Friday MLS Forecast: Week 18

The Forecast issues a belated version of this week's rankings before sharing its Week 18 picks.
By Kyle McCarthy

A few notes about a couple of the key pieces of news for the week:

Galaxy's embarrassment low point of the week: Few people would have expected the MLS leaders to get stuffed 4-1 at home by Puerto Rico in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday night. No offense to an Islanders side that knows how to win in the Champions League under former FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke, but these are the types of games MLS heavyweights must win. Instead of emerging with the compulsory three points, the Galaxy handed the league a considerable black eye as American top flight teams continue their struggles in the CONCACAF Champions League. At least Toronto FC and Seattle did the business with 1-0 victories in their first-leg ties.

All-Star Game romp represents missed opportunity for MLS: Consider Manchester United's 5-2 victory over the MLS All-Stars a chance squandered. Despite the inherent flaws with a midweek match, the MLS All-Star Game did capture some attention. In the spotlight and in front of a large crowd in Houston, MLS' finest crumbled. The loss doesn't mean much in the big picture, but the one-sided defeat guaranteed most of those casual viewers probably just confirmed their skepticism about the quality on offer in MLS.

Extended schedule must mean extended rosters and resources for teams: The MLS Board of Governors considered increasing the number of matches to 34 during its meetings in Houston this week, according to a report at SI.com. The move would keep the present practice of home and away matches against every team, but it would also significantly increase the burden on the meager MLS rosters. If MLS is committed to adding four more games, it must increase the number of senior roster spots and the salary budget accordingly to allow teams to cope with the additional midweek matches.

Let's take a quick romp through this week's MLS rankings before delving into this week's selections:

1. Los Angeles (1)

2. Real Salt Lake (2)

3. Columbus (3)

4. FC Dallas (4)

5. New York (5)

6. San Jose (6)

7. Toronto FC (7)

8. Seattle (10)

9. Colorado (8)

10. Houston (9)

11. Chicago (11)

12. New England (12)

13. Philadelphia (14)

14. Chivas USA (15)

15. Kansas City (13)

16. D.C. United (16)


Last week: 3/4 (75%)
For the season: 48/104 (46%)

Saturday

New England @ Philadelphia – 3:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview

Can the Union continue to work its magic in the late stages against the streaking Revolution?

Prediction: Draw.

FC Dallas @ Colorado – 4:00p.m.  - Goal.com Preview

Colorado has sputtered in recent weeks, so the Rapids will have to raise their level in order to emerge with a result against FCD.

Prediction: Draw.

Toronto FC @ Kansas City – 8:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview

The Reds have made strides this season. Just not on the road.

Prediction: Kansas City win.

New York @ Houston – 8:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview

How will Hans Backe use Thierry Henry on his debut? It's not as straightforward as it sounds given the time of year and the venue.

Prediction: Draw.

D.C. United @ Real Salt Lake – 9:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview

After slipping up against Chivas USA at home last weekend, RSL can't afford another slipup against another of the league's cellar dwellers.

Prediction: Real Salt Lake win.

Seattle @ San Jose – 10:00p.m. – Goal.com Preview

With three games in hand on Sounders FC, the Earthquakes could use all three points to create some distance between the two teams in the standings.

Prediction: San Jose win.

Columbus @ Chivas USA – 10:30p.m. – Goal.com Preview

After dismantling Houston at Crew Stadium last weekend, Columbus looks like a side capable of extending its fine road form with a third away victory.

Prediction: Columbus win.

Sunday

Chicago @ Los Angeles – 7:30p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel) – Goal.com Preview

The Fire didn't pick a particularly good time to make the trek to southern California to face the red-faced Galaxy.

Prediction: Los Angeles win.

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 kyle.mccarthy@goal.com and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

For more on Major League Soccer, visit Goal.com's MLS page.