MLS Preview and prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, June 27 – 19:00 ET (0:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 1/1 – Draw 5/2 – Montreal Impact 13/5

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union welcome Montreal Impact to PPL Park this weekend looking to win a second match in four days, while Montreal will be looking to get back to winning ways after their defeat at Toronto on Wednesday night.

The Union are full of confidence after their 1-0 home win over Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders on Wednesday as a solitary CJ Sapong goal earned them a valuable three points.

Sapong has been in free goalscoring form as of late, netting four goals in his last four appearances. He is the main threat in front of goal for the Union right now and all the focus is on him. 

Philadelphia have won four from nine MLS matches at PPL Park this season, with the Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and DC United all beaten in Philadelphia.

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There are just two points separating the Union from a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at the midpoint of the season and they will look to take three from a Montreal Impact side who have been relatively poor away from home this term.

The Impact have played five games less than the Union but they are sat just one point behind them in the Eastern. Their CONCACAF Champions League campaign has left them trailing behind the in terms of games played and so they have a lot to play for.

The Impact have only won once on the road this season with a 2-1 victory at the Columbus Crew earlier this month in what was an incredible result and one that many probably didn’t expect to happen.

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Montreal have never won at PPL Park so a victory here would be their first in five attempts and would see them climb above the hosts on Saturday night.

Team News

Philadelphia Union have doubts over Sebastien Le Toux (knee), Michael Lahoud (thigh), Fernando Aristeguieta (leg) and Conor Casey (thigh) but Steven Vitoria is ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Montreal impact have plenty of injury concerns with Adrian Lopez (knee), Justin Mapp (elbow), Cameron Porter (knee) and Kenny Cooper (knee) all out. Doubts hang over Hassoun Camara (knee) and Eric Miller (hamstring).

Key Points

Philadelphia Union last five: L/W/L/L/W

Montreal Impact last five: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat – Montreal Impact have only scored four goals from seven games away from home this season.

Key Player: CJ Sapong – The young American has six goals this season, with four in his last four. He is in great form and will be a huge threat to a Montreal Impact side who struggle for victories on the road.

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Score Prediction 

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Montreal Impact – Although both teams have played midweek, Philadelphia are at home and haven’t had to travel during the week. Home comforts set the tone for this one as the Union should record back-to-back wins for the second time this year.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Portland Timbers vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: Providence Park – Saturday, June 21 – 22:30 ET (Sunday, June 22 – 02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Portland Timbers 4/6 – Draw 11/4 – Houston Dynamo 4/1

Match Preview

Portland Timbers host Houston Dynamo on Saturday, who visit Oregon for the second meeting between the two sides this season.

The Timbers won their third game on the bounce in their last regular season game, beating New England Revolution 2-0. This is the first time Timbers have achieved the feat in their history.

These victories have seen the Timbers rise up the table and into fourth place in the Western Conference and a win could see them into third if results go their way.

Fanendo Adi got both the goals over New England taking his tally to six for the season. In Adi they have a striker full of confidence who seems to be a constant threat. He has netted four more than their second highest scorer Nat Borchers.

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Portland have been solid at home this season, winning three, drawing three and having lost just once at Providence Park.

Houston Dynamo are looking to get successive wins after their 4-2 demolition of New York Red Bulls last time out.

Will Bruin is in good form after a slow start and he has now netted seven goals this season, including two goals against Portland Timbers in the reverse fixture.

Owen Coyle’s men have struggled away from home, winning just one at Toronto, and their poor away form could decide whether the Dynamo can reach the playoff positions or miss out come the end of the campaign.

The reverse fixture saw Houston Dynamo win 3-1 over Portland Timbers back in May, the goals came from Will Bruin, who bagged a brace, and one from Giles Barnes. Portland’s goal came from Fanendo Adi.

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Team News

Portland Timbers have doubts over Diego Valeri (ankle), while Ben Zemanski is still sidelined (knee).

Houston Dynamo will be without Brad Davies and Bonieck Garcia as Owen Coyle mentioned in a press conference earlier this week.

Key Points

Portland Timbers last five in MLS: L/L/W/W/W

Houston Dynamo last five in MLS: W/W/L/D/W

Key Stat: Portland Timbers have only beaten Houston Dynamo once in six attempts.

Key Player: Will Bruin – The Houston Dynamo forward will look to get his fifth goal in three games if he can hit the back of the net this weekend. Bruin will be trusted with unlocking the opposition defence, which he has done twice already this season.

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Score Prediction 

Portland Timbers 2-1 Houston Dynamo – Portland Timbers will just edge it with the single goal being the difference. Both teams have excellent strikers who know how to score but you can’t bet against Portland’s three game unbeaten run.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, June 13 – 22:00 ET (Sunday, June 14 – 02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle Sounders 11/10 – Draw 5/2 – FC Dallas 3/1

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders take on FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field looking to get back to winning ways following their defeat last week to Sporting Kansas City. While Dallas are without a win in four and also need to try and find three points on Saturday night.

The Sounders are at the top of the Western Conference and that’s no surprise given their squad strength. They have already picked up an impressive eight wins this season and look in good shape to retain their MLS Supporters’ Shield come the end of the regular season.

Seattle have two games in hand over second placed Vancouver Whitecaps with both tied on 26 points after 14 weeks.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Plus, they have only lost once at home this season and that was their home opener against San Jose Earthquakes when they lost 3-2.

Only once have Seattle Sounders not scored at home and that was in the 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City so they will be the more confident of the two sides heading into Saturday’s clash.

FC Dallas face their fourth straight away game in Seattle, having failed to pick up a win in their last three road trips.

In those three away games they have scored just the one and conceded six goals.

Blas Perez has been away on international duty with Panama, depleting them of the goals that he gifted them earlier this season, while Fabian Castillo has also been missing as a result of an injury and that has seen the Texan side’s form dip.

A win for FC Dallas would put them right back on track for a top place finish in the Western and so it’s a huge game for both sides.

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The reverse fixture this season saw FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders play out a 0-0 draw at Toyota Park on March 29.

Team News

Seattle Sounders have two injury worries with Chad Barrett out with hamstring troubles and Obafemi Martins had nose surgery but could play in a mask. Marco Pappa is still away on international duty with Guatemala. Clint Dempsey is expected to return to the starting lineup.

FC Dallas have plenty of players away on international duty with Tesho Akindele, Kellyn Acosta, Je-Vaughn Watson, Atiba Harris and Moises Hernandez all out. Fabian Castillo could return to the starting lineup after returning from injury last week.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/D/W/W/L

FC Dallas’ last five: W/D/L/L/D

Key Stat: The last three matches between these two have ended in a draw.

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Key Player: Dan Kennedy – The FC Dallas goalkeeper could have a busy day ahead of him with plenty of Seattle players returning back from international duty that could be laying assault on the FC Dallas goal, so he will need to be at his best.

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 0-0 FC Dallas – Both teams have players returning from international duty. Seattle Sounders could be light up front with injuries to Barrett and Martins potentially leaving them weak. FC Dallas could sneak it but without so many players, it looks likely that both teams will struggle to edge what should be a tight contest.

MLS Preview and Prediction: DC United vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – DC United vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: RFK Stadium – Saturday, May 30 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: DC United 11/10 Draw 23/10 Philadelphia Union 5/2

Match Preview

DC United take on Philadelphia Union at RFK Stadium on Saturday night in what is the second meeting in two weeks, with DC looking for revenge following their 1-0 defeat at PPL Park on May 17.

DC come into this one in relatively poor form with no wins in their last three matches but they still sit at the top of the Eastern Conference. A loss in the week away to Portland Timbers handed them their third defeat of the season but they are yet to lose at RFK this season and will expect to get back to winning ways in this one.

DC United had been in great form before their three-game winless run, amassing 18 points from a possible 24 in their eight previous games. A win against Philadelphia would put them in a strong position, cementing their place at the top of the Eastern for at least another week.

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Players like Chris Rolfe and Jairo Arrieta have been good so far and the team needs to look to them for guidance to get them out of this run they currently find themselves in.

Philadelphia Union come into this one having registered back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Their 2-0 win over New York Red Bulls last Sunday saw them keep a second consecutive clean sheet and they look to be in good shape.

The two wins come after a run of four straight losses in which they conceded ten goals so it’s a huge turnaround for the team that were languishing in ninth until those victories.

Heading to RFK Stadium hasn’t been an easy visit for away teams but the Union can take confidence after beating their opponents two weeks ago, with that crucial injury time winner from Zach Pfeffer giving them a possible psychological advantage.

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Another bonus is that DC have played a game already this week in Portland and Philadelphia have had more rest time before this fixture.

Team News

DC United will be without Collin Martin, Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva, Nick Deleon and also Michael Farfan through injury, plus Eddie Johnson still isn’t available for selection. Davy Arnaud is one booking away from suspension and needs to be careful.

Philadelphia Union also have their fair share of injuries with Conor Casey, Michael Lahoud, Andre Blake and Steven Vitoria all expected to miss out. Doubts remain over Raymon Gaddis, Jimmy McLaughlin and Antoine Hoppenot. Maurice Edu is expected to captain the side after returning from suspension.

Key Points

DC United last five: D/W/L/D/L

Philadelphia Union last five: L/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: DC United are undefeated in their last 15 at RFK Stadium.

Key Player: Taylor Kemp – He has three assists for DC United so far, with two of them coming at home, and will look to provide more service for a strong frontline in this one.

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Score Prediction

DC United 2-0 Philadelphia Union – DC will earn a comfortable win at home as they look to make their three-game home run count for points at the top of the Eastern. Philadelphia have been excellent in recent weeks but may come up short here.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday, May 30 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 1/1 – Draw 23/10 – Montreal Impact 5/2

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host in-form Montreal Impact on Saturday night at Toyota Park looking to end their winless run, having not recorded a victory in their last four matches, only amassing two points in that time. Montreal, however are flying high with back-to-back wins over Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.

Frank Yallop’s side have won just three games this season against teams that will also be vying for the playoff places in the Eastern Conference, with wins over Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC and New York City FC all coming at home.

A win against Montreal Impact would inject huge amounts of confidence into the side before they head to DC United on Wednesday as no team has yet to win at RFK Stadium this season.

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Montreal Impact are starting to put together a strong run of form and look to be in good shape.

Montreal sit behind their opponents by three points and have been brilliant in their last two matches, earning back-to-back victories against Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas in games in which they were underdogs.

The Impact still have a lot of matches to make up for in the MLS season due to CONCACAF Champions League commitments.

A Montreal win at Chicago would see them go level on points with the Fire and having played three games less, that would be a major boost.

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The last time these two met they played out a 0-0 draw in Chicago. Montreal, however have not lost in the last five meetings between the two sides.

Team News

Chicago Fire could welcome back Mike Magee after eight months on the sidelines with a hip injury. But Patrick Nyarko is still expected to be out with his long-term ACL injury.

Montreal Impact will be without Adrian Lopez (knee) and Justin Mapp (elbow). Cameron Porter is still a long-term absentee with his torn ACL, while Kenny Cooper (knee) and Dominic Oduro (groin) are also out. Along with these injuries, Hassoun Camara could be welcomed back along with Victor Cabrera and Eric Miller.

Key Points

Chicago Fire last five: W/L/L/D/D

Montreal Impact last five: D/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Montreal have failed to win in their last 20 away matches in MLS.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The Argentine has been excellent so far this season, registering two goals and two assists, and he will look to add to his tally against the Fire.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2 Montreal Impact – The Impact are in terrific form, scoring six in their last two against teams who were involved in last season’s playoffs in Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas. They will look ahead to the Chicago Fire game with some real optimism and could pick up a third victory on the bounce here.

Jay Heaps SLAMS soft penalty in Revs defeat to Sporting Kansas City

New England Revolution manager Jay Heaps slammed the penalty decision in the 4-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night as he watched his side lose for the first time in ten games.

During an attack in the 42nd minute, Dom Dwyer was supposedly fouled inside the area by Revolution defender Jose Goncalves, leading to referee Allen Chapman awarding a penalty.

When approached about the penalty kick after the game Heaps couldn’t hide his disappointment: “I’m always in a disagreement with a penalty-kick call. I thought it was really soft, but I haven’t seen it on film. I just didn’t like the way the momentum swung. That’s probably where I was most upset, not just one call.” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com.

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The penalty decision changed the course of the game, as the Revolution were still in the match at 2-1.

However, Heaps was quick to comment on a disappointing display from his side: “I think we all kind of sensed that you’ve got to put your chances away against Kansas City, especially here.

“I think tonight we lacked the composure. We’ve got to get back to where we’re playing at our best and we’re composed. In the end we learn from it.”

New England must now regroup as they play DC United in a key Eastern Conference game at the weekend.

Should Sporting Kansas City have been awarded a penalty, and did it have a huge affect on the result?

Revealed: The stat that makes 2015 a record year in MLS

We might only be a third of the way through the 2015 MLS season but it’s already been a record year because of these bizarre statistic.

There have been two games this season without a single save being made by either goalkeeper, with only a total of four matches in MLS history boasting that stat.

The two games this year saw contrasting results, which makes the statistic all the more shocking.

The 0-0 draw between FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders in March saw zero shots on target and therefore no saves, only the first time since 2009 that a game ended without a single save being made.

Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo then played out what is probably the most entertaining game of the season in April in that 4-4 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium.

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Staggeringly, that game saw just eight shots on target, with all of them ending up in the back of net.

Luis Marin and Tyler Deric failed to make a single save between them and that means 2015 has seen two games end without a save – the same number of games as in the 19 previous seasons.

This table below shows the four MLS games in history that have ended without a single save being made:

Date

Match Result

Shots On Goal

May 18th 2005

Real Salt Lake 2-0 Chivas USA

2

April 4th 2009

LA Galaxy 2-3 Colorado Rapids

5

March 28th 2015

FC Dallas 0-0 Seattle Sounders

0

April 25th 2015

Houston Dynamo 4-4 Sporting Kansas City

8

Interestingly, there has never been a game without a save after the month of May and so the chances of another one of these bizarre games this season look slim.

Should San Jose Earthquakes fans be concerned by this worrying statistic?

San Jose Earthquakes have established themselves as the surprise package at the start of the 2015 MLS season with five wins from their opening 11 games (D2, L4) and can be delighted with their performances in the early stages.

The Earthquakes have already recorded some impressive results with victories at home to Vancouver Whitecaps and Columbus Crew, as well as an excellent 3-2 road win against Seattle Sounders, despite going down to ten men after 52 minutes.

Dominic Kinnear has returned to San Jose as the head coach this season after an eight-year spell with the Houston Dynamo, guiding them to fourth place in the Western Conference and sixth in the overall Supporters’ Shield standings with a total of 17 points.

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Despite the excellent start to the season, there may be a slight cause for concern for the Earthquakes. At the same stage of last season, they had 13 points on the board from 11 games, just four points less than their current total this time around.

San Jose then went on to finish bottom of the Western Conference and second bottom of the Supporters’ Shield standings with just 30 points amassed come the end of the campaign.

A barren run of 15 games without a win at the end of last season heavily affected the Earthquakes’ final position in the table, so Kinnear will be desperate to ensure that his side avoid a similar type of capitulation in 2015.

A playoff finish for San Jose Earthquakes would almost certainly be an impressive achievement and if they can maintain their current form, there is no reason why they won’t be competing for the MLS Cup title in the post-season.

Sporting Kansas City hit with injury crisis ahead of New England clash

Sporting Kansas City have somewhat of an injury crisis to deal with as they look set to struggle to select 18 fit players for their clash with New England Revolution on Wednesday night.

SKC manager Peter Vermes has suggested that they only have 16 fit players available and that includes two goalkeepers.

“We need some bodies,” Vermes is quoted as saying by MLSsoccer.com.

Vermes has been said to be considering his options, and recalling Saad Abdul-Salaam from his loan spell with NASL side San Antonio Scorpions.

“That’s what we need at the moment. If he (Abdul-Salaam) doesn’t come back, we would only have 16 – and that includes 2 goalkeepers.”

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The current injury list includes the likes of Graham Zusi (head), Ike Opara (achilles) and Roger Espinoza (groin), who all are starters in the current squad.

Seth Sinovic (illness), Eric Palmer-Brown (international duty), Marcel de Jong (groin), Bernardo Anor (hamstring), Chance Myers (achilles) and Paulo Nagamura (back) are all expected to miss the tie too.

With an inconsistent start to the season already behind them, Sporting Kansas City will need to remain competitive during this period, and the double gameweek comes at possibly the worst time for Peter Vermes’ men.

They travel to Seattle Sounders on Saturday night after their home game with the Revs on Wednesday night.

Can Sporting Kansas City overcome their injury crisis to pick up points this week?

Are the New York Red Bulls on track to win their first MLS Cup?

The New York Red Bulls have made their best start to a Major League Soccer campaign in eight years, since they went unbeaten through the first five games in the 2007 season, and things are certainly looking promising.

Few would have thought anyone would be saying the words ‘Red Bulls’ and ‘promising’ after four weeks of the 2015 season as an offseason filled with negativity filled even the most upbeat supporter with pessimism.

Transition

The Red Bulls are not afraid to change things. The club have had more head coaches in the league’s 20 year history than any other team and radical change is something Red Bulls fans have become accustomed to.

But when club legend and head coach Mike Petke was fired at the turn of the year, supporters felt let down. They reacted badly to the decision made by sporting director Ali Curtis to fire Petke, just a month after star man Thierry Henry had hung up his boots.

Tim Cahill then left the club in February and new head coach Jesse Marsch didn’t really have the fans on his side as they opened the new season away at Sporting Kansas City at the beginning of March.

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But this team looks good. Real good. Henry is irreplaceable, there is no doubt about that, but his departure has forced the Red Bulls to improve as a team. They are playing as a collective group, rather than a group of individuals and Marsch feels that this team could be heading for success.

“This team keeps pushing,” he said after he watched his side beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Saturday. “It keeps coming together and I really like these guys. There’s something happening here and I think we all can feel it.

“I feel like we’re only going to get better so it’s been a good start but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Optimism

Marsh’s comments were said with excitement. He knows he has a great squad at his disposal. Bradley Wright-Phillips equalled the single-season goalscoring record with 27 last year but he looks to be a more complete player under Marsch and has already started the new year with two goals and two assists in three games.

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It took Wright-Phillips eight games to get his second goal of the 2014 season on his way to winning the Golden Boot last time out and so he is already looking set for a better campaign so long as he can stay consistent.

His fellow Englishman, Lloyd Sam has looked in fine form so far and he has stepped up his game in the absence of Henry early on, while Sacha Kljestan looks like he was one of the signings of the offseason.

Red Bulls bosses clearly felt Marsch was the man to take this team forward and they certainly look to be going in the right direction at this early stage.

They have picked up seven points from their opening three games, drawing at Sporting KC before back-to-back wins against DC United and the Columbus Crew – all three are top sides who will expect to be in the MLS Playoffs once again this season, so they are impressive results for Jesse Marsch’s side.

New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015:

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2015

They have gone unbeaten through three games, picking up an average of 2.33 points-per-game – a total only bettered by FC Dallas so far this season.

That’s already a major improvement from the start they made a year ago as it took the Red Bulls seven games to pick up their first win in 2014.

New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014:

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014

Table: New York Red Bulls after three games in 2014

Mike Petke watched his side concede six goals in their opening three games against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids last season. Vancouver made the playoffs last year but Colorado and Chicago were two of the worst teams, making their results against better teams this time around all the more impressive.

Success

The New York Red Bulls are a team that should be winning trophies and achieving success year by year. Things looked to be going perfectly when they lifted the 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield but back-to-back playoff failures have cast further shadows over the club. Shadows that need to be removed.

The emergence of New York City FC has just reinforced the fact that the Red Bulls must deliver. They have to try and dominate the Big Apple as well as the rest of Major League Soccer and the start they have made will certainly fill supporters with early season optimism.

They were just one game away from the title game last season as the New England Revolution beat them in the Eastern Conference Championship game. Early improvements this season could lead to greater success come December.

It is early but the Red Bulls look like a side ready to win their first-ever MLS Cup in 2015.