The playoff races really begin at this stage of the year – it’s pucker time for most to even include those battling for the Wooden Spoon.
Here’s my lay down on who falls down or rises to the occasion.
Sporting KC versus Houston Dynamo – I’m not really sure anyone needs an education in team performance this year to figure out that a win here for Houston is highly unlikely. And with dropping three points to DC United last weekend Sporting are probably set to go full steam this game.
That, in and of itself, might be the exact thing Houston is hoping for. Dominic Kinnear is a crafty guy and he likes his team to have grit and play physical.
I don’t imagine there will be a lot of free and open space in this game – given that a set-piece goal could win it if the Houston back-four can cover the wings.
Sounds like a load of bollocks, I suppose, but there is no love loss between these two teams and, Houston, as silly as it sounds, still have a shot at the playoffs; especially considering that the Eastern Conference is such a mess.
I’m not sure why I like Houston in this game but I do… there…
Seattle versus Colorado – The Sounders should be riding a huge wave of positive emotion after that smashing victory against Portland last weekend – will there be an emotional let-down? Perhaps – but I think Seattle want to make the best of every remaining home game knowing that they still have two games to go against LA Galaxy…
A win here for Seattle means just as much as that win last weekend in Portland – I don’t look for them to take their foot of the pedal at all…
Besides, Colorado are not part of the Cascadia trio – and if Seattle is really going to want the chance to rub salt in the wounds of Vancouver or Portland – I’m sure they’d prefer to try and beat one of those two teams in a playoff match as opposed to boring old Colorado.
Not really a reasonable thought for a Head Coach to have – but perhaps it’s a reasonable, cynical, thought for an Emerald City Supporter to have? Others will know better than me about that.
Toronto versus New England – Another classic match-up on who possesses the ball more.
With both teams playing a somewhat counter-attacking style I suppose this game could end up being really boring unless one team gets an early goal and the other looks to press forward to draw even; making the counter-attacking approach even deadlier.
For now, with Defoe out injured, I can see New England winning; they don’t HAVE to win given how pear-shaped the Eastern Conference is but three points would do the Revolution well…
Montreal versus Columbus – One of the most boring games on the slate this weekend in the MLS – will Montreal have a larger home crowd than Chivas this weekend? Probably – but does that team deserve it? Probably not. If not for Chivas USA and the complete collapse of their ownership this year Montreal would be the out-right ‘organizational laughing-stock of this League…
If Columbus lose – wow! What a nightmare loss of three points that will be for Berhalter, Inc…
Chicago versus Dallas – An interesting match-up in betting who possesses the ball more. Neither team really likes to enjoy possession and I’d figure this game might resemble a ping-pong match more than anything.
The challenge, again, for Chicago, will be to shut down an opponent with a defensive set-up that simply isn’t that good.
Even worse for Chicago is the speed that Dallas will bring. As much as I’d like to believe Chicago will look to possess the ball this game it’s almost like they really can’t afford to do that given the strength of the Dallas counter-attack.
At the end of the day this game could be pretty boring – a long ball affair for Chicago looking to get second chance balls and an attempt by Dallas to possess with the slow intent to penetrate and score. All told I would offer Dallas wins this by virtue of having greater speed…
Vancouver and Portland – Both teams need three points and both teams have a long history of playing each other. The two things are mutually exclusive.
I look for Caleb to play a tighter game out of the back and no… I don’t honestly think he runs that tantalizing formation (never did) – it was more to prove a point that significant (player/performance) changes need to be made in the back-four to have this team compete at the highest level.
All said and done who wins this game probably comes down to who controls their emotion and discipline the best.
Who lacks it probably loses and who controls it probably wins. In that, if history has any bearing, it is likely Vancouver who wins.
San Jose versus Real Salt Lake – Here’s the game where San Jose really need to take stock and win. Their defense is pretty strong and if their attack can manage to put at least one past Nick Rimando then the Earthquakes could win…
DC United against New York Red Bulls – For me the biggest challenge here is how well the DC United defense can shut down a resurgent Bulls. Too much power in attack versus a cerebral United that plays smart and handled Sporting KC quite easily last week.
If this game was simply a match between Olsen and Petke it’s an easy pick, for me, with DC United.
But Thierry Henry is really – really good and New York does have a habit of making mincemeat pies against other Eastern Conference competition. All said and done my gut instinct screams New York but my heart hopes for DC United.
Chivas USA and LA Galaxy – Is a pre-game prediction really needed for this one? I’m sure Cabrera will do everything he can to prepare his team for the Galaxy – and these games have been known to be pretty tight at times.
All that said can Arena, Donovan, and the Galaxy really afford to throw away missing three points in this match-up? I don’t see it… Galaxy should win but I don’t see the Galaxy looking to run the score up.
All for now – looking forward to the Sporting kickoff here in an hour or so…
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