John Nyen skippers your MLS Week 3 Predictions. Um, put on that life vest if you would…thanks..
Greetings kiddos and welcome to another vociferous MLS preview in which I hope to channel less Shecky Greene and more Lorne Greene… or something like that.
We last left our intrepid observer, observing… and the results are in. I had a decent first week in which I managed to get 7 games with the correct result out of 9. I had 3 exactas, as well, picking HOU/SJ, POR/DAL, and CHI/MON with the correct result and the correct score.
Of course this means that I am fully headed to a week of picks resulting in an 0-9 record. As it remains, currently, the RECORD STANDS AT 7-2 (caps lock and bold type provided by Editor) and we shall see what happens.
As always, all times are East Coat, all sales are final, keep your towel about you and the number is 42… ALWAYS.
Friday, March 23, 2012
10:00PM – Seattle V Houston – CenturyLink Field – Television: NBCSN
Well then, Seattle certainly showed their quality playing the tired boys from Toronto.
Despite an absolute peach of a goal from Ryan Johnson, Seattle were in control for most of this match and certainly appeared to have a punch in their step following the crash out of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Sigi Schmid moved former midfielder David Estrada up top to pair with Freddy Montero and this resulted in Estrada pulling off a hat trick.
Certainly the gods of luck didn’t help Toronto at all with Torsten Frings sidelined early in the game by an injury, however Seattle pushed the tempo of the game and took advantage of their chances they were given.
With the play of Patrolman Estrada, Eddie Johnson (USA Version) will find his time towards the top of the lineup very short as he attempts to recover from an injured hip flexor.
The chalkboard for the Seattle v Toronto game shows that Seattle attempted 9 through balls with 7 of them being successful. Of those 7 successful passes 4 were chipped balls with both of the attempts beyond the half way line being chipped/lofted balls. This was an attempt to abuse the high line of Toronto with balls over their head into the space given behind the back four. Without Frings (more on him later) Toronto were frequently caught out and gave up the ghost.
Now with the news coming in that Mauro Rosales is out for Seattle for a few weeks that should temper our expectation of Seattle being able to go high octane with their offense.
Meanwhile… in the Cave of Doom!–or rather in AT&T park in delightful San Francisco, California–Houston battled San Jose to a 1-0 win, with the winning goal coming from a Brad Davis penalty. …. with the winning goal coming from a Brad Davis penalty…. with the winning goal coming from a Brad Davis penalty. (Sorry about that, always feel that last line is on repeat.)
Houston is still showing their defensive prowess early in the season being one of two teams in the east to take maximum points from the start of the year. Certainly it helps that the two teams played by Houston were San “we like 11 in the box” Jose and Chivas “now eligible for relocation” USA.
I would say that Dynamo fans should be concerned that none of the goals for Houston have come from the run of play, but in reality that is just the norm for the defensively aware Houston Dynamo. They are much more of a set-piece team and this shouldn’t be considered a slight. If they have their set-piece mojo working on the season they will make you pay, with heavy physical play and big bodies.
I do think Houston can and will give Seattle a game here, they are far more defensively sound than Toronto and should be able to snuff out the persistent through balls and play in the middle of the field. Last year the results between the two teams had a tie in Seattle and a win for Houston at home.
Music for this game: The Presidents of the United States of America (they lump… they lump.. they lump it over your head)
Last Game for Seattle: W 3-1
Last Game for Houston: W 1-0
My prediction: 1-1
Saturday, March 24, 2012
1:00PM – Toronto FC V San Jose – BMO Field – Television: TSN RDS
Mice in a Bottle!
The adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie is the only parallel that we will draw this week for Toronto FC as they attempt to find a way to get the goals back in the bottle. As I mentioned last week, Toronto were on a “bit of a high” with that whole knocking the LA Galaxy out of the CONCACAF Champions League stuff.
UNFORTUNATELY, they forgot to bring that high with them to Seattle and were thumped around more soundly than nutria next to a highway. They now return to the friendly center of BMO field to take on the Earthquakes. This game continues the balance challenge for Toronto between Champions League and MLS with an opponent that they should have a chance of beating.
Toronto attempted to rest Koevermans and Plata last week however the pair were subbed onto the field in the second half with Koevermans getting 45 minutes and Plata getting 33. The big issue here for Toronto is the loss of Torsten “HANDBALL” Frings to a strained right hamstring for up to 6 weeks. Toronto will miss Frings on defense as he often played a sweeper role in regards to the back line often dropping back as another defender when Toronto go back into their defensive shape. This will be a rather large hole for Aaron Winter to address in the Toronto lineup.
Meanwhile in San Jose, the locals were engaged and restless as Frank Yallop sent his side out to attempt to steal a point at home, with the team having the ragged energy of a rabbit on amphetamines. The Quakes heroically managed only one shot on goal in the game showing that while they may not score goals, they aren’t going to really TRY to score goals either. Of course this is all easy to say in hindsight, but the good news for San Jose is that Steven Lenhart continues to recover well from his injury last year and continues to be that guy that isn’t on your team and is really really really annoying (see: Perez, Blas).
Also it has to be said that Toronto might be looking towards their Wednesday game against Santos. It makes one wonder exactly how much time the normal starting 11 for Toronto is going to see on the field.
I’m not sure that San Jose can generate enough offense here to really challenge Toronto at home. It has to be said that the Quakes are catching Toronto at the right time and if they are going to get an opening win to their season it might be for the taking if they can get behind the back line.
Music for this game: Toronto is home to the one and only Darren O’Brien… AKA SNOW. Ask your parents about him.
Last Game for Toronto: L 1-3
Last Game for San Jose: L 0-1
My prediction: This game is either going to be 1-0 to San Jose or 1-0 to Toronto, which probably means it is going to end up being 1-1.
4:00PM – New England V Portland – Gillette Stadium – Television: Local Only
In the cavernous Gillette Stadium, no one can hear you scream… if you are attacked by a furry… in the woods… at least that is what the recent Revolution promotional video wants us to believe. Much like the aforementioned video, the Revolution are a bit of a mess currently. Having seen as much of the Brettschneider/Cardenas pairing as he needed, Jay Heaps attempted to change the lineup of New England to more of a 4-5-1 with Saer Sene up top. Unfortunately for Jay Heaps, Stephen McCarthy got a bit vigorous on CJ Sapong resulting in a red card that put New England behind the proverbial eight ball for the rest of the match. Sporting KC took the Revs to the woodshed and dropped a three spot on the kids from the general Foxborough area.
Down in Dallas, the Portland Timbers managed to express the duality of man in their psychological thought experiment at the now renamed FC Dallas Stadium. They managed to display their prior year’s outdated modality during the first half in which their self-worth was considerably less than their effort which resulted in going down a goal to FC Dallas in the 22nd minute. After some uplifting words in the dressing room, the Timbers regrouped and flew out as thought they had cleansed their inner doubt issues and flew around the field with both vim and vigor.
With the apt and able substitution of Darlington Nagbe for Jorge Perlaza (Editor’s note: “John, oh John….Don’t you ever through the MEGABUS under the bus! Got it!), the Timbers tied the game on the foot of the second year man from Akron.
Now the Timbers will attempt to show the Revolution the denial of will described by Schopenhauer who stated that Denial of the Will is attainable through “knowledge of the essential nature of life in the world through observation of the suffering of other people”.
As always, for the Timbers, the weak side is still the left side with Rodney Wallace not having a particularly strong game against Dallas. Wallace is the tip of a few lineup issues to deal with as Songo’o, Chabala, and Nagbe are all being bandied around as eventually making their way into the starting eleven.
Many fans are starting to vocalize that Rodney Wallace’s potential as a player (in the future) probably exists in the midfield rather than the left back position. Meanwhile, Franck Songo’o has finally returned to practice after a slightly injured MCL and visa issues prolonged his departure from the pre-season. John Spencer has indicated that Songo’o will travel with the team to the New England game and may get around 20 minutes. This is fantastic news for the Timbers as prior to his injury, Songo’o was trending towards being in the starting 11. It may fix the issue of having a natural center midfielder (Eric Alexander) out on the wing and will certainly add depth. It has to be said that this game is a mandatory three points for the Timbers. Given that Portland play in the already stacked west, they can ill afford to give up points on the road to a New England side that has struggled this year. A win in New England would go a long way towards validating the change in personnel and the ambitions set forth by the coaching staff.
Music for this game: This has to be Dick Dale… The KING of the surf guitar.
Last Game for New England: L 0-3
Last Game for Portland: T 1-1
My prediction: 2-0 to Portland
4:00PM – Columbus V Montreal – Crew Stadium – Television: Local Only
Bienvenue a Davy Arnaud to the Montreal Impact!
The new captain of the latest “promoted/expanded/reconfigured” MLS side struck home the first goal in MLS for the Impact as they drew at home to the Chicago Fire. Montreal (it has to be said) are not going to be playing extraordinarily attractive soccer this year as they are going to rely on grit and determination in the effort of extracting points from the East. However, major kudos must go to the almost 60,000 Quebec peoples who showed up to watch the Impact’s first game at home. Now the Impact must go back on the road to Columbus in an effort at keeping some momentum going.
Crew Stadium: March 17…. There are a scattering of empty commitment letters and cafeteria voucher forms blowing in the breeze as the Columbus Crew tore both the Michigan State Spartans and the West Virginia Mountaineers apart limb from limb. Milan Mirosevic scored two against MSU as the Crew attempted to keep their fitness levels up during their off week.
Of course we must remember that Columbus were not exactly sparkling during their opening game against Colorado. However, it may just be that the transition of Colorado to a more attacking side, and the elevation/start of the season played their part. The crew should be, at the very least, solidly defensive and it remains to be seen if Milan Mirosevic can actually spur the Crew into some goals.
Given the style of both teams I would expect a slug fest in the central midfield with some staccato play and moments of threatening which will be ended with someone blasting a ball 8 yards over the crossbar.
Music for this game: Dwight Yoakam
Last Game for Columbus: NON MLS W 5-1 Over MSU, 1-0 over WVU
Last Game for Montreal: T 1-1
My prediction: 1-0 to the Crew, William Hesmer to save a certain goal from a header from a set piece.
8:30PM – Chicago V Philadelphia – Toyota Park – Television: Local Only
Let’s start with Philadelphia here as the Union are in what I would call a “Dilly of a Pickle” currently. They have played two games, lost two games, lost their all time leading goal scorer over the season and potentially had their coach break MLS injury reporting laws by sitting their team captain who MAY OR MAY NOT have had some kind of knee procedure that MAY OR MAY NOT have lead to an injection that DEFINITELY lead to the alleged knee injury being used as a reason to bench the player without telling the aforementioned player that he had #1 been injured or #2 been benched. If you are as confused as I am then join the crew (non-Columbus varietal). As the great Willie Wonka said…
“There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction Nowak’s going
There’s no knowing how we’re playing
Or which way the fan’s are baying?
Is it raining?
Is it snowing?
Is Sebastien Le Toux a-scoring?
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the knees of Califf a-glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
Yes, the injections must be growing
‘Cause the players keep on rowing
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are scoring!”
ANYWAY! Through the WonkaWash and onto the Chicago Fire who decided that the draws in 2011 were so much fun that they decided to do it again! They spoiled the ongoing party in Montreal by scoring a second half goal that sent the thousands of Quebecois off to cry their sorrows into delicious poutine and Molson XXX. Dominic Oduro is showing that his 2011 form wasn’t a fluke by opening up his goal scoring account early in 2012. With Sebastien Grazzini supplying the assist and Marco Pappa rounding into his form (both good and bad) the Fire seem to have some life this year.
There really is absolutely no way of figuring out what the Union are going to look like in this game, so let’s just approach it from a different side. The Fire are AT home in the opener and seem to be far more stable.
Music for this game: Andrew Bird, because I like Andrew Bird and he is from Chicago.
Last Game for Chicago: T 1-1
Last Game for Philadelphia: L 1-2
Prediction for this game: Chicago wins 2-1
9:00PM – Real Salt Lake V Chivas USA – Rio Tinto Stadium – Television: Local Only
I’ll just say this, from an organizational standpoint you really have to tip your cap (with an exception given for Colorado fans) to Real Salt Lake. Never in the market for an overpriced DP, they have built their side around capability, industry, ability, and youth. You have to remember that RSL are still getting Javi Morales back into form after his hideous injury last year. With Luis Gil, Sebastian Velasquez, and Paulo Jr on the field they play some very pretty stuff at times. This youth movement is allowing Morales time to come back as well as giving Jason Kreis the ability to pull Alvaro Saborio off the bench.
Meanwhile in Chivas land things are unfortunately looking like they always have, recently. The Goats aren’t scoring and aren’t winning in what has the potential of being a very tough year for them out west. They managed to cough up the Vancouver Whitecap’s first ever win on the road on Saturday and despite controlling the game at times couldn’t generate enough offense to become deadly. With Juan Pablo Angel out injured the USA Goats trotted out rookie Casey Townsend. Chivas had a penalty shout waved away towards the end of the game and it finished with the Whitecaps on top.
Looking forward it has to be said that RSL at home is probably going to dominate the midfield of Chivas. Given that RSL appears to be in a very good patch of form currently, I would anticipate them coming out on the front foot and getting a goal in the first half.
Website for this game: http://www.hatsofmeat.com
Last Game for Salt Lake: W 2-0
Last Game for Chivas: L 0-1
Prediction for this game: It is very difficult to imagine Chivas getting anything from this game, so I go 2-0 to RSL.
10:00PM – Vancouver V D.C. United – BC Place – Television: Local Only
Honor and Glory to the mighty Whitecaps as they finally book their first three points on the road! They return home to BC Place victorious for the first time in their MLS lifespan to take on struggling DC United.
Vancouver didn’t play the best game possible in LA, but they were able to find the back of the net using Jay Demerit’s noggin as a launching board.. The multitude of new forwards helped in the first game but this win was all about the connection of the ’11 Whitecaps as Hassli forced the corner and Chiumiento sent up the assist.
D.C. United are struggling this year as they took a whipping in Los Angeles on Sunday evening. Nick DeLeon scored the only goal for the District-ers in the 87th minute while the game was already out of reach. Ben Olsen really needs to find the on switch to the gas for D.C. as they haven’t won in the regular season in quite a while now. Their stretch run of futility continues on from last season as the results just aren’t falling their way.
Looking at a result in the this game (and the play). I honestly think this is the case of two middling to poor defenses with good offenses. High potential of a goal of the week nominee in this game.
Music for this game: Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers (mostly because they had Tommy Chong on guitar)
Last Game for Vancouver: W 1-0
Last Game for D.C. United: L 1-3
Prediction for this game: DC starts to get their offense a bit on track against Vancouver’s still untested defense. 2-2
Sunday, March 25, 2012
4:00PM – New York V Colorado – Red Bull Arena – Television: ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Oh New York, this is why you can’t have nice things! With the “Go Backe Home” campaign starting to gain a bit of momentum the Red Bulls are busy laying eggs on the field and covering them with… well.. more eggs. The new rumor in town is that Stephen Ireland is the target of the Scandinavian contingent, over Michael Ballack, which means that RBNY are looking for currently disinterested midfielders from overseas who may or may not have terrible attitudes. This is a far cry from looking for Scandinavian replacements that may or may not actually work out.
Continuing with his “Round Peg – Square Hole” technique, Backe’s Bulls came out in a 3-5-2 in the attempt to neutralize RSL’s midfield dominance, an idea that only works if you actually have midfielders who can make the connection to the forward up top and keep possession of the ball.
Colorado, on the other hand, are riding high on the hog after two terrific wins in their first two games. They didn’t play as well against Philadelphia as they did against Columbus two weeks ago, but the verve and vibe of the team seems to have improved from the slog that was Gary Smith’s last season. Certainly it is worth remembering all the injuries and issues with Colorado last year; but with the jettison of the wooden Caleb Folan and the focus on “ball on the ground” techniques the Rapids are looking far more tempo driven than in years past. The most impressive part of the Rapids latest win is that they did this with only 10 men after a very silly challenge by Jeff Larentowicz got him a second yellow and his walking papers for the night. They managed to get some offensive work after Larentowicz was sent off scoring the winning goal in the 62nd minute.
The issue here for New York is having the ability to give enough service to Thierry Henry without having him in the midfield acting as a link up man. Of course it is entirely possible that Backe starts Kenny Cooper up top and plays a 4-4-1-1 with Henry roaming through the midfield. This pairing has at least shown positivity when together on the field. This will also be Colorado’s second game on the road.
Music for this game: The Walkmen. At one point they were good, they could probably be good again, but you aren’t quite sure what you are getting these days.
Last Game for New York: L 0-2
Last Game for Colorado: W 2-1
My prediction: I think we see Colorado suffer a bit from their road trip and the exclusion of Larentowicz. I go with RBNY 2-0 over the Rapids.
7:00PM – Sporting KC V FC Dallas – Livestrong Sporting Park – Television: Galavision
Sporting KC certainly had the rub of the green on St. Patrick’s Day as Kei Kamara danced a Kansas City jig inside Sportings 3-0 destruction of the Revolution. Sporting have started the season well, although they have exclusively played eastern MLS teams in their first two games. It remains to be seen whether their run and gun approach will suffer if treated by heavy doses of defense.
If there is one thing Dallas can do, it is frustrate offensive players and play defense. Dallas has looked quite strong this year despite missing Brek Shea and David Ferreira. They won against New York and they tied Portland giving them a decent point total to begin with in the west. Meanwhile, Blas Perez is everything that you would expect. He is: effective, relentless, annoying, complaining, diving, not-diving, moaning, scoring, assisting, and very strong.
Pretty much everything you want when you have him on your team and everything you hate when your team plays against him. The rumors around this time are that Ferreira and Castillo are becoming healthy, and they may be of use in Kansas City. Of course we don’t want to put too much emphasis on two people returning from injury and being able to immediately spark the team. However, Dallas getting healthier and getting a player like Ferreira back will only help them long term. Side Note: Bryan Leyva has been playing VERY well for Dallas in the reserves as well as chipping in with good play in the Portland game. He is definitely one to watch out for on Dallas.
Music for this game: Count Basie
Last Game for Sporting KC: W 3-0
Last Game for FC Dallas: T 1-1
My Prediction: 2-1 with Dallas frustrating Kansas City but KC pulling it out. I predict some yellow cards in this one.
As always, please do not use for gambling purposes, all predictions are null and void if the Mayan apocalypse happens, and Breakfast Club has not aged well as a movie.