By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
Montreal 2 Portland 0. Montreal scores two late goals, one through a fairly harsh handball call and the subsequent penalty from Bernardo Corradi, and the other after backup keeper Joe Bednik failed to deal with a Davy Arnaud cross and Sinisa Ubiparipovic scored. Montreal dominated the match, which has prompted me to do a writeup on the Timbers’ struggles, which I’ll post some time this week. Hopefully today. Prediction: 1-1
New York 1 New England 0. Thierry Henry scores his league-leading ninth goal, then goes off injured, and against all odds the Red Bulls keep a clean sheet. Who knew? I didn’t watch this match – sounds like I didn’t miss much, but Red Bulls fans have to be happy that the team’s ongoing defensive miscues came to a halt, however temporarily. Prediction: New York 3-2
Philadelphia 1 San Jose 2. Steven Lenhart scores two goals off headers, one late in injury time, to help San Jose overcome a Gabriel Gomez equalizer in the 83rd minute. The second goal came off a nice bit of juking from Marvin Chavez before crossing – amazing what he can do when he’s not flopping to the ground like he’s been shot. The Union didn’t actually play too badly, which makes you worry about the safety of Piotr Nowak’s job, if they keep losing, since he was suspended for this match. Prediction: San Jose 2-1
Columbus 0 Vancouver 1. A dreadful match is won on Lee Young-Pyo’s free kick, which was either meant or accidental, depending on who you talk to. Columbus dominated possession, but failed to score, which leads me to believe that either the Whitecaps defense is great (it is good, though), or that Vargas is the second coming of Andres MenD’oh!za in the penalty area for the Crew. Prediction: Columbus 2-1
DC United 3 Houston 2. A fairly-barnstorming match where Dwayne DeRosario gets his firsts goal of the season, Maicon “Maybe I’m Not As Worthless As Jeremiah Always Says” Santos scores twice, including the winner, and United win two matches in a row for the first time since 2010. Will Bruin scored twice for Houston, the second one being basically bobbled into the net by DC keeper Joe Willis. Is it time to get Bill Hamid back in the starting lineup? Prediction: DC 2-0
Chicago 1 Seattle 2. Despite the Fire being the better team for most of the match, Seattle takes the lead through an Arne Friedrich own goal (What? MLS awarded an own goal? Heresy!) before Eddie Johnson’s head probably exploded with the realization he had put the ball in the back of the net. Celebrate it, Seattle fans, because it might not happen again in 2012. Chicago pulled one back after a Marco Pappa scored with his corner kick – not intentional. Seattle is a good team, so Chicago fans need not worry too much about this loss, it’s just every other loss or draw they should worry about. Prediction: 2-2
Colorado 4 Chivas USA 0. Finally Chivas back up all the complaining I constantly do about how bad they are with a performance that lives up to expectations. The Rapids got second-half goals from Tony Cascio, Kamani Hill (two) and Jeff Larentowicz, and probably could’ve scored six or seven. My analysis isn’t totally accurate, actually – the teams were fairly even in the first half, but the second half was a nightmare for Chivas. For Colorado, Conor Casey finally got into a game, which has to have Omar Cummings breathing a sigh of relief. Prediction: Colorado 3-1
Real Salt Lake 3 Toronto 2. I actually felt a bit sorry for Toronto after this match, because they were decent and probably deserved a point. TFC only made one horrible glaring defensive mistake to give up a goal, which is a step in the right direction. And sadly, this performance probably gave Aron Winter a couple more weeks as manager, which means they could start the season 0-0-10. Oh, goals were by … *looks at stats* … for RSL, Kyle Beckerman, a Richard Eckersley own goal and Johhny Steele (the winner in injury time). For Toronto, Eric Avila had a great match, scored and hit the post, and Donnell Henry also scored . Prediction: RSL 3-0
LA Galaxy 1 Dallas 1. Pat Noonan (What? He’s still alive?) scores a late goal for the Galaxy to give them a point. Brek Shea scored the first goal on a penalty. A dull match. I don’t think the Galaxy are even in first gear yet, just puttering along in neutral down a slope. Luckily, the MLS’s “Everyone makes the playoffs” policy will probably see them slide in at No. 8 or something. Prediction: 2-2
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
All times Pacific, as usual.
Montreal (1-2-5) v. Portland (2-1-4). (11 a.m.) The Impact are looking for their second win of the season against a Portland team that ended a four-match losing streak last week by beating first-place Kansas City. Montreal play decent football, but give away too many fouls and are struggling on defense. Portland haven’t played too bad this season, but have given a few bad goals away late in matches. A win in this match would get Portland back in the playoff hunt. Prediction: 1-1
New York (3-1-3) v. New England (2-0-4). (12:30 p.m.) The Red Bulls come into this match after giving up four goals to DC United last week in a horrendous defensive display. They’re still missing Teemu Tainio, Roy Miller, Rafa Marquez, Wilman Conde and Juan Agudelo (who probably wouldn’t be playing anyway, but still) to injury or suspension. Which means that the Connor Lade-Marcus Holgersson-Victor Palsson-Stephen Keel (if he’s fit) defensive nightmare gets another match to show they’re not as horrible as they’ve looked. New England have looked good at times this year, but don’t yet know how to win. I think they’ll struggle to stop New York. Prediction: New York 3-2
Philadelphia (2-1-3) v. San Jose (5-1-1). (4 p.m.) The Union got three points last week against Chivas USA, but did it despite having two players (and coach Piotr Nowak) sent off and not necessarily playing well. San Jose have been the best team in the Western Conference so far. Missing Gabriel Farfan and Keon Daniels, I have a hard time seeing Philadelphia putting together enough in attack to win this match. Prediction: San Jose 2-1
Columbus (2-1-3) v. Vancouver (3-2-2). (4:30 p.m.) The Crew, who haven’t won their last three matches, take on Vancouver, who returned to winning ways by beating Dallas (somewhat fortuitously, I should say). The biggest problem the Crew have had so far this season is their defense. Julius James has yet to play a match, and Carlos Mendes, who would probably be James’ replacement, has also been injured. The Whitecaps still aren’t scoring goals, but they’ve been mostly solid on defense. Prediction: Columbus 2-1
DC United (3-3-2) v. Houston (2-2-1). (4:30 p.m.) United haven’t lost in their last six matches, but still have yet to win back-to-back games. Since 2010. This is actually a pretty good chance for them to do just that. Houston have been playing reasonably well, but are winding up their 7-match away streak to start the season, so will probably be a bit tired. Prediction: DC 2-0
Chicago (2-2-1) v. Seattle (3-1-1). (5:30 p.m.) After a fairly easy stretch of matches to start the season, the Fire get their hardest match of the season so far, taking on the Sounders, who just had a week off. Chicago might have Chris Rolfe playing again, which might help out their struggling attack. The Sounders will probably have Mauro Rosales back, at least for part of the match, which bodes well for them. Prediction: 2-2
Colorado (3-0-4) v. Chivas USA (3-0-4). (6 p.m.) If you went strictly by statistics, you would note that Chivas USA are 3-0-0 on the road so far this season, and are taking a Rapids squad that lost their last home match, to the Galaxy. However, doing so would ignore the fact that Chivas aren’t very good, and can mostly attribute their road success to the fact they are decent defensively and have gotten a bit lucky on the road. Colorado should have Conor Casey back, which has to be a relief for Omar Cummings, who has had to play up front with the likes of Andre Akpan for the last year. Yeesh. Prediction: Colorado 3-1
Real Salt Lake (5-1-3) v. Toronto (0-0-6). (6 p.m.) After two losses and a draw in a 3-game road trip, RSL return home to take on the league’s worst team. Toronto manager Aron Winter keeps talking about how they’re just about to turn it around, but they keep losing. It’s hard to see that changing in this match, even if they play well. I feel like I’ll say this every week until Winter is fired, but I’m amazed he hasn’t been fired yet. Prediction: RSL 3-0
LA Galaxy (3-0-3) v. Dallas (3-2-3). (7:30 p.m.) Back-to-back wins almost has the Galaxy starting to look like the defending champs. They’re still fairly bad defensively, though, and only Robbie Keane seems to be that interested in the attacking end. Dallas have played well lately, but the injuries are starting to pile up. Prediction: 2-2
Goals: Aurelien Collin (1), CJ Sapong (1)
Kansas City becomes the first team to advance to the “conference semifinals” with a fairly easy win at home against Colorado. The Rapids were always going to be up against it having lost 2-0 at home to Kansas City and dealing with a ton of injuries, but they created virtually nothing in the match. The impressive Aurelien Collin scored the opener to basically put it away, and then CJ Sapong, who I interviewed in June, added the second. Kansas City takes on the winner of Philadelphia and Houston.
Goals: Teal Bunbury 2 (2)
A miserable day for Colorado, who lose three players through injury, have Tyrone Marshall sent off and manage, I think, only one shot on goal. Teal Bunbury was just too fast and powerful for the Colorado backline, and hopefully performances like this will get him called up to the national team again, so we don’t have to see Edson Buddle any more. I don’t see Colorado beating Kansas City by two goals in Kansas City. Could KC be a dark horse contender for the Cup?
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood*Games to watch ^Games not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual
Seattle (6-3-2 at home) v Chivas USA (3-4-4 away). (1 p.m.) Seattle returns home after ending Kansas City’s 14-match unbeaten streak with a late 2-1 win last week and are currently in third place in the West. A win in this match, couple with a Dallas draw or loss, would see Seattle pull into second, four points behind the Galaxy. Chivas won at New England and have only lost once once in their last seven matches. As well as Chivas is playing, it’s hard to see them winning in Seattle. Prediction: Seattle 2-0
Toronto (3-5-4) v Real Salt Lake (2-3-3). (4 p.m.) Toronto somehow contrived to draw at DC United despite being a man up for 83 minutes and leading after 86 minutes. This was mostly due to the fact that Andy Iro is my new nominee as the worst defender in the league. Seriously, the way Toronto is playing, it doesn’t seem to matter who is playing defense, any team can score on them. With that said, their attacking play lately has certainly been improved. Unfortunately, they have to beat one of the league’s better teams, possibly without keeper Sebastian Freis. Real Salt Lake ended their 2-match losing streak by thumping terrible New York in Salt Lake City. They’re not as good away from home, but they should have enough to beat Toronto, though they’ll have to do it without Ned Grabavoy and possibly Jamison Olave. Prediction: Real Salt Lake 2-1
New York (5-4-2) v Chicago (1-6-5). (4:30 p.m.) New York are having a nightmare season where, despite having one of the best rosters in the league – and possibly the best player in Thierry Henry – they have somehow contrived to pick up only 15 points from their last 16 matches. In Chicago, they’re playing a team that has two wins on the entire season, and none since June 12. Their last match was an awful 4-2 loss to Vancouver, and Yamith Cuesta did his best Andy Iro impersonation. As bad as New York has been, this should be about as easy as it gets. Prediction: New York 3-0
DC United (2-6-3) v Vancouver (0-4-8). (4:30 p.m.) United escaped with a draw against Toronto, though that was due more to Toronto’s incompetence than anything they did – though Dwayne De Rosario had a great match. The big concern for United is that backup goalkeeper Sam Cronin is starting this game, and he was very poor against Toronto. Vancouver finally won another game, thumping Chicago. Eric Hassli scored twice for the ‘Caps, and the team was great in attack, though their defense is still a bit shaky. Prediction: United 2-1
Columbus (6-4-1) v New England (1-5-6). (4:30 p.m.) Fun fact: Columbus’s lone home loss is to Chicago. Who would have thought? The team is certainly playing better, and Robbie Rogers looks like a player reborn after sucking for half the year. They will be playing without Eddie Gaven, which is a bit of a loss. New England are having a forgettable season, though they have been a little better on the road lately. Prediction: Columbus 1-0
Philadelphia (5-5-1) v FC Dallas (4-3-4). (5 p.m.) Philadelphia welcomed in new signing Freddy Adu today. He will definitely improve an attack that has struggled recently, though you could argue some other teams could have used him more (namely, Chicago and Portland). Dallas got a disappointing performance from keeper Kevin Harttman, not for the first time this season, in losing at the Galaxy. A draw seems most likely in this match. Prediction: 1-1
San Jose (3-7-3) v Colorado (4-4-4). (7:30 p.m.) San Jose are attempting to give Vancouver, New England, Chicago and Toronto a run for the worst team of the year award. Their most recent match was a 1-1 draw at home with Portland, but they’ve only scored four goals in their last 10 matches and haven’t won any of them. They’ve especially missed Ryan Johnson and Steven Lenhart lately. Colorado have been in great form recently, beating Columbus, New York and Philadelphia and drawing with New England. Their main concern would be that they have a busy schedule the next two weeks. (5 matches) Prediction: Colorado 2-1
Houston (6-3-3) v Portland (1-3-6). (6 p.m.) Houston are coming off with a late draw with Philadelphia. They have been decent at home, miserable on the road. They welcome new signing Carlo Costly, who should be a good fit for the MLS – something that’ll help a team missing Will Bruin. Portland haven’t had much success on the road, and it doesn’t figure to change with this match. They are undefeated in their last three matches. Prediction: Houston 3-1
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
The Galaxy won the biggest game in the MLS this weekend, beating Dallas 3-1 to consolidate their spot at the top of the table. Colorado was the other big winner, beating Columbus impressively to continue their recent good run of form. At the bottom of the table, Vancouver won the clash of probably the two worst teams in the MLS, hammering Chicago 4-2.
All times Pacific; first number is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…
1 – 2. LA Galaxy beat Dallas 3-1 at home. Now having safely defeated nearest rivals Dallas, the Galaxy can take it easy and rest their aging bones until the have what should be a fairly easy match against San Jose next week. Season: 13-9-3, 35 gf, 20 ga; Up next: San Jose on Aug. 20
2 – 3. Seattle Sounders won 2-1 at Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders rallied from a goal down at Kansas City, thanks in a large part of Omar Bravo’s red card. With their playoff spot all but a formality at this point, they’ll try to catch LA for best record. Season: 11-8-5, 35 gf, 27 ga; Up next: Chivas USA on Saturday
3 – 1. FC Dallas lost 3-1 at LA Galaxy. Dallas will be disappointed to give up three goals – all on set pieces to the Galaxy, but on the bright side, they showed they can compete very well against the league’s top team – and at times looked like the better of the two. Season: 12-6-6, 31 gf, 23 ga. Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday
4 – 5. Real Salt Lake beat New York 3-0 at home. RSL escaped from their recent doldrums to crush New York, though at this point, that’s not saying much. Nonetheless, they have an eminently winnable match coming up against Toronto, and they’ll hope to move up the table. Season: 10-6-5, 29 gf, 16 ga; Up next: At Toronto on Saturday
5 – 6. Colorado Rapids won 2-0 at home against Columbus. The Rapids are probably the league’s hottest team at this moment after beating East-leading Columbus convincingly in their last match. Can they continue their streak against San Jose? Well, they should. Season record: 9-10-6, 35 goals for, 31 goal against; Up next: At San Jose on Saturday
6 – 4. Columbus Crew lost 2-0 at Colorado. The Crew were punchless against Colorado, but a home match against New England should be a cure for their ills. Season: 9-7-7, 24 gf 22 ga; Up next: New England on Saturday
7 – 7. Philadelphia Union drew 1-1 at home against Houston. The Union continue to struggle lately. They need to pick up some results so they don’t drop further down the playoff table. Dallas will be a tough team to get three points against. Season: 8-9-5, 27 gf, 20 ga; Up next: Dallas on Saturday
8 – 8. Sporting Kansas City lost 2-1 at home against Seattle. KC’s 14-match undefeated streak was ended by Seattle – and Omar Bravo’s red card. Sporting now get some time off before traveling to Jello Wind Park in Portland. Season: 7-9-7, 32 gf, 30 ga; Up next: Portland on Aug. 17
9 – 11. Chivas USA won 3-2 at New England. The Goats continue their recent resurgence by beating New England, though they have a tough match coming up at Seattle. Nick LaBrocca is one of the players of the year in the MLS. Season: 7-8-8, 30 gf, 26 ga; Up next: At Seattle on Saturday
10 – 10. DC United drew 3-3 at home against Toronto. United were perhaps a bit fortuitous to draw at home against Toronto after Bill Hamid was sent off in the 7th minute. Their defense will need to be better against Vancouver. Season: 6-9-6, 29 gf, 33 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Saturday
11 – 9. Red Bull New York lost 3-0 at Real Salt Lake. A season of low points reached another one with a dismal display in Salt Lake. At least their next match is against Chicago, probably the only team that is playing worse than them at this point. Well, them and San Jose. Season: 6-12-6, 37 gf, 33 ga; Up next: Chicago on Saturday
12 – 12. Portland Timbers drew 1-1 at San Jose. After a barren stretch of no wins and one point in 9 matches, the Timbers have gotten back into the playoff race in recent weeks. Can they win at Houston this weekend? Season: 7-5-10, 28 gf, 35 ga; Up next: At Houston on Sunday
13 – 13. Houston Dynamo drew 1-1 at Philadelphia. Houston managed to get a point at Philadelphia this past week. To stay in the playoff race, they need to get three points against Portland. Season: 6-10-7, 27 gf, 28 ga; Up next: Portland on Sunday
14 – 14. San Jose Earthquakes drew 1-1 at home against Portland. San Jose are in full on free fall. Can they catch themselves when they take on the defending champs? Not likely, but hey, that’s what they play these games, amiright? Season: 5-10-8, 25 gf, 30 ga; Up next: Colorado on Saturday
15 – 15. New England Revolution lost 3-2 at home to Chivas USA. The Revs have been somewhat resurgent lately, but that ended when they gave up three goals to Chivas this past weekend. It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Columbus, but New England is reaching the point where they have to go on quite a run to make the playoffs. Season: 4-9-10, 22 gf, 33 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday
16 – 17. Toronto FC drew 3-3 at DC United. Toronto should have picked up three points at DC United after Bill Hamid was sent off in the 7th minute. Unfortunately, their defense is BY FAR the worst in the league. Was that the final nail in their playoff-making coffin? Season: 3-11-11, 24 gf, 46 ga; Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday
17 – 18. Vancouver Whitecaps beat Chicago 4-2 at home. The Whitecaps beat Chicago – and convincingly – on Sunday. They won’t make the playoffs this year, barring something crazy happening, but with Eric Hassli and … well, with Eric Hassli, at least … they have something to build on for next year. Season: 3-9-11, 25 gf, 36 ga; Up next: At DC United on Saturday
18 – 16. Chicago Fire lost 4-2 at Vancouver. Will this season ever end? If Chicago wins the US Open Cup, that means they will play in the Champions League next year with a 36-year-old designated player and a team that has only won two matches 67 percent of the way through the season. Season: 2-13-7, 23 gf, 30 ga; Up next: At New York on Saturday
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
*Game to watch ^Game not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual
Vancouver v Real Salt Lake. (1 p.m.) I haven’t been able to find any information anywhere on the web about whether Vancouver expects to have Eric Hassli back for this game after missing the last two with injury, though he did show up for the ESPYs after having his goal against Seattle nominated (He didn’t win). New signing Mustapha Jarju (a forward) will probably play some part. Real Salt Lake are undefeated in their last six (2 wins). Prediction: As with most Caps games, if they don’t have their best player, they won’t win. But against RSL, it might not matter anyway. RSL 2-0
*Seattle v Colorado. The Sounders haven’t lost in their last seven matches (4 wins). They take on Colorado, who have been much improved since the return of Omar Cummings, though he has yet to score since coming back from injury. Fredy Montero scored twice for Seattle in the win over Portland, which I think equaled his total coming into the game. (1 p.m.) Prediction: Seattle 2-1
Columbus v San Jose. At some point, Columbus realized they were playing in the Eastern Conference, so if they woke up and started playing any brand of football whatsoever, they could end up finishing first in the East. They’ve been very good over the last two months. San Jose had a good run minus Chris Wondolowski, but now that he’s back, they can’t score. (4:30 p.m.) Prediction: Columbus 3-0
Houston v Sporting Kansas City. (5:30 p.m.) After a good start, Houston only won once in 11 matches before beating Toronto last weekend. The last two games they’ve played relatively mistake-free soccer, which for this team is important. If they can do that against Kansas City, they have a chance. For Sporting, they haven’t lost in their last 10 games, though they’ve drawn their last two at home. They’re a good attacking team, they just need to avoid falling behind early and take their chances when they get them. Prediction: Sporting 2-1
Chicago v Portland. (5:30 p.m.) The Fire outplayed the Galaxy last weekend, but still lost. They are playing at home this time around, where they have only lost once. But they’ve only won once as well. (Six draws) Portland are 0-1-6 in their last seven matches and have yet to win on the road. Prediction: Theoretically this should be an easy win for Chicago, but in the MLS, a draw is the most likely result. Nonetheless, I’m going to pick the Fire, 3-1
FC Dallas v DC United. (6 p.m.) Last time Dallas lost – at home to Kansas City – they responded by winning their next three matches by a combined 8-1 margin. The previous loss they responded to by going undefeated in 9 straight (6 wins). So after losing to Real Salt Lake last weekend, odds are they will win this game. United are OK and look better with Dwayne DeRosario playing in midfield, but they’re horrifically shaky in defense. Prediction: Dallas 2-0
Chivas USA v New York. (7:30 p.m.) Justin Braun scored a hat trick the last time these teams met, in New York, a loss that send the Red Bulls spiralling downward for, oh, 2 1/2 months. Braun hasn’t scored since that game, but Chivas have looked decent their last two, drawing with Kansas City and beating San Jose. This one has draw written all over it. Prediction: 2-2
^New England v Philadelphia. (4 p.m.) The Revs haven’t won since May 14 and were dismantled in a friendly by Manchester United. We’re at the point in the season where MLS teams have to decide between playing their first choice lineup for a friendly against an opponent with a big draw or playing their first choice in a league match. The Revs chose to play their first-choice side for the first half of the game, so if they end up losing this one because they’re tired, they’ll look foolish. Philadelphia are still on top of the East, but they only have one win in their last six, and they struggle greatly on the road against teams that aren’t Toronto. This sounds like another draw. Prediction: 1-1
By Dan Hagan
John Spencer is a Colorado Rapids legend who in just four years with the club became second all-time on the team in goals scored (37), third all-time shots on goal (115), second all-time in game winning goals (10), first all-time in penalty kick goals (9), second all-time in goals per game (.42), third all-time scoring percentage (14.3%), third all-time in shots on goal percentage (44.6 percent), and he was inducted into the Rapids Gallery of Honor two years ago as only the fourth player ever.
Up next for Spencer is the goal of trying to defeat this very same team that honors him as a legend. Not only is Spencer squaring off against his former team (and some former teammates) in his first game, but he will be taking the expansion Portland Timbers into the home pitch of the MLS Champions. This is exactly the tough, gritty underdog mentality that IS Spencer.
Spencer is only 5-6, so he knows it takes hard work and intensity to compete against guys who are usually bigger. As head coach, Spencer will apply this attitude to club management instead of players. This perceived inferiority motivates Spencer and now the Timbers. The idea that the MLS champions will dominate, at home, over a “rookie” head coach for a “rookie” team is the accepted predictable outcome for matches involving expansion teams. Even Toronto is already anticipating easy wins over both expansion sides in their first two weeks. Even ignoring Seattle’s successful first MLS season, Toronto expects the Timbers to struggle as much as they have in their first years in the MLS.
The question that will be answered on March 19 will be: are the MLS champions hungrier than an expansion team? There is no doubt that the Rapids playing together through the season, helped build the repoire that only comes from time spent on the pitch. Though they struggled with the addition of Kanji late in the season, they jelled at the very end for all to see. Add to that the sobering statistic that not since 2003 has Colorado lost its home opener, it would seem that Spencer and Timbers’ fate is sealed.
But the team Spencer has put together has played together and are familiar with each other. Six players are returning from the Timbers last year; Eric Brunner and Adam Moffet played together last year at Colombus and roomed together on the road. Rodney Wallace played with Jeremy Hall in college three years ago and played last year with new goalie Troy Perkins at D.C United. This may be an expansion team but they are professionals who know each other well.
Though the Timbers face a huge challenge in their season opener and first season in the MLS, they will hope to emulate the Sounders success on the pitch in 2010, starting off with their match against the defending champs. Like they say here in Cascadia, “The bigger the tree, the harder the fall.”