Thursday, April 12, 2012

Week Six Picks

Another weekend of games is upon us. This time around, there are two rather intriguing matchups pitting the top teams in each conference against each other and the second-place teams in each conference against each other as well.

I opted to take one home side and one away side in those games.

The rest of the games... well I had to provide some thoughts and picks as well on those.

Philadelphia vs Columbus

Philadelphia have been pretty terrible this season. The Union have had problems scoring goals, having put just two goals in four games and there's not much hope for a scoring outburst in sight. Luckily Columbus is no offensive power either. This match could feature no goals, certainly no more than one goal per side. Well, if any side scores more than one it could be Columbus given Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath's struggles. But more than likely this one finishes in a draw.

New England vs DC United

Shalrie Joseph is out for New England and that could be a big blow for the hosts. Joseph has, as per usual, been a key figure of this Revolution side. Without Joseph - and the club will also be down Benny Feilhaber - the midfield is lacking a leader and linchpin. But so far, New England's midfield has done well collectively. DC United meanwhile have been decent the last three outings with two scoreless draws and a rout over FC Dallas in that span. This one should be a defensive struggle and will wind up a draw.

Seattle vs Colorado

Finally, Brian Mullan will visit Seattle. This one will not turn out pretty at all. No matter how much he has apologized and no matter how much Seattle coaches and management plead against it, there will be massive hate hurled Mullan's way, and for good measure, after the unpardonable tackle he laid out on Steve Zakuani last year. How much of an affect this has on the game remains to be seen but I doubt the Sounders let their fans down in this one. Seattle wins.

Toronto FC vs Chivas USA

Opposites will collide in Ontario when a surging team visits a sinking one. Toronto FC have been downright terrible this season so far, at least in league play. No wins through four games is not really shocking considering it's Toronto FC who is struggling but there is no excuse for such a poor start. Torsten Frings is now seemingly recovered enough to perhaps play a role in this match but whether that is desperation or whether Frings has actually gotten over his injury remains to be seen. Chivas USA meanwhile have won both of their road outings and don't give up much defensively. Chivas will kick the dog while it's down. Look for Chivas to win.

New York vs San Jose

On any other weekend, this would indeed be the game of the week. You've got three of the top goal scorers this season in Thierry Henry, Kenny Cooper and Chris Wondolowski. You've got a high-profile team against one that's not quite as much, which would make for a good contrast in the lead-up. And, oh yeah, these teams are pretty good. But another game steals the spotlight this week. Still, the Red Bulls have plenty to gun for with or without the attention, and while San Jose has been tough, getting a win from Red Bull Arena against the red-hot Red Bulls is too tall a task, especially without Steven Lenhart or Alan Gordon. New York wins.

FC Dallas vs Montreal

FC Dallas have been all over the place this year. They've beaten the Red Bulls and New England but were done in by Sporting KC and blown out by DC United. Playing against an expansion team still trying to find their own way will be a boost, even if Montreal are coming off a strong win of their own. Ricardo Villar is out and just another walking wounded but FC Dallas have enough to get past Montreal. FC Dallas grab all three points.

Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake

A preview of MLS Cup? Perhaps but even if these teams fizzle out by the end of the year, right now these are the two best teams in MLS bar none. Sporting KC have been playing strong defensively, and even though their attacking prowess gets the publicity it's the defense that has been the key to their success. KC have allowed just one goal in five games and did not face a shot on goal from the Galaxy last week. RSL though are battle-tested and have played big games before. RSL also have shown the ability to claw back into games when all hope is lost (their win at Portland a few weeks back shows that). Sporting KC have yet to taste defeat but they will in this one. Real Salt Lake will win.

LA Galaxy vs Portland

The two most disappointing teams in the league face off against one another. If this game were played in a video game it would be great. Players would play to their ratings which would make for an entertaining match. Instead players are not stripped of their confidence, and that confidence - or lack thereof - has brought down both clubs this season. Certainly each team is good enough on paper to have gotten more points this season. Portland though seem to be in a more difficult situation. They are on the road where they've struggled ever since they joined MLS and they are facing a talented team bent on turning things around. Look for the Galaxy to win.

Chicago vs Houston

It's hard to believe that the last time Houston played a match was on March 23. But that's what the situation is as Houston finally return to action. Chicago have not been too much better off in the anti-rust department as the Fire have only played three games as have Houston. Rust may be a factor but Cory Gibbs' injury may not be. Even though Gibbs is out for several months, Arne Friedrich should slide right into central defense. The former German international should help a defense that was already solid and should provide a strong presence in the back. Houston will test the new-look Fire backline but the Fire will be up for the challenge. Chicago will win this match.

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