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Major League Soccer kicks off Week 8 with two midweek matches

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Well last week my picks were a perfect .500, I had 4 right, 4 wrong and one match I didn't pick. So I am getting a bit better with my picks as teams begin to separate themselves from each other.  It is clear that there are some top teams (4-6 of them) and some teams at the bottom (3-4) and a good number in the middle trying to fight their way to the top.

So if the MLS Playoffs started today the following teams would be in:

East (Top 3): New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Houston Dynamo

West (Top 3): Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders

Wildcards: Columbus Crew, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Portland Timbers

Now this is all subjective at this point since many teams haven't the same amount of matches but it is interesting that yet again that the West would again control almost all the wildcard playoff spots.

OK match previews are after the jump:

Seattle Sounders at DC United - 5:30pm MT - Direct Kick

You wouldn't think of these two teams as rivals, but that is exactly what they have become over the last two years in part to the approach and results that the Sounders have taken in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.  The history hasn't been good for DC United who have struggled (that is being kind) over the last two years.  Again this year DC United are the team that is giving up the most goals 2.29 per match in MLS, unlike last year they have some hope as they have become a team that can score goals as well with 10 goals in their 7 matches. Charlie Davies is leading their offense with 5 goals scored, but it must be pointed out that 3 of those have come from the PK spot. This week the club found out that the injury to Branki Boskovic, who really was showing signs of life this year, is out 3-4 months with an injury.  I like what Ben Olsen is doing at DC, but it is clear that the rebuilding will take time and I expect in the second half of the year that we will start to see much more from DC United than their last two matches have shown.

The Sounders are in Sigi year 3, this is when they are expected to win, of course I doubt that Sigi planned on losing his DP striker prior to the start of the season, or that he would lose two of his bright young stars (Steve Zakuani & O'Brian White) for the year due to injuries.  Still the boys from Seattle are a quality side that has found players stepping up to fill holes and it looks like Alvaro Fernandez and Erik Friberg are adjusting to the MLS style of play.  I think the way the Sounders have rebounded from back to back losses at the start of the season is a testament to both their quality and coaching.  For them this might be a bit of a "gotcha" match, I don't think anyone is expecting them to struggle with DC United who have given up 4 goals in each of their last two matches, so Sigi will need to keep his boys focused for this one.

I think Seattle should win the match, but this is a real gut check for Ben Olsen and his team, so I am going to pick this one as a 2-1 win on a late goal for the Sounders.

Colorado Rapids at Houston Dynamo - 6:30pm MT - Direct Kick

Well since the San Jose Earthquakes moved to Houston and became the Dynamo, they have done well against the Rapids 7-4-3 and they have never lost to Colorado at Robertson Stadium.  The Rapids started the season looking like the defending MLS Cup champions with 3 straight wins, but since then they are 0-3-1 with just a single goal scored in their last 4 matches.  Now it has to be said that the offense of the Rapids has been bitten by the injury bug this year, Macoumba Kandji is still out from an injury in MLS Cup last year, Conor Casey and Quincy Amarikwa are both as questionable, and Caleb Folan is listed as probable but didn't play last weekend.  They also have the question mark around Omar Cummings who was one of the top guys in MLS last year and while he has 2 goals and 1 assist in his 6 matches played this year, he still just doesn't look like the guy who was so dangerous last year.   One upside for the Rapids, since giving up 3 at FC Dallas last month, they have 3 straight matches where they have only given up a single goal in each.

Houston was a big winner last week with their 4-1 win over DC United and they can now boast a 3-1-3 record but a win over the Rapids would be convincing because beating Vancouver, New England, and DC United at home isn't a real murder's row, they have done well earning draws at Seattle, New York and Chicago so a win Wednesday night against the defending champs would be huge.  Can rookie Will Bruin continue his campaign for Rookie of the year with more goals, his hat trick against DC lifts his totals to 4 goals and 1 assist.  I like the partnership of him and Cam Weaver up top, good stuff on the offensive end, and their defense has been improving each week and no longer forcing Tally Hall to make incredible saves every few minutes.  I have to give a slight edge to the home side in this match but I have to think that Colorado will rebound off their recent performances and find a way to get a 1-1 draw.

There you go the Wednesday night matches previewed and my picks.

OFF MY SOAPBOX