6 Bold Predictions for MLS Matches from September 5-7
It's that time of the week again, where we make some outlandish predictions about what will happen in the weekend of play in Major League Soccer.
With the playoff race now ratcheting up with two months of play left, every single second on the field counts for teams desperate to keep their MLS Cup hopes alive.
With the thirst for the playoffs higher than it has been all season, there are bound to be some unexpected performances—both good and bad.
Before those shock showings can happen, we have a chance to predict who will step out of the shadows and star in our bold predictions for the MLS weekend.
Pablo Mastroeni's Rapids Will Shock LA
Colorado's chances to beat the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center are better than D.C. United's hopes to get a new stadium approved, but not by much.
The Galaxy are coming off a ridiculous month of August that saw Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes amaze us with each game.
One of those games was a 4-3 victory at Dick's Sporting Goods Park over the Rapids, who will have some sliver of confidence that they can win, especially since they defeated LA by a 1-0 scoreline in May.
However, Pablo Mastroeni's side is completely different from the one that shut out the Galaxy in May, as Drew Moor and Shane O'Neill are out for the season, and the Rapids have lost seven of their last eight heading into this match.
If Colorado can score against the LA defense, like it did on August 20, it could have a chance of winning, but slowing down the LA attacking trio with reserve defenders is far from an easy task.
Toronto Will Respond Well to Wednesday's Loss to Philadelphia
Philadelphia and Toronto will play the second game of a rare home-and-home series Saturday at BMO Field after the Union won a 1-0 affair at PPL Park Wednesday.
That victory put Jim Curtin's side in prime position to continue rising in the Eastern Conference standings with another win Saturday, but beating a team twice in four days isn't exactly easy.
Saturday will mark the first time the Reds will play in front of their home crowd with Greg Vanney in charge. Vanney replaced the sacked Ryan Nelsen after last week's 3-0 loss to New England at home.
A win would pull Toronto away from Philadelphia in the race for the final two playoff spots in the East, and the same would be the case for the Union since the sides are tied on 33 points with Columbus.
Despite all the negativity surrounding Toronto at the moment, look for the players to respond in Vanney's first game in front of a home crowd that needs something positive to talk about.
Tyler Deric Will Be the Man of the Match for Houston
The Houston Dynamo were dealt a big blow after a major win at Sporting Park last week, as starting keeper Tally Hall was ruled out for the season with a ruptured ACL.
In Hall's absence, Tyler Deric will be asked to step up and replace the quality that Hall provided in between the pipes.
The 26-year-old made two saves off the bench against Sporting after Hall could not continue in that match, but he has little league experience.
In the five games he has played for the Dynamo, Deric has made 21 saves, which equates to just over four per game.
If that trend continues against Montreal, expect Deric to play a big role at BBVA Compass Stadium, and as a keeper who has conceded just five times in his MLS career, he should have enough confidence to lead Houston to a win.
Nothing Exciting Will Happen at BC Place
This is a prediction that we hope is 100 percent wrong, but given the recent form of Vancouver, and D.C.'s struggles against Western Conference opponents, Saturday night's game at BC Place could be brutal on the eyes.
The Whitecaps have not scored in three consecutive matches, and a playoff berth is slowly slipping away from Carl Robinson's side, which is something that seemed impossible after the 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on August 10.
D.C. will travel west again for its third match against a team from the West in the last month. The first two games resulted in losses by a combined score of 7-1 to Real Salt Lake and LA.
With the Western jinx hanging above D.C.'s heads, and Vancouver's scoring abilities nowhere to be seen, this one could go down as one of the most forgettable matches this season.
RSL Will Find Goals Hard to Come by Without Joao Plata
Joao Plata has been one of the most exciting players to watch in 2014, and because of that he earned a spot in the Ecuador squad for two games during the international friendly dates this week.
With Plata out of the lineup, Real Salt Lake will need to find another scorer to beat FC Dallas.
The options for Jeff Cassar are unlimited, with Robbie Findley, Devon Sandoval and new acquisition Sebastian Jaime all looking for playing time, but neither Findley nor Sandoval have managed to score this season.
One of those three players will partner Olmes Garcia, who has just three goals to his name in 2014, which means goals could come at a premium for the Claret and Cobalt against the stingy FC Dallas defense.
The one good bit of news for RSL is that Javier Morales will be in the starting lineup, but he can only do so much from his attacking-midfield position to set up the forwards with solid passes.
Jermaine Jones Will Be Bested by the Team That Missed out on Him
The first-ever blind-draw derby will be played Sunday at Gillette Stadium, as New England hosts Chicago in the final game of the weekend.
Everyone will have their eyes on this match because it features the two clubs that were in the race for the signature of Jermaine Jones. As we all know by now, the league office pulled a new rule out of their imaginary rule book to award Jones to the Revolution in a blind draw.
Chicago did a decent job holding FC Dallas' threat to a minimum at Toyota Park last week, which will provide Frank Yallop's team with plenty of momentum heading into Sunday's clash.
With every game being a must-win for the Fire, look for them to come out with an extra edge and give Jones his first real test as an MLS player in the defensive midfield.
Since the rest of the Revolution midfield likes to move forward in attack, look for Chicago to exploit those gaps on the counter, when Jones is one of the last lines of defense. And with a player like Quincy Amarikwa or Harry Shipp running at Jones, that counter could turn into a goal or two.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.