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Gavin picks the MLS – Week 23 picks

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So after a dismal few weeks of picking matches in the MLS, I have decided to turn matters over to my son Gavin from here on out.  Gavin is 2 years old, going on 3 in September, and I am working on getting him started into the game early as I had him watch the opening match of the EPL season with me Saturday morning; since he was awake already.  So from here on out I relinquish control of the MLS picks to him, and he seemed to enjoy making them so it should be quite interesting, until he forms a real opinion or picks his own club.  So without further ado, here are Gavin’s picks for MLS’ Week 23.

Last Week:  1 – 5

MLS Overall:  8 – 17

**team in bold is chosen winner, no bold denotes a draw

Los Angeles  v  Chicago

New England  v  Seattle

Los Angeles  v  DC United

Kansas City v  San Jose

Toronto v  Chivas USA

FC Dallas v  New York

Colorado v  Chicago

Real Salt Lake  v  New England

Seattle  v  Houston

Now here is my take on the matches, minus any REAL predictions.

Chicago should show strong as usual and LA are hurting at the moment, but I would not be surprised if LA come out to play in this one as Donovan will be a bit more recovered from his H1N1 virus, and they were managing before Beckham joined the team so his absence should not hurt them much.

Seattle got a result in what I can only guess was a horribly called match last weekend, but New England is struggling this season, and Seattle is a tough place to play this term.  This could be an interesting match to watch, if one of the sides can get a goal early.

LA will go from a mid-week matchup in Chicago to DC, who will have played a CCL match on Tuesday in Honduras.  This match in DC could go either way with both teams playing two matches in a short week.  LA could bounce back in this one after dropping two, but DC has the deeper side and should give the Galaxy trouble in DC.

Two of the worst possible teams face each other this week in San Jose.  Kansas City will come to town and will be looking to get on track, after going through a recent coaching change.  San Jose could pose a problem to Kansas City though, as they have gotten some results of late, and do not look to be giving up on their season quite yet.  This is probably one of the more useless matches to view of the week, the other taking place in New York.

After getting back on track against DC last weekend, Toronto will travel to the Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA, who also managed to gain back some confidence in New York on the weekend.  This should be an entertaining match, and very physical with the two sides involved.  Do not be surprised to see more than a couple of bookings in this one, and maybe a player or two sent off by the end, as they both play a pretty physical game.

Dallas will travel this week to New York to face what has to be the worst team in the MLS at the moment.  This match is almost pointless, except I am a Dallas fan and hope to see them do well.  Dallas still has an outside chance at the playoffs, but New York really has nothing to look forward to for the rest of the season, and should be playing spoiler for the rest of their term.

The only other match I am really looking forward to is taking place in Chicago at the weekend, as Colorado come to town.  Colorado has looked good of late and Chicago will be playing their second match inside of a week with a weakened squad.  I am very interested to see if Colorado can take their show on the road in this one and find a result, but I am afraid I am going to be sadly disappointed by Chicago shutting up shop and defending like made.  Here is hoping that Colorado gets a goal early so Chicago cannot get all their men behind the ball for 90 minutes.

New England will welcome Salt Lake into Foxboro this weekend after returning from a late week match against Seattle, in Seattle.  With a weakened squad, I find it hard to believe New England can compete strongly twice in one week, but I would hope so since Salt Lake is not one of the stronger sides in the league.  This match will most likely be a bore to watch, but there are some entertaining players, and if they can produce some fireworks it could be interesting to see.

After a disappointing result in Seattle a few weeks back, the match that earned Brian Ching his $500 fine for his comment on Twitter, Houston will welcome the Sounders to Houston.  The Houston side will be on a short week as they open up CCL group play in the mid-week, but barring any serious injuries, Houston should be up for this match as they are used to this busy schedule.  Seattle will also be on a short week after playing New England at home in the mid-week, but if they can find the net this could be a match to watch.  The MLS new boys have had their ups and downs this season, but at the moment they still find themselves in position to make the playoffs, a feat not normally associated with a first year expansion side.  This should be a match to watch this weekend though.  I know I will be tuning in.

So there it is.  Week 23 picked by my son so I no longer have to embarrass myself trying to pick a league based on parity, to be sadly disappointed as the results roll in.  This should be a good weekend, as the MLS is packed with matches, the CCL and UEFA CL have action, and the EPL will start in the mid-week.  Another busy week in the world of footy.

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, CONCACAF CL, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC, Uncategorized

This Weekend in MLS – Week 21 Reviewed and Recapped

Shea Salinas

Coming off the shocking performances of a few teams in MLS last week, what was a fan to expect for an encore?  Would we see this week to get the blood flowing in a league that is supposed to be built on parity?  I am sure the results came out in favor of a few sides, and my predictions improved a bit, but overall it was a good week for the MLS.  Many sides were still out with exhibition matches and CONCACAF CL play, so there were only 6 matches taking place this week, with Houston playing in two of them.  I also decided to add a nice video I found of Week 21’s Goals of the Week, which I will post after the recaps for you to enjoy before looking forward.

My predictions for this week: 3-3

MLS All-Time predictions: 7-12

FC Dallas  1 – 0  Houston Dynamo

Starting off the week was a match that I saw Houston taking from start to finish as they travelled to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas.  After Dallas’ shocking performance last week, taking Kansas City 6-0, I did not expect one of the worst teams in the MLS to show an equally strong performance this week.  Dallas would shock even its fans though as Jeff Cunningham continued to score, netting in the 20th minute and giving Dallas the only goal they would need on the night.  Cunningham missed a penalty earlier in the half but it turned out the Hoops would not need it as Houston obviously did not show up to play on this night.  Only odd thing that happened in the match aside from Houston’s lack of offense was when Houston winger Brad Davis earned a red card from the bench late in the match.  Davis would miss Houston’s next match but as I did not see anything from the replays; I am still wondering what he did.

Colorado Rapids  4 – 0  Chivas USA

In one of the strangest matches of the weekend, Colorado waxed Chivas from the opening minute, literally.  Pablo Mastreoni took a back pass from Omar Cummings and blasted it from about 25 yards out in the first minute of the match to give Colorado the 1-0 advantage. (First time Pablo has scored since 2005)  Three minutes later Colorado would practically shut the door on Chivas when Conor Casey lofted a ball from just inside the 18 to beat the Chivas keeper, putting the rapids up 2-0 inside the first 5 minutes.  After the quick start Colorado would settle into the match and wait until the 23rd before scoring their 3rd goal of the match, and again until the first minute of stoppage time to get their 4th, after a red card was given to Chivas defender Shavar Thomas for taking down Omar Cummings in the box.  It was a light red card but Casey scored his hat trick in the first half and Cummings extended his assists total to 10 on the season with 3 coming from this match; I would give him 4 for drawing the penalty as well.  Chivas looked dire in this match and without scoring and without a presence in the back, they could be looking at dropping farther to the depths of the Western Conference by the end of the season if something does not turn around quick.

Real Salt Lake  1 – 0  Seattle Sounders FC

A match that saw Seattle lose yet again!  Could Seattle finally be feeling the freshman pressure of their maiden season in the MLS?  I think so as their results continue to pile up in an unfavorable fashion of late.  Seattle owned this match in every way but the final score.  They dominated possession and had many chances to get in on goal but lack of finishing was yet again the Achilles Heel of Seattle.  RSL keeper Nick Rimando played a ball long in the 62nd and caught Seattle sleeping, hooking up with Robbie Findley, who would shake his defender and put RSL in the lead just before the halfway point of the second half.  Try as they might Seattle never answered and Findley’s goal would be the game winner for RSL.  Seattle needs to wake up if they plan on staying on track for the playoffs.  They have not dropped from their playoff position yet, but if they do not find the scoring touch pretty soon they could follow Chivas down the standings.

San Jose Earthquakes  0 – 3  Columbus Crew

Coming off a few strong performances, San Jose were feeling good and looking to try and take down another strong opponent this week.  Seattle and DC had failed to defeat San Jose in the past two weeks but Columbus is a bird of a different color and would not be had so easily by the Earthquakes.  San Jose would play the Crew tough throughout, but once the Columbus found the back of the net in the 69th it was all downhill.  Moreno would net for the Crew in the 69th after coming off the bench to put the Crew ahead.  Four minutes later in the 73rd, Robbie Rogers would find the net to increase the score line, and in the dying minutes (87th) of the match substitute Adam Moffat would finish off the Earthquakes with a goal of his own.  The Crew is looking strong and will only become better as they see some of their top talent return to fitness.  Could there be another MLS cup in their future this season?

New England Revolution  1 – 2 Los Angeles Galaxy

On the road in a place they have not won since 1999, LA would try to continue a run of good form with a win over the Revs.  They would not be disappointed this round, as NE is a bit weaker than previous seasons and LA seem to have found their stride of late.  What can only be described as the inevitable goal of the week happened for LA and Landon Donovan in the 21st minute, when a shot deflected from inside the box found Donovan just outside the right wing of the 18 and he smashed it with a volley into the side netting past Matt Reis, putting LA up 1-0 early.  Kirovski would add to the lead in the 52nd after find the end of an Eddie Lewis cross that got Reis out of position and allowed Kirovski to turn and poke the ball into an uncontested net to pad the Galaxy’s lead.  New England is not a team to quit though and a takedown in the box in the 82nd by Galaxy rookie Omar Gonzalez would grant the Revs a PK opportunity.  Not one to miss a chance, veteran Steve Ralston would step up for NE and slam the PK home to give the Revs a chance in the final minutes of the match.  Through some desperate defending that LA have not been too successful with in the past, they would hold on and finish out the match though, earning a big 3 points on the road in this one.

Houston Dynamo  3 – 2  Chicago Fire

Closing out the week on Sunday night, Dynamo players and fans were out looking for a win against the visiting Chicago Fire.  After a disappointing performance Thursday, the Dynamo would come out firing, though their breakthrough would not come right away.  In the 21st minute however, Houston would catch the Fire sleeping in their own end and Kei Kamara would receive the inbound pass and turn to find himself in on Fire keeper Busch without a defender in sight.  Kamara would fire almost point blank on Busch and put it past him and into the far side of the net.  In the 38th Houston would strike paydirt yet again as Brian Ching played a beautiful long ball into the left side of the box for a hustling Ricardo Clark, who would take a nice left-footed touch over an onrushing Jon Busch and into the net, putting Houston up 2-0 at the half.

The second half may have seen a totally different Houston side emerge as Chicago came out pressing to get back into the match.  A Blanco ball found an open Patrick Nyarko in the 47th minute before Nyarko laid it off to Chris Rolfe; Rolfe took the pass and cleared some space before unleashing a rocket from 25 yards out to beat Houston’s Pat Onstad, bringing the scoreline to 2-1 and breathing life into the Fire.  Minutes later a questionable decision would be made by Houston defender Julius James when ushering a ball to the touchline; Blanco would approach and looked to give James a nudge knocking him off the ball that would soon lead to the game tying goal.  James in my opinion went down way too easy, but in the 48th Blanco took that ball and played a beautiful cross into the box that found Peter Lowry right before he volleyed it into the net to tie up the match.  The decision to not call Blanco for the foul on James was questionable, but unless you have the Oscar’s that Blanco has in his trophy case you cannot go down that easy.  The match looked to be a tie going into the end when Houston’s Corey Ashe was taken down late in the proceedings by Brandon Prideaux on what can only be called a very light penalty.  Whether it was a makeup call for the Blanco no call earlier or the ref believed it was a penalty is beyond me, but there did not look to be enough contact to warrant a penalty in this case.  In the end Stuart Holden would step up and put the game away for Houston from the penalty spot, giving Houston the win and me a win over Chicago in my predictions for the first time.  It was a good match and one that Houston needed after the poor result earlier in the week.

Next weekend looks to be a very busy one on the MLS schedule.  Most teams will be back on track with only New England, San Jose, and Colorado having the week off.  After watching the USMNT travel to Mexico City this weekend the focus will be back on the MLS for a bit here in the US, so looking at next week here are a few matches to look out for.

  • DC United  v  TFC – Which team gets back on track in MLS after recent poor league form.
  • Chivas USA  v  NYRB – Can the Red Bulls steal one against a struggling Chivas side?
  • FC Dallas v  Columbus – Can Dallas continue their race towards the playoffs?
  • Seattle  v  LA – Does Seattle find their form or do LA continue their ascent?

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, International Football, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC, Uncategorized, USMNT

MLS Week 21 – Predictions/Looking Ahead

Columbus Crew v CD Chivas USA

So finishing out last week my results have been horrible so far. I am hoping this week’s predictions pan out better before I start asking my 2 year old son to pick matches for me. From the looks of it right now there will be 4 sides out of action this week (NYRB, DCU, KC, and TFC). Houston will play twice this week so look for them to be a bit tired come their weekend matchup, but I am expecting the league to get back on track and for the results to go the way one would expect this week. Feel free to criticize as I know I have had some of the worst weeks so far this season, hoping that does not hold up as the EPL season draws near, but hey I can live with it if it does.

All-Time : 5 – 11

MLS : 4 – 9

Last Week: 2 – 4

**winners in bold…. no bold means draw

Houston v Dallas

Los Angeles v New England

Columbus v San Jose

Seattle v Salt Lake

Chivas v Colorado

Chicago v Houston

It is hard to pick a match between two quality sides. Houston will be playing in Dallas on Thursday night, only mere hours up the road, while Chicago will be facing off with Tigres at Toyota Park for the 2009 Superliga Final. Although I have been burned by picking against Chicago in the past weeks, I am going to stick to it again this week. Chicago will be tired, and lack the depth of a side like Houston, leaving them vulnerable to a short week loss to Houston on Sunday. Chivas should pull out the match in Colorado after the break they have had, though keeper Zach Thornton could still be out with an injury sustained in the ASG. Salt Lake should be able to defeat the Sounders as they welcome them to the Rio Tinto Stadium, after Seattle’s poor run of form and a mid-week clash with European Champions FC Barcelona, look for RSL to come out strong in this one. Although San Jose has had some spectacular matches of late look for Columbus to come in and take the match to them, gaining full points from their West Coast opponents. LA have had a decent run of form of late, minus the KC match and friendly with FC Barcelona, look for them to come out strong against New England but waiver as the match goes on. New England will struggle against LA’s attack, but hold strong pulling out the draw at Foxboro. And last of all, the big winners from last week, FC Dallas. Houston will be coming to town on Thursday night this week to take on a Dallas side that has to be riding a goal scoring high at the moment. Look for Houston to come to town and put Dallas back in their place at Pizza Hut Park on Thursday night, before returning home for a weekend matchup with Chicago.

The matches I am looking forward to this week are, Houston v Dallas and Chivas v Colorado. So grab a bag of chips or whatever it is you decide is worthy of snacking on and catch a couple of good matches this weekend. Even predict a few of your own, it is not like you can do worse than me, unless I happened to get it right this week. Week 21 looks to be interesting, and 22 should see many of the teams back who have been away for friendlies and other competitions.

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC