• Sporting KC and Houston Dynamo reprise 2011 Eastern final
• New England Revolution's new DP faces New York Red Bulls
• LA Galaxy face tough test at surging Chicago Fire
• Revived Philadelphia Union face Toronto FC in our live game
An intriguing weekend's action in MLS, after the midweek fixtures conspired to produce some unexpected shifts in momentum leading into the next round of games. First up, on Saturday afternoon, Sporting KC have a chance to restage their 2011 Eastern Conference final with Houston Dynamo, hoping for a happier outcome. Sporting come into the game on winning form, or at least not losing form – having been rather handed the initiative by a Montreal Impact side who initially caused them a lot of problems on Wednesday night.
That win moved Sporting into second place in the East, with the chance to overhaul DC United, who do not play this weekend – though New York Red Bulls might have something to say about that – they could also go top with a win at New England Revolution, though their historical form in Foxboro and the Revs current resilience suggests that might be an ask.
In the West, Vancouver's midweek win in Colorado moved them into third and Real Salt Lake are now in their sights. The Whitecaps travel to a Chivas USA side who would love a win to prepare them for their US Open Cup midweek semi, while Real Salt Lake host a Portland Timbers side who have beaten Seattle and San Jose in recent games, but have also turned in an emphatic loss to the erratic Rapids. With Rio Tinto not the fort it has been in recent seasons, that one could be lively.
Western leaders San Jose are coming off that midweek loss to Portland Timbers, though they would rather remember that wild 4-3 win over LA Galaxy last weekend. They'll try to rebuild momentum at FC Dallas – with the host's miserable mood marginally improved by the return of David Ferreira. Another notable returnee, Omar Gonzalez will try to help Los Angeles gain lost momentum, but it won't be easy against a Chicago Fire team returning home from a successful road trip and in decent form. Another team coming off a successful West Coast swing are Philadelphia Union, who host a Toronto side unbeaten in 5, and finding the row of "L"s that used to follow their name, rapidly turning into a row of "T"s.
The weekend's action is rounded out by Montreal hosting a Columbus team beginning to pick up wins on the back of tight defense and an attack that makes the most of limited chances. It's not always pretty, but it's effective. The Crew will look forward to facing a Montreal defense that has conceded 35 goals so far this season, and is missing the midfield mainstays of Arnaud and Felipe, who are suspended.
Speaking of mainstays – our regular cast of fan reps, bloggers, podcasters and beat writers, are here to offer their take on the weekend's games, below.
Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the comments section. And join me for Philadelphia Union vs Toronto FC – live! at 4pm on Sunday. We'll be back with our usual 5 things we learned on Monday morning.
All game times stated below are ET.
Some comments were submitted prior to Wednesday night's games
Sporting KC vs Houston Dynamo, Sat 8pm
Mike Kuhn, Editor, Down the Byline, Sporting Kansas City:
The lack of finishing ability finally caught up with Kansas City against Chicago. Twenty-six shots and KC couldn't finish one of them. While Sean Johnson had a tremendous game as well, KC's inability to put more shots on goal, and finishing those chances is the main thing that cost them against the Fire. It's frustrating watching the lack of finishing by this team some times. Then Wednesday in Montreal the offense couldn't even really get going for a good portion of the game. A couple PKs and a deflected goal to get the win were hardly enough to get the sour test about the performance out of my mouth. But the key is that KC picked up the 3 points, and it's nice to see KC be on the receiving side of some of those close calls as it seems that lately KC has been the one getting burned by them.
This weekend is a chance for some minor revenge. The Houston Dynamo come to town for a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference final. It'll be hard to predict exactly what Peter Vermes is going to do with the lineup as KC continues to play 2 games a week at least through the beginning of August. After the first half performance against Montreal, vs the second half, I think Teal Bunbury is going to find his way onto the bench. And in his place could be the return of Bobby Convey, who hasn't played since May 19th. I'd love to see a win, but the sour taste of the last two games has left me a little cynical about KC's chances against the Dynamo.
Zach Woosley, Dynamo Theory, Houston:
The Dynamo reached the halfway point on their MLS schedule with two games over the past few days. A 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union and a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire kept the Dynamo in 5th place. Not too bad, but they can be better. On the upside, Boniek Garcia started both matches and while he needs some time to settle, he's already showing he's worth the money. The only disappointment for me is not getting three points at home against the Fire.
Road trip time! This one is gonna be a doozy. Houston travels to to play Sporting Kansas City in a massive Eastern Conference match-up. This is the first time the teams have played since last year's conference final so you can add that to the mix, along with the normal story lines. A win or draw would be great, a loss wouldn't be the end the world honestly, but considering SKC hasn't been playing too great of late, I might be expecting a little more from the Dynamo. As long as they don't get hammered and relapse with defensive mistakes, I'll be fine with any result.
Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers, Sat 9pm
Denzel Eslinger, RSL Soapbox:
Well, for Real Salt Lake their losing steak ended on the 4th of July with a tough fought 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders. While RSL dominated most of the stats it didn't result in a full 3 points, as the only goal of the match was called back on a very controversial offside call. Replays show that Alvaro Saborio had in fact gotten back into an onside position prior to the pass from Fabian Espindola, yet the official raised his flag and called him offside, it was one of the few offensive chances that either side was able to muster in the match. Emotions were running high for both teams and a good deal of on and off the ball contact led to a lot of smouldering action but no real fireworks developed until after the match.
Next up for RSL will be a visit from the Portland Timbers, who have been an enigma all season. After losing to both Cal FC in US Open Cup and then the Galaxy in MLS action, they beat their rivals from Seattle, then they got stomped by the Colorado Rapids, only to come back on Tuesday and upset the San Jose Earthquakes. So the question is what Timbers team will show up on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium? These two teams faced off back in March, when the Timbers came back from an early RSL goal to take a 2-1 advantage into the final minutes of the match, only to give up two late goals to RSL and ended up losing 3-2. Real Salt Lake should be able to get a couple of players back from injury, as hopefully both Jamison Olave and Tony Beltran will be able to get back into the starting lineup on Saturday, and I look forward to the battle of the midfields which, like the last time these two played, should be very entertaining. I have to go with the home side to pull out the 2-1 win.
Roger Anthony, Timbers Army, Portland:
After "the Worst Game of the Year," v. 4.0 – a listless 3-0 loss at Colorado – the Timbers returned to cozy, crazy Jeld-Wen Field to find Western Conference front-runners San Jose waiting for them. In the dissection at Colorado, the Timbers had conceded two goals in the first 24 minutes on plays that originated on the left side of the field. Songo'o who started at left mid, seemed so disconnected from the defensive end that Coach John Spencer pulled him at the 38-minute mark. Sideline drama ensued.
So it was a surprise to arrive at the park Tuesday night and find that Songo'o had been restored to the starting lineup. It was an even greater surprise to see him take the game by the throat and lead Portland to well-earned 2-1 triumph. Yet the night was also a personal triumph for Spencer as Portland bore the mark of a team that had a solid game plan. Songo'o, shifted the right side, and left mid Eric Alexander worked the touchlines from the outset, ultimately creating space in the middle of the pitch. In addition, the club made midfield adjustments that seemed to rekindle former star-in-the-making Darlington Nagbe.
As the Timbers head to Salt Lake City, they pack an 0-2-5 road record; they've scored a meager two goals in the seven away matches. Their last away goal was April 14, a mere 427 minutes of playing time ago. Salt Lake is winless in four matches, but as the Timbers know all too well, this is a team with formidable resolve. RSL used goals in the 89th and 90th minutes to steal a 3-2 win in Portland on March 31, starting the downward spiral out of which the Timbers have yet to pull themselves. So Timbers fans don't have expectations for this match – they have hopes and fears. An industrious, professional effort – maybe even a draw? – don't seem too much to ask. But given this club's road record, "Worst Game of the Year" v 5.0 seems just as likely.
FC Dallas vs San Jose Earthquakes, Sat 9pm
Jon Beard, The Inferno, Dallas:
While the single point against a rejuvenated Toronto side doesn't do a whole lot for FCD's slim-to-none playoff hopes, the more important factor was the return of former MVP David Ferreira after a 14 month absence through injury. Sure it appeared he only had enough gas in the tank for about 5-10 of the 35-40 minutes he played, but the energy he brought to the team and crowd for those 5-10 minutes was palpable. Unfortunately, outside of those few minutes, Toronto had much of the possession in the second half, and it appeared the coaching staff and players had very little ideas on how to change that. By my count this is the 8th time this season Dallas have failed to win after getting on the scoresheet first, and you just have to wonder what is happening in the locker room and in the heads of the players that is preventing them from closing out matches.
This weekend sees the return of Marvin Chavez and his new San Jose team. Frank Yallop has quietly put together a hell of a team this year - so quietly, in fact, that even now it's a surprise to look at the standings and see them clear on top. As much as this is a must-win game for Dallas, it's hard to see them containing Chavez, Wondolowski, et al, and I have a feeling we'll be playing for a tie once more. With such a short turnaround, it's unlikely that the walking wounded recover much more than they have, so expect to see Ferreira and/or Villar as a late sub once more, and probably not a single striker in the 18 again (who does Schellas Hyndman think we are? Spain?). This is definitely a worry, as Brek Shea was clearly not as comfortable up top as he is on the wing, and it's hard to imagine Castillo, Jackson or Sealy being any better there. At some point, Hyndman has to start giving youngsters Ruben Luna and Jonathan Top the chance to impress or else what is the point of having them on the roster?
Lisa Erickson, Center Line Soccer, San Jose:
The seemingly hungover Quakes were chopped down by the Portland Timbers in Tuesday's mid-week match by a scoreline of 2-1. The league leader San Jose Earthquakes were coming off a very emotional and crazy 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy in front of a record 50,391 people at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. The Saturday night game saw everything from a Beckham goal (and tantrum), two Jason Hernandez gaffes (own goal & bad back pass to the waiting Galaxy) which brought the score to 3 -1 in favor of LA, to a Quakes second half comeback complete with a game winner back heel by Golden Boot leader Chris Wondolowski. Missing at the Tuesday evening match was veteran Goalkeeper Jon Busch after having his eye scratched and swollen shut during the match against LA. San Jose looked sluggish and couldn't seem to connect two passes together throughout most of the match. The defense fell short with shots from Danny Mwanga and Jack Jewsbury sliding past the backup keeper David Bingham and the "never say die" Quakes just didn't have enough time to get the equalizer in the Rose City.
Now San Jose has four days before facing FC Dallas. The weather is slated to be 94F/34C at the 7p CDT kickoff and might play a large factor into how well the Quakes play their 6th game in 18 days. Dallas has drawn their last two matches and in their mid-week match had their designated player David Ferreira back on the pitch for the first time since breaking his ankle on April 23, 2011. It will be Marvin Chavez's first time playing against his old club and he'l be ready to prove that they made a mistake thinking they didn't need him any longer in Dallas. I think it will be a great match for the Quakes to showcase their scoring abilities. Expect the score to end up 3 - 1 with San Jose coming home with 3 more points to their name.
Chivas USA vs Vancouver Whitecaps, Sat 10.30pm
Alicia Ratterree, The Goat Parade, Chivas USA:
Last week, Chivas USA had a break with a bye. With a few players struggling with injuries in June, it will hopefully give them a chance to recover and the entire squad to get some rest. On Saturday, they will host the Vancouver Whitecaps at the Home Depot Center, and Chivas will look to get revenge on the Whitecaps, who beat them 1-0 in their first meeting this season. Chivas struggled badly at home to start the season, and the Vancouver loss was one of their worst performances all year. In this game, Chivas will look to continue building the chemistry in attack and also hope to contain the Whitecaps' attack. It won't be an easy match, but Chivas can certainly get a result if they come out strong.
Although I think they want to get a result in this match, the Goats will also be looking ahead to their U.S. Open Cup semifinal match against the Seattle Sounders, and given the choice, I think everybody would prefer a result in the Open Cup to a league match against Vancouver. Still, the last time Chivas had a break, they played badly on their return to action, and the hope is that they will be sharp out of the gate Saturday, with a look ahead to Seattle as well.
Brenton Walters, Communications Director, Vancouver Southsiders:
We had a nice break and went to Denver with some fresh legs and a new face, in our new DP Barry Robson, formerly of Middlesbrough. Because of injuries and suspensions he was given something of a baptism of fire - thrown right right in to a high altitude MLS game in the middle of summer.
The team played a great away game at altitude, becoming I think only 3rd or 4th team to beat Colorado on their traditional July 4th home game. The Whitecaps kept their shape, were smart, didn't give them any looks at goal and took the one easy chance that was given to us. Mattocks came in to the league with a ton of pace, but there was a lot of talk that he was really raw. As it turns out he's very composed on the ball. He's still young and inconsistent but he's got a touch and a goalscorer's instinct and took his chance well. That said he'll be missing at Chivas for picking up a silly yellow card.
I think we're heading in to a tough game at the Home Depot Center, going to a hot venue on a few days rest. It's not like we've won 5 in a row but our recent record is 10 from 15. The team is clicking and solid and I think this is a winnable match, especially with Chivas having been so poor at home. Mattocks is out, as I said - I think Davidson will come back in in midfield and Robson will go back to the bench. Hassli will start up front alongside LeToux or Chumiento and we'll look to give yet another solid away performance.
Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids, Sat 11pm (NBCSN, TSN 2)
Sam Chesneau, Gorilla FC, Seattle:
Two road games, two more draws for the struggling Sounders this past week. There are quite a few positives to take away from the trip to New England & Salt Lake City, respectively. The form of Eddie Johnson has certainly began to get better as the season has progressed and Mauro Rosales has begun to show some flashes of his 2011 campaign as well; and in the latter match against a good RSL offense, the defense managed a clean sheet. However 22 points in their first 9 games and 5 points in their next 9 games speak for itself. Losing points is no longer something this team can afford with the expectations and investment the front office and community has given them.
The Rapids return to Century Link Field this week, and what I think many Sounders fans are wondering more than anything, is whether or not Steve Zakuani will make his return 15 months after the horrific injury caused by Brian Mullan of Colorado. The supporters are anxious to see him playing again, and I couldn't think of a time when his team needed him more than now to end this 9 game winless streak against the team he last played against. It'll be interesting to see what the back line can do against Casey & Cummings and what line up Sigi puts in, having played Wednesday night and with the semi-final of the US Open Cup against Chivas USA coming up mid week. Sounders do have history on their side, as July has generally been the time when they start to make a run. The storybook tale would mean a close hard fought match with Zakuani coming off the bench late to score a winning goal. Why not? Lets go with that, because it is certainly better than any alternative...
Todd Haggerty, Pid Army:
Being a Rapids supporter these days should come with a prescription for lithium. One day you are on an epic high (see the Rapids 3-0 victory over the Timbers); the next you are drowning your sorrows in beer(s) wondering if this was the same team you watched 4 days ago (see the 1-0 home loss in-front of a sell-out crowd to the Whitecaps). The 'Pids loss to the Whitecaps was particularly frustrating as former Rapid, and fan favorite, Joe Cannon used the power of short-shorts to deny Casey and company on several occasions. Next on the Rapids manic-depressive tour of the league is a Sounders team that pulled out a decent mid-week draw against RSL. The Rapids need a road victory as a confidence boost and keep the supporters going (especially with the trade of Koske Kimura); however, I see a draw as the most likely outcome.
Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy, Sun 3pm (ESPN, ESPND)
Gregg Mixdorf, Hot Time in Old Town, Chicago:
Right now the Fire are hot. Unbeaten in their last four matches, curiously this uptick in play has taken place during some vexing times off the field. Influential attacking midfielder Sebastian Grazzini has not played since his contract option has been picked up. The official word from the team is that he is dealing with "personal issues" but he is still practicing with the team. The void has been filled by a healthy Chris Rolfe and new Brazilian signing Alex. Rolfe has comfortably slotted into Grazzini's starting roll while Alex has come on near the 60th minute in each of the last two games to provide fresh legs. To add to the uncertainty starting midfielder Marco Pappa has been at the center of transfer rumors, most prominently Wigan and Heereneveen since his return from international duty. Frank Klopas should be commended for the job he has done keeping this team focused on winning with uncertainty swirling around two starting midfielders.
While the offense has been effective in Grazzini's absence it would be nice to see his fresh legs back for this game against the Galaxy. This will be the third game in nine days for the Fire. Tactically expect the Fire to be a bit more possession orientated than they are on the road. While the counter attack is still a large weapon, at Toyota Park the team is more confident to gain and hold possession on their home turf. I expect the Fire to attack a rather porous Galaxy defense (26 GA) every opportunity they get. They will need to limit the Galaxy's rather potent array of offensive weapons chances to win this match. That does appear doable as Los Angeles' current run of form has been fueled by terrible defensive mishaps leading to goals. As long as the Fire can keep their defensive mistakes down to a minimum and limit set piece opportunities I see a 2-1 victory for the Fire.
After a frantic week in which the Galaxy picked up 9 points in 7 days, their rocket pace up the standings came to a grinding halt with a heartbreaking loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in the California Clasico. Despite going up 3-1, the Galaxy were once again unable to hold off San Jose in the end. At 4-3 the Earthquakes were able to fight off any chances for the tie in the dying minutes and the Galaxy fell flat against their California rivals and were left with a bitter taste in their mouths.
However, a July 4th game should have given the LA Galaxy plenty of reason to think positive thoughts. Especially with the unexpected return of MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez to the central defense position and despite Philadelphia running into better form over the last 2 weeks. The Galaxy should have been able to impose their style of play on the young team. But instead, they lost in a game they truly dominated. Conceding goals at the end of both periods led to the undoing of a very forgettable performance and a 2-1 loss - a loss that had Head Coach and General Manager Bruce Arena pointing fingers at the locker room.
Now the question remains, can the Galaxy put any effort into an away match against a very talented and surging Chicago Fire? The Fire are unbeaten in 4 and host a 5-1-2 record at home. The Galaxy are completely unpredictable at this point. It's unlikely that even the players or coaches know what team will show up. Even the status of Omar Gonzalez is going to be questioned from one day to the next. One thing is certain however, the Galaxy are running out of time to right the ship. A draw in Chicago would be a decent result and would set LA up on a path to success with games at Portland and Vancouver approaching quickly.
Philadelphia Union vs Toronto FC, Sun 4pm (TSN, RDS2)
Guardian live game
Dan Walsh, editor, Philly Soccer Page:
Michael Farfan had his coming out party Wednesday in a stunning 2-1 road win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Union playmaker created a beautiful goal in the first half by breaking down defender David Junior Lopes off the dribble and crossing low to teenage striker Jack McInerney, whose effortless flick on goal dribbled inside the far post just before halftime. Then, with the game tied in stoppage time, Farfan found space after a nicely backheeled pass by Lionard Pajoy and beat Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders for the game-winner. After Saturday's tough 2-1 loss to Houston on a questionable Brian Ching penalty, Farfan sent the Union back east with momentum and their first win ever against the Galaxy.
On Sunday, Philadelphia will host a Toronto squad unbeaten in its last five games under new coach Paul Mariner. Striker Danny Koevermans has scored in each of those games, and Union center backs Carlos Valdes and Amobi Okugo must track him all match. On the attack, Farfan will look to break down a makeshift Toronto back line and create for McInerney, who has four goals in four games since joining the starting lineup. With Pajoy's play improving and supersub Antoine Hoppenot providing a spark off the bench, the Union are attacking more fluidly under new manager John Hackworth, despite winger Freddy Adu's lack of production. Sunday's match features a weak Toronto defense, so it could be a wild affair at PPL Park.
Boris Aguilar, Executive, Red Patch Boys:
Toronto FC is truly a tale of two teams. We are seeing them really begin to turn things around and play as a team. This has resulted in a five game unbeaten streak (1-0-4) under new coach Paul Mariner. While Toronto is still in the basement of the table, we have seen them really improve and become a threat to any side. Over the weekend Toronto went toe to toe with one of the Eastern conferences best teams, New York Red Bulls. After conceding an early goal, Toronto came back and leveled it off. That game ended in a draw. Then mid-week, on July 4th, Toronto faced Dallas FC in unnatural heat. Once again, Toronto came back after conceding a goal and drew.
This weekend Toronto will square off against the Philadelphia Union. They are having their struggles as well. I can see Danny Koevermans continuing his 5 game goal streak (tied with Chris Wondolowski for the longest such streak in MLS this season) and helping Toronto come out victorious and capture three key points away from home.
New England Revolution vs New York Red Bulls, Sun 7pm (Galavision)
Julie Kumour, Midnight Riders:
Two weeks in a row the Revs found a way to salvage a point in the final moments of the game, and while that is fun to watch, they need to play with the same urgency for 90 that they seem to find in the final 10 minutes. My first reaction to Stephen McCarthy marking Eddie Johnson - "EJ is going to eat him alive" - but surprisingly neither goal could be blamed on McCarthy. Matter of fact, McCarthy played a fantastic game in the back, and just continues to get better at center back. Makes me wonder how good he would be if he had always played that position? Benny Feilhaber was awful, whenever he was passed the ball he would just stand there waiting for Seattle to foul him so he could go down. It wasn't until the late subs came in did it look like Feilhaber was interested in playing the game. Cardenas, Rowe and Fagundez were all great subs changed the momentum of the game. As the Revs stepped up their game in the final moments, Seattle became more desperate committing a bunch of dirty fouls and time wasting techniques. While I am not the biggest Fagundez supporter because I think he is too small for this league, his goal was very reminiscent of Taylor Twellman - throwing his whole body and sacrificing it for the goal.
Against NY, we have the advantage of home and a majority of that team really hates playing on the turf at Gillette, but I think they will still win - they have been looking really good. NY 3 - Revs 1.
After literally and figuratively limping through an uninspired draw at Toronto last Saturday, RBNY has some familiar questions to answer as they head up I-95 to face New England, where historically, they've had little luck. Injuries and a recent lack of production from the forwards have been RBNY's bane, and the Toronto match was no exception. While Toronto showed much better than their record might indicate, RBNY tends to play to the level of its opponent, and the 1-1 scoreline was probably kind to New York. But, we'll take the point.
Heath Pearce (hamstring), a casualty of the Toronto match, will miss the NE tilt, along with Markus Holgersson and, potentially, Rafa Marquez, who's been battling injuries since he returned (injured) from his int'l duty with Mexico. With Wilman Conde still not 100% fit, and Roy Miller seemingly out of favor, it'll likely be a makeshift back line, again, for RBNY. The silver lining here is that RBNY went on its 6 game undefeated run earlier this season with an even less experienced back four. Thierry Henry, generally loath to play on turf, looks likely to feature, however. Given NE's knack for getting back into games late-on, RBNY will need Henry and Kenny Cooper to regain their early season form and put some balls in the net. RBNY's bend-but-don't-break defense will be the key here, though.
Montreal Impact vs Columbus Crew, Sun 7.30pm
Sofiane Benzaza, Mount Royal Soccer, Montreal:
Coming off 2 different type losses against DC United and Sporting Kansas City, the Montreal Impact find themselves in an interesting situation. The bad display at DC showed what many knew, and that is that the team is not necessarily a deep one, with many resources to come off the bench. At the same time, DC United is a powerhouse and many were ready to forget about that game quickly. Focusing on Sporting Kansas City, Montreal came back home with a winning attitude and it was felt during practices. 90 minutes later, the team played well, did not finish its chances and ends up losing 3-1 at home. The negatives are the attendance numbers, the lack of finishing and some disappointing refereeing. The positives would be Marco Di Vaio clicking with the team, creating many chances and a make-shift CB pair (Camara,Thomas) getting the job done. Did I mention that Alessandro Nesta has joined the Montreal Impact?
It's now been a while since Montreal played Columbus Crew, when the team in blue was the naive new boy at school, still trying to be nice and making new friends. Since then the scars of war and hardship have marked this young team and they will not be fooled twice. Eyeing 5th for a playoff spot in MLS, the Impact will need to get all 3 points vs the visiting Crew to get closer to that goal. The Crew has had a good sequence in its last 5 games and will come in as a dangerous foe. I am mostly worried by their 2-striker partnership, putting more pressure on a newly-built central defense. But the Crew have not met Marco Di Vaio and the Impact in its newly found 4-2-3-1 - that could see them take out Mirosevic out of the game.
Ian Fraser, Crew Union, Columbus Crew:
Last weekend, the lights were literally out in vast areas of Columbus and even though the field was lit up in Crew Stadium, the Crew gave a lights out performance. Even without Olave and Beckerman, RSL were able to put out a talent laden XI, but one place you do not want to be susceptible against Columbus is in the spine of your team and the Crew exploited their missing pieces. Andy Gruenebaum and the defense posted another shutout without really being threatened in the 2-0 victory.
Columbus have lost only once in their last 8 and are in a groove as the midway point of the season nears. The one thing that hasn't settled itself is the Crew's lineup. Injuries across the board and inconsistency up top have led to a lot of reshuffling for Robert Warzycha. Danny O'Rourke returned from injury last week and the midfield is on another level when he is healthy, as they were against RSL. Milovan Mirosevic is nearing a return so we may see Tchani go back to his unnatural right-sided position. The Crew still need to find a consistent forward and that position just becomes more uncertain this week with the availability of newly acquired Jairo Arrieta.
Montreal have had a real rough go the last 2 weeks and Jesse Marsch was using the tired legs excuse last weekend. It doesn't get any easier this week as they had a midweek game (Columbus did not) and they lost key figures Felipe and Davy Arnaud on Wednesday to go along with injuries already ruling out big names Ferrari, Corradi and Rivas. Those are key figures down their spine, so that bodes well for Columbus. Marshall/Williams will be able to keep Di Vaio under wraps and the Crew should come out of their first trip to Montreal with a win. I don't expect a rout as Columbus doesn't attack as much as Montreal's recent opponents and both coaches are more defensive minded, so 1-0 or 2-0 Columbus.
Agree? Disagree? Have your say below and give us your predictions for this weekend's games. And don't forget to join us for minute by minute coverage of Philadelphia Union vs Toronto FC on Sunday at 4pm. Read More
انسخ الكود التالى و ضعه فى موقعك او مدونتك.