6 Bold Predictions for MLS Matches from September 26-28
As we witnessed Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium, the unexpected can happen in any game down the stretch in Major League Soccer.
For the rest of Week 29, players who have been off the radar will try to replicate David Texeira's double, but unfortunately we are not that bold to predict who that player will be.
However, we do have bold predictions featuring the wild and crazy Eastern Conference playoff race and two strong defensive proclamations.
Continue reading on for a look at our six bold predictions for MLS Week 29.
New England Will Snatch Second Place Away from Sporting Kansas City
The stakes will be high Friday night at Sporting Park, as New England enters its match against Sporting Kansas City with second place in its sights.
A win would put the Revolution level on points with Sporting KC at 45, but the Revolution would hold the tiebreaker for most wins by one.
Just a few weeks ago, Jay Heaps' side dominated the defending MLS Cup champion at home, 3-1, thanks to a brace from Lee Nguyen.
Since that game, the only points earned by Sporting have come from a 4-0 win over lowly Chivas USA two weeks ago.
Peter Vermes' side is fresh after a week off, but the Revolution have more to play for, especially after missing out on the chance to jump into second last week due to a loss to Columbus.
Toronto Will Leap over Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Standings
Toronto FC has received quite a bit of flak in recent weeks for a brutal defense.
However, the Reds have turned a corner with Steven Caldwell back at center-back, as he has provided plenty of stability to a side searching for exactly that.
In Saturday's clash at BMO Field, Caldwell will face a Portland attack that is coming off a great performance at home against Vancouver.
For Toronto to magically sneak back into the playoff discussion, Caldwell must bring confidence to the shaky back four.
The Reds will also receive some help from D.C. United, who play sixth-place Philadelphia at home.
If the results from the two games go in favor of Toronto, it could be on the heels of Columbus for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Houston Will Barely Stay Alive
Houston enters its match at home against Chicago seven points behind Columbus.
Although reaching the top five in the East is a close to impossible task, the Dynamo will still be alive in the playoff race after a win over the Fire.
Strange things can happen in the final month of the season, and one man who knows that all too well is Houston manager Dominic Kinnear.
If the Dynamo pound the Fire to a pulp like they should, they will control a bit of their own destiny with four of their final five games coming against teams involved in the playoff race.
Add into the mix a possible playoff-changing home-and-home series at the end of the year between Columbus and Philadelphia, and Houston could easily slide into fifth with a few consecutive wins.
Everything we just said above to give Dynamo fans hope could be washed away by a brutal performance resulting in a draw or loss, although that is unlikely to occur.
Clint Irwin Will Start and Earn a Clean Sheet
After the last two outings in goal by Joe Nasco, there is no reason why he should start in goal for Colorado.
That puts the pressure on Clint Irwin to put in a respectable showing between the pipes Saturday against San Jose.
If Pablo Mastroeni is a sensible decision maker, which we hope he is for the good of Rapids fans, he will put his confidence behind Irwin.
With nothing going right for the Rapids at the moment, Irwin will provide them with his best match of the season to earn the team's first win since July 25.
A win may not put the Rapids back in the playoff conversation, but it will restore some pride in a team that showed so much promise earlier in the season.
Vancouver Will Bounce Back from Loss to Portland
Another team suffering from some bad form at the wrong time is Vancouver, which returns home to face Real Salt Lake after a 3-0 loss to Portland.
Despite dropping out of the top five in the Western Conference, the Whitecaps still have a chance to challenge the Timbers as long as they earn a result at home Saturday.
Taking points away from a dangerous RSL side is a tough task, but this is the weekend for Vancouver to bounce back.
With Portland playing in Toronto earlier Saturday, the Whitecaps will know what they have to do in order to either leap the Timbers or keep pace with them.
A trip across the continent is never an easy task for a side like Portland, so expect the Whitecaps to enter the pitch at BC Place with some extra motivation to win.
Another positive sign for Carl Robinson's side is its record against the Claret and Cobalt this season, as the Whitecaps have recorded two draws in two matches.
LA's Defense Will Be the Star of the Show at StubHub Center
Every single neutral observer of the Sunday clash of stars between New York and LA is hoping for a shootout involving Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes, Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
While goals upon goals are nice, the Galaxy defense will stop that from happening with a statement performance.
Omar Gonzalez is in terrific form at center-back, while Robbie Rogers has turned himself into one heck of a left-back for Bruce Arena's side.
Add in an experienced duo of Dan Gargan and A.J. DeLaGarza to round out the back four and you have the perfect recipe to shut down the dangerous New York attack.
Rogers should be able to nullify the threat of Lloyd Sam down the right wing, and Gonzalez should be able to lock down Henry, who is the key provider for Wright-Phillips.
If the Galaxy perfect that formula for winning, a big message could be sent around the league Sunday night.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.