MLS Week Five: A Look Ahead

MLS Week Five: A Look Ahead

Major League Soccer

MLS Week Five: A Look Ahead

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MLS Week Five is loaded with juicy match-ups, rematches and a promising rivalry that will be born this weekend.

Philadelphia Union fans will make the trip East to Red Bull Arena for what should be the first of many visits to northern New Jersey.

As promising as the Union-Red Bulls rivalry will be, two other matches are vying for match of the day honors. Real Salt Lake visits Columbus for the first time since pulling off last year's memorable playoff upset, while the unbeaten Los Angeles Galaxy travel to the midwest to face a strong Kansas City squad.

Here is a closer look at this weekend's action, along with our predictions for this weekend's matches:

SATURDAY
 
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs. NEW YORK RED BULLS (4pm, Telefutura/MSG)
 
The Red Bulls are 3-1 but haven't been overly impressive in their past two matches. They face a Philly team that has shown good energy and attacking flair in its past two matches.

The key for New York is Joel Lindpere, who must focus on creating. If Carl Robinson is fit to start, look for Lindpere to attack more.

The key for Philly will be testing New York's right side with Fred and Jordan Harvey. Roger Torres is tough to contain but New York's centerbacks should limit his options.

The Red Bulls win because Juan Pablo Angel will prove too much for a Union defense missing Dan Califf. Red Bulls 2, Union 0.
 
COLORADO RAPIDS at NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (7:30pm, Direct Kick)
 
These teams made one of the bigger deals of the off-season, which will extra spice to an intriguing match.

The key for Colorado will be working Revs rookie left back Seth Sinovic, possibly with Claudio Lopez. Service from the flanks is key to the Rapids attack, but with Kevin Alston at right back, Colorado will pick on the rookie.

For the Revs, Marko Perovic will find it tough sledding trying to break through the central midfield tandem of Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Madtroeni. If Shalrie Joseph can overcome injury and start then we could see an epic battle. If not, the Revs will look to test Danny Earls at left back (and Kosuke Kimura at right back if Marvell Wynne is forced to play centerback again).

The Rapids do boast a top forward tandem in Omar Cummings and Conor Casey, but Revs centerback Cory Gibbs and Darrius Barnes match up well with them. Look for the Revs to edge Colorado on a Zack Schilawski finish. Revolution 1, Rapids 0.
 
REAL SALT LAKE at COLUMBUS CREW (7:30pm, Direct Kick)
 
The past two MLS Cup Champions face off in a rematch of the playoff series won by RSL last year in a major upset.

RSL will need Javier Morales in the lineup to really push a good Columbus midfield. Whether or not Morales can go, the defending champions need to get the ball to Alvaro Saborio and/or Robbie Findley, who should find chances.

For Columbus, Guillermo Barros Schelotto remains the key facilitator, someone Kyle Beckerman will need to try and shadow. Eddie Gaven could also break through in this match, with his elusiveness likely to present problems to an RSL defense keying on Schelotto.

RSL has enjoyed considerable success against the Crew in recent years, perhaps more than any other team has, but a rest Crew team playing at home will be too tough for RSL to overcome with a hobbled Morales. Crew 2, RSL 1.

LOS ANGELES GALAXY at KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (8:30pm, Direct Kick)

Arguably the best match of the week pits an unbeaten Galaxy squad against a Kansas City team that is unbeaten and unscored upon at home this season.

Winning in KC is tough because of the narrow field, which plays well into the Wizards 4-3-3 formation. Stephan Auvrey and Jack Jewsbury make things extremely tough for opposing midfields and would surely cause fits to the Galaxy attack. Juninho looked good vs. RSL last week, but will have less room to operate.

The real question is whether Kansas City can limit Edson Buddle's looks. With Jimmy Conrad still a doubt for Saturday, the Wizards might be relying on Pablo Escobar and Matt Besler to stop the hottest player in MLS. Escobar impressed vs. Seattle, but Buddle is looking unstoppable these days.

The Wizards have their own threats as well, including slick left winger Ryan Smith, who could take advantage of a hobbled Sean Franklin, assuming Franklin can play. Smith will need to carry the load because the Galaxy's central defense has been stellar and will keep Josh Wolff under wraps. Kei Kamara could find some success against Todd Dunivant, but Dunivant will make him work on the defensive end.

KC may do well to slow down Buddle, but this is a game made for Landon Donovan to star. He will sniff out the vulnerabilities in the Wizards defense and keep the Galaxy rolling in a memorable match. Galaxy 2, Wizards 1.

HOUSTON DYNAMO at CHICAGO FIRE (8:30pm, Direct Kick)

The Dynamo come off a 3-0 thrashing of Chivas USA, but the Fire also come off an impressive win that could be the catalyst for Chicago finally playing up to expectations.

Houston have Geoff Cameron, Cory Ashe and Brad Davis as attacking players who will look to outwork the Fire's midfield, but Collins John and Patrick Nyarko should make things extremely difficult for a Dynamo defense that has shown some vulnerabilities this season.

The Dynamo masked the absence of Brian Ching last week, but the Fire defense is much tougher than Chivas USA. This one will be a defensive struggle, with Nyarko providing the difference. Fire 1, Dynamo 0.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES at CHIVAS USA (10:30pm, FSC)

The Earthquakes are one of the surprises of the new season, while Chivas USA is one of its disappointments.

San Jose is winning games with an opportunistic attack and stout defending. The harsh reality for Chivas USA is that it hasn't created a good number of chances in any match this season and will find the going tough on Saturday, even at home.

How can Chivas USA win? Sacha Kljestan needs to create and demand more of the ball. He's been a bit too willing to differ to others, but if he is to be the team's star, he must step up in a match the Rojiblancos need to win to avoid a dangerous early-season slide.

Look for Kljestan to play better, but San Jose's defense proves too tough to crack. Unfortunately for the Earthquakes, they will also struggle to score. Chivas USA 0, Earthquakes 0.

SUNDAY

SEATTLE SOUNDERS at TORONTO FC (2pm, Direct Kick)

Seattle will likely be fatigued after Thursday's draw vs. FC Dallas, but Toronto FC is a team in transition and facing plenty of question marks.

Fredy Montero will need to step up his recent level of play, which has been short of his top form (the free kick goal vs. Dallas notwithstanding). Toronto's defense is not equipped to deal with his quickness and skill, but he will ultimately rely on the Sounders midfield to create chances for him. Perhaps just as important is Steve Zakuani, who will face a favorable match-up vs. Maksim Usmanov.

For Toronto, Dwayne DeRosario remains the focal point of the attack, but Preki will need to consider starting O'Brian White and Chad Barrett up top to give DeRosario more of the ball and more freedom to operate. Osvaldo Alonso will make the central midfield tough to patrol, but DeRosario could find success on the left flank, where he would be favored against James Riley.

Seattle did not look that good in its last match, but the same can be said for TFC. I'll give the edge to the Sounders, with Ljungberg providing some magic in a vital road win. Sounders 3, TFC 1.

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SBI MLS PICKS

Last Week: 6-1 (0-1 on Thursday, FC Dallas vs. Seattle).

Season Record: 17-13.

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What do you think of this week's matches. Which are you most looking forward to? Think the Wizards can stop the Galaxy? See RSL beating the Crew again, or will Columbus exact some revenge?

Share your thoughts below.

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