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Week 4 picks – The downward Spiral Begins

March 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Score – Dan 7, Nick 8

Wow we suck

 

DK: Well, last week was completely miserable… I didn’t get shit right.

NY: That’s because your luck has run out.  I’m in front on the scoreboard, the way it should be.

DK: Hopefully not run out enough to win the lottery tonight.

DK: Since I have to right my sinking ship, I’m going to pick LA vs New England.  New England squeaked one out last week at home, but now they have to play LA in LA.  We all know how that works out for east coast teams.  2-0 LA just because they’re LA

NY: DC v FCD:  Andy Najar is away on Honduran international duty, and Brek Shea is just back from US international duty.  I think DeRo nets one, and Dallas gets one.  I call a 1-1 draw, in a match that may have more people on the field than in the RFK Stadium stands.

DK: Chivas vs SKC.  Chivas did the unthinkable, unimaginable, the incredible… ok I didn’t watch the game whatsoever.  But they defeated RSL last week (much to the demise of our pick count) – one of the last teams you would think Chivas could defeat.  Well, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, and Chivas is not that good of a team, and SKC is that good of a team with many attacking options (I’m still scratching my head as to why RSL didn’t score though).  SKC will easily walk into LA and take a win from Chivas, and stay undefeated.  3-1

NY: Seattle v San Jose: Seattle wins at home.  I know San Jose defied my prediction last week, it won’t happen again this week.  Seattle at home 2-1

DK: This is the only time I’m going to pick RBNY.  Still surprised at their manhandling of Vancouver, but if they did that to Vancouver at home, they should easily take apart the expansion side of Montreal in that wasteland they call home (or Harrison).  New Jersey Pink Cows will get the win, while acting and looking like they are the top class of the league – when we all know they aren’t.  2-0

NY: Portland v RSL: Interesting contest, considering RSL losing last week, and having to go on the road in a difficult setting.  I will pick a 1-1 draw here, as well.

DK: Toronto vs Columbus – Toronto, all though they have been playing well at BMO field, is more concerned about Santos and the Champions League than MLS right now.  Columbus will come in and wipe the floor with TFC.  2-1

NY: Colorado v Chicago: A matchup of two teams that we’ve already seen play against Union.  I was more impressed with Colorado, plus they’re playing at home, so I give this one to the Rapids, 2-0.

UNION

DK: We have the team.  We have the players Nowak wants… now it’s just implementing the fuck out of it.  We also need to score that 2nd goal.  If we don’t, all is for lost.  But I’m going to say this will come down to a 1-1 tie.  Le Toux, if he plays, won’t be spectacular (neither will be our team).

NY: Union need to take the attitude of Gabriel Gomez on themselves.  He’s fiery, determined, and skilled.  If the whole team plays the way he does, they will win.  I don’t expect them to, therefore, I see this ending 1-1, only because Vancouver will not have Eric Hassli.  If he was in the lineup, the ‘Caps would win this outright.

 Recap:

DK:
LA 2-0 New England
Chivas 1-3 SKC
NY 2-0 Montreal
Toronto 1-2 Columbus
Union 1-1 Vancouver

 NY:
DC 1-1 Dallas
Seattle 2-1 San Jose
Portland 1-1 RSL
Colorado 2-0 Chicago
Union 1-1 Vancouver

 

Stay tuned later for our match ‘pre’view

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Week 3 Game Picks

March 23, 2012 Leave a comment

 This is the weekly post were Nick and Dan morph into pathetic excuses for handicappers.  Enjoy!

NY:  Dan, since you have deferred picks to me this week, I’m going to take advantage and pluck all of the easy home winners.  Not drawers.  Winners. 

DK: Yea, I have a shit ton to do and have to catch a train in 30 minutes.  Thanks for picking the obvious ones… GFY (I’ll tell ya what that means later) 

NY:  Seattle v Houston.  Seattle just wins at home.  I’m convinced that Drew Carey put some magical contraption inside of the Space Needle and it causes lots of Seattlites to attend, and for opposing teams to not deal well with the field surface.  If only Union could plant a similar device somewhere under the Commodore Barry Bridge… Seattle 2, Houston 0.

 DK: My first pick for the week is New England vs Portland:  I have no faith in New England, but I don’t think Portland is a good travel East team (much like the entire eastern conference is full of terrible travel teams, period).  If you’re watching this, I’ll feel sorry for you, it’s probably bound to be a shitty game (although the weather really nice) – I pick a 0-0 tie.

 NY:  TFC v San Jose.  San Jose flat-out stinks (hoping no one returns fire for me being a Union fan…ok…coast is clear).  I know TFC is missing Torsten Frings.  I hate that guy anyway, as I still haven’t forgiven any German international who was part of that 2002 World Cup team that eliminated the U.S.  DAMN YOU OLIVER KAHN!!!!!!!!!!!  Oh, wait, yeah, um… TFC holds serve at home 1-0, because, again, San Jose stinks.

 DK: Vancouver vs DC: East can’t compete on the west.  Vancouver (and Le Toux) will continue success at home with a nice win.  3-1 Vancouver with De Ro notching their only goal, and Le Toux getting a goal and assist.

NY:  Columbus v Montreal:  Two directions that my opinion of Montreal Impact in MLS can go.  They played their home-opener last week in front of over 58,000 people and drew Chicago Fire 1-1.  This says that either a) Chicago is very capable of handling greatly adverse conditions therefore Union should be worried about them when they play at home (yikes!!!), or b) Montreal is not ready for MLS league play yet because they couldn’t even get a win in front of all of those screaming, French-Canadian lunatics.  I go with b) so Columbus wins at home 2-0.

DK: RBNY vs Colorado:  We all hate red bull.  Colorado didn’t show much promise against are decent, but mismatched union, but capitalized on our mistakes.  Expect mistakes to run rampant on NY side.  Colorado 1-0.

NY:  Real Salt Lake v Chivas USA:  Chivas = HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!  RSL ftw 4-1 (And that might be generous.  I was nice and gave Chivas a goal)

DK: Gimme pick of the week (year).  Chivas loses easily, 3-0 for RSL.

NY:  Chicago v Union:  As I alluded to in the Columbus/Montreal preview, the fact that Chicago went into Montreal and earned a draw in those conditions leads me to believe that they are playing plenty well enough to handle whatever lineup Nowak decides he will throw out there.  However, based on the chances Union created during their match against Colorado, I’m encouraged that they’re finding their good form.  However (again), they played a lot of that second half with Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz red-carded.  Lest we forget, Union conceded a goal in that time before they scored one.  If you draw a team when you’re playing with one more player than they are, I can’t pick you to win against a full-strength side.  Plus, if I remember correctly, Toyota Park is a relatively-narrow pitch, and Union never deal with those very well.  Especially if Nowak plans on deploying is 3-5-2 again.  On THAT field, those 5 midfielders will be stretched from sideline-to-sideline and almost standing next to each other.  And then there’s this mess with Danny Califf…don’t even start…my head’s beginning to hurt… Chicago 1 Union 1.

 DK: I give 2 weeks until Califf gets traded due to the bullshit going on.  You never speak up against a coach, but you never speak up against a coach with an ego who expects you to already know what he’s thinking.  The asshat.  Anyway, I say experimentation in this weird lineup finds some success, but won’t overpower Chicago.  I go with a tie 2-2.  Now I have to catch a train.

Summary:

NY-Seattle W over Houston, Toronto W over San Jose, Columbus W over Montreal, Real Salt Lake W over Chivas, and Chicago draw Union (1-1)

DK-New England draw Portland, Vancouver W over DC, Colorado W over New York, Real Salt Lake W over Chivas, and Chicago draw Union (2-2)

Bonus prediction!!!!!!!!!!!  Dan has to catch a train, my guess is he catches that train, and because it’s SEPTA, catches something from said train.  No preditiction on what though.  We’re all probably better off not knowing.  Enjoy the games!

Match Preview: Union @ Chicago Fire

March 23, 2012 1 comment

Match time is 8:30pm, Saturday, March 24, 2012, from Toyota Field in Bridgeview, IL, televised locally on The Comcast Network.

What we know:  Union are 0-2-0 on the season, Chicago is 0-0-1, having earned a draw at Montreal during Montreal’s first ever MLS home-opener.  Union, against Colorado, created good possession that gave opportunities for chances which didn’t often enough lead to actual chances.  They have failed in the area of threatening the goal and making the other team’s goal keeper work.  Their defense has not been stellar either, allowing 5 goals in 2 matches, and Sheanon Williams was a late addition to the U.S.A U-23 team that is in Olympic qualifying, so that hurts additionally.

What we don’t know:  What the hell is going on with Danny Califf?  He earns the title of team captain, then gets benched without being informed prior, contradicts reports of an injury, and now apparently, he didn’t even travel with his team to Chicago.  I’m not going to claim that Califf is a stand-out performer anymore, but I definitely have a problem with a guy who is the team captain not being given the courtesy of information about his own status.  The transperancy of this Union team has to be called into question, as well.  Did Union make the move and backstory with the intention of deceiving Colorado?  They seem a bit less tactful this week, but none the less confusing.  We also don’t know what this means for the rearguard, as 2 of last season’s 4 starters will not be included (Califf and Williams).

What to watch for:  In spite of all of this outside mumbo jumbo that will make our heads hurt to think about too much, Union showed significant improvement in some areas from game one to game two.  This team is capable of serving dangerous crosses into the 18-yard box from all over the pitch.  Their problem is having one of their teammates direct said cross towards, and hopefully into, the goal mouth.  Lionard Pajoy made the play that restored some measure of faith in the side, when he made the perfect run to find a cross with his forehead mid-dive to score his team’s only goal…against a 10-man side…a 10-man side that scored a goal themselves while down a man…*vomits*.  The hope for the optimists is that the way they pressured late can be duplicated, because though Colorado had 10 men, they would have bunkered in with a 2-goal lead anyway, with just the two strikers not behind the ball.  Union scoring their lone goal against a bunkered defense is a positive sign.  For the pessimists, other than the runout that lead to Colorado’s 2nd goal, they didn’t do much to threaten the Union half, therefore, Union should have been able to keep their possession in the attacking half more, and create more solid chances.  Also, pessimists will remind us all that Union were possession-dominant in the first half and went into the locker room with nothing to show for it.  The hope rests in their attacking midfield play being a trend, which will produce better results in the very near future, so look for Roger Torres to feature longer in this match, and he, Gabe Gomez, and Porfirio Lopez will be sending chances in for Pajoy, Danny Mwanga, and Josue Martinez to put in the net.

What this all means:  I see Union improvement, but not enough to get a win on the road.  Chicago did well on the road last week, but they were still playing Impact who I don’t have faith in yet.  Union are under pressure to get a win, playing on the road… I see this as a draw, likely 1-1, but 2-2 wouldn’t shock me.

Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@unholyunionNDY)

Is it too early to ask for Nowak’s head?

March 22, 2012 7 comments

OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

Clearly arguments can be made for both cases.  2 games in the season do not dictate the rest of the 32 left to play.  This is the third year Nowak’s been in charge and the team has regressed.  We have a lot of new players that Nowak believes will fit his style.  The entire team chemistry is disrupted with the turnover of our playmakers.  Our team needs time to start to gel together.  Why send our team internationally for preseason games instead of playing games against our own competition?

This list for each can go on, and on, and on.

It’s easy as a Philadelphian to quickly jump down a coach’s throat – hell, we’ve been doing that to Andy Reid for 5 years, justifiably so (only the foolish think he can field “America’s team” ).  But why, with seemingly all the wrong choices and the “clause of silence” all throughout Union management, should we hold back from attacking Nowak?

Well for starters he’ll make you run laps.

Being that this is practically a brand new team – 15 players remain from being on the 2011 roster at any point in the season, 9 (give or take) being primarily subs, with 1 now a regular starter – it does take time to gel.  The question now, as we know with Nowak, is with the acquisitions made in the offseason, do these players not only gel with Nowak’s bipolar strategy (‘solid’ defense with defensive offensive pressure) but do they have the capability to perform as such.

With Carroll, Califf (if not taking a shot, apparently), and Valdes being the central defense it seems, you will often find Gomez and Williams pressing the ball into the offensive half (and the occasional Valdes, and Gomez drops back).  This tallies for 5 players that are guaranteed to be conistent starters – barring national duty.  Add in Pajoy as a viable outlet for crosses, set pieces, and our only offense it seems, this makes up 6 of our 10 players.

So… what gives?

Lopez has yet to impress, and has made costly foolish mistakes that have lead to goals.  Mental lapses if you will (at least the one I saw against colorado, going for the ball instead of making sure the man behind him was marked).  Being that this is his 8th year playing soccer, one can’t really explain why he would have these costly mental lapses – one would assume maybe it’s just the newness of everything getting to him, but a professional shouldn’t be making these mistakes.

This shows what we expect – or at least explains – 7 of our 10 field players who are going to be our regular starters (sans call ups).  It almost seems like Nowak has most of the tools he needs (read wants) to implement his bipolar system.  But sadly, we are still missing 3 players.

Who do we have for these three players?  Well, a russian roulette of youth, talent, and immaturity.  You can almost label any of these descriptions on our cast of characters – considering that Marfan is probably the odds on favorite for regular starter, who knows how many times even he will play.  Adu, Mwanga, and Torres don’t even have guarantees in being a starter in any of these positions.  And sadly, this is where our push forward in play will likely, and constantly, stall.  Why?  Inexperience with eachother.  They are the connection from the backline to Pajoy, and even have direct paths toward net themselves – but because nothing is consistent with this area, it will always end up changing.

Looking at things in a breakdown, you almost wonder how we were only able to tally 1 goal a game so far.  Albeit there have only been 2 games, but we should have a more solid team than even last year.  So it goes to wonder – is Nowak almost completed with his experiment with our team and it will just take time?  Or, is this just the beginning of the end for him?

Week 1 in Review

March 19, 2012 1 comment

In seven days, Philadelphia Union have scored 2 goals, conceded 5, and sit with zero points out of a possible six.  Over 19,000 attended the home opener, with a far greater number than that wonder just what in the name of everything Holy is Peter Nowak doing with this club?

The match in Portland was almost certainly a loss from the outset.  The conditions were horrid for a team that doesn’t play in them often.  The Jeld-Wen Field surface is artificial, and the Pacific Northwest is almost a 100% guarantee for rain.  All of the roster turnover made for an impossible task for Union to escape Portlandia with any points.

The home opener yesterday, however, was a match that left me with mixed emotions.  You can see the week 2 predictions post to see that I, correctly, predicted Union would lose.  The game left me with a more confident feeling about the side, that they would be able to create goals once these new pieces get more game time together.  Then again, they had a significant spell where they had one more man on the field than did Colorado.  So, yes, they created chances in the second half, but they also gave up a goal to a 10-man squad.

My main issue with Union so far in their existence is that they don’t allow us fans to view them in the pre-season, unless we travel to their remote sites.  They don’t stream their pre-season matches online, so we are left to settle for team-generated articles chronicling the team’s progress.  It’s a nasty system of secrecy set up to keep us in the dark.  It’s the same cloud that hovers over yesterday’s benching of Captain Danny Califf.  Cap’n Ink says he’s not hurt, despite his coach’s claim that he is.  This is the reason I couldn’t write a season preview:  I had no idea what to expect from this team.

This is what I see so far:  They are struggling with their formation, some of the new players are not acclimating as well as others, and they don’t have a backbone as of now.  The team attempted to sell Michael Farfan, coming off of his Rookie of the Year finalist nomination, as the piece that would help us all forget Sebastien Le Toux.  He’s been ineffective in both matches so far.  His forward passing has not connected, his shots don’t get through defenders often enough, and he seems, at times, lost in where to make his runs to.  Granted, it’s just 2 matches into the season, but when the front office turns over the team as much as they have prior to this season, some better results should be expected if they’d like us to believe that they actually know what they’re doing.  Secondly, Gabriel Gomez has been very good in his first MLS week.  I like his service on set pieces, and he plays a gritty game defensively.  I have a lot of confidence so far in both he and Lionard Pajoy.  Neither is hard to understand, considering they’ve netted Union’s only goals of the season.  The Central American imports Josue Martinez and Porfirio Lopez have not impressed thus far.  Lopez was caught napping on the other side of MacMath’s bungle yesterday, and was victimized for at least 2 of the 3 goals Portland scored.  Martinez showed some signs of being a dynamic player, so I’ll hold off ripping him until he gets some more playing time.  Neither of those two, however, has covered themselves in glory.  And, the defense… what happened?  They allowed the second-fewest goals in the league last season, only to see 5 put in behind MacMath in 2 matches.  The new left back Lopez has not solidified that position, and Califf getting benched added a new state of flux to what last season was the strength and identity of the squad.  Now that that area is a liability, what DO Union hang their proverbial hat on as their identity?  They still attack with the orchestration of a team that does not practice together.  It’s become demonstrated by players, like Gomez, that the attackers are not getting into the right places to make the final and finishing touches.  They have trouble as an all-out attacking team, and they’re no longer a solid defensive side, so what are they?  This question could be answered so much more easily if I had been able to see more than 180 minutes (plus added injury time, of course) of the 2012 Philadelphia Union.

Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union  (@UnholyUnionNDY)

Season Picks – Week 2 Dan vs Nick

March 15, 2012 1 comment

All went well for Dan minus his Union pick, as he went 4 for 4 prior to the Union loss.  Nick caught back up due to his union prediction.  Scores Dan 4 – Nick 3.  On to week 2!

 

WTF is Nowak doing

 

NY:  San Jose v Houston:  Lingering from last year’s playoff defeat of the Union, I still don’t like Houston.  I know they won a road match last week, but that was against Chivas.  There might not be a worse team in this league than Chivas.  Therefore, I will say that Wondo nets one for the ‘Quakes, and the match ends in a 1-1 draw.

DK: As I would normally pick this match and say Houston over San Jose, Houston not scoring a goal til the 92nd minute against Chivas is going to make me walk away from this one.  Instead I’m going to pick Kansas City over New England.  I’m basing this on SKC holding strong and proving that they are and will be the top of the East (that counterattack is hard to stifle) and the New England is still rotting from the inside out in all areas of management, playing, and so forth.  2-0 for Sporting at home.

NY:  FC Dallas v Portland:  Lingering from last week’s defeat of the Union, I still don’t like Portland.  Dallas did well to frustrate PCNJ last week, but Portland isn’t a bunch of whiny, complaining quitters.  This being in Dallas, I think FCD takes this 2-1.

DK: I’m just going to say that I’m going to pick most all other league matches.  The ones you picked are likely going to be close ones.  I don’t think Portland can out match DC like the way they outplayed the Union, but it goes without saying that they are completely match fit and this will be a good match to watch.

My 2nd match is going to be Montreal and Chicago.  Chicago had a bye in the opening week and will be well rested.  If you include the fact that their starting line is still intact from last year, they are already miles ahead of the Impact… but what amount of impact (see what I did there) will a ‘record breaking’ crowd for Montreal do for the home team?  I don’t think a bunch of French Canadian fans will make that much of a difference.  I’ll say Montreal will finally tally a goal, but lose 2-1 to Chicago.

NY:  Real Salt Lake v New York:  RSL dominated a tired LA Galaxy 3-1.  They might double that goal-scoring output against a team who seemed to only have 2 players who cared against Dallas.  Ok, maybe not quite THAT bad, but RSL wins again, either 2-0 or 3-1.

DK: 3rd pick for me is Seattle verse Toronto.  Both played the 2nd leg of the CONCACAF Champion’s league Quarterfinal Wednesday night. Seattle, being thoroughly embarrassed by Santos – Toronto overcoming the “goliath” in LA.  One’s confidence is likely shattered, the other is walking on air.  Both are going to have their fair amount of travel-lag and fatigue between Wed and Saturday.  I don’t think the home field advantage of plastic and fluorescent colors will help Seattle against the confidence TFC will have after beating LA at home.  2-1 TFC.

NY:  Chivas v Vancouver:  Chivas sucks.  Sebastien Le Toux will become Sebastien Le Two in this one, and all Union faithful will shed a tear into their green beer.

 

DK: Far too obvious.  Vancouver played solid soccer in their opener.  Can’t do anything but agree with you on this one.  The gimme pick of the week – Vancouver wins 2-0

NY: Union v Colorado:  Union found it tough to navigate the midfield against Portland, and they will be faced with Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni in the central midfield which won’t make things any easier.  I’m setting the yellow card over/under at 4.5.  That same over/under applies to number of times we will collectively nearly crap ourselves because a Colorado right winger gets behind Porfirio Lopez.  Unless something changes miraculously from Monday to Sunday, I see this as another loss for the U, at BEST a draw.  Second verse, same as the first, Union 1-2 Colorado.

DK: I’ll stop being a homer for once and I’m going to get flack for this as well.  There’s no possible way we’re going to play as a team.  We look like we’re in 2010 form, minus someone attempting to fly like superman (yes, I’m never going to give up on referencing David Myrie’s performance).  We have no midfield – literally they almost disappeared.  Our strikers were too far depressed into our defensive half, providing few outlets for any possible counterattack (which we never had).  And our defensive line looks surprisingly shaky – granted that after Portland’s tying goal we started to panic and play the long ball – something of which we again, never had – and opened ourselves up more for constant pressure did NOT help ourselves defensively.  Colorado is a tough team to beat, even with Casey Connor out for who knows how long.  2-0 Colorado.  The only thing that could save us is home field advantage, Colorado travel lag, and MacMath showing us the same performance he did in goal last year.  But all signs point to no win.

NY:
SJ vs Hou – Tie
FCD vs Por – FCD 2-1
RSL vs NY – RSL win
Chivas vs Van – Van win
UNION vs Colorado – loss

DK:
SKC vs NE – SKC 2-0
Mon vs Chi – Chi 2-1
Sea vs TFC – TFC 2-1
Chivas vs Van – Van 2-0
UNION vs Colorado – loss

Season Picks – Week 1 Nick vs Dan

March 9, 2012 Leave a comment

In an effort to cure boredom, and lack of content on the blog, Nick and myself are going to pick a set of 5 games weekly.  Naturally, being a degenerate gambler, I had to make sure that something was in it for the victor.  So – the one dollar wager is on!

 

The rules are simple – 4 games a week are free to choose, and the 5th pick of the week will be that week’s Union game (if there is no Union game, we pick a different game).  Only the final outcome of the match will matter, not any predicted score.  So if we say Union win 5-1, but only win 1-0, the point is still ours.  Scores will only be used for a possible tie-breaker.  Whoever has the most points at the end of the season will have bragging rights – which won’t matter because Nick will still say (rightfully) he has more knowledge than I do.

PICK 1

 DK: Vancouver vs Montreal – Impact, what impact.   Montreal is new.  Vancouver has a team set, and with the prime addition of Le toux will likely come out on top in this match.  I don’t think Montreal is ready enough as a team, and won’t be so until mid season (prove me wrong).  Vancouver 2-0

NY:  Vancouver vs Montreal???  What is this, the National Hockey League?  Beat it with this two-teams-from-north-of-the-border nonsense.  This is the only game that I chose to look at different than yours.  I’m looking at RBNY @ FC Dallas.  This game is about the late-season charging Pink Cows against Brek Shea and company.  I see this one ending in a draw.  Henry will be in form after a surprisingly successful return run with Arsenal, and Brek Shea will want to produce for his club team before he gets shipped off to try to win his country a medal.

DK: I don’t need your damn hassle.

PICK 2

DK: DC vs KC – What can’t you say about KC?  They’re going to look to try to match and even top last season’s success – and they are road tested from last year (albeit to a fault).  It’s the season opener, and getting the first win on the road will set them apart from the rest of the eastern conference quickly – as that often became the downside for East coast teams (with the new format though, expect this to change).  Unless DC can get De Rosario to break out with multiple goals, KC is looking like the victor.  2-1 KC.

NY:  Sporting were very impressive once they actually got to play games in a consistent venue.  The question is: did KC benefit from playing at their comfy, new home, or did they benefit from the fact that no one in their right mind would enjoy visiting Kansas City?  I’m not sold either way.  The only problem is that DeRo is really the only bullet in the DC gun, which I expect to be shooting blanks in this first week.  SKC ftw.

PICK 3

DK: LA vs RSL – LA is coming off a CCL quarterfinal match on Wednesday, although being the number one team in the league – RSL is well rested and not one to take lightly.  LA will have the home crowd and the start of a new season behind them, but their minds may still be on the CCL.  I’ll predict RSL to take advantage of fresh legs and win 2-1

NY:  Galaxy did, indeed, already play this week, but I see this as a good thing.  I think it has put them in a rhythm, which I expect to carry over to this game.  It’s the beginning of the season, therefore I don’t see the heavy schedule running the players down too much.  It would be a big problem 2 months from now, but the team is fresh at present.  I expect LA to win this game, but probably just 1-0 because RSL is no slouch defensively.

PICK 4

DK: Chivas vs Houston – I took an easy pick, sue me.  Chivas can easily be described as a bottom feeder team.  Houston’s only fault may be under-estimating them at Chivas’  home.  Although, one can be a welcome mat for only so long – but I don’t expect things to change that drastically anytime soon.  Houston 2-0.

NY:  Shockingly, I’m going to agree with DK.  This also saddens me.  Any thought of Houston taking a team lightly during their season-opening match will be doused with the memory of Danny Califf netting the game’s only goal in 2011’s season-opening match.  I, also, think Houston will win 2-0.

UNION PICK
Portland vs Union

DK:  1-1 tie.  Portland gave Cooper to RBNY in the offseason, and Union lost a lot of franchise stars.  This will likely be an even matchup – even though the addition of attack minded players will help the Union, Nowak is obviously going to play a tight defensive strategy to counteract any plausible success.  Expect the inevitable confusion between players in the lineup.

NY:  I pick this as a loss for the U.  Too much change among the personnel responsible for scoring goals.  Freddy Adu is being depended on heavily for leadership, but he hasn’t played with this team long, and seemed, at times, to be at odds with teammates during matches.  He has had the training time with his team now, but I wonder if they can gel early enough to get a win in a venue with dreaded narrow pitch.  Such a field was their undoing in Houston’s Robertson Stadium, where they couldn’t find the space and couldn’t play the aerial game.  They were forced to pass vertically and deep, which lead to choppy possession and not enough goals.  Unfortunately, I expect more of the same in this one.  I ABSOLUTELY hope both myself and DK are wrong and Union win this match 5-0, but I’m very skeptical of the moves Nowak has made during this offseason and need to be shown by the team that they know how to win.

Summary:
DK
1: Vancouver over Montreal 2-0
2: KC over DC 2-1
3: RSL over LA 2-1
4: Houston over Chivas 2-0
Union : Tie

NY
Pick 1: RBNY / FCD Tie
Pick 2: KC over DC 2-0
Pick 3: LA over RSL 1-0
Pick 4: Houston over Chivas 2-0
Union: Loss