News Live Scores

Friday MLS Forecast: Week 20

By Kyle McCarthy

LEHI, Utah – MLS has racked up its share of peculiarities over the years, but the non-suspension suspensions handed out to coaches last season may have ranked near the top of that lengthy list.

A suspended coach could meet with his team during halftime and maintain constant radio contact with his coaches on the bench. About the only thing he couldn't do was sit his rear down on the sideline.

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis – who spent a game or two up in a suite with a direct link to his coaching staff last year after being chucked out of the previous game – said he didn't like how the suspensions were enforced and lobbied the league to change the practice during the offseason.

“I was one of the coaches that brought it up to the officiating committee and said that I didn't think it was right.” Kreis said.“It needed to be more penal. Now they've got it right.”

It took 18 games, but Kreis will finally have to suffer the consequences of his lobbying efforts. Kreis earned a one-match ban after getting thrown out in the 73rd minute of last Friday's 4-2 win over FC Dallas when a rather suspect penalty call for a supposed handball by Nat Borchers in the penalty area drew his ire. Under the rule change, Kreis can watch RSL play Chicago from the stands at Toyota Park, but that's it.

“It'll be difficult, but at the end of the day, I really believe in my coaching staff,” Kreis said.“I have full faith that our team won't miss the beat.”

The Forecast didn't miss a beat last weekend and won't have to worry about a suspension halting its momentum heading into Week 20.

Last week: 6/7 (86%)
For the season: 56/117 (48%)

Saturday

Toronto FC @ New England – 7:30p.m.

This is a big match for both sides with New England three points behind TFC for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with three games in hand. Momentum does not favor the Canadians after TFC followed up a crushing 3-2 loss in Columbus last Saturday with a 1-0 loss to Puerto Rico at BMO Field on Wednesday night in the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League preliminary round tie. That's a different competition, clearly, but not something that reflects particularly well on TFC considering the gulf in class between the two sides. Nana Attakora (hamstring), Amado Guevara (ribs) and Adrian Serioux (knee) missed that match, hampering the Reds considerably. Guevara and Serioux are back in training, which could lead to an appearance against the suddenly perky Revs. New England is in the middle of a three-match unbeaten streak (2-0-1) and hasn't given up a goal in 352 minutes. If the Revs can keep a clean sheet for 32 minutes against the Reds, they'll set a new club record. Don't bet against it; TFC has scored just one goal in three visits to Gillette Stadium and has yet to pick up a point in suburban Boston (0-3-0, 1 GF, 9 GA).

Prediction: New England win.

Kansas City @ FC Dallas – 8:30p.m.

Make no mistake about it: this is a vitally important game for the Wizards. Curt Onalfo's side was probably lucky to get a home draw against Los Angeles and can't afford to come home empty handed here with the ground they have to make up in the East. The excuses are gone too; Jimmy Conrad and Davy Arnaud are back from the Gold Cup, while there are additional attacking options now available with Adam Cristman – who made his first appearance of the season last weekend – and Zoltan ready to spark the humdrum Wizards offense. Outside of San Jose, the Hoops are just the team a struggling offensive club wants to see, particularly after they shipped four second-half goals in Sandy last Friday night. Kenny Cooper's return will provide a timely boost on the other end of the park, though the FCD attack hasn't been a problem recently. While Kansas City needs three points, FCD has enough to make them settle for just one in Frisco.

(writer's note on Friday night: Cooper joined 1860 Munich on Friday, so he won't face the Wizards. Neither will Drew Moor after he was ejected for a rather rash tackle at the end of last Saturday's 4-2 loss to Real Salt Lake.)

Prediction: Draw.

Real Salt Lake @ Chicago – 8:30p.m.

“Chicago is the second-place team in the East,” Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “You go out and you beat the second-placed team in the East (on the road), that's a statement game. Now you're saying the first half against Dallas was a fluke and look at what we did in the second half in that game and now we're going to build on it. That's what Chicago is all about for us. Are we going to build on what was this great game where we overcame adversity and rallied and had this really emotional, fiery and fulfilling victory? Can we come out and do it again next week? Otherwise, it doesn't matter.”

While RSL may produce a respectable performance, it may not get the result it wants. RSL's tendency to start decently on the road often gives way to a penchant for giving up bad, early goals. Chicago has the tools to take advantage of those mistakes even without John Thorrington (suspension) and Brian McBride (shoulder). Chicago also needs to start whipping that so-so home form (2-2-4) into shape. While a draw isn't out of the question, RSL needs to find some consistency from week-to-week before they get the benefit of the doubt on the road.

Prediction: Chicago win.

D.C. United @ Houston – 8:30p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

These are the types of games when Tom Soehn has to turn to Ben Olsen and tell him that his team needs him to come through in a big way. Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark are going to make life difficult on United's central midfield three and Clyde Simms (hernia) won't be in the engine room to help calm things down. That leaves Olsen, the old warhorse, to get in there and compete alongside one a few possible selections – perhaps Soehn will slide Rodney Wallace inside given the difficulty of the contest and the athleticism posed by the Dynamo's central duo (writer's note on Friday night: Wallace is suspended due to caution accumulation -- MLS had not released its disciplinary report as of Thursday night.), though Danny Szetela and Andrew Jacobson present alternative options – in the engine room. Speaking of engines and players that have them, Brian Mullan's absence due to a knee complaint is a hindrance for Houston; his tenacity always adds something in difficult games. Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear may lament playing Geoff Cameron and Brad Davis for a full 90 minutes in Wednesday's All-Star Game considering Tom Soehn didn't exactly extend his squad in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Firpo in the CONCACAF Champions League. That bit of squad rotation will help United here, but expect Houston to get back to its winning ways at Robertson Stadium after a surprising 1-0 loss to New England there last weekend.

Prediction: Houston win.

Columbus @ Colorado  – 9:30p.m.

Who would have thought the Crew wouldn't miss a beat without Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno during the last two weeks? Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart have stepped up in a big way. With Moreno back in the fold after missing two games with a groin injury, how does Robert Warzycha cope with the situation? It'd be rough justice indeed to see either Garey or Lenhart drop to the bench, so Moreno might have to settle for a substitute's role in Commerce City. As for the Rapids, they had a JV game last week against the Red Bulls, so this tilt represents a large step up in weight class against the Eastern Conference leaders. The Rapids will have to hope Conor Casey feels no ill effects from his 90 minutes for the MLS All-Stars in midweek; he's crucial to how Gary Smith wants his team to play. A point here for the Crew would suit them perfectly well with an easier road fixture to come next weekend in San Jose.

Prediction
: Draw.

Sunday

Seattle @ San Jose – 3:00p.m. (Telefutura)


Much of what San Jose does offensively will rest on whether Ryan Johnson (shoulder) will be able to go. Johnson is listed as questionable and said earlier this week that he wanted to try and play. If Johnson isn't in the lineup, Frank Yallop will need more from Darren Huckerby, who has yet to reach his scintillating form of last season during this campaign. Arturo Alvarez (hamstring) would provide another dose of audacity if he is able to feature, but, much like Johnson, his presence might be a bonus. Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid won't have Freddie Ljungberg (suspension) available after he picked up that soft red card last weekend in the 0-0 home draw against Chicago. Fortunately for Schmid, he has a ready-made replacement in the returning Brad Evans. Even with his U.S. national team callup for the Gold Cup, Evans still doesn't get enough credit for his tireless workrate and his potent two-way play in midfield. Osvaldo Alonso and his partner of the week – Evans could play in there or in a wider role on the right, while Nathan Sturgis and Peter Vagenas present other options – could and probably will run ragged over the suspect middle of the park for the home side, making Seattle a decent bet to snag an away win at Buck Shaw.

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.


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