Friday MLS Forecast: Week 29 - Repeating the same mistakes at inopportune times

The Forecast contemplates yet another personnel change in New York and scans the weekend fixture list.
1. The sudden end to Erik Solér's tenure raises questions...: Leave it to New York. Only the Red Bulls would can their general manager and sporting director in the middle of an apparently successful scamper toward the postseason. The final verdict appears a bit harsh on Solér given the way he adapted to MLS during his tenure and constructed the current roster, but the controlling interests in Austria operate in mysterious ways. Solér's departure immediately raises significant doubts about whether Hans Backe will receive a new deal when his contract expires at the end of the season. Backe didn't address those concerns when prompted by the media, but the situation bears watching as the postseason progresses. The buzz surrounding both men shifts the attention away from the on-field product at the exact time when the Red Bulls should focus solely on their performances heading into the postseason.

2. ...but the Red Bulls must issue their own answers on the field: New York must train all of its energy on Chicago heading into Saturday afternoon's crunch clash at Red Bull Arena. The Fire stumbled to a stunning 3-1 home defeat to Philadelphia in midweek, but Frank Klopas' side will still offer a significant challenge for the Red Bulls. New York must lean on its work in possession to dictate the terms of the affair and guard against the Fire on the break in order to secure the points required and silence the concerns about the impact of this week's major front-office moves.

3. Sorting through the rearguard questions in Los Angeles: A.J. DeLaGarza's knee injury places the in-form Galaxy back four under the microscope ahead of Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake. Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena will likely turn to rookie center back Tommy Meyer to fill the vacancy left when DeLaGarza limped off injured in Colorado on Sunday night. Meyer must meet the challenge without fear and quell any doubts that this potent Galaxy group may face some defensive issues heading into the postseason.

4. This isn't the time for Brad Davis to miss a game: The influential Houston midfielder picked up a calf sprain in a training session on Tuesday and he could miss the match against Montréal on Saturday. If the knock precludes Davis from taking the field, then the Dynamo will have to somehow compensate for the loss of its primary midfield creator. Boniek Garcia could shoulder some of the burden as a more direct option running through the lines, but Davis' service – particularly on those always dangerous set pieces – would be missed as Houston attempts to strengthen its position in the congested Eastern Conference playoff race.

5. Portland fights for a silver(ware) lining: A result in Seattle on Sunday night could ensure a disappointing season for the Timbers ends on a positive note. If the Timbers can avoid defeat at CenturyLink Field, then they would secure their third Cascadia Cup triumph in four seasons. One last visit to Vancouver in a couple of weeks provides some leeway if the Timbers slip up, but Gavin Wilkinson and his players will hope to finish the job now and hinder Sounders FC's playoff chase in the process. Those modest returns won't salve all of the wounds incurred this season, but they may provide some solace as the rebuilding process starts during the winter.

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Last week: 6/9 (67%)
This season: 112/237 (47%)


D.C. United @ Toronto FC (1:00p.m., TSN/RDS) – match preview
Overview: The nerves may start to jangle a bit in the District if United drops a point or three at BMO Field.
Prediction: D.C. United win.

Chicago @ New York (3:30p.m., NBC/TSN 2/RDS 2) – match preview
Overview: The chaos may distract the Red Bulls, but this is a game they should still win on that shoddy home soil.
Prediction: New York win.

New England @ Philadelphia (7:00p.m.) – match preview
Overview: Neither club can make the playoffs. At least one team must take points from this game. The smart money is on the home side after a stunning 3-1 victory at Chicago in midweek.
Prediction: Philadelphia win.

Montréal @ Houston (8:30p.m., TVA Sports) – match preview
Overview: No Davis, no problem, right? Houston must hope that unusual mantra proves correct against the Impact.
Prediction: Houston win.

San Jose @ Colorado (9:00p.m.) – match preview
Overview: San Jose may find this particular terrain somewhat difficult to navigate. It is hard to see the home side picking up all three points, though.
Prediction: Draw.

Real Salt Lake @ Los Angeles (9:00p.m., NBC Sports Network/TSN 2) – match preview
Overview: Look for RSL to exploit the instability in the Galaxy defense and reinforce its push for second spot in the Western Conference with an away victory.
Prediction: Real Salt Lake win.


Sporting Kansas City @ Columbus (4:00p.m.) – match preview
Overview: This match is something close to a must-win for the Crew. If the home side approaches the match in that manner and pushes forward too earnestly, it could struggle to cope with Sporting on the break.
Prediction: Columbus win.

FC Dallas @ Chivas USA (7:00p.m., Galavision) – match preview
Overview: Nothing less than a victory will do for FCD in the first match of the home-and-home series between the two sides.
Prediction: FC Dallas win.

Portland @ Seattle (9:00p.m., ESPN/ESPN Deportes/TSN 2) – match preview
Overview: Silverware always matters. Bet on Sounders FC to take care of business at home and place all of the pressure on the Timbers to claim a result at B.C. Place in a couple of weeks.
Prediction: Seattle win.

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