Predicting the Major MLS, Gold Cup and International Fixtures This Weekend
With the 2013 Confederations Cup still fresh in our minds, another fantastic set of domestic and international football matches takes center stage this weekend.
Major League Soccer has some wonderful fixtures, while the United States' international friendly against Guatemala and the start of the 2013 Gold Cup will make for thrilling viewing. Throw in the quarterfinals of the ongoing U-20 World Cup (which showcases some of the best young talent in the world), and the weekend to come is certainly one for football lovers to enjoy.
Read on to see which teams will emerge as the winners from the weekend's matches with all the need-to-know details.
Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union
Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Major League Soccer, Week 18, BBVA Compass Stadium, TX
We kick off the weekend's predictions with some MLS action as the Houston Dynamo welcome the Philadelphia Union to town. The Union are currently four points clear of Houston in the Eastern Conference, but the Dynamo will know that, with a game in hand, this match represents a huge chance to close that gap and stay ahead of teams chasing them for a playoff spot.
And if Houston ever needed a win, it was this week.
The Dynamo are winless in their last seven and looked dismal in midfield last week against the New York Red Bulls. Their defense still remains one of the best in the league (conceding just 18 goals this season), but their attack has sputtered of late and definitely needs to find its potency once more.
In a direct contrast, the Union are undefeated in their last five and were incredibly unfortunate not to chalk up another win last week against Dallas.
They've scored the second-most goals this season, and while they'll face a tough test in Houston's defense, they should have more than enough to get the job done here—extending their undefeated streak to six matches and continuing the Dynamo's winless run.
Prediction: Houston Dynamo 1, Philadelphia Union 2
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. FC Dallas
Sunday, July 7, 2013 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Major League Soccer, Week 18, StubHub Center, CA
Another important match for teams on the cusp of a playoff berth will get underway on Sunday, when the Los Angeles Galaxy welcome FC Dallas to town.
And boy, will they want to erase the heartbreak of last week!
Despite playing away from home, the Galaxy were two goals up and cruising against San Jose before they somehow surrendered three goals to their 10-man opponents. It was their fourth loss in the past seven weeks and increases the pressure to perform in weeks to come—starting with their home game this week against high-flying Dallas.
They might be winless in their last five, but Dallas have been very strong this season and find themselves in a commanding second place in the Western Conference as a result. The only question that remains, however, is their away form.
On the road, Dallas have won just one of their seven games so far, and that came against the lowly New England Revolution. Couple that with the home form of the Galaxy—who have lost just once this season in front of their home fans—and things won't be easy for Dallas.
It'll take some doing, but I like the Galaxy to respond here.
They'll know they played poorly last week and will want to fix it, and they'll know that there's no better time to do that than against one of the best teams in the league.
Expect a huge confidence boost for Bruce Arena's side.
Prediction: Los Angeles Galaxy 3, FC Dallas 1
United States vs. Guatemala
Friday, July 5, 2013 at 11:00 p.m. ET
International Friendly, Qualcomm Stadium, CA
The United States men's national team will get their summer schedule underway on Friday night when they take on Guatemala. Given the disparity between the two teams (and the friendly nature of the match), you would be forgiven for thinking that the U.S. will take it easy in this one.
However, that won't be the case. This match represents the last friendly for Jurgen Klinsmann's side before the start of the 2013 Gold Cup, and given the weight of expectation on them in that tournament, they'll want to make sure that everything is right beforehand.
Landon Donovan's return to midfield will no doubt be a huge boost for the home side, with the former Everton man making his 145th international appearance. And while that might not seem like much, against a team that struggled mightily in World Cup qualification and one that is playing a long way away from home, that could very well be the difference for the United States here.
Guatemala are winless in their past 11 international matches and have won just one of their past 10 matches away from home. They were beaten 3-1 by the United States last time they met, and the USMNT should be looking at a similar scoreline again in this one.
Prediction: United States 4, Guatemala 0
Uruguay U-20 vs. Spain U-20
Saturday, July 6, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET
FIFA U-20 World Cup, Quarterfinal, Ataturk Stadium (Turkey)
Four quarterfinals are set to take place at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey this weekend, with Spain against Uruguay the standout pick of them all.
Spain came into the tournament as heavy favorites to chalk up another international trophy and started the competition as expected—winning every match in the group stage and looking very impressive in the process. However, things quickly changed for La Roja in their round of 16 match, where they were very nearly upset by Mexico—coming from behind and scoring a late winner to prevail 2-1.
Those struggles will give Uruguay plenty of confidence that they too can threaten the European heavyweights, and with the likes of Diego Rolan and Diego Laxalt on their squad, they're more than capable of doing just that—especially if they can nab an early goal.
Spain have a number of world-class players—such as Gerard Deulofeu and Oliver Torres—and should be too good for their opponents. But, much like their last match, don't expect it to come all that easy for the Europeans.
Another late winner may well be what Spain need to stay alive.
Prediction: Spain 2, Uruguay 1
Canada vs. Martinique
Sunday, July 7, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. ET
CONCACAF Gold Cup, Group A, Rose Bowl, CA
Canada will kick off their 2013 Gold Cup campaign against the minnows of Group A in Martinique and should easily progress through with a comfortable victory.
Even with a relatively inexperienced squad at their disposal.
Their Caribbean opponents simply don't have the personnel capable of thriving at international tournaments just yet, and while they'll hold no fear playing teams much better than they are, it won't help them at all. Martinique haven't played a decent football team in years (no, the British Virgin Islands doesn't count), and their inexperience will be on full display this weekend.
Canada haven't won since defeating Cuba in late 2012 and are coming off some heavy losses to Honduras and Denmark. Their recent results against the United States and Japan, however, show that improvements are being made and that their squad is starting to develop some serious talent—which should be more than enough to get the three points in this one.
Prediction: Canada 6, Martinique 0
Mexico vs. Panama
Sunday, July 7, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. ET
CONCACAF Gold Cup, Group A, Rose Bowl, CA
The other match in Group A this weekend features Mexico take on Panama—a match that Mexico are largely expected to win but might not necessarily triumph in.
Mexico have struggled mightily in World Cup qualifying so far and were recently bundled out of the 2013 Confederations Cup in similar fashion. They have struggled to get the ball to Javier Hernandez upfront and create any legitimate goal-scoring opportunities, and they've been marred by turnovers in midfield all year long—something that could well rear its head again in this one.
The team Mexico will line up this weekend will likely be without several of their big-name players, which could well lead to Panama finding some surprise success.
Panama were able to hold Mexico to a 0-0 draw in a World Cup qualifier earlier in the year, and they followed that with an impressive showing away to the United States. Even though they lost that game, Panama showed they are more than capable of creating turnovers and goal-scoring chances, and against a team lacking firepower and motivation, that could be enough to cause an upset.
I think Mexico will escape, but not by much.
Certainly not before Panama give them an almighty scare.
Prediction: Mexico 1, Panama 0
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