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MLS Weekend Preview and Prediction: Week 24

Taylor makes his predictions for week 24.

Otto Greule Jr

This is a new post I'll start doing looking ahead at the weekend. I will be previewing the weekend games (other than FC Dallas, I'll leave that to the other BDS writers) in MLS every week and giving my predictions on them as well. Here we go.

There are a lot of good games this weekend in MLS. As playoffs approach faster and faster, games become bigger and bigger as teams look to make a push for a playoff spot. Let's dive in and look at every game.

New York Red Bulls vs Montreal Impact

New York currently holds the last a final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (5th - 23 games played - 28 points). Montreal are dead last in the East and overall in MLS (10th - 23 games played - 17 points).

I'm pretty confident in saying Montreal has THE WORST defense in MLS. With 41 goals against, Montreal only beats out Houston Dynamo (42) for last in goals against. One thing they are last in (other than the standings) is goal differential (-18). Having an offense that has only scored 23 goals this season (second to last) doesn't help that differential. The key matchup in this one is Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry vs Hassoun Camara and Matteo Ferarri. How will Camara/Ferrari stop Wright-Phillips (MLS golden boot leader) and Henry (MLS assist leader)? They won't. They can only hope to limit the attacking duo's productivity. I don't see Montreal troubling New York, in New York, much at all.

Prediction: New York wins 3-1.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire

Toronto is in 3rd place at the moment in the East (3rd - 22 games played - 32 points). Chicago are in 9th in the East, but only 3 points behind NYRB for that last playoff spot (9th - 23 games played - 25 points).

Toronto have been up and down since start striker Jermain Defoe was injured. But, the good news is Defoe is back and other key players on the defense are returning from injury soon as well. Chicago just signed a new forward and Toronto fans might recognize him. His name is Robert Earnshaw and he appeared 26 times for Toronto, scoring eight goals in his time there. Earnshaw won't be ready to play, however. Chicago have been one of the weirder stories in MLS this season. Whether it be because of signing a forward they don't necessarily need, the whole thing with Jermaine Jones (WHAT IS GOING ON?), or the strangest story of them all: they've tied 13 games this year. The key matchup in this one is Defoe (assuming he plays) vs an ever-changing back-ilne of Chicago. Also, will the real Mike Magee please stand up? He isn;t putting up those MVP 2013 numbers we saw last year and that's probably one of the main reasons Chicago has tied 13 GAMES!

Prediction: Toronto wins 2-1.

Columbus Crew vs Houston Dynamo

Columbus are sitting in 4th in the East with NY creeping up on them (4th - 24 games played - 30 points). Houston find themselves in 8th, slowly trying to climb the table (8th - 23 games played - 25 points).

In my opinion, Columbus is just one or two pieces (forward, fullback, maybe a winger) away from being one of the best teams in MLS. For whatever reason, Columbus hasn't added anyone this transfer window that can really influence their playoff push. However, Houston have, and big time. I'm sure you know by now that the Dynamo signed USMNT defender/midfielder DaMarcus Beasley. He helps shore up that defense that has given up the most goals in the league this season. What also helps that defense is new signing Honduran central midfielder Luis Garrido, who is a real bulldog in the middle of the park. It might not be enough for this season, but those moves will pay off for next year. The key matchup in this match for me is Brad Davis and DaMarcus Beasley vs whoever Columbus decides to play on the right side (midfield and defense). I think Houston will overload the attack on the left side in this huge game in the East.

Prediction: Columbus 1, Houston 1.

New England Revolution vs Chivas USA

New England is just out of the playoffs at the moment. One point back from NY (6th - 23 games played - 27 points). Chivas USA are last in the West (9th - 23 games played - 24 points).

If yo look at the teams out of the playoff spots in the East, New England probably has the best shot at squeezing in somehow. However, New England has been extremely inconsistent this year. So, who knows what will happen. Chivas USA can't score. Okay let me rephrase that, no one on Chivas USA can score but Erick Torres. But, what happens when Torres doesn't score? They don't win. Even when he does score, they usually don't win. But, Chivas have been making a lot of moves recently. They added attackers Luis Balanos and Felix Borja, while trading Mauro Rosales to Vancouver for Nigel Reo-Coker. Wait, what? Why would you do that? Chivas have like a million (not exaggerating) defensive midfielders on their roster now. Whatever. Not my team, not my problem. This game can either be really, really boring. Or New England could destroy Chivas. I'll go with the Revs in this one.

Prediction: New England wins 4-1.

Sporting Kansas City vs D.C. United

Sporting KC lead the East as of right now (1st - 24 games played - 42 points). D.C. United are right behind SKC with one game more to play (2nd - 23 games played - 40 points).

Well, this is a doozy. 1st vs 2nd. SKC have only lost one game in their last ten games. Last time they lost a home game? 15 games ago. The reigning champs find ways to win. I guess that's why they're the champs. Fabian Espindola is healthy and already scored a goal in his second game back for DC. That's good news. Bad news? Eddie Johnson is suspended. Both teams have been great defensively this year, but something has to give. My key matchup in this one? Dom Dwyer vs Bobby Boswell. Boswell has been great since coming back to DC from Houston. he has looked defender of the year at some points. But, can he deal with the SKC attack? On the road? With goal scoring machine Dom Dwyer? I'm not so sure.

Prediction: Sporting KC wins 2-1.

Los Angeles Galaxy vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Los Angeles are 4th in the West, with two games more to play than most teams (4th - 22 games played - 37 points). Vancouver hold the last playoff spot in the West right now (5th - 23 games played - 33 points).

LA Galaxy have been up and down this season. Sometimes when I watch them, I'm in awe of how good they are. Other times, I'm in awe of how bad they play with such great talent. I think the Whitecaps will make the playoffs. I think they will beat out the likes of Portland, Colorado, and San Jose. Okay, well Portland might have something to say about that last spot. Anyways, the Whitecaps attack is fun to watch. Guess what? It just got funner with the addition of Mauro Rosales from Chivas USA. I have a feeling this one will have a lot of goals.

Prediction: LA 3, Vancouver 3.

Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders

Portland is just out of playoff contention at the moment (6th - 24 games played - 31 points). Seattle is tied with Real Salt Lake for 1st in the West (1st - 23 games played - 42 points).

This game is pretty much make or break for Portland. Huge implications in this one, rivalry game and two great soccer cities. If Portland lose at home again, I'm not sure if they can recover and make the playoffs. Key matchup: Diego Valeri vs Osvaldo Alonso. This will be fun. Valeri is on fire right now, creating chances for others and scoring goals. Seattle will sick Alonso on him and try to slow him down, cause there's no stopping him right now.

Prediction: Portland wins 3-2.

Philadelphia Union vs San Jose Earthquakes

Philly is not in a playoff spot in the East (7th - 24 games played - 27 points). San Jose is second to last in the West (8th - 22 games played - 25 points).

San Jose is pretty much out of contention in the West. Competition is stiff. However, Philly most definitely in contention in a weak Eastern Conference. Since Jim Curtin took over, things have turned around for the Union and they have been playing decent soccer. Key matchup: Philly defense vs Chris Wondolowski. Wondo is pretty much all Philly has to worry about on defense. If they shut him down and the offense bangs in at least one goal, they'll win.

Prediction: Philly wins 1-0.