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Easy wins for playoff hopefuls Revs and Rapids?
by Ridge Mahoney, September 18th, 2009 7AM

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[MLS PREDICTIONS] Two playoff hopefuls have a chance to move up on Friday when they face league doormats. Colorado, on ESPN2, aims to stay near the top of the playoff wild-card race in San Jose (last in the West). New England, under pressure after two straight losses, hopes to get back in the postseason qualifiers' pack with a win against dead-last New York. Two teams with long-shot chances face off when Kansas City hosts Dallas. Of special interest will be how Los Angeles comes back from its 6-3 loss last weekend to FC Dallas when the Galaxy hosts Toronto FC, a team which could debut its biggest signing in franchise history, Canadian international Julian De Guzman, who comes home after long, successful career in Europe. For all of Soccer America's predictions, as well as TV viewing information ...

FRIDAY
NEW YORK (4-17-4) vs. NEW ENGLAND (9-8-6), 7:30 p.m, Direct Kick

The Revs have lost two in a row and will be missing Edgaras Jankauskas and Wells Thompson because of suspension. Coming off suspension is midfield catalyst Shalrie Joseph, but he'll need help to spark the attack. New England has scored just eight goals in 11 road matches, and needed a 90th minute equalizer to snag a 1-1 tie at Giants Stadium in late March.

New York has been mathematically eliminated, has cut loose defender Alfredo Pacheco, and is pondering what to do with midfielder Albert Celades, who is off the disabled list but still questionable with a calf strain. Also questionable is top scorer (nine goals) Juan Pablo Angel because of a sprained ankle. The Red Bulls lost, 1-0, to Kansas City last weekend, but beat Columbus by the same score the week before that, so this is anything but a tap-in for the Revs.
Prediction: Red Bulls 1, Revs 1.

SAN JOSE (5-12-5) vs. COLORADO (10-8-6), 11 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
The teams play again Wednesday in Colorado, yet the Rapids might well come out blazing in this one, since San Jose last played a league match in late August and should be rusty. And with Pablo Mastroeni serving the third and final game of his suspension, and starting keeper Matt Pickens sidelined with a knee injury, goals will be needed. Colorado has lost its last four road games and the Quakes have beaten Seattle, 4-0, and Kansas City, 1-0, in their last two home matches.

Check this out: of the 28 players used by the two teams when they last met at Buck Shaw Stadium in July of last year in a 1-1 tie, 17 have moved on. The faces may have the changed yet the result may be the same. Or not.
Prediction: Quakes 1, Rapids 1.

SATURDAY
SEATTLE (9-6-10) vs. CHIVAS USA (11-9-3), 3 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espanol
Chivas USA has won both meetings this season at Home Depot Center, and recently revamped its lineup with the additions of loan players Maicon Santos, Jesus Padilla and Xanthi Cuesta. Santos got his first MLS goal, and Sacha Kljestan netted his third goal in the last four games as Chivas USA beat the Revs, 2-0, last weekend.

Seattle comes back home after beating D.C. United twice by 2-1 scores 10 days apart at RFK Stadium. Most of its six home wins this season were recorded early in the season so it needs to re-establish that early-season dominance.

The teams are separated by just one point in the standings and each has conceded 24 goals. With its next three on the road, Seattle desperately needs a home victory.
Prediction: Sounders 2, Chivas USA 1.

HOUSTON (11-8-7) vs. REAL SALT LAKE (9-9-7), 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick
Despite a poor 2-5-3 record in its last 10 games, the Dynamo is clinging to first place in the Western Conference. It lost last weekend, 2-1, in Columbus to a stoppage-time penalty kick, and in midweek lost, 2-0, at Pachuca while resting several starters.

The teams have tied twice this season, 1-1 at Robertson and 0-0 at Rio Tinto. RSL got another road tie last weekend, 1-1, in Chicago on a Jamison Olave equalizer while Kyle Beckerman was suspended, but will likely encounter a Houston team in an ornery mood. Yet the Dynamo must play again Tuesday in the Concacaf Champions' League so it will go for an early goal and make RSL do the chasing..
Prediction: Dynamo 2, RSL 0.

KANSAS CITY (7-11-6) vs. FC DALLAS (7-11-6), 8:30 p.m., Direct Kick
The good news for the Wizards is that they come back home after winning, 1-0, last week in New York. There's also the bad news: at home (3-5-3), they just don't get it done. Still, Josh Wolff and Claudio Lopez are in good form, and another sharp game by Kevin Hartman will help fend off the attacks of danger-man Jeff Cunningham and his teammates.

The offensive explosion in last week's 6-3 thumping of Los Angeles masked some defensive tweaks by FCD: Daniel Hernandez added bite to the midfield and Dax McCarty kept track of David Beckham. With the recent acquisition of Heath Pearce, and Marvin Chavez in the mix off a 45-minute debut, FCD has a growing arsenal of options.
Prediction: Wizards 2, FCD 2.

LOS ANGELES (9-5-11) vs. TORONTO FC (9-9-7), 10:30 p.m., Direct Kick
Last week's horrid defensive display in a 6-3 loss to Dallas was an aberration, yet still the Galaxy will be locking down things as tight as possible all over the field. TFC can play the cat-and-mouse game, and a more tactical approach might suit new signing Julian De Guzman -- should he get the nod for his MLS debut as expected -- very nicely. TFC won at Home Depot Center last year; the Galaxy won, 2-1, at BMO Field in early June without David Beckham and Landon Donovan.

The bruised knee suffered by AJ DeLaGarza in the FCD shellacking might leave Galaxy coach Bruce Arena with a hole. Veteran Chris Klein played a lot there last year; speaking of last year, the 2008 Rookie of the Year, Sean Franklin, is a right back by trade and came off the disabled list last week following a three-month layoff with a torn hamstring tendon. Veteran Tony Sanneh replaced DeLaGarza last weekend at halftime and looked lost.
Prediction: Galaxy 2, TFC 1.

SUNDAY
CHICAGO (10-6-9) vs. COLUMBUS (11-4-9), 3 p.m., TeleFutura

The Crew opened up a three-point gap atop the Eastern Conference by beating Houston, 2-1, last week in the final minutes, and used a mix of starters and backups Wednesday to beat Deportivo Saprissa, 1-0, in Costa Rica. Alejandro Moreno, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Chad Marshall sat out that game.

After the Fire lost to the Crew, 2-1, in last year's Eastern Conference final, Coach Denis Hamlett proclaimed that getting homefield advantage this season had to be done. To get that done, Chicago needs this game, but it must play better than it did last week in conceding an equalizer to end up tied with RSL, 1-1.
Prediction: Fire 1, Crew 1.

 



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