Weekend Preview: Playoff Races Heat Up

Weekend Preview: Playoff Races Heat Up

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On September 12, 2008
  • Week 25, Weekend Previews

It sure is getting down to that final stretch of games. In a blink of the eye we will be in playoff mode. Hard to believe this season has gone by this quickly here. Still plenty of soccer to be played but there are some clubs out there that wish they had a little more time to play catch-up here.

Our normal weekend slate continues again in week 25. Five games on Saturday with a lone game on Sunday afternoon. New England and Chivas got the week started off last night with the Revs dominating the second half with four goals to blank the Goats. However the game was a lot closer than the 4-0 scoreline suggested.

What all do we have this weekend to look at? Let’s just dive right in and see. As always feel free to post any and all predictions on the weekend below. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on the weekend.

Columbus Crew – at – Toronto FC: Trillium Cup

Playoff talk: Toronto too far out of the mix now? How close is Columbus to clinching a spot? Pretty much I believe the Crew need three points to just be in the playoffs for good now. I don’t know all the math but I am fairly certain that a win and a loss by Toronto and a few others this weekend will pretty much clinch a spot for the Crew.

Roster Shakes: One week the roster look good for Toronto, the next it is ravaged by national teams with player call-ups. This weekend manager John Carver will see a list that he wants to see, no one on the international call up list. Will it really matter though because this bunch has lost a lot of its cohesion together over the last couple months.

GBS for MVP Watch: Can Guillermo Barros Schelotto continue this unbelievable streak that he is on? I think so, Toronto is a club that is lacking some serious punch in the middle of the field and on defense. Schelotto should be able to find the space, even on that Fieldturf, to get other players open and free to score.

Player to watch for: Alejandro Moreno for Columbus and Carlos Ruiz for Toronto. Moreno seems to step up well against teams that have a weak back-line. Toronto’s defense isn’t what it once was this season and I think this would be a great chance for Moreno to add to his solid goal tally on the year. As for Ruiz, he is always worth watching for various reasons. Whether you like the guy or not he can be a game changer or just a dud on the field. I just want to see what Ruiz shows up.

What the result means: I already went into this a bit for Columbus but for the home side, Toronto needs three points. Anything less and their playoff dreams completely end this weekend.

Outlook: I see the Reds get into this one early thanks to the loud and rowdy home crowd but the Crew will buckle down and grab a goal before the half as well as one shortly after the start of the second half. Toronto may answer with one late but I doubt it.

WVH Prediction: Columbus 2, Toronto 0


LA Galaxy – at – Kansas City Wizards: (Game at Arrowhead Stadium)

Who’s more desperate?: On one end you have a club that is six points out of a playoff spot and in a big need of a win. The other is only four points out of a playoff spot but hasn’t won in 11 games. This is really a toss up in my mind about who needs three more. I’m going with KC on the fact that it seems like more of a mountain to climb at this point than a hill like the Galaxy have with how tough the east has been this season. Six points in that conference is not easy to make up.

Defensive issues: This one could be fun to watch on the amount of goals that could possibly be scored. Neither have a great defense and neither have a very solid midfield, though I think the addition of Eddie Lewis may just give the visitors the edge in that category. But the big category may be the keeper, I like Kevin Hartman but I have no like any of the Galaxy keepers this season. Edge to KC.

Offensive woes: Thing is though, KC doesn’t have a great offense either. That’s why they made a couple deals last week in hope to get something out of their offense. Quite frankly I keep saying it, they need a play-maker in the middle and not a bunch of strikers up top. Sure they got depth but they have no one creative enough to do anything about it. LA on the other hand does and also has the strikers who will put the ball in the back of the net when it matters.

Who to watch for: Landon Donovan for LA and Claudio Lopez for KC. Donovan will score in this one, I have little doubts about that. Now for KC to win this game they need Lopez to step up and find his teammates in this one. A lot of the times his teammates aren’t on the same page as him or vice versa. Should LA be able to stop him, I think it will be a long evening for the fans in Arrowhead.

What the result means: For both a win gives their playoff hopes a little life. A draw for each really hurt and whoever loses pretty much will see their playoff hopes shatter.

Outlook: Part of me likes the home team and the fact that KC has so many home games left this season. But the other part of me has little faith in KC and thinks this is the game that LA finally gets and overcomes that awful spell that they are on right now. The defenses both stink up the place but I have to think that Eddie Lewis at least makes the Galaxy a bit better than what the Wizards have going on right now. Should still be an interesting watch on the account of all the goals.

WVH Prediction: LA 3, KC 2


FC Dallas – at – DC United:

Which Dallas will show up?: We’ve seen a Dallas club that scores in bunches and a team that looks lost for 90 minutes. I think on the road we will see the ladder of the two, especially against a quality side like DC. Dallas typically plays poor in DC unless Juan Toja is there to save their butts…which isn’t anymore. Plus missing one of their best and most reliant defenders (Drew Moor) will be tough to overcome against a good offense.

Midfield battle: Dallas has a rookie leading the way in the midfield, DC has a designated player leading their midfield. Uh, take you pick right?

Who to watch for: Jeff Cunningham for Dallas and Luciano Emilio for DC. I put Emilio up there because I want to see just how well he is off that injury. And for Cunningham I am wanting to see him win and be productive for once.

What the result means: Anything but a win pretty much means Dallas is out of the playoff race, though some would say they’ve been done for much longer. As for United, a loss would be tough but not the end of the world.

Outlook: DC should control this game from start to finish. I just don’t see how Dallas will be productive with how their midfield plays and being on the road. Plus Cunningham and Kenny Cooper have yet to get productive together here.

WVH Prediction: DC 3, Dallas 1


Real Salt Lake – at – New York Red Bulls:

Road woes: Can Real Salt Lake overcome their road issues in New Jersey? After 11 games, RSL is 1-8-2 on the road but it isn’t the record I’m worried over with RSL, its the offense on the road. Its almost nonexistent outside of Salt Lake City. Its not getting points on the road its scoring goals. They did well against LA but weren’t able to close it out.

Another crazy match?: Every time these clubs meet its goals and weird finishes. Last year it was a 3-3 game and a 2-2 game. What will it be here this season? Both have decent offenses and decent defenses. RSL has yet to beat New York though and the Red Bulls have only one victory against RSL in six meetings.

Midfield battle: This may be one of the better midfield battles of the weekend. Dave van den Bergh, Jorge Rojas against Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales. That’s a sweet looking deal to me. The winner in the midfield in this one will win this game. It’s still a matter of RSL stepping up on the road and figuring out how to win the game on the road.

Who to watch for: Will Johnson for RSL and Juan Pablo Angel for New York. I like this new addition to RSL in the form of the Canadian. Johnson already netted his first goal with his new club a week ago and I look for him to make a splash in this one. As for Angel you always have to keep an eye out for him, I think he will get more space in behind that defense.

What the result will mean: Let’s face it, both do need the win here. A draw does little for each and will give hope to those chasing them and a loss is not the way to go right now.

Outlook: I’m still waiting for RSL to break out and prove me wrong on the road. They nearly did it a week ago against a weak LA club. New York is much better than LA and I think their midfield is the key to this win here tomorrow night. Look for Angel and company to find more space on the wings and and in behind the defense in this one. Should be wild like all the rest but I think New York will actually win this one for a change.

WVH Prediction: New York 2, RSL 1


Houston Dynamo – at – San Jose Earthquakes:

Can the Quakes be stopped?: An eight-game unbeaten run for the Quakes comes to a head with the Dynamo, who are on a five-game streak of their own. Battle of the streaks rather, the Quakes haven’t been stopped since the turn at the All-Star break and really the Dynamo is the best club to step up against them.

Huckerby v. DeRo: If you a fan of the game you will enjoy this matchup. Both are the heart and sole of their clubs these days and both are vital to their playoff hopes. Houston seems in right now but San Jose is on the fringe here.

What the result will mean: A win for Houston puts them within reach still of three teams of the east for the Supporter’s Shield race. A loss slows their momentum down just a bit. As for San Jose a loss is killer to their momentum and in a way they still need the full three points here to keep those playoff chances alive. Chivas gave them an opening yesterday, can they do it?

Outlook: Look for a tough battle in this one. Both are hot teams and usually that means either a draw or a blowout. Defense will be stiff in this one and look for a close game. I think San Jose jumps ahead early only for Houston to battle back late.

WVH Prediction: San Jose 1, Houston 1


Chicago Fire – at – Colorado Rapids:

Best road club: The Fire take their show back on the road as they visit the Rapids. The Fire have the best road record in the league right now and for some reason it’s better than their home record. The Rapids have been so-so at home this season. Though the Fire haven’t won in Colorado since 1999, just a shade under a decade.

So close, or so far away?: How far away is three points here? That’s the line for the Rapids, a win and they are back in contention for real and a loss I think really puts daylight between them and the start of their draft day preparations.

Blanco Effect: One thing is clear, the Fire midfield with Blanco should handle the Rapids midfield that is missing its best player (Christian Gomez) due to lack of quality play. I see Blanco linking up with Brian McBride and the rest of the Fire offense more than the Rapids can contend with.

Who to watch for: McBride for the Fire and Conor Casey for the Rapids. If any one is going to score for Colorado it will be Casey. He leads the way for the club but I see the stengy Fire defense putting a stop to his production this weekend. I put McBride on there because I think he will get a couple in the back of the net in this one.

What the result will mean: For the Fire it keeps them going in the Supporter’s Shield race, though a loss opens the door for DC and New York to catch them once more. A win for the Rapids is huge, it gives them an opening to actually make a way into the playoff picture for the first time in months. But anything less than that won’t work for them.

Outlook: On the road I love the Fire, their defense is better than anyone else’s in the league. Colorado is still too inconsistent for my taste and I see Chicago pouncing all over that problem.

WVH Prediction: Chicago 2, Colorado 0