6 Bold Predictions for MLS Matches from September 19-21
When we make bold proclamations about certain goings on in Major League Soccer, we are usually never right due to the immense amount of parity across the league.
The Week 28 edition of our bold predictions looks at a few key games with playoff implications as well as a match that has the potential to be one of the worst of 2014.
Mix in a few bold statements about key players shining in important clashes and you have all six of our bold predictions.
Continue reading on to see just how bold our predictions are for Week 28.
A Desperate Colorado Side Will Shock Real Salt Lake
Maybe we just feel real bad for Pablo Mastroeni and want to see him finish off his first season as Colorado manager on a high note.
The last time we decided to show a soft spot for the Rapids, they responded by losing 6-0 to the Galaxy after Joe Nasco was shown the quickest red card in league history.
Entering Friday's match against Rocky Mountain Cup rival Real Salt Lake, the Rapids are somehow still relevant in the Western Conference playoff discussion.
With six games left in the season, Colorado could easily make up its six-point deficit on Vancouver, but for that to happen, points must be earned at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Real Salt Lake has won both meetings in 2014, but the scores have been close with the Rapids losing by just one goal in each match.
With pride on the line, and an outside chance at the playoffs still dangling in front of them, expect the Rapids to pull off a shocker against the third-place team in the West.
Saturday Will Belong to Darlington Nagbe
Mostly every fan around the league has been waiting for the game to sit in awe of Darlington Nagbe's abilities this season.
However, the magic that we saw from the Portland playmaker in 2013 hasn't exactly been there on a consistent basis this season, which may explain the Timbers' current status as the sixth-place team in the West.
Saturday's home clash with Vancouver presents Nagbe with a perfect opportunity to explode on the pitch, and send the Timbers back into fifth place.
Believe it or not, the last time Nagbe scored in a regular-season game was October 6, 2013, when he recorded a goal and an assist against the Whitecaps.
If Diego Valeri can occupy most of Matias Laba's time throughout the match, Nagbe should be given the license to rampage down the wings to create chances for the tall and powerful Fanendo Adi.
If that is the case, we could end up raving about Nagbe's dynamic playmaking abilities once again, and a stellar performance in a big game might even put a smile on Caleb Porter's face as well.
Philadelphia Will Not Suffer from a U.S. Open Cup Hangover
Sometimes the game of soccer is a cruel beast that strikes agony into a side deserving of winning a trophy.
That cruel beast slayed the trophy hopes of the Philadelphia Union Tuesday night at PPL Park after two missed opportunities in the waning moments of the second half sent the game into extra time, where the Sounders scored twice and won the cup.
Now the Union are tasked with recovering from the heartbreaking loss on Saturday against a Houston side, who is still lurking around in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The factor that will help the Union the most is the home crowd at PPL Park, which was electric throughout the entire 120 minutes of Tuesday's final.
With the strong home crowd behind them, and a plethora of experienced veterans in the side, Philadelphia should be able to bounce back with a win over Houston, which could finally send the Dynamo out of playoff contention.
Seattle Will Run into a Rough U.S. Open Cup Hangover
On the other end of the spectrum, the Seattle Sounders will enter Red Bull Arena fresh off the hoisting of their fourth U.S. Open Cup in six years.
While the celebrations will have died down by the time Saturday rolls around, the Sounders are still in the middle of a week-long journey to the East Coast, which we have seen hurt teams a ton in the NFL.
This situation is different from an NFL one since the Sounders have been in the Eastern time zone since Monday, but they are not required to win their game over New York to stay alive in any type of playoff race.
If there is one game Seattle can afford to lose during the stretch run of the regular season, it is Saturday's game against New York.
Regardless of the result, Seattle will still be in the driver's seat to win the Supporters' Shield and the top seed in the West.
The more important games for Sigi Schmid's side come after Saturday with all of their final six matches coming against opposition from the West.
Eddie Johnson Will Return with a Bang
With Sporting Kansas City and New England still on their tails for the top spot in the East, D.C. United must take care of business on the road against Chicago.
The player who should give the Black and Red that boost Saturday night is Eddie Johnson, who will travel with the team after dealing with a concussion over the last few weeks, per Pablo Maurer of MLSSoccer.com.
Johnson is a true impact player up front, and if he can connect with a few solid crosses from his teammates, he could easily bury the Fire in front of the fans at Toyota Park.
The United States international may not have his preferred partner up front with Fabian Espindola out due to a red-card suspension, but Luis Silva has gained plenty of confidence over the last few weeks, which should benefit Johnson.
With Johnson ready to pounce up front, look for at least a goal from the forward as he prepares for the MLS Cup playoffs.
Something Exciting Will Happen Between Toronto and Chivas USA
There are exactly zero reasons why you should leave your regular NFL viewing Sunday afternoon to watch the match at BMO Field between Toronto FC and Chivas USA.
However, we are holding out hope that something exciting does happen between these two trainwrecked sides in the final match of the MLS weekend.
Toronto FC has written the perfect script for how a club should fall apart during the playoff stretch, but it still has Michael Bradley, who is getting close to Dan Kennedy status with the Reds.
Kennedy, who is the long-suffering keeper for Chivas USA that deserves much better than the results show, will lead the Goats into Canada with a winless streak, which dates back to July 12.
The good news, if there is any to go around, for Chivas USA is that Erick Torres should be involved in the starting lineup after missing three games, but he hasn't scored since July 20.
We are banking on one of the many dubious streaks to end Sunday in Toronto, which may be our boldest prediction yet given this match has 0-0 written all over it.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.