Quick Shots is going to be a weekly look ahead to the upcoming MLS games for the week. The idea is to try to keep the previews as brief and concise, hence the name. I will also give a prediction as to the outcome of each match.
It's Week 2 of the MLS season, and the Fire are going to take the field for the first time. I'm sure if you're reading this you will probably peel yourself away from March Maddness and drinking green beer (or Guiness) long enough to watch the Men in Red on Saturday. If that's the only MLS game you watch this weekend, then you can just assume that all the predictions you read here came true, and you'll have no need to waste time watching highlights.
Without further ado - on to the picks!
***Saturday March 17th***
All times CST
Chicago @ Montreal - 1 p.m.
This is the first game of the weekend, and the one we've all been waiting for. The Chicago Fire will be on the pitch for the first time this season, and they'll be doing it in front of a crowd of 50,000 screaming French Canucks. The biggest questions for Chicago will be who is starting in the net while Sean Johnson is away for USMNT. My guess is it will be Jay Nolly. Rafael Robayo will not be available for the first game, which is disappointing. Still, without Robayo, Chicago is still going to be able to field an strong starting XI.
Montreal has some defensive issue against the Whitecaps and could face more challenges with Oduro and Nyarko. Aside from the defensive lapses, Montreal did stand toe-to-toe with Vancouver for a lot of the match last week. While part of me is hoping for a blow out to start off the season and boost the Fire's confidence, another part of me is worried that Montreal is going to come out strong in their first home showing.
Overall, I think this is going to be a tough fought match, but I'm expecting a Chicago victory.
Result: Chicago wins 2-1
Houston @ San Jose - 4:00 p.m.
The most interesting thing to me is that this game is going to be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco right before Mexico's U-23 team takes on Senegal in a friendly ahead of Olympic Qualifying. I don't know what to make of this one. Houston looked dominant in for long stretches against Chivas, but...well it's Chivas. Even thought Houston looked dominant for the latter half of the game, they had a difficult time sealing the deal.
San Jose, looked dominant during stretches against New England, but...well it's New England. San Jose completely controlled the first 25 or 30 minutes against New England, but they only got one goal out of it. Then for the rest of the game, they either got tired or just were mailing it in.
I think the interesting battle to watch in this game is going to be between Steven Lenhart against Houston's centerbacks. Lenhart is a big guy who likes to get physical with defenders, but Bobby Boswell (6'2") and Geoff Cameron (6'3") are going to be up to the challenge. I'm expecting a draw here. San Jose will get an early lead and then concede a late goal.
Result: Draw 1-1
New England @ Sporting KC - 7:30 p.m.
Last week, New England came out swinging with their eyes closed like they're in a slap fight to get some one off of them. At least that's the way I saw it. Their second road game in a row against a team that's better than the one they faced last week. This is probably going to be ugly for them.
Sporting KC had to squeak a win out against DC last week, but that wasn't completely their fault. Apparently Teal Bunbury is out for U-23 duty, but that won't really affect things much. Some people feel that this is a good thing because it means more C.J. Sapong. SKC is going to win their home opener pretty handily.
Result: Sporting wins 3-0
Portland @ Dallas - 7:30 p.m.
This one is going to be intriguing. Portland looked out of form most of last week before turning it on in the last 30 minutes of their game against Philly on Monday. If they can get that sort of momentum going early against Dallas, they'll be in a good position to win this game. Unfortunately, they weren't that great outside of Jeld-Wen Field last season.
Dallas has some players banged up (it seems like they had a player down every ten minutes against New York) and Brek Shea is gone for U-23's. Also, I didn't find them to be terribly impressive against New York. I think Portland can take this in a close one.
Result: Portland wins 1-0
Toronto @ Seattle - 9 p.m.
This is the first MLS games of the season for these two. Toronto is definitely a better team that it was last year, which is nice, but they weren't able to advance in Champions League without a little help from LA derping it up and a terrible offside call.
So with Toronto now taking on Santos Laguna in Champions League, it would probably offer a little bit of consolation to Seattle if they were to completely throttle TFC on Saturday. And I think that's what' going to happen. While Toronto has improved in their starting XI, they can't match Seattle's depth and both teams just had road games on Wednesday. Plus it's in Seattle.
Result: Seattle wins 4-1
NYRB @ Real Salt Lake - 9:30 p.m.
RSL upsetting LA was the big news last week that had a lot of people talking, but it really shouldn't. LA and RSL are on pretty even footing even both teams had been well rested. I haven't heard as much talk about Sebastian Velasquez. I think it's safe to say that he's going to be good. Matter of fact, a few of the youngsters on RSL look promising. It kills me to say it, but I would not be surprised if RSL is hoisting another MLS Cup in the next few seasons.
On the Red Bulls side, Henry is already squawking to the media after one game. I can completely understand why, too. New York looked flat, and their defense was not on the same page. Neither of these problems are going to be gone come Sunday. If New York doesn't improve soon, things are going to get really interesting for this team.
Result: RSL wins 3-1
Vancouver @ Chivas - 9:30 p.m.
Did anyone notice that Chivas covered their seats at one end of the stadium and in the upper deck? And that the cover was a customised cover with the team crest and colors. A giant seat cover like this could not have been cheap, and had to have been ordered way in advance of the season. That's sad, Chivas. At least Seattle has an excuse for their seat covers.
Vancouver is going to be pretty good once their attackers can gel a little bit more and develope some chemistry. I have nothing else to add here.
Result: Vancouver wins 3-0.
***Sunday, March 18th***
Colorado @ Philly - 3:00 p.m.
Colorado beat a scoring inept Columbus team last week. Philly hung with Portland before getting manhandled in the second half. Neither of these teams are looking that great. And for Philly, Freddie Adu is going to be gone for U-23 duty. Although,
Freddie Adu is overrated I doubt it really matters if Freddie is away. It's sad that this one is going to be on NBC because it's probably going to be a snoozer. I see a draw coming with this one, but I won't be all doom and gloom with this one. It won't be a nil-nil draw.
Result: Draw 1-1
DCU @ LA - 6:00 p.m.
Here's a fun dilemma: Does Bruce Arena trot out the same starting XI in hopes of getting a result and knowing that they will have two weeks off? Or does Bruce sit most of his starters to get some fresh legs on the field even though he could risk loosing this game and spending the next two weeks to stew about it? I can see a possible one or two changes, but I think the same crew that got beat by TFC on Wednesday will start. The one explanation I can come up with for Bruce not resting anyone against RSL is that he doesn't trust his backups.
DC is going to be without Perry Kitchen in their back line, which will be a problem for DC. They also won't have Bill Hamid to bail them out. Even without those to players, if they out posses LA (which shouldn't be hard according to Kyle Beckerman) and get the ball to Najar and DeRo, then they could keep some pressure off their defense and cause LA some problems. In the end, I don't see either team coming out on top in this one.
Result: Draw 2-2
And that's all for this week. Enjoy the games!