(All times Eastern)
REAL SALT LAKE (5-7-5) vs. FC DALLAS (4-8-5), 10 p.m. ET, Direct Kick
A 3-1 loss to the Crew last week in Columbus ended a five-game RSL unbeaten streak yet still it is slipping out of the playoff picture. Should FCD somehow win this game, the teams would be tied with 20 points and still sit at least two victories out of a playoff spot. Dallas is playing only its second league game of the month; it beat New York, 2-1, at home and lost, 1-0, in Colorado; it is only 1-5-2 this season on the road, and RSL desperately needs the three points.
Prediction: RSL 3, FCD 1.
SEATTLE (7-3-7) vs. CHICAGO (7-3-7), 3 p.m., ESPN/ESPNDeportes
Identical records and multiple game-breakers on both rosters conjure up visions of a clasico. The Sounders are unbeaten in their last five games and 6-1-3 at home, but a fortunate goal-line decision helped them beat Houston, 2-1, last week. Fire defender Bakary Soumare is suspended and Brian McBride is out for at least a month with a shoulder injury, but an offense that has averaged two goals a game on the road (18 goals in nine games) gives Chicago a real shot to get at least a point.
Prediction: Sounders 1, Fire 1.
COLUMBUS (6-3-9) vs. TORONTO (7-6-5), 7:30 p.m., Direct Kick
Since it came into the league three years ago, TFC has never beaten the Crew and may never get a better chance, with Robbie Rogers and Chad Marshall playing for the U.S. in the Gold Cup, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno injured. Toronto won its last road game, 3-1 in San Jose; this is a far tougher task, but a potent attack that recently added Ali Gerba will test the Crew. Both meetings this year have ended 1-1; a repeat is certainly possible, but the Reds fans who have made this long road trip a tradition will inspire their team.
Prediction: Crew 1, TFC 2.
HOUSTON (9-4-5) vs. NEW ENGLAND (5-5-5), 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick
Neither team is anything close to full strength because of injuries and international callups, and since the Revs are by far the more depleted even at the best of times, it means once again they'll need a superb showing plus a few breaks to get a result. Houston loses a lot of punch without Brian Ching and Stuart Holden, but still has the horses to win the race on its home course.
Prediction: Dynamo 1, Revs 0.
KANSAS CITY (5-6-5) vs. LOS ANGELES (6-3-9), 9 p.m., ESPN2
Winner of four in a row, Los Angeles can't be counted out, while Kansas City can't really be counted on. The Wizards have yet to prove they can win when they have to, and while the simmering turmoil within the Galaxy might blow up at any time, it has shown a stubborn reluctance to lose.
Prediction: Wizards 1, Galaxy 1.
COLORADO (6-5-6) vs. NEW YORK (2-14-4), 9:30 p.m., Direct Kick
Seldom in the history of MLS has there been a team so near a guaranteed three points as is New York and while the Rapids could be caught napping, their hard-line coach Gary Smith isn't likely to let that happen, not with a potential playoff spot just a few points away.
Prediction: Rapids 3, Red Bulls 1.
SAN JOSE (3-10-4) vs. D.C. UNITED (6-9-3), 10:30 p.m., FSC/FSE
The Quakes aren't quite so woeful as the Red Bulls, and they are playing at home, and they must do something to eradicate the stench of that dreadful 3-1 loss to Toronto at Buck Shaw Stadium two weeks ago. A better performance in Chicago last week still yielded a 2-0 defeat. United battled through a rugged 2-1 Open Cup win against Rochester on Tuesday and a few of its players might falter if San Jose can improve off last week's effort.
Prediction: Quakes 1, United 1.
RIDGE MAHONEY'S 2009 PREDICTION RECORD
Last week: 6-0 (First perfecto of 2009!). Season: 66-64.