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MLS Weekend Preview: April 21-22

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

All times Pacific, as usual.

Saturday

Toronto (0-0-5) v. Chicago (1-2-1). (12:30 p.m.) With apologies to TFC and Fire fans, this is another scintillating game of the week for NBC. At this rate, they’re just going to cancel their contract with the MLS. At least the Philly-Columbus match turned out to be a decent one. Or at least I hope so – I didn’t watch it. What was I talking about here? Oh yeah, Toronto hasn’t won yet; The Fire are still in their jammies, waiting for the season to start. Prediction: 3-3

Columbus (2-0-3) v. Houston (2-1-1). (4:30 p.m.) Columbus aren’t as bad as their record (or their ranking, for that matter) suggests, but they’re always one (or sometimes, two or three) mistakes from Eric Gehrig from a loss. It’s hard to judge Houston, who are still on their 7-match road trip and had two weeks off before last weekend’s 1-1 draw in a match shortened because of lightning. Prediction: 1-1

Colorado (3-0-3) v. LA Galaxy (2-0-4). (6 p.m.) Kudos to MLSsoccer.com for resisting the urge to bump the Galaxy up to 4th in their rankings just because they labored to their second win of the year. Colorado have been weird this year – they’re playing nice football, but haven’t created much at all in the way of goal-scoring opportunities, particularly on the road. This match should be a good way to evaluate the comparative strength of both teams. Until LA comes up with a “we’re the defending champs, try and stop us” performance, I’m not picking them to win any more. Unless they’re playing Toronto. Prediction: Colorado 2-1

Vancouver (2-2-2) v. Dallas (3-1-2). (7 p.m.) The suddenly leaky Whitecaps defense takes on Dallas, who have played well their last two matches, but had to score late in both to get three points. The Caps might benefit from resting Eric Hassli, who has yet to score and blew an easy chance against Kansas City on Wednesday. Prediction: Vancouver 2-1

San Jose (4-1-1) v. Real Salt Lake (5-0-2). (7:30 p.m.) RSL’s tour of the MLS’s best continues with a trip to San Jose to take on the Quakes, who have been improving every week. San Jose have been playing nice football and creating a lot of chances, which always bodes well when Chris Wondolowski is lurking in the penalty area. You have to wonder when they’re going to slip up, though. Prediction: 1-1

Portland (1-1-4) v. Kansas City (7-0-0). (7:30 p.m.) I actually think the Timbers, who have lost four in a row, have a chance in this match. They’re taking on the league leaders, who have yet to drop a point, but KC aren’t going to go 34-0 (or however many matches MLS teams are playing this year), AND they played in midweek. So anything can happen. Kansas City are lethal on special teams and rarely allow the opposing side any shots at goal, which is a good way to win matches in this league (or any other league). Prediction: 1-1

Chivas USA (3-0-3) v. Philadelphia (1-1-3). (7:30 p.m.) Another barnburner, this, between a team that can’t win at home (Chivas) and a team that has yet to win on the road (Philly). At least of the two teams, the Union have scored a goal away – Chivas hasn’t even scored at home yet. I’ll pass. Prediction: 0-0

Sunday

DC United (2-3-2) v. New York (3-1-2). (3 p.m.) Despite picking up four points the last two matches, United didn’t play particularly well in either, which was especially disappointing against Montreal. New York is missing Rafa Marquez through suspension, but far more harmful for the team will be the absence of Wilman Conde and Teemu Tainio, both of whom are injured. It’s hard to count the Red Bulls out the way they’ve been scoring goals, but they might be missing too many key pieces to keep DC from scoring. Prediction: 2-2

MLS Weekend Roundup: April 14-15

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Saturday

Philadelphia 1 Columbus 0. A Gabriel Gomez Panenka penalty is enough for the Union to notch their first win of the season. Probably not what the suits at NBC had in mind for a game of the week when they signed their deal with MLS. “Get ready America, because Lionard Pajoy and Eric Gehrig are lighting up your TVs! Move over Pujols, there is a midfielder named Bernardo Anor taking over where you left off!” And so on. Columbus were probably the better team but couldn’t score. The Gomez penalty came about because of another Gehrig “Oops!” moment with a handball in the box. Prediction: 0-0

Seattle 1 Colorado 0. A Zach Scott header gives the Sounders the win against Colorado. The biggest storyline of the match was Brian Mullan returning to the place where he practically chopped off Seattle winger Steve Zakuani’s leg last year. Zakuani is still injured. Mullan had a goal ruled off for offsides. Not a super-exciting match, but Fredy Montero showed signs of waking from his traditional six-match slumber to start the season. Prediction: Seattle 2-1

New England 1 DC United 2. I am actually grudgingly getting to the point where I can say the Revs aren’t so bad, and long-time readers of this blog should know how hard that is for me. New England was actually a bit of unlucky to lose this, despite dictating play for most of the match. Jose Moreno grabbed an early goal for New England before Maicon “See, I’m not totally useless” Santos tied it, then substitute Chris Pontius won it with a very nice strike late on. The Revs has a couple chances to tie and/or win it, but poor decision-making cost them in the end. Nonetheless, both of these teams could be playoff teams, though I doubt it. Prediction: 2-2

Toronto 0 Chivas USA 1. The big question now is, “How patient is Toronto management?” I thought after a fifth-straight loss to start the season, which now gives Aron Winter six wins in 39 matches, could end up with him losing his job. Clearly this team needs a change. A big one. As for Chivas, they’re still undefeated on the road, but still very poor in attack. But if they can keep picking up points on the counter, they might be able to stay in the playoff race. Oswaldo Minda got the goal off a header in another lesson in poor defending from TFC. Prediction: Toronto 2-1

New York 2 San Jose 2. This was actually the first match where I’ve been legitimately impressed by San Jose, who rallied to tie the match and probably could’ve – and should’ve won it in the end. New York took the lead through a goal from Kenny Cooper (tied for a league-leading 7) before Rafael Baca equalized. New York retook the lead through Dax McCarty, before Chris Wondolowski scored his seventh. Then San Jose dominated the second half but failed to find the breakthrough. Thierry Henry has seven goals and five assists for New York after six matches. He’s that good. Even though he’s annoying. Prediction: New York 2-1

Kansas City 1 Real Salt Lake 0. Sporting KC stays undefeated thanks to an Aurelien Collin goal (and shocking marking from Alvaro “Is it May yet?” Saborio. Impressive performance from KC, who should’ve had a second goal (from CJ Sapong), but it was incorrectly marked off for a foul. For the record, Sporting’s record of 335 minutes without allowing a shot on target ended in injury time thanks to a Nat Borchers header. Despite the loss, RSL still looks like the second-best team in the MLS. Prediction: Kansas City 1-0

FC Dallas 2 Montreal 1. For the second straight match, Dallas rallies to take three points at the death. Montreal took the lead against the run of play thanks to a Bernardo Corradi penalty (which he dedicated to Udinse player Piermario Morosini, who died Saturday after suffering a heart attack on the field). Dallas rallied late thanks to a header from Blas Perez and then Brek Shea’s winning strike. Nice performance from Dallas, and Shea is starting to return to form by the looks of it. Their Shea/Perez/Fabian Castillo attacking trio is a good one.  Prediction: Dallas 3-1

LA Galaxy 3 Portland 1. I actually feel sorry for the Timbers, who took the lead through Kris Boyd’s goal, had another Boyd goal incorrectly chalked off for offsides, then crumbled after conceding a goal to Landon Donovan late in the first half. Juninho and David Beckham scored after the 83rd minute. The Galaxy won by having better players – their performance wasn’t great again, and their defense is woeful. At their current form, they won’t possibly beat the likes of RSL, San Jose or KC. As for Portland, Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara have been miserable this season – a big reason why they’re struggling. Prediction: Galaxy 2-0

Sunday

Chicago 1 Houston 1. Goals from Will Bruin and Logan Pause (deflecting in a Pavel Pardo free kick) give Chicago and Houston a share of the points in a match called early due to lightning, something that apparently angered ex-German international and new Fire signing Arnie Friedrich. Overall it was a pretty even match, though the Fire will be disappointed to once again not create much in front of their home crown. Where is Sebastian Grazzini this season? What happened to new signing Federico Puppo? And one more note to the MLS scorekeepers: Don’t give Pavel Pardo credit for an assist because his free kick was deflected in. Why not give the goalie an assist for not catching it?  Prediction: 1-1

MLS Weekend Preview: April 14-15

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

This week’s edition of Weekend Preview will be short, since I’m out of town and didn’t bring my computer. All times Pacific.

Saturday

Philadelphia (0-1-3) v. Columbus (2-0-2). (12:30 p.m.) The Union are especially bad, but home advantage should be enough for them to get a point against a Columbus squad that is still reeling from the beating New York gave them last week. Prediction: 0-0

Seattle (2-1-1) v. Colorado (3-0-2). (1 p.m.) The great Fredy Montero Wake-Up Watch continues this week for Seattle. He still hasn’t scored. Colorado are lousy on defense. Prediction: Seattle 2-1

New England (2-0-3) v. DC United (1-2-2). (1 p.m.) New England’s bid to stop being a team I constantly make fun of ended with a fairly comprehensive (for a 1-0 loss) defeat to Dallas. United aren’t great, so this should be a back and forth match. Prediction: 2-2

Toronto (0-0-4) v. Chivas USA (2-0-3). (1:30 p.m.) Only four matches into the season, Toronto is facing a must-win, and Aron Winter has to be especially concerned about having to go job hunting if they can’t pull out a victory against a team as bad as Chivas. Prediction: Toronto 2-1

New York (3-0-2) v. San Jose (4-0-1). (4 p.m.) The big question with each four-goal win for New York is whether or not Thierry Henry can stop being petulant and complainey if his team keeps winning. I’m guessing no. Prediction: New York 2-1

Kansas City (5-0-0) v. Real Salt Lake (5-0-1). (5:30 p.m.) Matches against top teams always have potential for being bore-fests. Hopefully this one will be different. Prediction: Kansas City 1-0

FC Dallas (2-1-2) v. Montreal (1-1-4). (5:30 p.m.) Montreal got their first win of the season last week – against Toronto – but will have a hard time matching their performance in Dallas, even if the Burn have injury issues. Prediction: Dallas 3-1

LA Galaxy (1-0-3) v. Portland (1-1-3). (7:30 p.m.) If the Galaxy fail to win this match, I’m officially not picking them to win matches based upon their lineup, but rather, based on their current form, which means they’ll always lose. Prediction: Galaxy 2-0

Sunday

Chicago (1-1-1) v. Houston (2-0-1). (4 p.m.) I don’t think Chicago will have an ignominious start to this season again, but they need to establish their playoff bonafides by beating an Eastern Conference challenger like Houston. Prediction: 1-1

MLS weekend picks: And we’re off!

Too late, Frank and Rita realized that photographers weren't interested in their family logging expedition, but rather, something far more insidious.

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Hello everyone. After a fairly nondescript offseason, America’s No. 1 professional American soccer league is back for its 17th season. Incidentally, MLS Live is a decent service if you feel like being able to watch most of the games in the season. Better than paying for the DirectTV package, anyway. Lots to watch for this weekend, with Canada vs. Canada (Montreal vs. Vancouver), the defending champs against the stingiest defense (Galaxy vs. RSL) and San Jose vs. New England. (anyone?) All times Pacific.

Saturday

Colorado vs. Columbus. (3 p.m.) I’ll be in Denver for this one, though I won’t actually watch the game, probably. Maybe on TV? Both teams have a couple new foreign players, but Colorado just found out a couple might not be able to play. Bummer. Crew fans are eager to see new signing Milovan Mirosevic, who they’re hoping is good enough to carry them into the playoffs. Colorado won’t have Conor Casey, so it’ll be up to Omar Cummings to carry the scoring load, something he didn’t do very well last year. (3 goals) Prediction: 1-1

Vancouver vs. Montreal. (3 p.m.) Last year, in their first-ever MLS match, the Whitecaps destroyed the other Canadian team, then proceeded to not win for their next 14 matches. Will the Impact suffer a similar fate? Well, not likely, given that A) Vancouver is much better than last year and B) The Impact are playing in Vancouver and aren’t very good. It should be fun to watch, anyway. Prediction: Whitecaps 4-1

DC United vs. Sporting Kansas City. (4:30 p.m.) In 2011, Sporting Kansas City played their first 10 (TEN!) matches away from home, were predictably in last place, yet somehow managed to make the playoffs and finish first in the East anyway. With LiveStrong (Don’t misspell it or they’ll sue!) Park now widely acclaimed as the best field in the MLS, they should have no such worries. But this weekend, they’re playing in Washington DC. Prediction: United 1-0

San Jose vs. New England. (7:30 p.m.) I’m actually pretty excited for what San Jose has done with their roster. They also have the momentum of having a new stadium on the way, though that won’t happen this year. New England had a surprisingly good preseason, which has gotta factor into their regular season, right? Prediction: San Jose 2-0

LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake. (7:30 p.m.) The Galaxy open their season against RSL, so in terms of sheer quality, this should be the match to watch this week. But…the Galaxy are dull, and Real Salt Lake like to take the sting out of the game by passing it around the back a bit. I think I’ll pass. Prediction: Galaxy 2-1

Sunday

FC Dallas vs. New York. (Noon) I haven’t seen any FC Dallas preseason highlights, but I guess they’ve had a somewhat rough go of it in Mexico. I’ll be curious to see how new signing Blas Perez is bedding in at forward, if Colombian Fabian Castillo can take the next step in his development, and if Brek Shea returns to his early 2011 form as opposed to how he’s played since for club and country. New York has the potential for excitement but will probably fall short of expectations, just like George Lucas has done the last 29 years. Prediction: 1-1

Chivas USA vs. Houston. (4 p.m.) I couldn’t find the Spanish translation for “Gawdawful” (the closest I could get was “pinche terrible, ese”) to describe Chivas USA’s offseason/preseason, and they’re taking on the defending MLS Cup runners-up, which, well, doesn’t really mean anything. But Houston should be able to nab at least a point on the road, which is always a good way to start. Prediction: Houston 2-1

Monday

Portland vs. Philadelphia. (6:30 p.m.) The Timbers get to show off their new signings against 2010′s expansion team, so it should be a typically raucous affair with ironic mustaches shining with drops of PBR and home brew and the smell of food cart Korean tacos in the air as the sounds of cheering are mingled with arguments over questionable resource trading in Settlers of Katan games around Jeld-Wen Park. Then after the match, all the soccer dads in their vegi-oil-powered Priuses will gesticulate politely at the people stopping traffic with their unicycles and double-decker bikes covered in green and white streamers and confetti, before everyone meets at Hawthorne Theater for a midnight showing of “The Go-Bots Movie.” Prediction: Portland 3-1

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