The Forecast lauds Montreal's MLS arrival before discussing its Week 7 choices.By Kyle McCarthy
Manchester United grabbed the headlines by announcing its four-game tour of the United States on Thursday, but Montreal will pluck the heartstrings when it declares its arrival as the 19th MLS team on Friday morning.
The announcement caps the Impact's long and tumultuous ascent to the American top flight. Protracted exchanges over franchise fees and stadium expansion plans threatened Montreal's inclusion at various points over the past few years, but MLS and the Saputo family eradicated those concerns over the past few months to place Montreal in the front of the expansion pack.
Montreal represented the best expansion choice for quite some time now, at least according to articles penned by yours truly – found here and here – over the past couple of years. After a long and winding road, MLS concurred. When Montreal finally takes the field in 2012, the benefits to MLS and to Canadian soccer will almost certainly be worth the angst and the wait.
Last week: 3/8 (38%)
For the season: 17/40 (43%)
Los Angeles @ Seattle – 4:00p.m. (Telefutura) – Goal.com Preview
Sigi Schmid needed to try something different last weekend, so he switched to a 4-3-3 to provide his team with more options in the attacking third. The new formation, however, didn't cure the old finishing problems. Seattle continues to create an ample amount of chances in front of goal without finishing enough of them. Los Angeles makes creating opportunities difficult with its miserly back four, though Colorado managed to squander at least a couple in the Galaxy's 1-0 win on Wednesday night. Edson Buddle may not have scored against the Rapids – stop the presses! – but he once again showed all the hallmarks of a striker in form. The question is whether Buddle and his Galaxy teammates will have their legs in the second half after playing at altitude on Wednesday night, but the visitors should find a way to replicate Columbus' effort from last Saturday and lean on their strong defensive core to snatch a point.
Chicago @ Toronto FC – 4:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview
The Reds almost have to obtain all three points in this match as they contemplate a grueling schedule over the next two weeks. After playing the Fire on Saturday afternoon, TFC faces three consecutive road matches with trips to Montreal (Canadian Championship), Los Angeles and Vancouver (Canadian Championship) on the docket before a home date with New England. It's tough to see TFC picking up points against the Galaxy, so notching a result here takes on greater significance. In order to collect the necessary three points, TFC will have to compete with the Fire's five-man midfield and mitigate the danger posed by Patrick Nyarko on the right flank by providing Raivis Hscanovics with sufficient support. Given its solid home form this season and the urgency of the situation, TFC should find a way to accomplish its goal.
Prediction: Toronto FC win.
Philadelphia @ Real Salt Lake – 4:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview
RSL just keeps plugging away without Javier Morales. The Argentine playmaker missed his third consecutive match in last Saturday's 2-1 home win over Toronto FC. Good news arrived earlier this week, however, as Morales may be able to recover from illness in order to take his usual spot at the tip of the Claret-and-Cobalt's midfield diamond. Philadelphia's best bet to congest Morales' (or likely deputy Andy Williams') space in midfield – Stefani Miglioranzi – will miss out through suspension, so the onus falls on the other Union midfielders to compete gamely against RSL's relentless industry and creative nous in the center of the park. Chris Seitz will likely face a barrage as he returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time in enemy colors. Although Seitz has smoothed out some of the rough edges in his game over the last week or two, the Claret-and-Cobalt should find a way past its former number two with a couple of those efforts and extend its home unbeaten streak to 13 matches.
Prediction: Real Salt Lake win.
New England @ Columbus – 7:00p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel) – Goal.com Preview
Although the Crew is one of only two undefeated teams remaining in MLS, the Supporters' Shield holders likely believe they can play better than they have in the first four games. They could have hardly asked for a better opportunity to submit a comprehensive statement of their intent as the reeling Revolution visit in the midst of a four-match winless streak (0-3-1). New England simply can't keep the ball with Shalrie Joseph (leave of absence) unavailable and the constant pressure on the back four has led the normally resolute Revs to concede sloppy goals. The situation doesn't figure to improve much against the Crew with offensive fulcrum Marko Perovic suspended after lashing out during Wednesday's 4-0 pasting by Chivas USA. While Columbus will miss the versatile Danny O'Rourke due to his second one-match ban of the campaign, the Crew can call upon the fit again Chad Marshall (left hamstring strain) and Gino Padula (left MCL sprain), according to the Columbus Dispatch. New England will almost certainly offer a better performance at Crew Stadium than it did on Wednesday night, but don't expect the Crew to drop any points here.
Prediction: Columbus win.
D.C. United @ FC Dallas – 8:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
Both sides should enter this match on a high after claiming their first wins of the season on Wednesday night. United rode Danny Allsopp's double, Bill Hamid's sterling debut and a more direct approach to a 2-1 win over Kansas City, while Ugo Ihemelu's late header gave FCD a 1-0 win at Houston and the rights to El Capitan. FCD will have to make at least one change after Jair Benitez's dismissal against the Dynamo, but Schellas Hyndman could plug Jeff Cunningham (knee) into the lineup if he's healthy enough to start and slide two players – Atiba Harris and Heath Pearce – into their normal positions to accommodate his return. One team figures to revert to its old habits and D.C. looks like the most probable option to do so. While United lifted a weight off its shoulders by securing Curt Onalfo's first win, its rickety back line won't stand up to the intense pressure FCD will heap upon it at Pizza Hut Park.
Prediction: FC Dallas win.
New York @ San Jose – 10:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview
San Jose collected all three points in a fairly similar fixture against Colorado last weekend. Chris Wondolowski scored his third goal in three games to give the Earthquakes all three points against the Rapids, so the Red Bulls will have to keep a keen eye on the previously goal-shy striker to ensure he doesn't extend his torrid run of form. Opposing forwards haven't benefited from similar hot streaks in the Bay Area this season as the Earthquakes have conceded just once in three home matches. Juan Pablo Angel (four goals in his past three matches) will certainly threaten that record, particularly if Ike Opara doesn't rejoin the club immediately after finishing up his semester at Wake Forest earlier this week. This battle looks like it will veer toward the tight and compact end of the spectrum. At this venue and with these teams on the field, it should lead to an equal distribution of the points.
Houston @ Chivas USA – 10:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview
Dominic Kinnear's first objective at the Home Depot Center: get out of the first half without losing a starter. One member of the starting XI has limped off the field injured in five of the Dynamo's seven matches this season. Eddie Robinson (sprained left knee) joined the parade in Wednesday night's disappointing 1-0 home defeat to 10-man FC Dallas, so Kinnear will probably to slot Ryan Cochrane into central defense to replace him. Houston can't afford to reproduce Wednesday night's performance against an in-form Chivas USA side that hasn't lost in its past three matches. Martin Vasquez's charges entered Gillette Stadium loose and confident and played like it from the opening whistle. If the Dynamo want to snatch a point from this match and give Brian Ching something to cheer about upon his possible return from a left hamstring strain, they'll have to disrupt the rhythm of the Red-and-White midfielders – a group missing Michael Lahoud (suspension) for a second straight game – and limit Sacha Kljestan's contributions. It won't be an easy task, but Houston may be up to it after Wednesday night's defeat.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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