Saturday, September 23, 2006

MLS Week 26 Preview

Could this finally be the weekend where the playoff picture starts to focus? If a handful of games go a certain way, up to three teams could join DC United with a playoff berth. All FC Dallas needs is one point in their match against Real Salt Lake, while Chicago could get their ticket if they beat LA and New England will be through if beat KC and New York falls to DC.

On the other side of making it, Columbus could be ruled out of the playoff picture if KC beats New England or New York beats DC and the Crew loses to Houston.

It's not that I'm not a fan of drama, but I really hope that after this weekend we are not still reading stories about "11 teams fighting for 7 spots."

So let's see what games will be played

Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo
7:30pm ET

The Dynamo is currently at a low point. They come into the game having captured just 5 points from their last 5 matches, plus their offense is sputtering. The good news is they are playing a Crew team who is in a much worse state. They will be without Marcos Gonzalez and Joseph Ngwenya due to suspension. Both teams need a full set of points out of this game, but talent is on Houston's side.

Crew 0-2 Houston

DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
7:30pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick (DK), MLStv

Bruce Arena comes back to DC for the first time ever in a MLS match. That makes for a great subplot to this game, however, it will be the only thing great about this game. New York couldn't get it together midweek against a much weaker New England side, so how will they beat United. DC will be without Brian Carroll, Josh Gros and Bryan Namoff due to suspension, but they still should have the ball control needed to drop the Bulls. They only thing that could beat them would be stupid self-inflected mistakes.

DCU 3-1 NY

New England Revolution vs. Kansas City Wizards
7:30pm ET

The Wizards come into the match rested, but still the Wizards. They have lacked offense and a productive midfield all season and nothing should change tonight. Will Twellman rediscovering his scoring abilities of late, but the question is still Joe Franchino. Will he be able to step-up and control like Shalrie Joseph? If he can, even an inspired Scott Sealy will be unable to get the Wizards a win.

NE 1-0 KC

FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake
8:30pm ET

It's not so hard to believe that one of these teams is just about the hottest team in the league right now, but what is difficult to get the head around is that Real is that team. FC Dallas has been on a terrible slide since the All-Star break with the worse of it coming last weekend in Salt Lake. Losing to Real after being up a man for most of an hour is unacceptable, but they did it. Even the resurgence of Carlos Ruiz was not enough. Today they will be without goaltender Dario Sala due to injury which means Shaka Hislop will make his MLS debut, but will he have better luck against Jason Kreis, Chris Klein and Jeff Cunningham?


Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy
8:30pm ET

Welcome to the preview of this Wednesday’s US Open Cup final, however, I think LA will be a lot more concerned about this match. If they lose, their hopes of post-season play will be all but gone. If this is not enough to make Landon Donovan turn on his skill, then all hope for him is lost. The Fire have been rolling of late, but needed a few calls to go their way last week to get by DC. If Thiago can feed those balls past the shaky LA backline, Chicago should have enough to get their points.

Chicago 1-0 LA

Chivas USA vs. Colorado Rapids
10:00pm ET

This one has the possibility of being really good, however, don't expect much scoring as the two teams have combined for just 5 goals in their last 8 matches, yet they have somehow got 12 points. That says something. Chivas's defense will be hurting a bit without Tim Regan, so they will need to come at the Rapids with solid offense. If Juan Pablo Garcia can get something happening in the middle, Chivas should be able to slip by.

Chivas 1-0 Colorado

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