Friday MLS Forecast: Week 17 - Stepping down into the spotlight

The Forecast previews Timbers interim boss Gavin Wilkinson's first match in charge against Los Angeles and surveys the rest of the weekend's encounters.
1. New face, similar philosophy in Portland?: Timbers general manager Gavin Wilkinson returns to the sidelines for the first time as a MLS coach against Los Angeles on Saturday night. Wilkinson experienced plenty of success during his time in charge of the Timbers in the second division, but the circumstances will make matters considerably more difficult at this juncture. The current roster likely ties Wilkinson to the same broader strokes John Spencer employed – the relatively immobile Kris Boyd almost certainly needs a partner up front and definitely requires good service from the wings, for example – while allowing for some tinkering around the edges. This particular encounter against the Galaxy will provide a glimpse into Wilkinson's thought process as he takes charge for the remainder of the season.

2. Don't expect much in the way of contrition from David Beckham over his recent ban: Beckham expressed various levels of disgust with several people – including ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas – in his comments to the media on Thursday, but his most pointed words were directed at the members of the Disciplinary Committee after they sat him down for last Sunday's trip to Chicago.

“I think you got to ask the people that decide these decisions, because they seem to miss everything else aside from the main talking point,” Beckham told on Thursday. “They miss everything else going on around them. I think Bruce [Arena, head coach] has said it already about the referee not having control of the game.”

2. Has the end of the Julian de Guzman era finally arrived in Toronto?: It sure looks like it as reports swirled on Thursday night about a potential trade to FC Dallas. If that move comes to fruition, then it would draw a rather severe line under one of the most ill-fated and unsuccessful tenures by a Designated Player since the league instituted the initiative back in 2007. The silver lining: de Guzman's departure may pave the way for the Reds to go out and acquire a DP replacement to bolster the back four during the summer transfer window.

3. Another week, another match without a victory for FC Dallas?: Schellas Hyndman's side hasn't won in league play since a 2-1 victory over Montreal on April 14. A modest three-match unbeaten run provides some hope heading into Saturday's trip to Colorado, but this particular fixture – especially against a side that won comfortable at Pizza Hut Park earlier this year – looks unlikely to stop the current winless streak at 14 matches.

5. Chiumiento offers one last assist to his Vancouver teammates: By returning to his homeland to join FC Zurich earlier this week, the ex-Whitecaps playmaker created enough room within the salary budget to permit his former side to acquire reinforcements during the summer transfer window. Chiumiento may have expressed mixed emotions about his return to his homeland, but this move – particularly in light of Barry Robson's arrival – made perfect sense to free up capital for Vancouver to strengthen the squad in other areas.

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Last week: 1/9 (11%)
This season: 60/140 (43%)


Montréal @ Philadelphia (7:00p.m.) match preview
Overview: The midweek defeat to Sporting Kansas City in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal may provide the right type of setback for this young Union group.
Prediction: Philadelphia win.

Toronto FC @ New England (7:30p.m., TSN 2) match preview
Overview: If TFC concedes as much possession in this match as it did in the recent meeting between these two sides, then the Revs will extend their unbeaten run to six matches even with Kelyn Rowe suspended.
Prediction: New England win.

Sporting Kansas City @ Columbus (7:30p.m.) match preview
Overview: This particular affair represents a trap game for the visitors after their success at PPL Park on Wednesday night.
Prediction: Columbus win.

Vancouver @ Chicago (8:30p.m.) match preview
Overview: One thing is certain as this match approaches: no Fire defender can jump as high as Darren Mattocks can.
Prediction: Draw.

FC Dallas @ Colorado (9:00p.m.) match preview
Overview: FCD's mooted move for Julian de Guzman betrays Schellas Hyndman's desperate need for central midfield help. That particular addition likely won't provide FCD with the boost required to secure a fourth straight draw in league play.
Prediction: Colorado win.

Real Salt Lake @ San Jose (10:30p.m.) match preview
Overview: The top two sides in the Western Conference meet for the second time in a month. San Jose claimed all three points at Rio Tinto Stadium with yet another late show, but this encounter should unfold with fewer defensive mistakes from the usually resolute Claret-and-Cobalt.
Prediction: Draw.

Los Angeles @ Portland (11:00p.m., NBC Sports Network/TSN 2) match preview
Overview: Expect the Timbers to muster up one of their patented big-match performances for the first game of the Gavin Wilkinson era.
Prediction: Portland win.


Seattle @ New York (4:00p.m., ESPN/ESPN Deportes/RDS 2) match preview
Overview: The complications of Sounders FC's midweek exertions and the return of several key Red Bulls make this particular fixture a particularly promising opportunity for the home side to pick up the points after a so-so performance at New England last Sunday.
Prediction: New York win.

D.C. United @ Houston (9:00p.m., Galavision) match preview
Overview: United may benefit from the late start on Sunday night, but will the time shift allow the visitors to avoid the usual second-half fade at BBVA Compass Stadium?
Prediction: Houston win.

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