MLS Week 7 Preview, Picks: Real Salt Lake's First Visit To Portland Timbers Should Be Interesting

We will be treated to several interesting matchups in Week 7, with the final game of the weekend looking like the most entertaining as Real Salt Lake will be trying to put their CONCACAF Champions League finals loss in the rear-view mirror as they pay a visit to the Portland Timbers. Assuming RSL doesn't give their starters a rest, this should be the best test of the Timbers' home-field advantage yet.

Other intriguing matches include surprisingly surging Chivas USA hosting the suddenly talent-rich New England Revolution, the now gelling New York Red Bulls hosting the explosive offense of Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders facing Toronto FC in a match that should be filled with emotion.

Last week's predictions: 3 of 8 correct

Houston Dynamo vs. DC United, 8:30 p.m., Friday (FSC)

The Dynamo are one of three MLS teams currently riding five-match unbeaten streaks, claiming nine points and scoring seven goals in that time. They haven't been dominant, but they have quietly posted a league-leading 96 shots and appear to be hitting their stride despite having some injuries to key players. Facing teams of similar stock as United in their past two games at Robertson Stadium, they outscored their opponents 4-1 and out shot them 47-16 while claiming all six points. United has been on a bit of a roller-coaster. In their two wins, they've outscored their opponents 6-1, but in their three losses, they've been outscored 10-2. Predicting how they'll perform on any given week seems a total crap shoot. Prediction: Dynamo 2-1.

Philadelphia Union vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 4 p.m., Saturday

After agreeing to move last Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake, the Union ended up with an unexpected two-week break. In their last game, they surrendered two points when the Sounders found a late equalizer. But such is life when you're living on the edge, as they've yet to score more than one goal in any match. Of course, they've also never allowed more than one goal and their defense has been lauded as being one of the best in MLS. The Earthquakes have not won since winning at FC Dallas in Week 2 and are coming off three straight particularly disappointing performances. While the Quakes' scoring has been more diversified than it was a year ago, they have yet to find any consistency and facing a defense like this is unlikely to be the cure they're looking for. Prediction: Union 1-0.

Columbus Crew vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 4 p.m., Saturday

Of the three teams riding five-match unbeaten streaks, the Crew are probably the most surprising and have done so in the least impressive fashion. They've only scored four goals and have settled for two scoreless ties. They are unlikely to win any beauty contests and it's hard to see them keeping this up as long as they are playing like this, but the Whitecaps don't seem like a team that will give the Crew much trouble. After a blistering start, the Whitecaps have cooled off a bit and, in any case, just don't look as dangerous on the road as they do at home. Throw in the fact that they are once again without Designated Player Eric Hassli due to a red-card suspension and are still fighting off several injuries and it doesn't look good for them. Prediction: Crew 1-0.

New York Red Bulls vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m., Saturday

After a bit of an inconsistent start, the Red Bulls have looked like world beaters the past two weeks. All that talent has finally started to gel and we're seeing the results as they've won their post two matches by a cumulative score of 7-0. Almost every position has offensive weapons and their defense has been plenty up to the task. The Sporks, as we like to call them, have been going in the opposite direction. We know they can score, as they've averaged 2.0 goals per match, but they can't defend worth a lick, allowing a league worst 2.4 goals per match. They are now halfway through their season-opening 10-match road trip and are sitting on just four points. In order to avoid falling completely out of the playoff race by the time they open Livestrong Sporting Park, they need to start picking up results. Unfortunately, Red Bull Arena seems an unlikely spot for that turnaround to begin. Prediction: Red Bulls 3-1.

Colorado Rapids vs. Chicago Fire, 9 p.m., Saturday

It's been a tough week for the Rapids, admittedly mainly of their own making. In addition to dealing with the firestorm of criticism over Brian Mullan's leg-breaking tackle on Steve Zakuani, they've also come under fire for their seemingly tone-deaf response. To top it off, they will be without one of their regular starters, Mullan, for the next 10 weeks. Maybe this is exactly what they need to do, though, as Gary Smith seems to have fostered an Us vs. Them mentality. No one is doubting the talent in Colorado and there's really no reason they can't still be one of the top teams in the league. Facing a Fire team that has not won since Week 2 and has lost three of their last four, is probably a good way for the Rapids to get their groove back. That this match will be played at elevation also bodes well for the Rapids. Prediction: Rapids 2-1.

Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC, 10 p.m., Saturday

A week after losing one of their best players to what appears to be a season-ending injury and just a few days after finding out that they'd also be without O'Brian White for the foreseeable future, there hasn't been a lot of good news surrounding the Sounders. Luckily, they can count on 36,000-strong to give them an emotional lift, which should only be enhanced by the planned tribute to Steve Zakuani at the 11:00 mark. Perhaps lost in news of Zakuani's injury, is that the Sounders have been playing quite well in recent weeks and have not lost since Week 2. Fredy Montero is still wearing a cast, but went 90 minutes at altitude last week and scored his first goal of the season. TFC is still very much a team that is searching for an identity and, on paper at least, are just the kind of team the Sounders should want to face this week. A host of regular TFC starters are battling nagging injuries. This could get ugly. Prediction: Sounders 2-0.

Chivas USA vs. New England Revolution, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

A few weeks ago, this looked like a real bummer of a matchup. Neither team was playing particularly well, nor had the kind of players you'd pay money to see just for entertainment value. While still lacking that marquee draw, it must be said that Chivas are rounding into shape and are now unbeaten in their last four while looking like a solid defensive outfit. The Revolution now boast a midfield trio that might just be the best in the league as Ousmane Dabo is expected to join Benny Feilhaber and Shalrie Joseph in the starting 11 this week. Feilhaber looked like the real deal in his debut despite only practicing with the Revs for a few days and the expectation is that Joseph will have much more freedom to join the attack with Dabo holding down most of the defensive midfield duties. Prediction: Tied 1-1.

Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

In two matches at Jeld-Wen Field, the Timbers have scored seven goals and won twice. In four road matches, they've claimed just one point and been outscored 9-2. There isn't another team in the league that comes anywhere close to that kind of split. Question is, can they continue to play this well at home when they are so obviously out-classed on the road. RSL should be the first major test of that theory. Knowing what we do about Jason Kreis and co., a big dropoff is unlikely, at least in the immediate aftermath of their loss in the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. If anything, I'd expect them to come out with renewed vigor. It's the coming weeks, when the emotions have died down that a fall off seems more likely. For the time being, this could be a game where they take out their frustrations. Prediction: RSL 3-2.

FC Dallas vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 7 p.m., Sunday (Galavision)

For the first time in almost three years, FC Dallas will learn what it's like to play without David Ferreira, who broke his ankle and could be out for a long time. It's still unclear what kind of adjustments Schellas Hyndman will implement, but losing the best playmaker in the league will not go unnoticed. The Galaxy are finally nearing full health and are coming off their best performance of the season. It's not looking good for the Toros. Prediction: Galaxy 2-1.

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