MLS has a pretty exciting week here. The stream of the week has the potential to be a fun game, and there are going to be some really big matches this week. The top two teams in the Western Conference standings face off in a Rocky Mountain Cup match between the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake, and Thierry Henry extends his stay in Kansas City for a bit longer as the Red Bulls take on Sporting Kansas City.
Stream of the Week: Houston Dynamo vs Columbus Crew
The Crew get their second straight stream of the week, and they will have to hope this one goes better for them than last week's game against Toronto. After 85 minutes and like all history ever indicated that the Crew would be getting three points, the Reds came back to score two late goals and win the game. This week, neither history nor form is on Columbus' side. The Dynamo finally have something that resembles a first choice lineup on the field, what with World Cup Qualifiers, injuries and the Gold Cup conspiring to keep some of the team's most important players off the pitch. Still, Will Bruin's confidence is unlikely to be all that high after riding the bench during a Gold Cup where he failed to impress (and may have even moved two spaces down in the USMNT forward depth chart). Brad Davis went 45 minutes in the All Star game as well. I think this game has some upset potential in it, especially if Crew right back Josh Williams is able to get forward enough to make Davis exhaust all his energy on defense. Houston are the better team, but I have a feeling that the Crew are going to pick up the win this week.
Sporting's manager, Peter Vermes was in charge of handing out minutes at the All Star game, and so he had every incentive to run Thierry Henry into the ground. To his credit, Vermes played Henry a little less than an hour, while having his own centerback Aurellien Collin play the full 90. Since Tim Cahill will be missing, I would have considered this a no brainer for Kansas City if it wasn't for the fact that Graham Zusi had to leave the All Star game early with an injury. Draw.
DC United – Montreal
Montreal are really good. This season, you really only have to be mediocre to be good enough to defeat DC United. Montreal wins.
Philadelphia – Chicago
This is the third game between these two teams, and both of the earlier ones ended in 1-0 losses for the Fire. However, the Fire have since added Bakary Soumare and Mike Magee and as a result have started to play like a good soccer team. Justice dictates the Union lose this game after getting three points they wholly did not deserve against Vancouver, so Chicago wins.
Colorado – Real Salt Lake
Colorado-Salt Lake is one of the most underrated derbies in MLS. You might not think there is a lot of hatred there, but kids in Colorado are raised to believe Real Salt Lake is creepy and strange and that it is perfectly acceptable to punch Kyle Beckerman in the face. In fairness to them, the latter might be true. Tough to call, but I'm going Salt Lake.
Considering the way Chivas USA have been playing under Jose Luis Real, this has ugliest game in MLS history written all over it. As the computer learned in the movie War Games, sometimes the only way to win is not to play, and I suspect that may be true here. So draw, and by that I mean both teams (and any one watching this game) lose.
Seattle – FC Dallas
Seattle and FC Dallas face off in a battle of teams that have been marginally disappointing and yet may still make the playoffs this season. Think about getting that embossed on a rivalry trophy... Seattle look like they could be starting to go on a roll now, but they have given that impression in the past. Still, I'm going to live dangerously and predict a Sounders win, if only because the game is at Century Link field.
Portland – Vancouver
Vancouver just do not have enough central midfielders for this game, and centerback Brad Rusin may play for Vancouver with a cracked rib. You would think Portland might be sympathetic because of all the injury problems they have had this year, but for some reason I don't get the impression that the Rose City is a place where there is a whole lot of pity. Portland wins.
New England – Toronto FC
This could be an interesting game. New England are very inconsistent, and Toronto FC have started to pull surprising results out of nothing every once in a while. Not sure if Juan Agudelo will be back for this, but either way, I'm going Draw.
MLS had an all star game, and some of the MLS All Stars recorded an awesome rap. This is not at Podolski A-ha levels, but Omar Gonzalez makes the case that while he might not be as good of a centerback, he is the only suitable replacement for Per in the department of lanky big dudes making awkward comedy.
Commissioner Don Garber has revealed MLS' plans to expand to 24 teams by the year 2020. I can only guess he's tired of dealing with all the butthurt in the Southeast.
After Brek Shea was injured during a rough tackle in a friendly against the Union, Stoke City manager Mark Huges expressed frustration at the idea that a less talented player would try to use physicality to overcome a gulf in class. In related news, Mark Hughes has apparently gone through life to this point unaware that irony is a thing.
In other Stoke City-MLS news, Revolution forward Juan Agudelo has been linked to the club. He would make the fourth American at Stoke if he were to sign. Stoke insist on playing a game more resembling American football every Saturday, so it makes sense that they might want some Americans to help them do that.
Anyways, this should be a really fun weekend of games, so you should watch them. After all, you don't have the Gold Cup anymore to fall back on.