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Friday MLS Forecast: Week Eight

By Kyle McCarthy

Women's Professional Soccer Commissioner Tonya Antonucci handed down a one-match suspension for persistent infringement on Thursday night.

Yup, that's right. Persistent infringement. Or, as Antonucci termed it, “persistent egregious conduct toward an opposing player.”

If MLS imported that standard and applied it to its players, life as we currently know it would change considerably.

Somewhere in the suburban Los Angeles area, Jesse Marsch is sitting around and wondering how many games he might have missed if Doug Logan and Don Garber had handed out similar one-match bans. Heading into the season, Marsch had committed more fouls (450 fouls committed in 298 games) than any other active player. I bet Marsch picked up a yellow card or two for persistent infringement along the way. Would it have impacted his effectiveness? Would he still be in the league?

In Washington, Jaime Moreno is venting his fury at Messers. Logan and Garber for not forging this path years earlier. The Bolivian maestro probably wonders just how many of his MLS-leading 665 fouls suffered wouldn't have occurred if such a standard had warned those physical defenders off the back of his ankles. Would he have scored more goals? Would he have more juice left in his legs?

Fortunately for the Forecast, those are questions without answers. MLS deals with these issues in a different manner and hasn't joined a world where a by-the-book yellow card offense – even in a physical and poorly controlled match – turns into a one-match ban. In protection of combative spirits everywhere, the Forecast picks all winners heading into week eight.

Last week: 4/7 (57%)

For the season: 20/42 (48%)

Friday

San Jose @ New York – 7:30p.m.

Both of these teams are struggling in the worst of ways. New York has started so poorly that Jeff Bradley asked this week whether those hearty Red Bulls fans would start having flashbacks to the dreadful 1999 season if the ship doesn't turn around quickly. San Jose is currently missing its two of its best players (Darren Huckerby and Jason Hernandez) and is currently playing like a team missing two of its best players. Plus, the Quakes lost at home last weekend when two of their most experienced players failed to follow the basic youth soccer rule of not letting the ball bounce in the goal area. A scoreless draw is possible, but I'll go for a home win based on the fact that no fan should have to relive the horror show known as the 1999 Metrostars.

Prediction: New York win.

Saturday

Kansas City @ Columbus – 7:00p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

Columbus should leave the field at halftime and congregate in a local pub instead of playing in the second half. Can't collapse in the second half if you don't play it, after all. Maybe the Wizards would take them up on the offer to end this match at the halftime interval after playing out a tame 1-1 draw against a weakened D.C. United on Wednesday night. Even if the Wizards refuse that kind offer, the Crew are going to have to win a game eventually. It might as well happen this weekend.

Prediction: Columbus win.

Toronto FC @ D.C. United – 7:30p.m.

United is apparently one of the few teams in the league that can rotate its squad and get away with it. Kansas City isn't an easy place to play and United earned a result on Wednesday night while resting half of its starters. That means the likes of Fred, Ben Olsen and Dejan Jakovic will have plenty of rest for Toronto FC's visit. That won't be the case for TFC as the Reds played every fit starter in a 1-0 win over Vancouver in Canadian Championship play on Wednesday. It'll be interesting to see whether Chris Cummins decides to modify the 4-2-1-3 formation that yielded seven home points in the last three MLS matches. I suspect that if TFC decides to stick with what has worked recently, a rested United side will make them pay by exploiting the extra space in midfield.

Prediction: D.C. United win.

New England @ Chicago – 8:30p.m.

The signs aren't good for the injury-battered Revolution earning a result or scoring a goal in this one. (Side note: Should we just add injury-*insert term of affliction here* as a qualifier to every reference made to New England and Chivas USA? It might be worth it considering the constant plagues that hang over those sides.) The Revs haven't scored in 220 minutes. They have lost six consecutive matches in all competitions at Toyota Park and they've been outscored 13-2 in those contests. In summary, a recently impotent side is traveling to a place where they've been historically impotent in an attempt to score a goal, gain points and reverse a two-game slide. That's quite the hill to climb, even against a Chicago team that has shown a tendency to throw away points as of late.

Prediction: Chicago win.

FC Dallas @ Houston – 9:00p.m. (ESPN2)

Watch out, MLS. Here comes the Dynamo. A comfortable 2-0 win in New England made it two wins on the trot for Dom Kinnear's crew. Kinnear can thank a defense that hasn't allowed a goal in 313 minutes for the uptick in form. Houston should make it three wins in a row against FCD. The Hoops have never won in Houston (0-4-2) and haven't been winning much anywhere else either this season. Buyer beware: all three contests in the battle for El Capitan ended in draws last season. That historical fact isn't enough to keep me off the Houston bandwagon this week.

Prediction: Houston win.

Real Salt Lake @ Chivas USA – 10:30p.m.

However, there are some bandwagons worth avoiding. Like any bandwagon that advocates picking Real Salt Lake to grab points on the road. RSL's all-time road record – 8-43-14, 62 GF, 129 GA – is horrific, but the beginning to its 2009 campaign away from Rio Tinto Stadium – 0-3-0, 0 GF, 6 GA – might be even worse than the desperately poor club standard. Momentum isn't exactly a strength for RSL right now either after a gut-punch goal from Mike Magee snatched Los Angeles a late point at Rio Tinto on Wednesday night. As for the Goats, they grind out results week after week no matter the location. With aforementioned Marsch and Paulo Nagamura around to keep careful watch on Javier Morales and Zach Thornton in fine form between the sticks, there's no sense going against the league leaders in these favorable circumstances.

Prediction: Chivas USA win.

Sunday

Los Angeles @ Seattle – 3:00p.m. (Telefutura)

The Galaxy certainly have the road draw down to an art form at this point after sneaking out yet another late point in that 2-2 draw in Sandy. Even with the Galaxy's proven ability to suck the air out of a game, I don't like their chances of making it four consecutive road draws because Seattle will almost certainly score and Los Angeles likely will not. Here are three persuasive reasons behind that statement: (1) Seattle has scored seven goals in four home matches (tied for third in MLS), (2) Davy Arnaud is the only visiting player to score at Qwest Field this season and (3) the Galaxy doesn't exactly go out of its way to generate scoring chances on the road. Unless Landon Donovan has something special up his sleeve (which is always a possibility considering he's contributed to eight of the Galaxy's nine goals on the season and he's probably the best player in the league right now), Sounders FC will keep marching on at home.

Prediction: Seattle 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 MLSnet.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at kyle.mccarthy@goal.com and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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