After a couple of midweek matches, Major League Soccer is back with 8 more matches this weekend to keep fans entertained. There are some huge in conference matches this weekend, the results in these could help teams later in the season as they fight for playoff spots. The weekend will start out with another doozy of a match on NBC Sports, you know the people who brought us last weeks rather boring Columbus at Philly match, well this week they dig even deeper into the bad team bag and bring us the one win Chicago Fire at no win Toronto. Some day will MLS partners realize fans want good matches, not just big markets? oh and MLS scheduling multiple matches at the same time is a pain for fans who want to catch all the action (4 of the 7 today will be playing at same times) OK, let's get started then:
Chicago Fire at Toronto FC - 1:30pm MT- NBC Sports
I don't think this will be a boring match, but it is an example of chasing market size and lack of flexibility in scheduling by broadcasters. On the pitch we have seen TFC struggle in MLS matches this year with just 2 goals scored and 10 allowed, the Chicago Fire haven't been much better on offense with just 3 goals but their defense has given up just 4 goals. The Fire will be without newly signed Chris Rolfe on Saturday but I expect that their defense will be able to keep TFC winless, this one ends up a 1-1 draw.
I don't know which would be more difficult for a team to have to start with 7 straight road matches like Houston is, or to have the huge injury list that the Crew are facing this week (8 players questionable or worse)? I have said that I don't think the Crew are very good this year, as they entered the season with some big changes again this year, and so far at 2-3-0 they have proven me right. Houston is good but has that tough task of waiting on their new home stadium to be built, they have done well so far with a 2-1-1 record and have allowed just 3 goals. The defense of Houston is too good for the Crew, this one ends up a 0-0 draw.
the rest of the weekend action after the jump:
This could be one of the more interesting matches of the weekend as the two sides battle to get back into the race in the West. LA has had an awful start to this season but dominated the Rapids last year with wins at home and on the road, this year you just never know what you will get with them. I expect that they will start to get their act together and unfortunately for the Rapids I think it will likely cost them this match. The Rapids have a new coach, a new style and that translated to a lot of energy to start the season but back to back losses have tempered that energy. They also took a hit as Conor Casey was due to finally return to action, only to be sidelined with a case of strep throat, when he gets back the Rapids get better. I am going with LA in a 2-1 road win in this one.
This is another match that could be very interesting, but for a lot of the wrong reasons. We know that Vancouver isn't afraid of physical play and use that to try to add some intimidation on their opponents, but FC Dallas has a couple guys who might try to really use that to their advantage in Brek Shea and Daniel Hernandez who love to be in the ears of their opponents. The off the ball action could be a deciding factor in this one, as I just doubt it ends up 11 vs 11 on the pitch. I think after their back to back 3-1 losses, that the Whitecaps will again be tested on defense, something I thought they would lack this year, the question is when will Eric Hassli start scoring? Can the team with so much offensive potential score goals? just 5 in their first 6 matches. This one is likely to end up a 1-1 draw.
Oh my how long can the rise of Sporting 7-0-0 continue and the woes of the Timbers worsen as they deal with 4 straight losses. You know this one has upset written all over it. SKC will be forced to adjust their wide style to the narrow and short pitch of Portland (110x70) a full 10 yards shorter and 5 yards more narrow than what Sporting are used to. I really like the potential of this one, if Portland can pull their heads out and play this could be a hell of a match. I think the long ball attack could be something that could cause some issues for Sporting in this one, as it could expose some gaps as they push forward with numbers. I don't think Portland can stop Sporting's offense but I do think you could see a real shootout in this one, my upset pick is 3-2 for the Portland Timbers.
Philadelphia Union at Chivas USA - 8:30pm MT - Direct Kick & MLS Live
Chivas on the road have been a real surprise this year with 3 straight wins, but they are 0-3-0 at home with 3 1-0 losses, but they will be facing the Philly Union who just got their first win of the year last weekend and are 0-2-0 on the road with 1 goal scored and 4 allowed. Both of these teams have good defenses, and both have struggled to score goals, and that is the recipe for a rather boring match, but could a returning Juan Pablo Angel be the difference maker in this match? He could be, I think it could be enough for a 1-0 win by Chivas but I have to go with my gut and that is a 0-0 draw for these two teams as they continue to look for an offensive spark.
You can read my full match preview of this one, or you can just read this short version: The top two teams in the West do battle, RSL have owned the Quakes the last two years 3-0-1 with 8 RSL goals to just 1 for San Jose. This is an improved Quakes team, but RSL should come away with a 2-1 win.
Two big teams in the East, some of the biggest names in MLS with Thierry Henry and Dwayne DeRosario, but can the defense of DC United stand up to the reality check that Kenny Cooper and TH14 provide? The 16 goals scored so far this year by New York leads MLS, but their 10 goals allowed raise some question marks, last weekend they allowed San Jose back into the match twice after taking the lead, will the Red Bulls be able to tame DC United? I remember hearing about how the signing of Hamdi Salihi would give DC some options on offense, but it has been Maicon Santos and rookie Nick DeLeon that have been the spark so far this year for DC. Unless DeRo or Hamdi can get on the scoreboard on Sunday, I have to go with a 3-1 New York win.
OK there you have it, every MLS match this weekend previewed and picked just for you. I had 5 of the matches last weekend picked correctly, including 2 with the exact scores, so how did you do?
OFF MY SOAPBOX