Week 16 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is upon us, and if last week’s abbreviated schedule of games left you wanting more soccer, then have no fear, because nine games from Friday night to Sunday night of this week is just what you’re looking for.
Predictions record through Week 15: 24-31 (It ain’t as easy as it looks, folks.)
So, 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:
D.C. United vs. New England Revolution (Sunday, 5 pm ET, ESPN2)
Do you believe in the Revolution without Jermaine Jones? I know I don’t, especially not against a hard, grind-it-out, veteran squad like D.C. United. Throw in the fact that Lee Nguyen is still not happy over his lack of a new contract, and thus producing next to nothing at the moment, and it’s hard to see the Revs picking up their second straight win after losing six straight.
Is it time to drop Nguyen and slide Diego Fagundez into the No. 10 role — more than likely his “natural” position — and ease one of Jay Heaps’ more persistent selection dilemmas: Fagundez, Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe or Teal Bunbury at the two wing spots?
Prediction: United 2-0 Revs
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City (Sunday, 9 pm ET, Fox Sports 1)
Obligatory “these teams don’t like each other” statement. OK, great, now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s getting really close to put-up-or-shut-up time for RSL. They’re currently ninth in the Western Conference, and they’ve scored fewer goals than all but one team in the league (20th-place Colorado Rapids).
The switch to the 4-3-3 hasn’t yielded the results that head coach Jeff Cassar envisioned during the preseason, and one must wonder how long he persists with the formational experiment before reverting back to the tried-and-true 4-4-2 diamond/4-2-3-1 variation. If he’s at all worried about his job this year, expect it to happen within the next couple/few weeks.
Prediction: RSL 2-2 Sporting KC
Toronto FC vs. New York City FC (Saturday, 7 pm ET, MLS Live)
I’ve been a true believer in TFC for quite some time now, but no more so than when they knocked off D.C. on the road without Jozy Altidore (not in the starting lineup) or Michael Bradley two weeks ago. Now with Bradley back in the fold (international duty) and TFC on a full two weeks of rest (NYCFC played in the US Open Cup Wednesday night), I’m looking for a loud and dominant statement performance from the Reds this week.
There’s no fathomable scenario in which the NYCFC midfield can handle the pressure and passing of Bradley and Benoit Cheyrou, and the utter attacking brilliance of Sebastian Giovinco and salvage anything but a two-goal defeat at BMO Field on Saturday.
Prediction: TFC 3-1 NYCFC
Montreal Impact vs. Orlando City SC (Saturday, 8 pm ET, MLS Live)
Are you a good MLS team? If so, then chances are the Impact have beaten you over the last six or so weeks (RSL, FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps and Columbus Crew SC). Now, are you a bad team in MLS? If so, then chances are you’ve beaten the Impact during that same timeframe (Chicago Fire and NYCFC).
That little trend should make Saturday’s matchup with Orlando City a particularly interesting one, as the Lions are quite decent at the moment, but still an expansion side. After playing 120 minutes in the USOC Wednesday night, OCSC find themselves at a serious fitness disadvantage while also playing well over 1,000 miles from home. A win puts the Impact into a possible playoff place. A win puts Orlando within a point of the Revs.
Prediction: Impact 2-1 Orlando City