MLS preview: Sounders vs. Sporting KC, Revs vs. D.C. United headline Week 12

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Week 12 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon us, and it’s shaping up to be a weekend dominated by intra-conference matchups between current playoff teams and playoff hopefuls alike.

Predictions record through Week 11: 19-24

If you’re to watch just four MLS games this weekend — who am I to tell you to watch only four games? — might I suggest the following four:

Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City (Saturday, 10 pm ET, MLS Live)

Sporting KC were downright unplayable at times during their 4-2 thrashing of the New England Revolution on Wednesday night. Likewise, the Sounders were as impressive as any team has been all season in beating the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-0, away from home last weekend.

With Roger Espinoza and Seth Sinovic likely out (injuries), Sporting come into this one shorthanded and on short rest. But that won’t be a problem MLS’s best road team the last two-plus years. They’ll go to CenturyLink Field and attack the Sounders from minute 1 to minute 90. They’ll run out of gas and fall just a bit short, but it’ll be an entertaining, even game for much of your late Saturday night.

Prediction: Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC

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New England Revolution vs. D.C. United (Saturday, 7:30 pm ET, MLS Live)

The Eastern Conference’s top two teams, both coming off humbling defeats (D.C., 1-0 to lowly Philadelphia last week) and perhaps providing an early preview of the East final which is to come in November.

Jermaine Jones is a center back one game, a central midfielder the next, and a center back again three days later. Continuity is not a word known to the Revs’ defense at the moment (Jose Goncalves is back, but Andrew Farrell missed Wednesday night’s game), and they’ll likely be playing from behind again in this one. The Revs’ saving grace: Juan Agudelo and Charlie Davies are in fine form of late, and they can make up the goals leaked at the back.

Prediction: Revs 2-2 United

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers (Saturday, 5 pm ET, MLS Live)

Jozy Altidore is out 4-5 weeks with another hamstring injury. Somehow, this will make Toronto FC a “better” team, because in the world of TFC, that somehow makes sense. Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley are more than capable of picking up the slack on their end, but can Luke Moore replace Altidore’s hold-up play and finish at a similar rate? It’s a huge ask.

On the other side, Will Johnson hopes to return this weekend from the broken leg he suffered at BMO Field last September. How quickly — or, if — he integrates back into the Timbers’ squad, and returns to the Johnson of old, will go a long way toward pushing the Timbers upward in the bunched-up West.

Prediction: TFC 2-1 Timbers

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LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo (Friday, 10:30 pm ET, UniMas)

The Galaxy were embarrassed in Orlando last Sunday, while the Dynamo were busy putting together their most comprehensive performance and dominant result of the season, a 3-1 thumping of the Timbers. And yet, it’s still too early in the season to know whether the former are as bad as they’ve looked at times, or if the latter are as good as last week’s showing.

Can the Galaxy midfield 1) keep track of Giles Barnes (6 goals, 1 assist), and 2) deny him the ball in space with room to turn and run at defenders? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then this one might look pretty similar to the aforementioned results of last week.

Prediction: Galaxy 1-1 Dynamo