The so-called SuperClasico takes place this Saturday. That may be the game most people are interested in, but the FC Dallas-Real Salt Lake match might bea little more compelling. Both teams have recently lost their MVP candidates, but have gone in so far different direction. FC Dallas has suddenly emerged as a real contender, while RSL has fallen back to pack. This match could tell us just how true both those things can be.
Last week: 7 of 12 correct predictions
Just a few weeks ago, the Union seemed to be a team ready to make a monumental leap from expansion team to potential Supporters' Shield contender. Their defense was one of the best in the league and they had won four of their first six. Fast forward three matches and their season is starting to look a lot different. They are now sitting 4-3-2, haven't won since April 30 and are coming off a 2-0 loss to FC Dallas. The defense still doesn't look bad, but their offense has yet to score more than a goal in any match. If they are going to halt the slide, though, this is the kind of match they need to do it in. The Fire have won just once all year and that was back on March 26, although they are riding a four-match unbeaten streak and are coming off a come-from-behind 2-2 tie with Toronto FC. The health of Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon will probably be key. Pick: Union 1-0.
It's tough to know what to make of the Dynamo. They went from going unbeaten in six straight to losing two in a row, including one against Toronto FC, and then gutted out a 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake last week. Tally Hall seems to be the real deal in goal, but beyond that, who knows? Will Bruin looks amazing one week and then just disappears. The defense has failed to find a consistent rhythm. This is a team that should challenge for a playoff spot, but would anyone be surprised if they fell apart? Despite a serious setback last week that saw them lose to Chivas USA a few days after playing an ill-advised friendly against the Montreal Impact, the Red Bulls still look like a formidable team, even if it is one with warts that had gone previously unnoticed. Their defense is a little more susceptible to fatigue than we may have wanted to admit and they aren't unbeatable at home, but Thierry Henry continues to light up the scoreboard and Luke Rodgers seems to be a near perfect pairing for him. Pick: Tied 1-1.
Chivas USA vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 10 p.m., Saturday (ESPN2)
We'll have a full preview in a separate article. Pick: Chivas 2-1.
There seems to be a perception out there that the Sounders are kinda falling apart. True, it's been three matches since they last won, but they do have eight points in the five matches they've played mostly without Steve Zakuani and have picked up a point in their last two. While they are still very much adjusting to life without their speedy winger, it hasn't exactly fallen apart either. The same can not be said for Sporting KC, who has seen their season quickly erode ever since Omar Bravo went out with a hernia injury on April 8. The last time he played, in fact, was April 2 when he received a red card in a 3-2 loss to the Fire. In his absence, SKC has gone 0-4-1. Bravo is expected to return, along with midfielder Ryan Smith, although it's not known if either is fit enough to start. Pick: Sounders 3-1.
Just when the season seemed to be coming apart at the seams, the Earthquakes pulled one of the bigger surprises of the season by dismantling the Columbus Crew 3-0. Chris Wondolowski continued to show that he's more than a one-hit wonder, scoring his third goal in four matches, and the Quakes won for the first time at home this year. They'll be facing a Revolution team that has been hard to figure this season. Despite adding several big pieces in recent weeks, they've been on a bit of a roller-coaster which saw them win in rather unimpressive fashion last week. Benny Feilhaber is starting to look more comfortable with his teammates, although Ousmane Dabo and Marko Perovic are both going to be out again this week. Pick: Quakes 1-0.
Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew, 11 p.m., Saturday
After reading the reactions from last week's 1-1 tie with the Sounders, you'd have thought the Timbers had registered a pretty decisive victory. While the tie was well deserved, it does somewhat gloss over the fact that they are still winless away from home. Lucky for them, they return to Jeld-Wen Field this week and face a Crew team that suddenly does look so formidable. If the Crew had trouble with Steven Lenhart a week ago, Kenny Cooper could be an absolute monster. If they had trouble with Brandon McDonald, watch out for Mamadou Danso. This does not seem like a matchup that favors Columbus. Pick: Timbers 2-0.
FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m., Sunday
Since David Ferreira went down with what appears to be a season-ending injury, FC Dallas has gone on an absolute tear. They have claimed 13 points in the five matches since his injury and now have the second most points in MLS. Most of the credit for their turnaround from that 1-3-1 start has to go to their defense, which has allowed just two goals during their five-match unbeaten run and is working on a 499-minute scoreless streak. RSL, which has dealt with a similar injury to Javier Morales, has not been playing as well. They needed a late goal to beat nine-man Chivas USA two weeks ago and settled for a 0-0 tie with the Dynamo last week. Truth be told, it's been five weeks since RSL really looked on top of their game. This team should be fine, but this does not seem like the week they are going to win at Pizza Hut Park for the first time in their history. Pick: Dallas 2-0.
Colorado Rapids vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m., Sunday
Considering all the injuries and other absences the Rapids have dealt with this season, their 4-3-3 start is quite commendable. In their last four they are unbeaten, even if three of those matches have been ties. Conor Casey is supposed to be back this week, which should be a nice boost, although the Rapids are still missing Omar Cummings and Caleb Folan. The Reds will be playing on somewhat short rest, as they played the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Voyageurs Cup on Wednesday. That's probably one hill too many, especially considering this match will be played at altitude where the Rapids are especially tough to beat. Pick: Rapids 2-0.