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Seven games that can shake up standings
by Ridge Mahoney, August 21st, 2009 7AM

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[MLS PREDICTIONS] After thinning out its schedule in June and July to accommodate other competitions, MLS stages a full schedule of seven weekend games on the heels of two midweek contests. Most games feature teams placed close together in the overall standings, with only three games matching teams separated by more than one win. For all of Soccer America's predictions, as well as TV viewing information, and to see how Ridge Mahoney fared so far this season ...

(All times Eastern)

SATURDAY
D.C. UNITED (6-5-10) vs. LOS ANGELES (8-4-10), 7:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espanol

Winless in league play for more than a month, D.C. United -- unbeaten at home this season with a 5-0-4 record -- welcomes David Beckham to RFK after he and Eddie Lewis sat out the Galaxy's 2-0 win last weekend because of suspension. That win in Chicago improved LA's record against Eastern teams to 6-0-4 and its road mark to 5-1-6, and with both of those players on the flanks it can stretch United across midfield.

Neither team will have an advantage of additional rest, since both played Wednesday, and D.C. traveled back from Honduras losing 3-1 to Marathon in the Concacaf Champions' League. A quadriceps strain may sideline D.C. midfielder Chris Pontius. Returning to RFK, site of his MLS glory days, will surely be a treat for Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, and he's shown numerous times this season a tactical prowess that befuddles opposing teams.
Prediction: United 1, Galaxy 1.

CHIVAS USA (9-7-3) vs. TORONTO FC (8-7-6), 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick
Chivas USA cast aside its funk after losing five in a row by beating New York, 2-0, last week, yet this is a truer test. Its long injury list persists, and though TFC will miss Jim Brennan via suspension and could be without questionable Marvell Wynne (hamstring) and Nick Garcia (calf), the fleet of young players let loose by Coach Chris Cummins last week in a 2-0 home win over D.C. United gives him many options.

When the teams met at BMO Field in April, Amado Guevara was motivated enough against one of his former teams to score the only goal, which earned TFC its first-ever win against Chivas USA. If he and Dwayne De Rosario are tuned in it will be a rough night for the host, even at home.
Prediction: Chivas USA 0, TFC 1.

SAN JOSE (4-11-5) vs. KANSAS CITY (5-8-6), 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick
The dismissal of head coach Curt Onalfo didn't seem to elevate the Wizards in their first game after his ouster, a 2-0 home loss to Chicago last Sunday during which new striker Zoltan Hercegfalvi was sent off 22 minutes into his debut. Kansas City is 2-4-3 on the road this season and has yet to rid itself of breakdowns that spoil intervals of good play.

The Quakes were off last week, and struggled when last seen in a 3-0 loss to the Crew Aug. 8. San Jose has signed Brazilian defender Fabio da Silva, and though he's been training for more than a week isn't expected to slide right into the lineup. In last year's meeting at Buck Shaw, Darren Huckerby hit the winner in the 83rd minute. For themselves as well as their suffering fans, the home boys must bring it.
Prediction: Quakes 2, Wizards 1.

SUNDAY
NEW YORK (2-16-4) vs. FC DALLAS (6-10-5), 3 p.m., TeleFutura

Jeff Cunningham struck twice within three minutes when Dallas beat New York, 2-1, at Pizza Hut Park on July 4. Juan Pablo Angel, the Red Bulls' scorer in that game, has been bothered by a concussion and is questionable for this match. Astonishingly, New York hasn't won in a league-record streak of 13 games.

Cunningham's hot scoring streak since Kenny Cooper left for Germany is a byproduct of improved interplay among Dave van den Bergh, Dax McCarty and Atiba Harris, and the clever work of David Ferreira stationed in the slot behind Cunningham. A 2-0 loss to the Crew in Columbus last week shouldn't deter FCD from dispatching the league's worst team.
Prediction: Red Bulls 0, FCD 2.

CHICAGO (9-5-8) vs. COLORADO (8-6-6), 6 p.m., Direct Kick
Can the Fire get back on the beam after stumbling at home Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to the Galaxy? LA exploited its Bakary Soumare-less defense and he is still in the doghouse of Coach Denis Hamlett after the two scuffled in the locker room at halftime of a game two weeks ago. That listless display does not bode well, and neither does a long injury list and suspension of midfielder John Thorrington, who got both goals last year when the Fire beat the Rapids, 2-1, at Toyota Park.

The loss of midfielder Colin Clark to an ACL tear deprives Colorado of an important weapon out wide. But the Rapids are healthier and rested after not playing last weekend, and desperately need at least a point.
Prediction: Fire 2, Rapids 2.

NEW ENGLAND (7-6-6) vs. REAL SALT LAKE (7-8-6), 6 p.m., Direct Kick
The time has come to cash in those games in hand, and the Revs also might be a bit motivated to atone for that 6-0 thrashing inflicted by RSL at Rio Tinto April 25, though they played in Seattle Thursday and could be fatigued from an excellent effort. If a few players come out of that game banged up, Coach Steve Nicol won't have many bodies to choose from.

Clint Mathis and Jamison Olave are suspended for RSL, which has conceded only one goal in its last three games. But it also scored just one, and a 1-7-2 road record and 0-3 mark on turf (in all competitions) tilt this one in favor of the home team. Barely.
Prediction: Revs 2, RSL 1.

HOUSTON (11-6-6) vs. SEATTLE (8-6-8), 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick
The Sounders must travel and play on just two days' rest after losing to the Revs at home Thursday, but at least will play at night. It has beaten the Dynamo twice this season at Qwest Field, 2-1, in league play and the U.S. Open Cup but fizzled at home Thursday in losing at home to New England, 1-0, with Freddie Ljungberg sidelined and Tyrone Marshall suspended. At least Marshall will be back.

Not much else about this matchup favors Seattle, since Houston is 7-1-3 at home and has beaten D.C. United and Chicago since the All-Star break. Yet it conceded five goals in those two wins, and with a midweek Concacaf road game in Panama on the docket, will look for an early goal to take command. It plays its next four league and international games on the road, so this one is crucial. Defender Andrew Hainault is suspended.
Prediction: Dynamo 2, Sounders 0.

RIDGE MAHONEY'S 2009 PREDICTION RECORD
Last night: 0-1. Season: 79-78.

 



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