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Friday MLS Forecast: Week 23

By Kyle McCarthy

SEATTLE – March may not be the right word to describe how Sounders FC fans journey from Pioneer Square to Qwest Field on game day. March or no march, it's still a pretty darn impressive sight to behold.

After congregating to hear the Sound Wave play a few tunes and belt out the club's fight song, the Seattle diehards progress towards the stadium en masse at a pace even the Forecast could handle. With scarves held high above their heads and chants ringing out, those supporters saunter three blocks down Occidental Avenue to the stadium before assembling to hear the Sound Wave play a little bit more.

Camaraderie and commitment are the linchpins of the movement, just as those qualities are commonplace among the dedicated fans in other MLS cities. The difference in Seattle is the cohesiveness and the scale of the efforts.

In its first season, Sounders FC has developed a following that compels hundreds – from investor/operators Drew Carey, Adrian Hanauer and Joe Roth to visiting Pro Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann to the parents of children decked out in Sounders garb – to join together on a weeknight and stroll to the sold-out stadium together. That same sentiment keeps the 32,000 or so Sounders FC fans standing and chanting throughout the 90 minutes, even when Seattle flounders as it did in Thursday night's 1-0 loss to New England.

So call it a march or a parade or whatever word you want, Seattle. On the evidence gathered by the Forecast, this type of congregation is worthy of whatever moniker used to describe it.

While the Forecast could keep up with the March to the Match, it simply couldn't handle the Week 22 slate and its vacation at the same time. After stretching its legs with the Sounders FC fans, the Forecast hopes the exercise will lead to more success this weekend.

Last week: 1/6 (17%)
For the season: 62/134 (46%)

Saturday

Los Angeles @ D.C. United – 7:30p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

Two teams heading in opposite directions clash at R.F.K. Stadium in a marquee matchup. Los Angeles is hitting stride at the right time, while United is struggling to keep touch in the playoff race. The Galaxy posted an impressive 2-0 result in Chicago on Wednesday night with David Beckham and Eddie Lewis suspended. The veteran midfielders will presumably join with the staggeringly in-form Landon Donovan to give the Galaxy more than enough firepower to vanquish a United side struggling at the back and wrestling with a hopelessly congested fixture list. While Los Angeles presents a good shout for an away win, it's darn nigh impossible to go against United at home given its spotless record (5-0-4) there this season. Somehow, someway, United may just find a way to snatch a result here.

Prediction: Draw.

Toronto FC @ Chivas USA – 10:30p.m.

Both teams are coming off wins last week, though Chivas USA's 2-0 win in New York should probably count for only two points given the Red Bulls' abject futility. This series favored the Goats exclusively (four wins, four tries) until TFC squeaked out a 1-0 win at BMO Field on April 25. TFC won't have left back Jim Brennan (suspension) available for the return leg; Brennan's nearly irreplaceable given the dearth of left-sided players on the Toronto roster. Chivas USA doesn't have much depth on the left either, but it did snap a club-record 334-minute scoreless drought in that win last weekend at Giants Stadium. The Red-and-White will need another goal or two to get all three points here and recent signing Jesus Padilla could help in that quest. On the other side, this game starts a crucial stretch for TFC with three straight and five out of six away from BMO Field. While TFC could use a result to sustain momentum heading into its daunting road gauntlet, the Reds' youth-infused 2-0 home win over D.C. last weekend may not carry them through this difficult task.

Prediction
: Chivas USA win.

Kansas City @ San Jose – 10:30p.m.

Wizards interim boss Peter Vermes didn't get off to the start he expected in last Sunday's 2-0 home loss to Chicago. It wasn't the best of displays from the Wizards, but Vermes should have Davy Arnaud and Claudio Lopez back in the side to rectify matters after the duo missed out last weekend. Those two offensive schemers should add some pep to an often moribund Wizards attack already deprived of the suspended Zoltan. San Jose added Brazilian defender Fabio da Silva this week, though Frank Yallop told Center Line Soccer that he didn't expect to throw him straight into the lineup. Considering the Wizards' form as of late, that isn't an unreasonable allowance on Yallop's part, though the Quakes haven't been much better. Kansas City burned the Forecast last week with a tepid home display despite the coaching change, so the Quakes get the benefit of the doubt here.

Prediction
: San Jose win.

Sunday

FC Dallas @ New York – 3:00p.m. (Telefutura)

FCD is clinging to the periphery of the playoff race and desperately has to have this one to have any shot. New York is just hoping to avoid infamy. Both sides put in relatively decent efforts in their respective losses last week, though the definition of decent requires an adjustment when discussing the Red Bulls. Mike Petke (suspended) won't play for New York, and a host of questionable Red Bulls – Juan Pablo Angel (concussion), Albert Celades (thigh), Carlos Johnson (back), Mac Kandji (hamstring) and Seth Stammler (quadriceps) – could join him on the sidelines. New York simply doesn't have the manpower to get results with its core group of players decimated. Argentine defender Walter Garcia could make his debut, though he likely won't be enough to halt the Red Bulls' 13-match winless run or obtain a point with this depleted lineup.

Prediction: FC Dallas win.

Colorado @ Chicago – 6:00p.m.


Remember way back on Monday when I speculated that the conflict between Denis Hamlett and Bakary Soumare wouldn't be a thing? Turns out that hunch was far, far off the mark. The Fire sure did miss Soumare in Wednesday night's 2-0 loss to Los Angeles. The central defense didn't look particularly sturdy without the Mali international defender, begging the question of whether Hamlett will make a defensive change (perhaps C.J. Brown in place of Dasan Robinson in the middle) heading into a tricky home tilt with Colorado. Soumare would have matched up well with Conor Casey, but he is once again expected to miss out. That leaves the Rapids with a fighting chance to profit from the Fire's disarray.
 
Prediction: Draw.

Real Salt Lake @ New England – 6:00p.m.

RSL should just watch the tape from New England's 1-0 win over Seattle on Thursday night and adjust its tactical outlook accordingly. The Revs put in a model road performance in the Pacific Northwest: solid and compact at the back, dangerous and selective when going forward. RSL has improved its defensive shape on the road, but it can't quite seem to break through to the point where it garners road points consistently. Missing the suspended duo of Clint Mathis and Jamison Olave won't help that cause. New England could be due for a let down after expending a lot of energy against Sounders FC and slogging back cross-country on short rest. In another situation, the letdown might occur, but something tells the Forecast the Revs will find a way to muster up the energy to compete against a RSL side that pasted them 6-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on April 25. Expect the Revs to extract some revenge, though perhaps not six goals' worth.

Prediction
: New England win.

Seattle @ Houston – 8:30p.m.

The tale of two designated players could tell the story in this one. Houston signed its first-ever DP on Thursday after finally consummating its standing interest in Mexican international striker Luis Angel Landin. The Dynamo's new number seven should be available to face Sounders FC and could be in line for his debut. Seattle midfielder Freddie Ljungberg isn't expected to be available after he suffered disorientation and memory loss prior to Sounders FC's 2-0 win in Los Angeles last Saturday. One glance at Seattle's 1-0 loss to New England on Thursday night shows how much Ljungberg's incisive running matters to Sounders FC. Seattle should respond after a lifeless performance at Qwest Field, but it's tough to see that response translating into points given the lack of creativity in its current lineup. Not even Andrew Hainault's absence (suspension) will be enough to help Seattle overcome its indifferent road form in Texas.

Prediction: Houston 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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