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Telling matchups at season's midpoint
by Ridge Mahoney, July 3rd, 2009 7AM



[MLS PREDICTIONS] The second half of the MLS season officially starts during the weekend, as Friday's match represents the exact midpoint - game No. 113 of 225 - of the 2009 campaign. Many of the matchups are even: Chicago and Colorado face off with identical 5-3-6 marks; only a tie separates Columbus and D.C. United; and the Galaxy and Revs also separate by just a point as .500 teams with very different records. For all of Soccer America's predictions, as well as TV viewing information, and to see how we've fared so far this season. ...


(All times Eastern)

REAL SALT LAKE (5-6-4) vs. SAN JOSE (3-8-3), 10  p.m. ET, Direct Kick

Will Johnson and Kyle Beckerman are on international duty and Javier Morales is doubtful (ankle sprain), so RSL's depleted midfield may be vulnerable. San Jose has yet to win on the road this season (0-6-1) but will have striker Cornell Glen, who scored in a 2-1 defeat of RSL in San Jose May 30 and since that game has been out of action while waiting to be issued his P-1 work visa.
Prediction: RSL 1, Quakes 1.

COLUMBUS (5-3-7) vs. D.C. UNITED (5-3-8), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2/Deportes

Both teams are missing critical elements in defense and attack to international callups -- Chad Marshall and Robbie Rogers for the Crew, Dejan Jakovic and Santino Quaranta of D.C. - so this match is a test of depth as well as game-breakers. Yet Jaime Moreno is out (hamstring strain), and the Crew's Alejandro Moreno got banged up playing for Venezuela against Mexico, so both teams are short in that area as well. The Crew swept both games last year and looks a little stronger at this point of the season.
Prediction: Crew 2, United 1.

COLORADO (5-3-6) vs. CHICAGO (5-3-6), 9 p.m. ET, Direct Kick
Recently acquired Pat Noonan will probably replace Omar Cummings (Jamaica/Gold Cup) to partner up top with Conor Casey for the Rapids, who also must replace Colin Clark on the left side. Chicago has huge holes to fill at left back in the absence of Gonzalo Segares (Costa Rica) and in central midfield with Logan Pause on U.S. duty.

The Rapids have conceded only five goals in six home games (3-0-3) and they are proving to be very tough to beat. Yet the Fire came through to the SuperLiga semifinals while on hiatus from league play and unless it suffers a letdown is good enough for a point.
Prediction: Rapids 1, Fire 1.

FC DALLAS (3-7-5) vs. NEW YORK (2-12-4), 9 p.m. ET, Direct Kick

Two sad cases square off as former Red Bulls midfielder Dave van den Bergh plays against them for the first time. Both teams are depleted by injuries and callups, but FCD still has playoff hopes even if it doesn't have Kenny Cooper.

If New York scores one goal it will double its road tally in 10 away games this season and it has failed to win any of its last 22 regular-season games away from home. Yes, it's that bad.
Prediction: FCD 2, Red Bulls 1.

KANSAS CITY (5-5-4) vs. HOUSTON (8-3-4), 9 p.m. ET, Direct Kick
Neither team gets off easy because of the Gold Cup. But the Wizards seem better equipped to handle the loss of Jimmy Conrad, Roger Espinoza and Davy Arnaud than is the Dynamo to replace Brian Ching, Andrew Hainault and Stuart Holden. Plus, Houston is in a bit of a funk, scraping out a 1-1 home tie with RSL and looking very lethargic last week in losing to the Galaxy, 1-0.

Still, the Dynamo gets back Ricardo Clark from Confederations Cup duty, and if he's recovered will help contain the Wizards attackers. Without Conrad Kansas City will field a relatively inexperienced back line, which may be just what Kei Kamara and Dominic Oduro and their mates need to get back in scoring mode.
Prediction: Wizards 2, Dynamo 2

LOS ANGELES (3-3-9) vs. NEW ENGLAND (4-4-4), 11 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espanol

Landon Donovan has returned from national team duty, just in time to answer questions about the scathing comments made by him and other Galaxy players regarding David Beckham in a book to be unveiled in a week and a half.

Even if he struggles through the inevitable fatigue and emotional letdown, Los Angeles has the weapons and tools to handle a Revs' team that is still missing a half-dozen regulars to injury, and Jay Heaps and Shalrie Joseph to international duty. That Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts is also so dispatched doesn't really compensate, so if LA can't win this one, maybe AEG owes Ruud Gullit an apology.
Prediction: Galaxy 2, Revs 0.

Last week:
4-2. Season: 53-59.


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