Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three For Three: MLSR Predictions

Major League Soccer All-Stars vs. 
Chelsea Football Club

William Schulz: Just to have it out there, I hate this format for the All-Star Game. Putting eleven players from several different teams together and trotting them out against a team that trains together year round isn’t fair. That said, I don’t necessarily think MLS gets slaughtered this year. The only safe prediction is lots of goals. MLS 3-5 CFC

Luke Lohr: Predicting an All-Star game is like playing Deal or No Deal blindfolded. Not only are the odds stacked against you, but you can’t even pick the pretty girl. Chelsea brought a solid squad and despite being in pre-season, still boast a tremendous amount of talent. The Seattle Sounders did well to expose them on more than one occasion and I expect Ben Olsen will pay close attention to how that was done. Still, Seattle is a true team whereas the All-Stars are good players hastily thrown together wearing dramatic jerseys and only two practices together. Expect to see some individual magic from guys like Beckham, Donovan and De Rosario but overall the All Stars are severely mismatched. Chris Wondolowski my look toothless if he doesn't get quality service as he's not the type of player to create on his own against an entire defense. Ultimately, winning the match will require the All-Stars to service their forwards well and batten down the hatches when things get rough. MLS 2-4 CFC

Leanne Elston: To be quite honest, the All-Star game is not my favorite. It's not because I don't love the best players MLS has to offer -- I do, I love them -- but because I never come away from the game feeling like MLS gave an accurate account of itself. It's difficult to throw players from different teams together, give them a couple days to train, and then expect them to properly compete with a team like Chelsea. That said, I'm feeling slightly more positive about this group of MLS All-Stars, and I don't think we need to expect to get thumped. I see Chelsea scoring their share of goals, but I also see the All-Stars somehow, someway making this game closer than perhaps it should be. Hopefully, it will be an entertaining one. Predictably, Ben Olsen will be yelling a lot. MLS 3-5 CFC

Pedro Gomes: Hold onto your pants, this is going to be a wild one. Chelsea is an interesting animal right now. They have undergone a bunch of changes in the off-season and their Euro 2012 players are slowing getting back into the fold. I see this game being wide open and both teams going for glory. Now i know giving the MLS All-Stars 4 goals in this one may seem ludacris but there is plenty of offensive firepower to make this happen and by the final whistle I predict a 22 players to conjure their best Gladiator impersonations and ask, "Are you not entertained?!" MLS 4-5 CFC

Real Salt Lake (12-7-3) vs. 
Vancouver Whitecaps (9-6-7)

William Schulz: Vancouver have made some major changes to their lineup, and I think they will be stronger for it. If this match was in Vancouver, I’d award it to the Whitecaps in a heartbeat. But this one’s at Rio Tinto where Salt Lake have a league-leading 8 home victories. Salt Lake will play very well in front of the home crowd, but I expect Vancouver to make a statement and take a share of the points. RSL 1-1 VAN

Luke Lohr: Something about this match tells me we'll see something special from Vancouver. A flurry of transfers, departures and arrivals sees them stronger than they were three weeks ago and their newest signings are looking better each match. Speed kills and with Darren Mattocks, Dane Richards and a solid supporting cast, they'll look to break down RSL on the flanks and the aging back line. For RSL's part, they have superior talent, but must remain focused through the entire 90 minutes, which has been something of a problem of late. Salt Lake is the better team, but right now my gut tells me Vancouver is just too determined to remain relevant in the Western Conference to give in. RSL 1-2 VAN

Leanne Elston: The Whitecaps need to step things up if they want to stay in the top of the Western Conference, and getting three points against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium is a tall order for any team. I'm not sure Vancouver will have the ability to win this game, but at the same time, I'm not sure RSL will, either. Both teams are a little confusing right now. I'm expecting a fun one with a lot of back-and-forth play right until the end. Ultimately, it's a draw that both sides can accept even if they're not wholly satisfied with it. RSL 2-2 VAN

Pedro Gomes: Real Salt Lake will hold the majority of possession and dictate the pace of the game. This will eventually break down the Vancouver defense a couple of time but Vancouver has now assembled a fairly potent counter-attack. With Dane Richards on the right and Darren Mattocks up top, Barry Robson has a couple of options to spray the ball long to and hit Salt Lake's defense. I still don't know how much of Kenny Miller we will see but his 2nd half cameo might be the X Factor in all of this. RSL 2-2 VAN

Toronto FC (5-11-4) vs. Houston Dynamo (9-5-7)

William Schulz: The Dynamo have risen rapidly up the Eastern Conference standings thanks to a 9-point home stand, but if they want to be contenders they must improve their away form. On the other hand, Toronto have finally been showing signs of life lately thanks to their new manager. Houston may have the confidence advantage, but all winning streaks must come to an end. The Reds take all the points here. TFC 2-0 HOU

Luke Lohr: Under Paul Mariner, Toronto has slowly become a team worthwhile. A solid showing against Liverpool only emphasizes the new direction the team is taking. Houston for their part is on an equally impressive upward trend after yet another win, albeit over expansion side Montreal. Two good coaches and two motivated squads will make this a game to watch. When looking at simple match ups, Toronto is out gunned and Houston a better team. Expect Toronto to put up a valiant fight, but ultimately fall short. TOR 1-3 HOU

Leanne Elston: Toronto may still be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but there's no denying that they have improved immensely under Paul Mariner. Unfortunately for them, Houston are also playing well right now and have moved into third place ahead of DC United. I can't see Toronto overcoming Houston at this time; the Dynamo are in a good place and Toronto just won't be enough to knock them out of it. Toronto come out of this still in last place, while Houston keep breathing down the necks of Sporting Kansas City. TOR 1-3 HOU

Pedro Gomes: Both of these teams are experiencing a bit of a renaissance lately and it is a bit tough to predict just how it may go but i am leaning towards Houston pulling one off on the road. Despite the long travel i feel as though Toronto's recent shuffle up top with Eric Hassli will be too fresh of a change to pay off. Couple that with the poor form he has had this season and it will take a huge effort for Toronto to overpower Houston. Boniek-Garcia and Will Bruin are terrorizing MLS backlines lately and we all know Toronto's strength is definitely not in the back. I see this going to Houston with a brace from Garcia. TOR 1-2 HOU

We've made our predictions, what are yours? Also, we were privileged to have ESPN Analyst and former MLS star Alexi Lalas join us on "Off The Bench" to make his predictions. Check it out. Catch up with us on Facebook as well.

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