Week 9 PWP-Pick-List – My stunner this week? Columbus taking 3 at Sporting?!?

My thoughts on the Sporting v Columbus match a bit further down; for now let’s get started working from left to right based upon kick-off times:

Toronto entertains New England:  Toronto has been the odd one out in PWP this year and they’ve had injuries to go with – it doesn’t appear that is the case this week.  Both teams are at full strength.  So how might this game go?  Will the Revolution ‘turtle-up’ in defense like they have in some other away games?  Toronto has been a side that is willing to yield large amounts of possession…  Normally the run of play drives the intent where one team will want to play  ‘keep-away’ (sustain and maintain possession to increase better chances).  I’m not sure about this game though.  Without trying to be to cynical might this game be a game of ‘hot-potato’; you take it – no you take it???    …. Probably not, but there’s a fair chance that large chunks of this game will be start-stop with plenty of second chance balls and seeing-eye switches/through-balls/counterattacks against the run of play driving opportunities.  Or…. Nelson pulls a surprise with a possession based attack?   I don’t know…  However that balances out I see Toronto taking three points – perhaps 2-1 as a final score?

Vancouver how to San Jose:  Have the earthquakes put themselves together now after that win versus Chivas – perhaps?  But enough to beat an aggressive Vancouver squad at BC Place – not likely.  Vancouver wins this – in my view what remains is how many goals they score against a slower San Jose defense.  If history has any say it’ll be at least 2-1 Vancouver – my opine is the Whitecaps could score as many as three as the woes for San Jose continue.

Real Salt Lake travel to Chicago:  For some reason RSL struggles a wee bit in Chicago – in the last 5 matches RSL have never scored more than a goal but… this year may be different.  Chicago still don’t have a strong defense and Jaoa Plata is back from injury for Real.  I see this game as being one of a few games where an away team will win this week.  Real Salt Lake are beginning to gel a bit better and as much as I like Chicago it’s hard to see them taking three points against Real; RSL wins…

Colorado home to LA Galaxy:  This is a big test for the Rapids – especially after getting smacked down so badly in Seattle.  No major injuries or suspensions for either team and it’s likely the team who has the edge in possession is the team who takes this one unless early goals signal a blowout.  The Galaxy are (if you can believe this) even more formidable in attack than Seattle and like the RSL v Chicago game I see this one being won by the away team – LA Galaxy wins – against the odds most likely.

Philadelphia travel to Seattle:  The Union are on a bad run of late – win-less in six while Seattle are simply pumping with energy since that come from behind 4-4 draw with Portland.   Can anyone stop the Sounders as they continue to pound their opponents of late?  With them in the friendly confines of Century Link Field and no major injuries (I’m aware of) to their top 12 or so it just doesn’t seem likely the Union can come together to win this one.  Perhaps another multiple goal game for Seattle – but with a back-four that can be slow at times I don’t think they get a clean sheet — we’ll see – Seattle wins.

Portland at home to DC United:  If you looked at this game before the season started you mighta thought this one a no-brainer; not so fast now though.  DC United are taking shape as a strong attacking team that is no slouch in defense.  My view here is this one is a battle of possession with the critical time being spent defending United crosses into the box on one side and finding the right striker to score on the attacking side.  Total possession percentage might not mean that much with two teams like this – what will matter most is the quality versus quantity issue in the Final Third.  The Timbers are beginning to show last year’s habits and DC United are no where near the doormat this year.  I see this as a tight one but, really, can the Timbers afford to drop points at home again?  Even a draw here would be a big disappointment.  Timbers take three.

Chivas USA at home to Houston:  Two teams looking to change direction – Chivas can score and Torres has shown that.  The confidence of the Dynamo has to be shaky after getting hammered by New York and then turning around and dropping 2 points with that draw versus Portland.  All told neither team has a win in their last six games and a ‘draw’ is begging to be called here but I won’t.   At the end of the day the team who attacks better, as whole, usually wins.  And so far this year Chivas have attacked better, as a team, than Houston.  Chivas Win…

FC Dallas at home to New York:  If there was ever a time to play Dallas it’s now – they took a heavy and costly loss in DC United and New York are riding a wave that should remind many of how well they performed last year in winning the Supporter’s Shield.  New York wins… especially with Diaz unlikely to start and Michel, as well as Loyd, on a red card suspension — I just don’t see the home team winning this game.

Sporting KC at home to Columbus:  Of all this games this weekend this is the biggest one I’d like to watch and THANKFULLY this one is on NBC Sunday afternoon 4:00 PM Eastern!  Columbus have been one of the stronger teams to start this year and even with 3 draws on the trot they remain at the top with Sporting one point behind.   The challenge for Sporting this game is who starts at center-back; if I recall Opara is still injured and Collin is on a red card suspension.  And with Columbus being one of the top attacking teams in MLS this year I’m seeing the Berhalter bunch take three points – though if putting money on this game a draw is more likely.

In closing…

In case you missed it I did some research on team defensive activities this past week and after 71 games teams who average more Clearances, Interceptions and Blocked Crosses generate more Unsuccessful Passes against their Opponent’s and are more likely to win… so if you get a chance today watch the wings and hopefully your team will do a better job in those key performance areas.

So far I’m at 44% and staying there will be a challenge given I’m not offering up draws anymore – a team might consider a draw a great result but no-one goes into a game with a plan that expects to get a draw as an outcome.  Only the game state as the game is played might drive decisions that push for one point instead of three…

Best, Chris