Friday, August 28, 2009

Nine weeks to go and counting

So it's happened once again, CONCACAF Champions League play distracted me from MLS and I missed a midweek game, RSL's 4-0 dismantling of Chivas USA. I think these are the soccer gods' balancing the ledger in a way. Last week, the game I missed I would have picked the other direction. This time, the game I missed I would indeed have picked correctly. So now the books are balanced and I'll endeavor not miss any more games over the next nine weeks.

Much has been written by me and others about the joke that was the refereeing in the Arabe Unido game this past Wednesday, and what it says about both CONCACAF Champions League and CONCACAF itself. One final comment before moving on: It's a teachable moment for all concerned. The lessons are there to be learned and perhaps something good will come out of the whole thing. The key point for Dynamo is that the team got a point on the road, still the only MLS team to do that in group play. So now we move on to Pachuca and the future.

OK, on to MLS. According to Sports Club Stats (and huge kudos to the always excellent Dan Loney for pointing me over thataways. He almost has me becoming a LAG fan, though not quite.): Here are the current probabilities of securing MLS playoff berths:

Crew - 99.7%
Dynamo - 99.3%
Fire - 97.8%
Galaxy - 91.8%
CD Chivas - 88.1%
Sounders - 70.5%
Rapids - 70.2%
Revolution - 69.5%
Real Salt Lake - 38.6%
D.C. United - 38.4%
Toronto FC - 32.6%
Wizards - 1.8%
FC Dallas - 1.5%
Earthquakes - 0.1%
Red Bulls - Out

Hard to argue with most of that, though here's hoping DeRo can get his Reds to climb that ladder and take out RSL. However, he'll have to get a result this weekend in Seattle to do it. More on that in a sec. And team most likely to turn an 88.1 percenter into complete hash? Translates to an English word that rhymes with throat (as in choke).

So it's with this situation in mind that we get on to the Week 24 predictions:

Last week: 3-5
Overall: 70-85 (.452 or 18 games over blind chance)

TORONTO FC at SOUNDERS 2-0 Seattle All I have to say is that Ljungberg pouts in the kind of performance he had here at Robertson last week, then Toronto has no chance. The only one there tough enough to neutralize him is Adrian Serioux, who is out through yellow accumulation (a common occurrence for the guy, no?). Honestly, other than just a flat performance from the home side, I don't see a bad road team like the Reds making it out of Qwest Field with any kind of favorable result. But De Rosario has made a habit of proving people wrong before.

EARTHQUAKES at REVOLUTION. 3-0 New England Another one that looks from the outside to be a real yawner. New England is doing something they haven't done in two years, playing with a real killer edge. Saan Jose, on the other hand, needed an injury time goal from Wondo (Nice one Chris!) to escape the Wizards at home last week. I hope it's an eastern conference final of Columbus and New England in November. That might just be one for the ages (and soften up the survivor to play Dynamo in the HDC a week later, maybe?)

DC UNITED at FIRE 1-1 Draw Last week I predicted that the Chicago/Colorado game would represent the unraveling of the Fire this season, and I was about 12 minutes away from being right! Then of course, the Crapids put out the "Vacancy" sign over the goal and the rest is history. (Bruce Banner scored a score for the Fire? Great, MLS gets Banner, while FC Porto has Hulk. Typical.)

REAL SALT LAKE at WIZARDS. 1-1 Draw Sometimes you just have to make a prediction about which you have no confidence at all. To be honest, I have no idea about this one. The Wizards are woeful, but then again, once they hit the road, so is RSL. So I'll give them each an ugly goal and walk away. Quickly.

las chivitas at GALAXY 2-0 LAG Goat meat man. I saw how many people were suddenly and predictably, saying that Preki's boys had turned it around by dominating the Little Sister of the Poor (aka RBNY and a road weary TFC) and bringing in Jesus Padilla. Then they get completely dismantled by RSL 4-0 the other night. Watch those highlights and you tell me what kind of team that truly is over there. The free fall for the Amerigoats continues as they're never really in this game. Afterwards, look for the same people to openly question whether Preki will last to the end of the season. (However, for Orange purposes, I'm hoping for a 0-0 draw here. Priorities.)

DYNAMO at CRAPIDS 2-1 Orange The Scorpion strikes! Landin will be a beast here, and I look for him to start alongside Ching after that brutal game in Panama on Wednesday for Kamara. Colorado may be putting that late loss to Chicago in the rear view mirror, but they have never played well against Dynamo either on the road or at home. And with Colin Clark out for the season and Conor Casey coming back from a thigh strain, how much does that team miss the playmaking ability and deadly crosses of Terry Cooke? A needed three for Dynamo here.

NYRB at CREW. 5-0 Columbus Scoring a late winner against Dallas is one thing (I still haven't stopped laughing about that game. Feeling down? Check out the highlights again. It's the gift that keeps on giving.), but coming into Columbus and getting a result. Post-JSO or no, this is not a team capable of that. Now c'mon Juan Pablo, prove me wrong. I'll buy and wear a Colombia jersey if you do.

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