Eight games this week. Eight.
There are only 15 teams in MLS.
And three of these teams (TFC, Columbus, and Chivas), have the weekend off. Chivas, three games behind many teams in the west, obviously needed this break, seeing as they were on a two-month vacation that ended three weeks ago. The obvious thing to do is to keep them further back in the schedule, cramming more games into them at the end of the season. This is some brilliant scheduling, MLS.
Apparently the BCS computer does some work in its offseason.
But, to its credit, the schedule does have some appetizing matchups, and this week’s marquee matchup features the Colorado Rapids (30 Pts/20 GP) flowing into Toyota Park to face the Chicago Fire (35 Pts/21 GP). Both teams are currently stuck in the persistent logjam for playoff contention in their respective conferences.
The Fire can keep pace with Columbus and separate themselves from the hungry pack with a win, while the Rapids can keep up with the top tier with a win on the road in Chicago.
What makes this matchup even more interesting is that both teams don’t do well in their given position this match. Hosts Chicago have done amazingly on the road (6-2-4, 22 pts) but not so amazing at home (3-2-4, 13 pts). Conversely, Colorado use their altitude to their advantage (6-2-3, 21 pts at home), but succeed little without it (2-4-3, nine pts on the road).
Still, this game will be scintillating because Colorado have hit a run of fine form lately, thumping positional rivals Chivas USA 4-0 at home. They have found rising international stars Kosuke Kimura and Mehdi Ballouchy to complement the attacking firepower of Colin Clark and Conor “I can only be a great player in MLS” Casey (It’s not bitter if it’s true).
Chicago, still without Captain America Brian McBride, will come into this match tired from a comfortable win over the Galaxy (more on that below). But, regardless of the Fire-Galaxy result tonight, the Fire has proven resilient and fit during busy weekends earlier this season, and I see no reason why this won’t continue on Sunday.
Result: Fire 2-2 Rapids. That is, unless the Rapids’ great form continues into this week, which, seeing a chance for revenge against a tired opponent, it will.
As you may notice, there is no guest prognosticator for this week, as I was so surprised at a Wednesday fixture that I forgot to send out the word to the MLS community. But the first to respond with corresponding predictions below before the Galaxy-Fire fixture tonight will be counted as the guest prognosticator’s scores for this week. Feel free to add your own humorous jabs at the fixtures this week, as well.
As for the rest of Week 23’s fixtures:
Los Angeles Galaxy (31 Pts/21 GP) at Chicago Fire (35 Pts/21 GP) – In addition to being the former hottest team in the league, the Los Angeles Galaxy will get the award for the contender with the shallowest team. Take away their star-signing David Beckham, they fall like a house of cards—even with a dynamic offensive playmaker in Landon Donovan. Funny, the Chicago Fire have been in this situation ever since Brian McBride got hurt. Except they’ve been winning games without him. Result: Fire 2-1 Galaxy.
New England Revolution (24 Pts/18 GP) at Seattle Sounders FC (32 Pts/21 GP) – The big question here is whether Seattle has truly returned to its winning ways. As Seattle was dominating play before Beckham was sent off against the Galaxy, I wouldn’t be too quick to call last week’s away win against the Galaxy a fluke. Now, can they replicate these results against an actual contender? They’re at home, so yes. Result: Sounders 2-0 Revs.
Los Angeles Galaxy (31 Pts/21 GP) at DC United (28 Pts/21 GP) – Bad news for United: Landon Donovan will give you H1N1 this week. Worse news for United: the Galaxy gets David Beckham back from a red card suspension. Result: United 2-3 Galaxy.
Kansas City Wizards (21 Pts/ 19 GP) at San Jose Earthquakes (17 Pts/20 GP) – In addition to playing unattractive and ineffective football, the Wizards lack their defensive rock (Jimmy Conrad), and may not have their two sparkplugs on offense (Claudio Lopez and Santiago Hirsig). Add to that the recent coaching change, and let’s let San Jose have another win. Results: Quakes 2-0 Wizards.
FC Dallas (23 Pts/21 GP) at New York Red Bulls (10 Pts/22 GP) – Do I really have to say anything here? Even if the Hoops have swine flu, they still win. Result: Red Bull 0-3 FCD.
Real Salt Lake (27 Pts/21 GP) at New England Revolution (24 Pts/18 GP) – In New England’s second fixture of the weekend, they face Real Salt Lake in what should be a slugfest…If only RSL knew how to play on the road. In my personal opinion, it’s the colors: RSL wear Barca’s colors at home and they’re phenomenal, but Madrid’s colors on the road and they are anything but. It’s an omen. Result: Revs 2-0 RSL
Seattle Sounders FC (32 Pts/21 GP) at Houston Dynamo (39 Pts/23 GP) – Unlike the game above, the Sounders’ performance in their earlier weekend fixture will have a direct effect on the result of this match. Should another Sounder defender or midfielder have a disciplinary meltdown against New England, it will only give holes for the Brad Davis, Stu Holden, and Brian Ching to exploit. Should the Sounders not win comfortably against New England, which is entirely possible, a well-rested Dynamo will run them into the ground at Robertson Stadium.
Result: Dynamo 2-1 Sounders. Ultimately, the Dynamo will be too much, too soon for the Sounders.
Correct predictions receive two points, correct scores one point. If you would like to be a guest commentator, please let Matt Barger know through comment, PM, or Bulletin Board post.
Matt 12-19, 25 pts (Last week: 3-3, 6 pts)
Guest Prognosticators 16-15, 34 pts (Last week: 3-3 w/ 1 correct score, 7 pts)