Dave Farrar predicts the Seattle Sounders will march on in Houston, the Red Bulls upset Philadelphia and Wayne Rooney on the wrong side of NYCFC...
“Seattle have completed the astonishing feat of 10 successive post seasons, and will now be keen to finish as high up the table as possible, contrasted with a Dynamo team who have nothing to play for.”
Seattle simply more motivated
Houston Dynamo v Seattle Sounders
Houston blew their play-off chances a while ago, and they limp into this home tie against Seattle having conceded four goals in each of their last two games, and facing a team who have won three in a row.
Seattle have completed the astonishing feat of 10 successive post seasons, and will now be keen to finish as high up the table as possible, which is a serious motivation when you contrast it with a Dynamo team who have nothing to play for.
The Sounders look a sound bet here: they beat Houston at Century Link Field by three clear goals two weeks ago, and backed that up with a win at Orlando last time.
The Dynamo will always remember this as a Cup winning season, but have won only two MLS games since the 7th of July, an awful return which has seen them sink like a stone. This is a case of a motivated, skilful team with much to aim for visiting one which is quite the opposite, and I don't see a well-organised Seattle slipping up as they continue their march up the Western Conference.
Bullish in Philly
Philadelphia Union v New York Red Bulls
A real MLS rivalry will be renewed this weekend as the New York Red Bulls look to keep their Supporters Shield ambitions alive as they head for Philadelphia.
The Red Bulls trail Atlanta United by a point and know that a defeat or draw in this one will more than likely confirm Tata Martino's side as the Supporters Shield winners. While there's an argument that the Red Bulls don't care about the regular season crown because of their failure to win an MLS Cup, I still feel that they'll prevail here.
The Union are guaranteed a play-off place and are chasing the third seed for the post season, and while they've pushed on impressively to get this far, their recent results suggest that they're limping towards the end of the season. A home thrashing of Minnesota looks dramatic, but is fairly routine against a team which travels so poorly, and prior to that the Union had failed to win their previous two.
The Red Bulls, in contrast, have now won three in a row, including that clutch victory against Atlanta three weeks ago, and Chris Armas appears to have them primed to deliver when it matters. They know too, that they have a gimme home game against Orlando next week, while Atlanta will have to go to Toronto without Miguel Almiron. Win this, and the Shield win is very much on.
The Red Bulls have become a team on which to rely, and I think they'll take the regular season race right to the last day.
Fresh legs can stall Rooney
DC United v NYCFC
Live on Sky Sports Football
The team which is the talk of the town, DC United, look to further cement their play-off place as they face a well-rested NYCFC.
DCU have now won five of their last six and know that a win here would guarantee them a place in the post season, which seemed so unlikely when Wayne Rooney joined the club.
Their form has been remarkable, as has the inspiration given them by Rooney, but they're up against a team here which will give them a stern test.
NYCFC haven't played a game now in 23 days, and that has allowed some of their key men valuable recovery time, just when they needed it. David Villa and Maxi Moralez are now back to full fitness, and Yangel Herrera may even make an appearance off the bench. With DCU coping with a hectic schedule in recent weeks, I think that freshness may make all the difference.
NYCFC have not been in great form, but it's rare that an MLS team gets a break like this, especially at the perfect time of the season. It wouldn't surprise me at all if their near month off leads to a serious post season challenge, and that momentum could just start here, against a hyped home team.
Rooney is of course a major worry as his form, capped by that wonderful free kick in midweek, has been sensational, but I like fresh legs against tired ones, and a team of proven quality against one which has been on a good run of form. NYCFC look too big, and we should bet against the tide here.
Staked: 90 points
Returned: 109.49 points
P/L +19.49 points
Back Seattle Sounders to win at Houston Dynamo @ [2.4]
Back NYRB to beat Philadelphia Union @ [2.5]
Back NYCFC to beat DC United @ [3.4]