff teams in 2010, but when they faced each other it ended in a draw both times last year. Their numbers are close this year, Seattle has scored 14 goals and given up 11 to end up with a +3 goal differential, while FC Dallas also has a +3 goal differential on 13 goals scored and just 10 allowed. For the Sounders their season has been hampered with injuries and not just the one to Steve Zakuani, but early on it was Fredy Montero and lately it has been Brad Evans (who is listed as questionable) and Erik Friberg (listed as probable). In each of their last 4 matches the Sounders have scored a single goal, with 4 different players scoring them, last weekend it was a stoppage time goal by Jeff Parke that secured a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City.
FC Dallas haven't allowed a goal in their last 4 matches which include two 0-0 draws and a pair of wins, overall the Hoops are 5-3-3 and have a 1-2-1 record on the road. However the team from Texas has looked rather one dimensional lately, giving up possession to look for chances to take advantage of their speed to counter attack. That tactic didn't work very well against RSL and probably won't do well in Seattle where they have decent speed to deal with it. Someone has to step up as the creative playmaker for them and that could be Eric Avilia but he has been relegated to coming in late in matches. On defense they are good with their centerbacks but outside there are some questions but with Kevin Hartman in goal they have always have a fail safe that can often bail out any mistakes. These teams draw most of the time and I could easily see this one ending up a 1-1 draw.
Well the talk all week has been that David Beckham flew to the UK to play in a friendly tribute match instead of staying with his team as they play host to the Houston Dynamo, but Bruce Arena tried to calm the ruckus by saying he would have rested Beckham anyhow. Well the Galaxy will be playing their 14th match on Wednesday, more than any other team in MLS, and they currently have a 6-2-5 record with 23 points to lead all teams in the league. The Galaxy 1-0 over Chivas on Saturday was the first match in May that Landon Donovan didn't score a goal in, he leads the team with 7 goals. It was Chad Barrett who got the game winner on Saturday, his 3rd goal of the season to go with his 3 assists. Saturday was the first match in their last 5 when they didn't give up a goal, they will have a hard time trying to earn a clean sheet against Houston who have scored in all but two of their matches this year.
The Dynamo have to be crushed after giving up a late goal to New York's Medhi Ballouchy and having to settle for a 2-2 draw. Houston is looking for their first win of the month as they are 0-2-2 in May and 3-3-5 overall on the season. Will Bruin leads the team in scoring with 4 goals and 1 assist, while Cam Weaver has added 3 goals, but their offense clearly is run by Brad Davis who has a goal to go with his 6 assists. The defense has been good but it has been the great play of Tally Hall in goal that has often kept the team in matches and he will need to be at his best against LA if the Dynamo are going to get a result. I think Houston is going to pull off an upset in this match, and get a 2-1 win over a LA team that has shown signs of fatigue in recent matches.
Well these two teams will be battling in Nutralife Canadian Cup action as they look to see which team will represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League. Neither of these sides has really been impressive as TFC have a 2-4-6 record with a 2-1-4 mark at home, and the Whitecaps are just 1-5-5 and a dismal 0-4-1 on the road. I have to give the Red's an edge at home, plus they have the advantage of the away goal. I think TFC give their fans something to celebrate as they pull off the 2-0 win at home and will move on to the Champions league again this year.
It should be a fun night of action with 3 huge MLS matches.
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