Friday, August 25, 2006

MLS Week 22 Preview

We have a full slate of games this weekend that should start answering some of the playoff questions.

DC United vs. LA Galaxy
Saturday - 7:30pm ET

The 'Welcome back' wagon comes out again in DC as Santino Quaranta returns to RFK for the first time. Quaranta has been hot since landing with the Galaxy three weeks ago, while DC has been on a bit of a drop (I don't think there is a direct connect here). This game really could shape the final weeks of the season as LA pretty much must win, while DC needs to start earning some points to easily take the Supporter's Shield.

The key to this game is United's midfield. If they don't have it together, LA will take it to them. DC should know that the Galaxy is a bad team to face with their backs to the wall. They have this way of coming together when (and only when) things are at their worse. The good news for DC, they have the best goalie in the league. The bad news, LA has the second best.

I expect some rolling back and forth on the way to a draw.

New York Red Bulls vs. Real Salt Lake
Saturday - 7:30pm ET
TV: Direct Kick (DK), MLStv

The Arena effect is wearing off in New York and his team is again playing like they do. The Bulls really need someone to care on this team. They have what should be a great backline, but without and solid play elsewhere on the pitch, it is put to waste. If they didn't have the talent of Tony Meola between the posts, they would be in Crew territory.

Real, however, might just be playing the best soccer in the MLS at the moment. They not only have a team that can connect more then three passes in a row, but they have found real offensive power. In their last four MLS games, they have 11 goals (they only had 30 during last season's 32 matches). But can they do it on the road?

With Jeff Cunningham playing the way he is, I see New York dropping yet another game, making Real's race for the Western playoffs that much easier.

Chicago Fire vs. Colorado Rapids
Saturday - 8:30pm ET

Chicago find themselves in second place, but if the lose, they have a chance of being tied for fourth. Colorado was smoking not that long ago, but of late, they seem to be looking for a way to miss the playoffs.

For the Rapids, it comes down to their lack of offense. Really, they've got nothing up top to really threaten. The Fire has been playing sloppy for a month or so, but of late, they have found the mix that they had during their opening road trip.

In the end, with Terry Cooke out and no offense for the Rapids, the Fire should be able to send all the balls forward that Andy Herron and Chad Barrett need to get the win.

Chivas USA vs. Houston Dynamo
Saturday - 11pm ET

As much talk as the East gets for how close every team not from DC is, the West is no open prairie. Chivas sit in fourth, but both Real and LA have been closing. Just like all season, Chivas has failed to be constant. It seems that either their offense or defense is working, but never both at the same time. They are, perhaps, the best skilled team in the league, but they either cannot get goals, or when they do, they can't hold them.

Houston almost always out plays the other team, but they have not been able to dominate the way that a certain Earthquake team did last year. With Brian Ching out, they have one less threat and that could hurt them bad. However, with Juan Pablo Garcia and Francisco Mendoza benched due to suspension, Chivas will have a few too many threats of their own.

Look for the Dynamo to get their points and for Chivas to be seeing Real Salt Lake a little close in their rearview mirror.

New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew
Sunday - 7:00pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer, DK, MLStv

If there is one thing you can expect from this game it's a lack of scoring. Over their last nine MLS teams, these two teams have combined for only 4 goals (1 in 4 matches for NE, 3 in 5 for the Crew). No offense is a problem, but what about defense? Over those same nine games, 11 have been surrendered (7 for the Crew, 4 for NE).

So how will this one turn out? The Crew will lose. They looked good last week against New York, but the Bulls are an easy club to look good against, even for the Crew. The Revs have their problems, but Shalrie Joseph, Taylor Twellman and Michael Parkhurst should be more then enough of a match for Columbus.

Kansas City Wizards vs. FC Dallas
Sunday - 8:30pm ET

I guess Sunday is not going to be a goal scoring kind of night as KC and FCD are both in amazing offensive slumps. For Dallas, teams have figured out their weakness, an over reliance on Kenny Cooper. In addition, their midfield has failed to control the sides.

Kansas City, well almost the same thing, except they really haven't had anyone like Cooper to depend on. This one will come down to who can wake up in the middle of the field.

At some point, Carlos Ruiz will explode again for Dallas. If he choices KC as his starting point, FCD should finally get a full three points again. Failing that, it will probably be a 1-point each off of 1 goal each.



Post a Comment

<< Home