This is John Nyen, your tour guide. On the right, is a Tyrannosauras Rex. Amazing.
Welcome to Major League Soccer Week 4 or as I call it…. The Reckoning. I managed to bring my win percentage down faster than Nicholas Cage’s bank account, as the East took revenge upon the West. The record stands at… 12 – 6 with 4 exactas (exact score) on the year (last week it was KC v Dallas). It has to be said that I went against one of the very great tennents of picking games in MLS.
That is, mainly, that if you think you are right… you are probably wrong.
Having said the above, my number is GOING to hit (just like a roulette player). So onward we forage into the wild, the weird, and the wooly.
As always, all times are East Coat, all games are variable based on the referree, Slim Pickens wasn’t told that Dr Strangelove was a comedy, and where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
Friday, March 30, 2012
7:30PM – D.C. United V FC Dallas – RFK Stadium – Television: NBCSN
It’s raining, It’s pouring, the stadium concrete needs some re-bar coring…. It’s RFK! D.C. United are currently treating their fanbase to a less than exciting beginning to the season, and personally have made me look silly by the fact that I keep on insisting that somehow their offense is going to get on track. It certainly doesn’t help that D.C. started out their season playing potentially the best team in the East (KC) followed by two straight games on the West Coast against an angry Galaxy and a rejuvenated Vancouver. Given that information it isn’t entirely surprising that somehow the D.C. offense and defense look out of sorts.
On the other side you have the injury and national team depleted FC Dallas who have managed to scrap for points in just about every single game this year. Despite losing a good portion of their talented team, FC Dallas have managed to keep their organization together, losing only on a late Kei Kamara strike. With the USA getting dropped in the dunk tank by El Salvador, Dallas gets back Brek Shea who played in the recent FC Dallas practice. As well, Fabian Castillo was back in training. Thanks go to http://www.bigdsoccer.com for the updates from FC Dallas practice.
It has to be said that I loathe these “back at home for one team and second game on the road for another” matchups as they are subject to the whim of the fates. However, much of this game will be decided by whether Castillo and Shea will be starting for Dallas and how they look.
There are potentially two scenarios that I see happening here:
#1 Dallas comes in, controls the game, slows things down and attempts to get vertical with Shea on the left. They play stout defense and only give D.C. a sniff of goal
#2 D.C. comes into the game with speed, linking up through the midfield and establishing control while feeding De Rossario with balls he can do something with, meanwhile they play bend but don’t break defense and try to keep Perez from annoying the back line.
Music for this game: Do you really want to hurt me? by Culture Club (for the United fans)
Last Game for D.C. United: D 0-0
Last Game for FC Dallas: L 1-2
My Prediction: Ugh. This has ALL THE HALLMARKS of D.C. getting a home boost and doing something with it. I’m going for THE LAST TIME I say that D.C. wake up….. a draw here.. 1-1
Saturday, March 31, 2012
2:00PM – Toronto FC v Columbus – BMO Field – Television: TSN RDS
Oh Boy…. I decided against writing about the potential imminent destruction Toronto will face at the hands of Santos (which I think will be a much tougher game than people will realize for Santos) and just move onto the Columbus game. If ever there was a “oops” moment for me it was re-reading my comments on this game and the Seattle game last week and wondering why I made the choices I did. Anyhoo, Toronto are going to be tired, they might be disorganized and Columbus to Toronto isn’t that far (in North American terms).
Meanwhile Columbus bounced back from their off week (something very easy to do) by taking advantage of some interesting referee decisions and winning against Montreal 2-0. The Nordecke was bouncing as the new signings for Crew finally proved their worth with both Mirosevic and Olman Vargas scored against 10 man Montreal.
This has all the potential of being a physical game with both teams probably forcing the play out of the middle to the wing. I just think that the defensive foibles of Toronto have a very good chance of appearing again.
Music for this Game: Neil Young – Toronto… look at your life, I’m a lot like you were…
Last game for Toronto: L 3-0
Last game for Columbus: W 2-0
My Prediction: 1-0 to Columbus.
4:00PM – New York V Montreal – Red Bull Arena – Television: TSN RDS
Montreal… Welcome to MLS referee training 101! You haven’t had a full year in MLS until you have openly questioned a referee decision, watched a player get sent off, and groaned at seeing a certain referee (Geiger, Toledo) at your games. With a trip to New York things aren’t getting easy for Montreal in MLS. They will need to deal with the loss of Jeb Brovsky and the insane mood swings of RBNY to get a result here.
Meanwhile Red Bull finally did something expected by me. They ran rampant over the Colorado Rapids defeating them with four goals from their two strikers. Colorado was missing the steel in the middle of the pitch losing both Larentowicz (spelled without spell check) and Mastroeni (spelled without “red card”) prior to the game, and the Red Bull’s were at home, however a win was a welcome sight to the Metro fans.
I anticipate that RBNY is going to come out again on the front foot and attempt to dominate Montreal from the first whistle. The one thing that Montreal could attempt to do is to clog up the midfield and attempt to make Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper cut off from the supply. This of course could result in Henry coming back and collecting, however the disruption of the distribution will be very important for the Impact.
Music for this game: Talking Heads – Burning down the House
Last Result for New York: W 4-1
Last Result for Montreal: L 0-2
My Prediction: New York is too much for Montreal to handle and they win 2-0
4:00PM – Philadelphia V Vancouver – PPL Park – Television: Local Only
ALL HANDS ON DECK! ALL HANDS ON DECK!
The call is going out to all Union players as Philadelphia have yet to pick up a point this season. The Union (it has to be said) look like one of those teams with a fair bit of talent that are waiting for a high draft pick and some veterans to compete. With the understanding of Nowak at an all time low, it begs the question of whether he knows that he cannot obtain Andrew Luck this year to help with the Union’s offensive problems. They Union seem to be sticking with the Danny Califf is injured mantra, leaving him at home to face the Fire without the Captain. They also were missing three of their players to Olympic Qualifying… (something that all USA fans know they won’t have to worry about any more).
Let’s talk about Zac MacMath
Let’s talk about rain soaked gaffes
Let’s talk about all the good things
and the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about Seitz… er… Macmath…
Watching MacMath (with my independent observer cap on) has not made me comfortable at all. Much like the above mentioned Salt ‘N’ Pepa song, he may have arrived before his time, and it is very possible that he is going to be controversial. Despite a very good showing in the games he played last year, MacMath hasn’t been what I would call steady this year. Certainly the defense isn’t helping him out much, but the rookie goalkeeper should be watched to see if the nervousness and issues continue.
Vancouver (on the other end of the spectrum) have had a very good start to the year. The Whitecaps have 7 points from the first three games this year and already have more wins on the road than 2011. Of course there is the reminder that they pulled points from Montreal, Chivas and D.C. United. The intrigue from this match up comes from the return of Sebastien LeToux to Unionville and the (in my mind at least) anticipated positive response from the supporters groups towards him.
I would anticipate a very peculiar atmosphere at this game, depending on the play and score.
Music for this game: I’m going with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, you Philly fans should at least listen to some upbeat funk and soul prior to this game.
Last Result for Philadelphia: L 0-1
Last Result for Vancouver: D 0-0
My Prediction: I gotta be honest, I’ve seen enough of the “team from one coast travelling over to another coast to play a game they should have a chance of winning but don’t” phenomenon. I’m going to say a surprise Philly win 2-1 with LeToux getting the goal for Vancouver and not celebrating. Specific enough for you?
10:00PM – Portland V Real Salt Lake – JELD-WEN Field – Television: Local Only
Let’s just be honest with the last Portland v Revolution game… it was bad.
Portland played an all time stinker of a game as the Revolution scored so fast that I actually had to rewind the DVR in order to see the goal. Once again the Timbers fans were treated to Rodney Wallace in the back line with Eric Alexander in front of him on the left and an almost one dimensional right sided attack. While the Timbers attempted to pound crosses in up the field, they also had a problem connecting the middle third of the field to the final third of the field.
It was almost as though the 2011 Timbers came out in this game just to remind everyone exactly how games on the road felt last year. Certainly the introduction of Franck Songo’o punched up the affair as he allowed the Timbers to start becoming balanced offensively giving them a threat on the left. It has to be said that Kris Boyd missed some good opportunities on the night, looking (at times) frustrated with his luck/chances. It also has to be said that Boyd needs some balls played into his feet rather than his head. At times I felt like I was watching Stuart Downing sending in errant cross after errant cross into Andy Carroll.
Here is the frustrating thing for Portland fans, this team seemingly plays to the conditions and team that they go against. This has the potential of being a large problem as Portland will require every possible point available to get into the playoffs and can ill afford to throw away points at what had been a moribund New England Revolution. Portland is also being tested defensively as they lost Hanyer Mosquera in the last game with a fractured orbital bone and a concussion. With Futty Danso and David Horst out the potential pairings for Brunner in the back four are Steve Purdy (who recently returned from a hamstring issue) and rookie Andrew Jean Baptiste.
Meanwhile Salt Lake had their very own disappointment at home as they somehow incredibly lost at home to Chivas. Really if there was a game that I would have bet money on (provided such things are legal in your state, country, municipality, kanton or filke) it would have been Real Salt Lake winning at home against Chivas. Salt Lake had 59.5% possession, 83% passing accuracy, 498 total passes, 9 corner kicks, 3 shots on goal, and 13 attempted shots. Chivas had the foot of Casey Townsend.
The key for RSL will be to hold off the first half attack of Portland as a return to the cozy confines of Jeld Wen should galvanize the Timbers. RSL will need to take control of the midfield, press the outside backs and take advantage of their goal scoring chances.
Music for this game: Viva Voce’s Rose City… not only because it is a Timbers Army away chant, but I am guessing that the Timbers really want to be back playing games at home.
Last Game for Portland: L 0-1
Last Game for RSL: L 0-1
My Prediction: 2-1 Portland. Incidentally if this game was played at RSL I think it would be the other way around. I think the home crowd will give a boost to Portland.
10:00PM – Seattle V San Jose – CenturyLink Field – Television: Local Only
Well then, San Jose showed something in Toronto… right? I mean… Wondolowski scores two goals and the Quakes streamed forward against a demoralized Toronto side. Unfortunately, in all the excitement of the win, one must remember that Toronto recently lost both Stefan Frei and Torston Friings while playing a ton of games in the last two weeks. I’m really not so bullish on the chances of the Earthquakes pulling a win in Seattle.
Meanwhile Seattle made my prediction look a bit silly as they handled Houston in a match that contained a good majority of the parts from Geoff Cameron’s personal nightmare. The possession in the game was tilted towards Houston as were the shots, fouls, crosses, total passes, and passing accuracy percentage. However as Little Wayne often says “The Houston Dynamo didn’t generate enough scoring to see out their statistical dominance”. Or maybe he didn’t say that…
Either way, David Estrada continued his goal scoring ways as his shot was deflected into the net by Geoff Cameron, with Brad Evans getting the second one.
I think that while San Jose is a tough team they will find it hard going against Seattle when the Sounder have their tail up. While I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of San Jose coming in, playing physical and trying to sneak a goal… I just don’t see it.
Game for this game: Angry Birds! Lob something in and see if it causes them to go down!
Last Game for Seattle: W 2-0
Last Game for San Jose: W 3-0
My Prediction: A tough game for Seattle defined by San Jose’s inability to get a great ball into Wondolowski. Seattle wins 1-0
11:00PM – Los Angeles V New England – The Home Depot Center – Television: NBCSN
Congrats to the Revolution for breaking the snide! Your reward? Go enjoy the Galaxy! The Revs scored very quickly on the Timbers and then proceeded to play defense and not much else. Saer Sene showed his ability with a direct header and then proceeded to make a nuisance of himself in the game. The Revolution are still pretty injured with Kevin Alston, Sharlie Joseph and Chris Tierney all probable, Darrius Barnes is questionable, and Boggs, Feilhaber, Nyassi are all still out.
Meanwhile…. In Hollywoodland the prices are climbing on the value of Omar Gonzales to the Galaxy and yet I doubt that his absence will have any affect on this game here. While the Galaxy throttled DC United at home two weeks ago they spent last week sitting at home in a round circle debating the merits of Mass Effect 3.
I have to be honest, I hate to utterly dismiss a team but I don’t see how New England are getting a result here. In order for them to do so they would need to have a mirror image game of the Portland game in which they score a quick goal and defend for their lives for 85 minutes.
Music for this game: The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang
Last game for Galaxy: Skyrim
Last game for New England: W 1-0
My Prediction: I’m going with 3-0 for the Galaxy, now all you Revs fans out there can proceed to get angry.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
7:00PM – Colorado V Chicago – Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Television: Galavision
Colorado came back down to earth against New York as they missed both of the integral portions of the central midfield, especially Larentowicz’s decisions with the ball. They return home to play a very scrappy Chicago Fire who really look like they are going to continue their nice run of play from the end of the season last year.
Certainly Dominic Oduro has the speed to burn and the form to show for the ball, however Chicago don’t have a sterling record playing Colorado in Denver (3-8-5 and 1-1-3 since the Rapids took residence in DSGP) Much of the game is going to depend on the ability of Colorado to shut down Grazzini and Pappa, while Chicago will be waiting to see if Mastroeni can play. I would expect that fire to have a bit more difficulty with Colorado here as the Rapids attempt to get back to the groove of the games before New York. It still remains to be seen if Omar Cummings will actually be able to fill in at tip of the spear until Conor Casey returns.
Website for this game: www.stuffonmycat.com
Last Game for Colorado: L 4-1
Last Game for Chicago: W 1-0
My Prediction: Tough to call but I go with the home team here. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if Chicago pulled out a draw here, but I think the return of Larentowicz will help solidify the midfield of Colorado. 1-0 to Colorado
9:00PM – Chivas USA V Sporting KC – The Home Depot Center – Television: Local Only
The currently named “best team in the east” heads west to face the “we beat RSL at home, please come watch us” Chivas USA.
Some pretty interesting sub plots as far as the east goes, as Kansas City is the only team in MLS to win their first three games. On the other side, Chivas have lost both their home games and won their only road game which will very clearly mean that they are going to lose every game at home an win every game on the road…. or not…
I would tend to think that in terms of pure offensive ability that KC holds the edge here. However it does have to be said that all of Chivas’ games this year have been 1-0 both for or against them. Despite their inability to score at times this season they have been able to keep points off the board. Chivas is also the only team in the West currently with a negative goal differential, while KC is sitting at a flush +5.
I just fail to see how Chivas copes with the offensive fluidity and power of Sporting’s attack.
Music for this game: John Williams and the Boston Pops – Theme to Jaws
Last game for Chivas USA: W 1-0
Last game for Sporting KC: W 2-1
My Prediction: I’m gonna go with a 2-0 result for KC. This should mean that Chivas will win this game 1-0 of course.