It’s probably a bit early to be looking at the table for any indication of who’s going end up in the playoffs and who’s going to be in the losers lounge with the Chicago (Dumpster) Fire. It’s held pretty true that averaging 1.8-2.0 PPG over the season will not only get you top of the conference, but put you in as favorite for the Supporter’s Shield. But the bottom end of both conferences is looking a bit different. Usually, the cut off for making the last playoff slot ends up being about 1.4 to 1.5 PPG and that is holding true for the MLS Western Conference to date, but the Eastern Conference, to date, is proving to be incredibly soft below Red Bull & DC United. With the expanded playoffs, combined with a bad eastern conference, we could see this PPG average down in the 1.1 to 1.2 range and likely a western team with a far better overall record, left out in the cold. Still a bit early, and the two expansion teams in the east are a part of the equation, but Toronto and Montreal, for all their off season efforts, are still fighting to see who will be the worst team in MLS
Week Seven’s mid-week action gave us a couple of exciting goals from NYCFC & the Union, but left both teams sharing the points and RBNY stomping a figurative mud hole in San Jose, where they could have scored at least half a dozen in what was a fairly entertaining game to watch. Sadly, the Unimas/UDN PBP crew, crowing about how many countries they were being broadcast in, failed the league, with commentary that brought forth visions of Fred Armisen & Bill Hader arguing the whether to take the 405 or Santa Monica to get to Marina del Rey
And with that, let me go ahead, seven weeks in, apologize to Fox Sports 1 and their coverage of MLS on Sundays. I had little hope that they would have improved their product from the Fox Soccer Channel amateur hour skits we were treated to for so many years. It gives me hope you won’t screw up the World Cup.
And now on to this week's matches:
DC United | Houston Dynamo – 7:00 PM ET – 4/18/2015
I could pick Houston in this game, but then I remembered their recent win came against Montreal, so no picking the Creamsicles to do more than manage a draw. Whether DC gets 3 points or one will depend on which Bill Hamid shows up, the guy who makes saves he shouldn’t or Butterfingers Bill who handed 2 points back to Red Bulls last week. My bet is that he does just enough to keep Houston at bay and gets enough help from the offense for DC to come away with full points. Though, I expect the watching will be painful. DCU 1 | 0 Houston
Columbus Crew SC | Orlando City SC – 7:30 PM ET – 4/18/2015
The Crew are at home but their lone win is against bottom feeder Toronto, so there’s no way I’m picking them to win, even though they are probably due for a Kei Kamara breakout performance. Orlando are slowly improving and proved they can deal with a speed team in Portland so with Kamara being CCSC’s primary threat, they should be able to deal with them. Match should be entertaining to see what Kaka can continue to do and improve all of the players around him. CCSC 1 | 2
FC Dallas | Toronto FC – 8:30 PM ET – 4/18/2015
FC Dallas has come back to earth, but are still near the top of the Western Conference and Toronto still hasn’t managed to get started, even managing to lose to the hapless Chicago (Dumpster) Fire. One would hope the return of Altidore & Bradley would allow TFC to get back level, but no matter the on-field improvements they make, TFC finds a way to lose. FC Dallas should be angry enough at home to reverse their slide and deal with TFC. So far this season, all of Dallas’ games, even the draw with Seattle have been entertaining, this match should be as well. FC Dallas 3 | 1 Toronto FC
Colorado Rapids | Seattle Sounders – 9:30 PM ET – 4/18/2015
I don’t know if there’s a harder game to pick than this one. Colorado got their first win, but Pablo & mustache will be back on the sidelines which negates any effect of a win bounce. Seattle has been strangely erratic, losing to teams they have no business losing to and being unable to punish teams for their mistakes as they have in the past. I don’t see this being anything more than an overwhelmingly unsatisfying draw. Rapids 0 | 0 Sounders.
Real Salt Lake | Vancouver Whitecaps – 9:30 PM ET – 4/18/2015
On paper, Vancouver sitting at the top of the Western Conference looks the better team, but Salt Lake has two games in hand and Vancouver has benefitted from playing Chicago, Orlando falling asleep, a weakened LA & Portland (AKA – the Cascadian Slumpbuster). Real at home, with their internationals back and reasonably healthy in their first 18 should end up with all three points with a lot of fast attacking soccer. Real Salt Lake 2 | 0 Vancouver
LA Galaxy | Sporting Kansas City – 10:30 PM ET – 4/18/2015
LA’s attack could be seriously compromised, depending on how much of their starting offense ends up playing in this match, if at all. If they don’t, Jaime Pinedo may be called upon to have another career night. Kansas City still hasn’t convinced me that they have found their feet this season. 8 points out of the last possible 12 is impressive, but the wins were against a winless team at the time and an expansion team. Unfortunately for Sporting, I see them getting the Alan Gordon experience with a late dagger. LA 1 | 0 Sporting
Philadelphia Union | New England Revolution – 5:00 PM ET – 4/19/2015
Philly finally won one, and battled back to a draw against NYCFC. Nice, but New England have been by far the more consistent side and are back at full strength. New England should cruise in this national & international broadcast, and do so with a bit of flair. Union 0 | 2 Revolution.
New York City FC | Portland Timbers – 7:00 PM ET – 04/19/2015
I’m still trying to figure out how Portland managed to destroy FC Dallas and then turn around and lose handily to Orlando in their own house. I’m picking the same team that took it in the mouth from Orlando to show up at Yankee Stadium and the evidence to continue to pile up that Caleb Porter isn’t as good of a manager as many have believed. Not only does NYCFC have the talent advantage, they have the managerial advantage by far. NYCFC 2 | 0 Timbers
As always, should you find yourself bored with merely staring at your TV, join the fun in the Week 7 MLS PBP Thread on BigSoccer. There’s always someone for you to pick on in that thread, unless you’re a Montreal or Toronto Fan. If that’s the case, well, sorry. Someone has to be at the bottom of the barrel.