6 Bold Predictions for MLS Matches from August 15-17
The 23rd week of play in Major League Soccer should be packed with plenty of intrigue thanks to the juicy matchups going on from Friday to Sunday.
From the top-three showdowns in Kansas City and Utah to the three Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference clashes, there will be a plethora of talking points entering the weekend.
One thing that is always expected in MLS is the unexpected, which is why it is time to make some bold predictions about Week 23.
Continue reading on for the six bold predictions we have for this weekend in MLS.
Seattle Will Find a Way to Win at Rio Tinto Stadium
The battle for first place in the West heats up Saturday, when Real Salt Lake hosts Seattle.
The Sounders have lost three of their last five games, and are in need of a statement win to prove that they will be a dominant force in the stretch run.
For Sigi Schmid's side to get the critics off their backs, they must win at Rio Tinto Stadium, a place where they lost twice in 2013.
Winning in Utah may not be easy, but the Sounders are coming off a 6-0 blasting of Chicago in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, which gave them a massive confidence boost.
Montreal Will Finally Right the Ship
If there is any team in need of a win right now, it is the Montreal Impact.
Frank Klopas' side have lost their last seven games, but some relief could come in the form of the Chicago Fire Saturday night.
The Fire are coming off a deflating Wednesday loss to Seattle, and Montreal played a solid game last week against Philadelphia, but two defensive errors cost it three points.
The Impact will surely look to improve on Saturday's performance, and capitalize on Chicago's downfall and travel schedule, to earn their first league victory since June 29.
San Jose and FC Dallas Will Combine for 7 or More Goals
Two teams in solid form with blazing-hot attackers will enter Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday in a game that could go a long way in deciding the playoff fate of both sides.
San Jose has scored on nine occasions during its four-game unbeaten streak, which has been powered by a resurgent Chris Wondolowski and a shift in formation.
FC Dallas enters with an eight-game unbeaten run and Fabian Castillo running wild on the left wing.
With both offenses firing on all cylinders, the fans in attendance could see one of the most wide-open games of the season.
Whether it eclipses the nine-goal thriller between Chicago and New York in May remains to be seen, but there are plenty of goals to be had in this match between the third- and eighth-place sides in the West.
The Revolution Will Shut Down Diego Valeri
Few players are in the form that Diego Valeri is in at the moment, which hands New England a major matchup problem.
Valeri, who has scored a goal in each of his last four games, is bound to slow down at some point, and the Revolution need a strong performance from their back four.
With Kevin Alston filling in for Chris Tierney on the left, the Revs might have to send Jose Goncalves or A.J. Soares out to the flank to help out on a few occasions.
If Valeri does drift into the middle, he will run into Goncalves, who was the Defender of the Year last season.
One of these days Goncalves will eventually prove to us why he earned that title in 2013 so why not do it against one of the league's best attackers?
Pedro Ribeiro Will Star for Philadelphia
After playing 90 minutes Saturday against Montreal, and 120 minutes Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup, the Philadelphia Union are in need of some reinforcements.
One young player that is expected to play a role against Houston is Pedro Ribeiro, who was named the USL Pro Player of the Week for his two-goal performance against the New York Red Bulls reserves.
Interim manager Jim Curtin confirmed Thursday that the Coastal Carolina product was flown in for the game against the Dynamo, per MLSSoccer.com's Dave Zeitlin.
Plugging a player, that has scored four goals at the USL Pro level this season, into the lineup could help a Union side that has to continue to put up positive results in order to stay in the playoff chase.
The East Will Dominate the West
Let's be brutally honest here, this prediction is a massive stretch for anyone to make.
Three teams from the East will host opponents from the West in Week 23 in a trio of matches that could help the reputation of the former.
D.C. United have the best chance of the three East sides to pull off a win at home since Colorado has lost four of its last five.
Columbus and New England will face stiff tasks against LA and Portland, but it is possible an upset can be earned by both sides.
If the Crew's defensive trio of Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst and Wil Trapp can hold off the dangerous Galaxy attack, all they would need is a goal or two.
Portland enters New England with a trip to Guyana ahead on Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League, which could give manager Caleb Porter a reason to rest a few players against a struggling New England side.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.