Predicting the Major MLS and Confederations Cup Fixtures This Weekend

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIJune 20, 2013

Predicting the Major MLS and Confederations Cup Fixtures This Weekend

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    There might not be any World Cup qualifiers to watch out for this weekend, but with the Confederations Cup and the MLS still ongoing, there's certainly no shortage of football for you to enjoy. And like always, we've got you covered with a full breakdown and predictions of the major games this weekend.

    Which teams will emerge victorious from their final group stage games of the Confederations Cup, and which teams will bow out of the competition with a tough defeat?

    Can Real Salt Lake jump ahead of FC Dallas in the Western Conference? Will the Philadelphia Union find themselves in a playoff spot by the end of the week?

    There's plenty of big questions, and they'll all be answered soon enough this weekend. Read on to see all the need-to-know information for every game this weekend as well as predictions for who will (and won't) be in the winners circle this weekend.


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    Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

    FIFA Confederations Cup, Group A, Arena Fonte Nova 

    Having survived an incredible seven-goal epic against Japan, Italy will now look to close out the group stage in style when they take on the locals in Brazil.

    Brazil have been incredibly dominant through the group stage so far, and will no doubt be looking to finish strong in front of their home fans. Therefore, this one certainly won't be a "dead-rubber" or meaningless fixture, though both teams will experiment with their starting lineups for a must-win knockout fixture.

    Italy have been really strong in their past few international tournaments, but at home, not even they will have the attacking power necessary to keep up with Brazil.

    The home side will be looking to keep the locals happy, and we should see goals aplenty as a result. Italy are no doubt good enough to find the back of the net, but not even they will be able to stop the might of Brazil. If Japan can net three, expect Brazil to do the same as well.

    Prediction: Italy 1, Brazil 3


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    Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

    FIFA Confederations Cup, Group A, Mineirao

    Despite strong performances throughout the Confederations Cup so far, either Japan or Mexico are going home without a win this year. Both will want to ensure that they finish on a positive note, and having shown the potential to post up a very dominant display, this one genuinely could go either way.

    Japan will no doubt be somewhat crushed after watching a two-goal lead disappear against Italy and eventually coming off second-best in their 4-3 result earlier in the week. They'll know that they blew several goal-scoring opportunities in that one as well, and should they carry that form with them into this fixture, they should be good for a victory against their North American opponents.

    Mexico haven't been playing well this year—struggling in their World Cup qualifiers and not all that convincing in the Confederations Cup either—and it's hard to see that changing in their final game here.

    Prediction: Japan 2, Mexico 1

CONFEDERATIONS CUP: Uruguay vs. Tahiti

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    Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

    FIFA Confederations Cup, Group B, Arena Pernambuco

    It is no shock at all to come out and say that Uruguay will win this one.

    If there's anything we've seen in the tournament so far, it's that Tahiti—ranked well outside the top 100 in international football—simply aren't up to the same standard as other teams. They might be plucky and have certainly won themselves a lot of fans with their heart and determination this week, but when it comes to getting a result, they just don't have what it takes to succeed in the competition.

    The only question that remains is just how much Uruguay will win by.

    It's hard to see them being too ruthless here and completely annihilating a Tahiti side that doesn't deserve embarrassment. And given that it's the last game of the tournament, I don't think we'll see this one going past four or five goals, though Tahiti will once again be held scoreless.

    Prediction: Uruguay 5, Tahiti 0


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    Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

    FIFA Confederations Cup, Group B, Estadio Castelao

    Knowing that Uruguay will beat Tahiti (and most likely by a comfortable margin), Nigeria will know that they need to beat Spain if they want to keep their Confederations Cup tournament alive. The African champions are no doubt talented, but do they have what it takes to defeat the greatest international team in sport at the moment (and potentially in the history of world football)?

    Probably not.

    Spain have an incredible amount of depth and talent in their ranks, and simply know how to win football games. They can break down any defense and hold out any attack—as they've shown in the competition so far—and will no doubt do the same against Nigeria.

    Nigeria will be desperate, which could lead to a shock goal against the European champions, but it's hard to see them taking all three points off La Roja in this one.

    Predictions: Nigeria 1, Spain 4

MLS: Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders

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    Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 9:30 p.m. ET

    Major League Soccer, Rio Tinto Stadium, Utah

    Real Salt Lake and Seattle should be, by all accounts, another classic. Bleacher Report's Eduardo Mendez explains why in his preview of the MLS this week.

    Seattle and Real Salt Lake have met in each of the last two postseasons. The Claret and Cobalt eliminated the Sounders in 2011 with a 3-2 aggregate victory. Seattle returned the favor in 2012 [with] a wonder goal from Mario Martinez sealing a 1-0 aggregate victory for Rave Green. Real [then] secured a 2-1 victory over Seattle in Week 5.

    Real Salt Lake are in good form—scoring a big 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy—and are undefeated in their past four. However, the same also goes for Seattle who have lost just one of their past eight and always travel well—making this one a very intriguing fixture indeed.

    Seattle will be tough to beat, even away from home, but it's hard to see Real Salt Lake losing all three points in front of their home fans.

    Prediction: Real Salt Lake 1, Seattle Sounders 1

MLS: Philadelphia Union vs. NY Red Bulls

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    Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. ET

    Major League Soccer, PPL Park, Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia will know that with a win this week, they may very well jump into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The New York Red Bulls will also know that with a win away from home, they too could see their playoff chances improve—potentially climbing into the top three teams nationwide.

    So who's going to prevail in this intriguing MLS fixture?

    Thierry Henry was too good for the Union when they met back in Week 5, and has been a constant threat throughout the season—netting six goals thus far. If he gets going, it'll be hard for the Union—even in front of their home fans—to stop New York from getting on a roll.

    However, a roll is a long way away from what the Red Bulls are experiencing—winning just one of their past three games compared to the Union, who have lost just two of their past seven. Look for Philly to keep their strong performances going with a key win here—one that certainly won't be without drama.

    Prediction: Philadelphia Union 2, New York Red Bulls 1


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