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Major League Soccer Week 10 - The weekend previews and picks

After a trio of matches on Wednesday, Major League Soccer has 9 more matches for you this weekend, with 8 matches on Saturday and 1 on Sunday.  There are a couple of good matches this weekend as teams look to separate themselves from their competition as two teams already have broken the 20 point barrier and 6 more are looking to do it this weekend.  On the opposite end there are 3 teams that haven't hit 10 points yet and only two of them have a chance to get past that mark this weekend.

Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC - 10:30am MT - Direct Kick

Well the Union have found themselves struggling a bit with just one win in the last 4 matches. The team started the season with 3 wins in their first 4 matches and after giving up just 2 goals in their first 6 matches, they have given up 5 in their last 4 matches.  While TFC got off to an awful start with just 1 win in their first 8 matches, but in their last 4 matches they have just one loss as they have gone 1-1-2 for an overall record of 2-4-6 but they still would find themselves out of the playoffs if the season ended today.  Toronto had a long night on Wednesday as they played 60 minutes of their NCC match against Vancouver, only to have the match thrown out and rescheduled for July due to weather issues.  I had high hopes for TFC despite the departure of De Ro, but so far nobody has really stepped up to lead this team, I thought it would be Maicon Santos, but so far he hasn't been as effective as I hoped.  It is starting to look like it could be another long year for the fans at BMO Field.

The Union started the season by playing grind it out soccer, solid defense and possession was the style, but in MLS that style can be tricky as they found out at Portland and at Dallas where their inability to score goals on a consistent bases cost them.  On the road the Union have just a single goal in their 4 matches and a 1-3-0 record, but they are facing a TFC that has been leaking goals all year (17 allowed in 12 matches).  If the Union can get Sebastian Le Toux back to something like the form he had last year they could be a real contender in the East, but if not then matches like this will see them struggle.  This one ends a 0-0 draw.

more after the jump:

New York Red Bulls at Vancouver Whitecaps - 3:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Well if you just looked at this matchup and thought it was a no brainer that New York would win, you might miss some very interesting facts.  The Red Bulls are going to be without a number of their key pieces, Thierry Henry is out, Rafa Marquez and Dane Richards are gone, oh and the Red Bulls haven't won a single match in their last 4 (0-1-3).  Of course Vancouver is finding out that life in Major League Soccer isn't as easy at it might appear, they also haven't won a match in their last 4 (0-2-2).  The Whitecaps have just a single win on the season, and while their defense has improved a bit recently they still will not be able to deal with the offense that New York can bring even with a number of players missing.  This one ends up 3-1 for New York.

Chivas USA at Columbus Crew - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Two teams that appear to be headed in opposite directions, Chivas USA struggled early this season but have found a way to get wins in 3 of their last 5 matches and now have a 3-4-3 record.  While the Columbus Crew started off their season well, but have just 1 win in their last 5 matches and now have a 3-3-4 record.  What makes this match so interesting to me is the fact that the Crew are 3-0-2 at home, while Chivas is 2-1-2 on the road, so it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

This could either be a very boring match or it could steal the spotlight this weekend, but I have a feeling that Chivas will hand the Crew their first home loss of the year, 2-1.

Los Angeles Galaxy at New England Revolution - 6:00pm MT - Galavision

This will be the 15th match that the Galaxy have played this season as they stacked the first part of their season with more matches than anyone, first to lighten the load later in the year when they have Champions League matches, but also to allow them an easier June and July when they will play just 8 matches.  This get out front and then rest towards the end of the season strategy worked well for them last year, so why not try it again.  The fatigue has started to show as the team struggled to get 1-0 wins in their last two matches.  

New England is a team that each year seems to go through a rebuilding process and this year is no exception, the question is will there be enough time for them to get organized and allow their new faces to gel as a team and get enough results to get them into the playoffs?  Currently they are 3-4-4 overall and 2-2-1 in their last 5 matches, one major issue for them is that their main offensive weapon is Shalrie Joseph a defensive midfielder who leads the team with 4 goals and 1 assist, no other player has more than a single goal for the Revolution, heck no other player has more than 1 assist.  At home you would think they might be able to sneak a result against the Galaxy, not a win but I see this one ending like the first match between the two sides a 1-1 draw.

San Jose Earthquakes at Chicago Fire - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Well most people thought that the Chicago Fire would struggle a lot in 2011 and they seem to be right as the team will play their 11th match and be looking for the second win of the season.  Just 8 points and a 1-4-5 record with 17 goals allowed (only two MLS teams have allowed more) now has most people wondering when head coach Carlos de los Cobos will be given his walking papers.  There is an interesting mix of talent on the Fire squad but there seems to be a real lack of vision and communication on the pitch where they more often look like a youth team chasing the ball around, than an organized MLS team.  Four draws in their last 5 matches and just a single clean sheet on the season, really have me scratching my head when it comes to the Fire.

San Jose seems to have finally figured some things out and are coming off back to back wins over Eastern Conference opponents, where they outscored them 5-1.  It took some adjustments to figure out where to play some guys as the injury to Simon Dawkins clearly impacted how they wanted to play, but perhaps no move has paid off more than moving Chris Wondolowski to forward instead of playing him in the midfield.  Chris still plays a huge role for them as he has 5 goals and 2 assists, which means he contributes to more than 50% of the Quakes offense, but some others like Khari Stephenson and newcomer Ellis McLoughlin have stepped up to help the team out.  I think the Quakes will fight hard but only manage a 1-1 draw at Chicago.

FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick

The Texas Derby has gotten a bit feisty this year with billboards, planes with banners, and a general dislike between the two sides.  This is also a case of two teams heading in very different directions, while Houston may be holding on to the #3 spot in the East with a 3-4-5 record and 14 points, that would only put them in 7th place in the West this year.  They Dynamo haven't won a match in their last 5, going 0-3-2 in that stretch but they had a number of very tough matches in that stretch.  They have been a very busy team as this will be their 4th match in 14 days and they are looking for a more consistent effort from all of their players, most of all out of their new names like goalkeeper Tally Hall, forward Will Bruin and forward Koke.

The only team hotter than FC Dallas may be the LA Galaxy, both teams have 3 wins and 2 draws in their last 5, I give a nod to FC Dallas simply because their defense has been so good lately, 5 straight clean sheets for Kevin Hartman.  The team has adjusted their style of play to a much more defensive style after the injury to David Ferreira and have turned into a bunker and counter team that takes advantage of their speed up top and with guys like Jackson and Brek Shea.  It may not be the most attractive style of soccer but the results have spoken for themselves, I think the Hoops will get another result in this match but have to settle for a 1-1 draw at Houston.

Sporting Kansas City at Colorado Rapids - 7:00pm MT - Direct Kick

I feel bad for SKC, this will be their 9th road match in a row and they will have one more before they get to head home to their new stadium, and it simply has been brutal on them as they have a 1-6-1 record. 5 straight losses has to have this group wondering what is going on, but at least they got a big midweek win in US Open Cup action to move on to the tournament proper.  The question is can they find a way to play some defense, they have no clean sheets this year, have allowed a league worse 18 goals, and allowed multiple goals in 5 of their 8 matches.  Now add in some national team call ups that will take a number of players off their roster for the next couple weeks and thing look bleak for them.  There is one upside, Omar Bravo returned from his injury to get some minutes last week and could be in the starting 11, maybe his return will spark the team on to better performances.

Colorado has been bit hard by the injury bug and a lot of those injuries have come up top, Conor Casey is just coming back from injury, but Mac Kandji is still listed as out, Omar Cummings and Caleb Folan are both listed as doubtful and Quincy Amarikwa joins Casey as probable.  Despite those injuries the Rapids have managed to not lose a match yet in May, they went 1-0-4 and got a huge draw at New York on Wednesday night.  There is a chance that they might look at the record of Sporting and not take them seriously, which would be a very dangerous thing to do, but at home I think the Rapids will pick up a win 2-1.

Seattle Sounders at Real Salt Lake - 7:00pm MT - Direct Kick

You can read my full match preview here but here is a spoiler, I pick RSL to win 2-0

DC United at Portland Timbers - Sunday 3pm MT - Direct Kick

Well at the start of the year there was a lot of hype around DC United, and how some had thought with the arrival of Charlie Davies that they had turned a corner on their rebuilding, and he has been impressive but the team is just 3-4-3 and their struggles on defense continue as they have allowed a league high 18 goals to be scored against them.  Perhaps most troubling is their 1-3-0 record at home where they have a -4 goal differential from allowing 10 goals while scoring just 6.  I also worry that 4 of their 13 goals scored have come from the PK spot, never a good sign.  One good thing is that their defense hasn't given up multiple goals in their last 3 matches, which could be a good thing against Portland.

The Timbers have a bunch of people believing in them, and their record is fairly impressive for an expansion team 5-3-2.  However they have yet to win a match away from their home pitch Jen Weld Field, and as much as I would like to believe the fairly tale, and as much as I think it may continue this week, I don't believe that this team is nearly as good as people want to give them credit for, heck their last 3 goals have been scored by defenders.  Now they have great fans, and have found a way to play very solid defense at home where they have 3 straight clean sheets, but their opponent this week can score goals (DC has 13 goals scored).  I think that the Timbers will get another win, as this one likely ends up 2-1.

Well there you go, every match this weekend previewed and my picks.

OFF MY SOAPBOX