Predicting the Major MLS, World Cup and International Fixtures This Weekend
Domestic leagues around the world might have ended for another year, but with a slew of high-profile international matches ongoing at the moment, there's certainly no shortage of football to choose from.
From the Confederations Cup to the under-20 World Cup, international stars are everywhere to be found. And if domestic football is more of your thing, then sit back and enjoy another week of Major League Soccer, with a number of cross-confederence matches scheduled for this weekend.
Which teams will emerge triumphant from this weekend's matches?
Read on and find out.
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas
Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Major League Soccer, Week 19, PPL Park (PA)
FC Dallas will know that with a game in hand, they theoretically could move to the top of the table this week with a win against the Philadelphia Union. However, they'll also know that away from home, against an in-form Union side and having struggled to get a point last week against Sporting Kansas City, three points are certainly not a guaranteed outcome this weekend.
Philadelphia were very impressive against the New York Red Bulls last week and know that if they deliver a similar performance this week, they should get the win here.
The Union have scored more goals than any other Eastern Conference team this year and are an impressive 4-2-2 at home this year, while FC Dallas have won just once on the road all year. Philly are in great form, and while their opponents will certainly be looking to prove their critics wrong under the national spotlight, they're just playing that little bit better at the moment and should nab all three points.
Prediction: Philadelphia Union 2, FC Dallas 1
New York Red Bulls vs. Houston Dynamo
Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Major League Soccer, Week 19, Red Bull Arena (NJ)
With a poor performance last week, the New York Red Bulls will know that they need a better showing this weekend if they want to score all three points.
Their defense, in particular, was poor against the Union and should come under plenty of fire here. However, they should get some reprieve in the Dynamo's attack, which has only mustered 19 goals in their 16 games this season—shown most recently in their 0-0 draw against Toronto FC.
Houston are an impressive 4-2-2 at home this season but they've only won twice on the road. New York are hungry and keen to make amends for last week, and with 11 players on the pitch (hopefully!), should have enough to beat Houston and get back into the winners circle.
Prediction: New York Red Bulls 1, Houston Dynamo 0
Uzbekistan vs. Uruguay
Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. ET
FIFA U-20 World Cup, Group F, Akdeniz (Turkey)
Having dominated New Zealand in their opening game (21 shots on goal) and then chalked up a very strong performance against Croatia (12 shots on goal), Uzbekistan will look to wrap up top spot of the group when they take on Uruguay in their final match of the group stage.
They should—in theory—be too for their opponents in this one, but the South American powerhouse certainly shouldn't be underestimated in the slightest here.
Uruguay were perhaps unlucky not to nab a point against Croatia (chalking up 16 shots on goal to eight) and will know that they need a win here to keep their tournament dreams alive given that Croatia will beat New Zealand, in all likelihood. And while that might not seem like much, they should have enough in attack to match their Asian counterparts here and walk away with at least one point from this fixture.
Prediction: Uzbekistan 1, Uruguay 1
Iraq vs. Chile
Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET
FIFA U-20 World Cup, Group E, Akdeniz (Turkey)
Both Iraq and Chile have been surprisingly good in the under-20 World Cup so far, and will look to close out the group stage in style with a dominant win in this one.
They've both chalked up a win against Egypt and a draw against England, and will head into this one with relatively the same strengths in both attack and defense. However, the biggest difference could come in their finishing, with Chile much more efficient in front of goal so far in the tournament.
Led by Angelo Henriquez and Nicolas Castillo, Chile have the talent in attack required to get the goals needed to clinch this one. And after a few scary moments in their final group stage match, they should emerge with all three points in hand as they head into the knockout stages of the competition.
Prediction: Iraq 2, Chile 3
Uruguay vs. Italy
Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Confederations Cup Third-Place Playoff, Arena Fonte (Brazil)
First and foremost, it must be noted that this article was written before the second semifinal of the Confederations Cup where Spain will take on Italy.
I've gone with Spain to win that match (given their dominance in international football in the past few years), and that has therefore led to Uruguay playing Italy and Brazil playing Spain respectively in this weekend's predictions. However, if that doesn't turn out to be the case, then these matchups will be completely different (and could well throw out some different results!).
Uruguay were deceptively strong in defense against Brazil and were perhaps unlucky to not at least see their semifinal matchup head into extra time. Their attack, which is where their firepower is, will face a tough time against the defensive might of the Azzurri, but the likes of Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Abel Hernandez are certainly capable of creating several good chances in this one.
Italy—without their top goal-scorer in Mario Balotelli—won't be as successful going forward, and may find themselves bogged down in midfield more than they expected.
And while they should have enough to keep it close, I think Uruguay will emerge with a late winner to clinch a 1-0 victory on the night—giving them a podium finish in the tournament this year and making amends somewhat for their heartbreaking loss to Brazil in the waning minutes of their semifinal.
Prediction: Uruguay 1, Italy 0
Brazil vs. Spain
Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Confederations Cup Final, Maracana (Brazil)
Again, assuming Spain beat Italy (which they should do after witnessing their performance in the 2012 European Championships), La Roja will come into the final of the Confederations Cup this year looking to extend their international dominance. Their undefeated streak is starting to get seriously impressive now, and even against Brazil, they'll be very, very tough to beat in this one.
Brazil have been the talk of the tournament and will no doubt be buoyed by the home support here. Their attack will be firing and their creativity alone makes them a very dangerous opponent. However, against the defensive and midfield might of Spain, not even they will have enough firepower to win this one.
The hosts have still shown great susceptibility and vulnerability in turnovers; they are still spooked easily and don't have the same presence in central midfield as their opponents.
And in an international final—against one of the best international teams in history—those weaknesses will be found and exposed as Spain chalk up another impressive victory.
Prediction: Brazil 0, Spain 2
Hit me up on Twitter for more sports goodness: Follow @dantalintyre