Friday MLS Forecast: Week Twelve

The Forecast warns MLS Commissioner Don Garber to avoid his Twitter today before evaluating a Week Twelve fixture list hampered by players sidelined with injuries, suspensions and international duties.
By Kyle McCarthy

I'd hate to be the guy who has to check Don Garber's Twitter today.

A couple of well-known blogs and Web sites in the soccer stratosphere are banding together to urge Garber to improve the standard of refereeing in MLS. Their chosen method of expression: tweeting and retweeting their disdain-filled message every Friday morning in June with Garber's Twitter handle among the 140 characters.

For those of you who haven't joined the Twitter universe (and you definitely should so you can follow my Twitter feed – @kylejmccarthy – and the feeds of other useful reporters, teams, executives and players from around MLS), it's tough to quantify the particular annoyance factor this tactic presents. Garber will see a boatload of replies when he clicks on his reply feed because every time someone uses @ in front of his username, it shows up in that feed. Imagine the carnage if you're a regular Twitter user trying to sift through a bunch of replies about poor officiating while hoping to find something useful or helpful.

Fortunately for Garber, he doesn't have to look at his reply feed to post new messages. Judging by his sporadic posts and the absence of replies among them, he probably doesn't spend much, if any, time checking out that particular section of his Twitter account so the practical impact – aside from a public relations headache or two – is moot. The organizers of the protest can only hope Garber will take a different and more active stance towards the root of all of that Tweeting.

The Forecast isn't scared of any negative Twitter replies, even after a poor week last week. It even hopes there might even be a few positive pats on the back after predicting a Week Twelve slate riddled with missing players due to injuries, suspensions and international duties.

Last week: 2/7 (29%)
For the season: 32/70 (46%)

Friday

Houston @ Chicago – 9:00p.m.

It's a pity that two of the league's top three sides (as per the Goal.com MLS rankings) will meet with their rosters gutted by international duty. Chicago misses three players (Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares), while Houston will play minus two of its stars (Brian Ching and Ricardo Clark). In order to improve on last Sunday's debacle against FC Dallas, the Fire needs to keep a decent tempo through the midfield and involve Brian McBride. Houston is playing particularly well right now (seven games unbeaten with just two goals allowed in that stretch) and can lean on its defense to scrape out a point, especially with in-form center back combo Bobby Boswell and Geoff Cameron around to tussle with McBride.

Prediction: Draw.

Saturday

Los Angeles @ Toronto FC – 4:00p.m. (CBC)

Both sides will watch their key offensive playmakers – Landon Donovan (L.A.) and Amado Guevara (Toronto FC) – play for their countries instead of their clubs on Saturday. The absences benefit TFC because the Galaxy struggles to generate offense consistently and often relies on Donovan – who has participated in 10 of the Galaxy's 13 goals on the season – for a dose of magic. Who provides the Galaxy's cutting edge with Donovan out of the picture? Missing Gregg Berhalter (suspension) could also destabilize the Galaxy defensively with Tony Sanneh an error prone replacement. TFC is starting a three-match homestand and needs a positive result after disappointing reverses in Houston and Vancouver over the past week.

Prediction: Toronto FC win

Columbus @ Kansas City – 8:30p.m.

Kansas City bucks the trend this week by welcoming Santiago Hirsig and Josh Wolff back to its lineup after suspension to face a Crew side that won the reverse fixture 3-2 on May 9. The Wizards will want to engineer a response after giving up a late goal to the shorthanded Galaxy to share the points last Saturday and can count on the in-form Kevin Hartman to make it difficult for the Crew to find twine. While the Wizards stumbled late at the Home Depot Center, Columbus took a fine point in Seattle and didn't miss a beat with Danny O'Rourke in midfield. There are streaks to snap in this one – Kansas City is unbeaten in three (1-0-2), while Columbus hasn't lost in seven (2-0-5) – but a draw looks likely to keep them alive.

Prediction: Draw.

Colorado @ Real Salt Lake  – 10:00p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)


With Conor Casey's late summons to the U.S. national team on Thursday night, the question becomes how Colorado will function without the fulcrum of its attack. Colorado isn't a deep team, particularly on the front line. The Rapids will also miss Pablo Mastroeni, but Terry Cooke could return to the lineup after missing the past two weeks to tend to his injured (and thankfully recovering) son in England. Real Salt Lake has selection problems of its own with Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman both suspended due to yellow card accumulation. All of the missing talent should lead to a more direct game with speedsters Omar Cummings and Robbie Findley looking to latch on to balls over the top. Colorado is playing well and would have merited serious consideration for a point or three with Casey in the lineup, but RSL absolutely has have this one with its next two on the road.

Prediction: Real Salt Lake win.

Seattle @ Chivas USA – 10:30p.m.

The midfield could be just a touch more wide open than expected with Jesse Marsch (suspended) out and Osvaldo Alonso (calf injury) unlikely to play. Brad Evans will have to continue to pick up the slack for Alonso with his endless running, particularly if Pete Vagenas – who doesn't cover as much ground as he once did – receives another start. Patrick Ianni is the best bet to fill in for the suspended Tyrone Marshall, who has had a nice season alongside Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and will be missed. Chivas USA will miss Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein, too. The Goats won the first meeting at home – 2-0 on April 18 – but the draw makes sense here because of all of the missing pieces.

Prediction: Draw.

Sunday

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

San Jose played pretty decently in last weekend's 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake. Of course, fate is doing its best to ensure things can't continue along those same lines for the snake-bitten Earthquakes. The central midfield will be gutted with Simon Elliott (international duty with New Zealand) and Ramiro Corrales (suspension) out of the lineup. Cornell Glen (international duty with Trinidad and Tobago) will also miss the match after scoring his first goal for the Quakes last weekend. Not even Darren Huckerby's potential return from a lingering calf injury can cover all of those holes. FC Dallas will miss Schellas Hyndman on the sideline after he was ejected in FCD's shocking 3-0 win over Chicago after a confrontation with a fan. Hyndman's absence – and the consistent injuries at the back – may not matter in this one as the Hoops seek to maintain the momentum gained from dousing the Fire.

Prediction: FC Dallas win.

New York @ New England – 6:00p.m.

New York didn't get its seven-of-nine road swing off to the best of starts with a 2-0 loss at a soggy R.F.K. Stadium on Thursday night. It would be a surprise if things got better for the Red Bulls in New England, a place where they haven't enjoyed much success (4-15-4 all-time, including a 0-8-3 mark since 2002) over the years. New York also hasn't won a game in this series since 2005 (0-7-6 including postseason games). To compound the Red Bulls' negative Revolution karma, New England played its best half of soccer to date in the second half of its 2-1 win over D.C. United last weekend with Taylor Twellman (12 goals in 18 appearances against New York) back in the lineup. Doesn't look good for the Red Bulls in this one, then.

Prediction: New England 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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