Predicting the Major MLS, Gold Cup and International Fixtures This Weekend
Another weekend without any good football to watch?
We've got the knockout stages of the Gold Cup tournament and a slew of Major League Soccer games coming your way, and some of the best Premier League teams are also taking part in various friendly matches around the world.
All in all, it still stands to be another memorable weekend of football, so read on to see which teams will emerge victorious from their respective fixtures.
Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago
Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. ET
CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals, Georgia Dome
We kick off our action from the weekend with the best of the Gold Cup quarterfinals—starting with Mexico's very intriguing matchup against the less-favored Trinidad and Tobago.
Mexico will be the favorites, no doubt, but don't necessarily expect them to get the job done here. El Tri have been playing very poorly throughout 2013 so far and are under a lot of pressure to succeed—something that we've seen, time and time again, can produce relatively poor performances.
Trinidad and Tobago suffered a shock loss against Haiti but followed that up with a very impressive 2-0 win over Honduras and will be confident about their chances in this one.
And while I think they'll take the lead early, I'm just not sure they have the experience and class that Mexico will have in the latter stages of the match. Especially if this one remains pretty tight and potentially goes on into extra time before the scoreline can be broken.
Trinidad and Tobago score first, but lose it late.
Prediction: Mexico 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1 (a.e.t.)
United States vs. El Salvador
Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. ET
CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals, M&T Bank
The United States might have only just scraped through against Costa Rica in their final group-stage match, but they got the desired result—and that was victory. And as the only team to have won all three of their group-stage matches, the USMNT will now head into the quarterfinals feeling very confident.
However, their opponents are certainly not to be undervalued.
Other than a loose 2-2 draw to start the tournament, El Salvador have been very disciplined in defense and have conceded just one goal in their past two games. That came in stoppage time against Honduras, and while the United States' attack is likely to have more punch than what they faced in their respective group, El Salvador are still more than capable of holding out the USMNT in this one.
Jurgen Klinsmann's team are the overwhelming favorites for the Gold Cup, and while they've been living up to that billing thus far, there's always a great sense of pressure on the USMNT in every game they play. That could work in the favor of El Salvador—with a bit of luck along the way—as pressure would (theoretically) grow on the United States with every minute that they are not in front.
I think the United States will win, as expected, but I think El Salvador will put up a great fight—winning a number of fans along the way thanks to their dogged determination and attitude.
Prediction: United States 2, El Salvador 0
Montreal Impact vs. FC Dallas
Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Major League Soccer, Week 21, Stade Saputo
Changing leagues now, and it's into the MLS, where a number of high-profile matches are set to get underway. And while the playoffs might still be a while into the future, the reality is that several teams will be desperate to keep their chances at postseason football alive with success this weekend.
Starting with the Montreal Impact and FC Dallas.
The Impact were destroyed 4-0 away from home last week by the New York Red Bulls and will be keen to show their home fans that they are better than that. However, their opponents in FC Dallas will also be hoping for a better performance after they were beaten 3-0 by a Real Salt Lake side without their international players—giving Dallas their seventh straight match without a win.
Who will bounce back better?
It's probably a lot closer than it seems, but you'd have to just give the edge to Montreal. Dallas are not in a good place at all right now—making it very hard to pick them—and while the Impact were poor last week, they should thrive being back in Montreal in front of their faithful fans.
Prediction: Montreal Impact 2, FC Dallas 0
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City
Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. ET
Major League Soccer, Week 21, Rio Tinto Stadium
The pick of the domestic football matches this weekend sees Real Salt Lake take on Sporting Kansas City in a match that could have profound ramifications for the playoffs later this year. Again, we're a long way out, but given that both teams are currently on top of their respective conferences, there's a real possibility that we could be seeing a similar fixture take place in this year's postseason.
Real Salt Lake were superb last week without their international stars and thumped a hapless FC Dallas side 3-0. Sporting also recorded the same scoreline in their victory over Toronto FC.
So which team is going to crack in this one? The away side.
Real Salt Lake haven't lost in their last six home fixtures, and while Sporting do have some handy wins on the road this year, they've also struggled in recent weeks to put away the likes of the Chicago Fire and DC United. Real Salt Lake will be an imposing place to travel to, and simply put, if Kansas City can't beat some of the worst in MLS on the road, they're really going to struggle in this one.
I think we'll see a season-defining performance by Real Salt Lake that shows the rest of the MLS just how tough they'll be to beat in the domestic competition this year.
Prediction: Real Salt Lake 3, Sporting Kansas City 1
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 10:30 p.m ET
Major League Soccer, Week 21, StubHub Center
Given that Portland have a tricky away fixture to the Philadelphia Union and FC Dallas face the same scenario with Montreal, the Los Angeles Galaxy will know just how big this week's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps is. After all, with a win, they could jump from fifth to second or third.
With a loss, they could fall a win off the top four in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles were unlucky not to get a result last week against Portland in a hotly contested matchup and will be desperate to make amends for that this week. Vancouver have been playing very well (undefeated in their last seven games) but have shown a propensity to struggle on the road in 2013—winning just one road game other than a sloppy 1-0 win over the last-placed DC United.
Yet what the Whitecaps have done so well this year is turn poor games into results—something that the Galaxy haven't learned to do given their inane ability to concede late goals. I think we'll see a similar thing again here, as the Galaxy—despite dominating the entire match—only walk away with one point to show for their efforts and rue their missed opportunity to move higher in the Western Conference.
Prediction: Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Vancouver Whitecaps 1
Manchester United vs. A-League All-Stars
Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 5:30 a.m. ET
World Football Friendly, ANZ Stadium (Australia)
After a shock loss against Thailand's All-Stars to start their tour, Manchester United will be looking for a much better result against the A-League All-Stars to calm some of the current tension at the club.
The Red Devils are being thrown around in the media seemingly every day for their inability to land the best players in the transfer market, and with Wayne Rooney's transfer saga over their heads as well, the last thing that David Moyes wanted from this trip to Thailand was a defeat.
However, expect him to get his first win as the new United boss this weekend.
The A-League All Stars will be playing without their three best players here (Emile Heskey, Alessandro Del Piero and Shinji Ono), and that will have a profound impact on their ability to effectively attack in this one. They certainly won't die wondering—so expect goals to flow—but United are simply too good in defense and too quick to move the ball up field for this one to finish in anything other than victory.
Especially given that most of the 85,000-strong crowd will be cheering for the Red Devils—not the "best" of the national domestic competition.
Prediction: Manchester United 3, A-League All Stars 1
Chelsea vs. Malaysia XI
Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 9:45 a.m. ET
World Football Friendly, Shah Alam Stadium (Malaysia)
New Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho got his second spell at the helm of the Blues off to a success, as his side narrowly defeated the Singha All-Stars 1-0 thanks to a Romelu Lukaku penalty. Mourinho effectively used a lot of his squad players and gave significant playing time to a number of key men—something which could very well prove to be the difference again in Malaysia.
It's hard to predict just how the home side (as well as the visitors) will perform given the friendly nature of the match, but it is hard to see the Blues chalking up anything but victory here.
They have a far superior squad to that of the home team, and with Mourinho clearly not afraid to play the likes of Eden Hazard, Lukaku, Andre Schurrle, Frank Lampard, Kevin De Bruyne and Demba Ba (like some managers would be), it's clear that Chelsea will emerge victorious.
Just how big will the win be? Well, I can't see it being Arsenal-esque against an abysmal Vietnam side, but it will still be a substantial win, and one that keeps the "Special One" feeling good about the new season. Regardless of whether he lands Wayne Rooney or not.
Prediction: Chelsea 4, Malaysia XI 0
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