MLS Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Chicago Fire

Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire

Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Friday, July 3 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: Houston Dynamo 6/5 – Draw 5/2 – Chicago Fire 11/5

Match Preview

Houston Dynamo host Eastern Conference’s basement side Chicago Fire on Friday night, looking to get their first win in three, while the hosts are looking for a first win in five.

Owen Coyle’s men have suffered back-to-back defeats away from home, suffering losses at Portland Timbers and FC Dallas both by the scoreline of 2-0 in their last two games.

Home comforts at BBVA Compass Stadium has seen Houston Dynamo pick up valuable wins over higher placed teams like New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers and also Columbus Crew, scoring eight goals in those three matches.

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After this game they play consecutive away games again, this time in San Jose before a visit to Real Salt Lake in what are two very tough fixtures against Western rivals.

They will need Will Bruin back to his best and ready to add more goals to his impressive tally of seven for the season.

Chicago Fire are on a poor run of form with no wins in their last four matches and no wins in the seven matches the Fire have played away from Toyota Park.

Their dreadful away form needs to change. With only two points picked up on the road, it’s clear to see why they are struggling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

Top scorer David Accam is still set to miss out having been absent for the defeat at home to DC United last week in what is a huge worry for Frank Yallop and his side as they look to win for the first time in five attempts at BBVA Compass Stadium.

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The last meeting between the two saw Chicago Fire run out 2-1 winners over Houston Dynamo in what was also the last game for former head coach Dominic Kinnear, while the Dynamo won the last game in Houston by a 2-0 scoreline.

Team News

Houston Dynamo will be without Rob Lovejoy (hamstring).

Chicago Fire will still be missing Shaun Maloney (bulging disc), David Accam (hamstring) and also Patrick Nyarko (knee).

Key Points

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

Chicago Fire last five in MLS: W/L/L/L/L

Key Stat: Chicago Fire have not won any of their last 15 away games in MLS.

Key Player: Giles Barnes – The Englishman has hit six goals and has one assist to his name this season. Last season’s Dynamo MVP will look to a lowly Chicago Fire to continue impressing with goals and grabbing assists.

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Score Prediction

Houston Dynamo 2-0 Chicago Fire – A comfortable win for Houston as they end successive defeats with victory in front of their home fans. Chicago Fire on the other hand look to be without a win in five after this.

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MLS Fantasy Tips: Gameweek 13 Picks

Gameweek 13 of the MLS season is just around the corner and so it’s time to quickly assess your MLS Fantasy options ahead of what is a hectic round of fixtures.

Six clubs have a Double Gameweek this time around with Colorado Rapids, DC United, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders all playing twice over the course of the next five days.

Here are the three picks we recommend for the upcoming round of fixtures:

Chad Barrett  – Forward (Seattle Sounders) – $6.7m

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The Sounders frontman has been a worthy replacement for the injured Obafemi Martins in the past couple of weeks and has bagged two goals in his last two starts.

With the Sounders playing twice at home this week, Barrett is a cheaper option than most of his teammates at just $6.7m and should be strongly considered.

Cyle Larin – Forward (Orlando City) – $5.9m

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Cyle Larin is the out-and-out striker for Orlando at the moment and his pace makes him a constant threat.

Orlando play Columbus Crew at the Citrus Bowl this weekend, who are not as strong away from home, so at $5.9m, Larin is a pick many be looking at if they don’t already have him.

Kevin Doyle – Forward (Colorado Rapids) – $8.0m 

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Irish international Doyle is a poacher worth putting in the side but the price may be off-putting at $8.0m, considering he is unproven in MLS.

However, Doyle is known for being a nuisance in the box and could cause both Seattle and Portland problems this week if he can get his first starts in those games.

Who are you putting in your MLS Fantasy team this week?

Houston Dynamo striker enjoying life under British boss

Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin is enjoying his football under new boss Owen Coyle after scoring three goals in his last two appearances.

Bruin was instrumental in their 3-1 win against the Portland Timbers last weekend, scoring twice.

Dynamo captain, Brad Davis sympathises with the forward playing as a lone striker, suggesting: “It takes a mentally tough individual to do that, because it’s not always glorious,” Davis said when speaking to MLSsoccer.com.

“You’re usually getting hit from behind, usually up against two or three guys. It’s more about his mental strength than anything. He’s got the physical and athletic ability to handle that; that’s why he is there.”

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The Dynamo have adopted a 4-4-1-1 formation in recents weeks, playing Giles Barnes just behind Bruin, and it’s been so far so good for Coyle’s men.

Will Bruin was also approached about his role and had the following to say: “Under Dominic Kinnear was genuinely my first time ever playing as a lone forward.

“It’s a learning process, and the best way to learn is trial-and-error. Here, I think Owen (Coyle) playing (in the same position) really helps me. He tells you things you have to look for and things that are a little overrated,” said Bruin.

Owen Coyle has finally started to see some success come to his Dynamo side, and he will be hoping that Will Bruin will carry on his form.

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“I obviously know from own playing days how tough a job it is,” Coyle said. “It’s a thankless task for a striker to do the work that the team needs.”

Bruin has been brilliant recently, and he will have to continue this form to keep designated player Erick Torres out of the side once the Mexican arrives in Texas.

How influential has Will Bruin been to the Houston Dynamo and will he keep his place once Erick Torres arrives?

MLS Power Rankings: Week 1 – Chicago fall to bottom of the pile

The first weekend of the 2015 MLS season is behind us and that means it’s time to look at the latest Power Rankings.

It’s early in the season and so teams will be changing positions a lot to begin with and decisions are based on this season’s performances alone.

The team at MLSGB have ranked all the teams based on their displays in week 1 and our order can be seen below.

The LA Galaxy remain top as they comfortably saw off the Chicago Fire on Friday night at StubHub Center with the Fire falling to bottom after a poor display.

Seattle Sounders are the only other team to stay where they were in last week’s Power Rankings as they sit in second place after a 3-0 demolition job against the New England Revolution, who fall the furthest down to 17th after a lifeless display without Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones.

Other notable changes include the Toronto FC, who are up nine places and the Houston Dynamo, who climbed eight after their win against the Columbus Crew.

The Crew fell seven places this week while the Vancouver Whitecaps dropped six places after that 3-1 home loss to Toronto.

MLS Expansion clubs Orlando City and New York City FC sit in the middle after a 1-1 draw in Florida.

MLSGB Power Rankings – Week 1

Do the Chicago Fire deserve to be bottom of the power rankings after one week?

MLS Opening Weekend: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 1

The 2015 Major League Soccer season is finally upon us! MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy take on Chicago Fire at StubHub Center tonight in the first game of the new campaign and it looks set to be one hell of a year.

The league is more competitive than ever before and the addition of the two new MLS Expansion franchises, New York City FC and Orlando City bring even more quality along with stars such as Kaka and David Villa set to play their first MLS game against each other in week 1.

Other standout fixtures for the first weekend include Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders vs New England Revolution with both games taking place on Sunday after the Orlando City vs New York City game.

That’s all to come though so to fill your time before then, here are five bold predictions ahead of the first weekend of the 2015 MLS season. Lets go!

1. Chicago Fire to spoil LA Galaxy’s opening party

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The LA Galaxy are already favourites to retain their MLS Cup title come December and many see their opening game against the Chicago Fire as a relatively easy one. However, the Fire have invested heavily in the squad this offseason and have new stars in Kennedy Igboananike, Shaun Maloney and David Accam ready to pounce. Add that to the fact the the Galaxy lost their first game of last season too and you’ve got a recipe for Chicago success in the curtain raiser.

2. Fernando Aristeguieta to score at least two in debut against Colorado Rapids

The Philadelphia Union host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday and will expect to kickoff 2015 with victory, given that the Rapids have lost their last nine away games in MLS. New signing Fernando Aristeguieta should start up top and will have plenty of opportunities in and around the box to start life in MLS with goals!

3. All goals to be scored by debutants in Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC game

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Two Canadian rivals go head-to-head on Saturday night as the Vancouver Whitecaps take on a Toronto FC side set to unleash star signings Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. Vancouver have a Designated Player of their own to unleash in the shape of Octavio Rivero and all the goals in this one will be scored by debutants.

4. Kaka and David Villa to both score on their debuts

All eyes will be on Kaka and David Villa as Orlando City and New York City start their first ever MLS campaign against each other on Sunday. Both players have been given the captain’s armband and will lead by example with stellar performances that will see both stars find the net.

5. Dom Dwyer to start the new season with a hat-trick

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Sporting Kansas City welcome the New York Red Bulls on Sunday evening and two English strikers will face up against each other once again as Dom Dwyer and Bradley Wright-Phillips (last year’s two highest goalscorers) go head-to-head in Kansas City. Dom Dwyer will outshine BWP on Sunday though and the Sporting KC hero will start 2015 with a hat-trick against a Red Bulls side that has gone through serious transition.

What are your bold predictions ahead of the opening weekend of the new 2015 MLS season?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: New York Red Bulls

As the 2015 season draws closer, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what the New York Red Bulls will be looking to achieve this season…

The New York Red Bulls endured a slightly frustrating campaign last season in the Eastern Conference but their playoff form was good and they must take positives into the new season after only narrowly missing out on a place in the MLS Cup final. It would appear difficult for fans to take positives into the new season at this point however after an offseason of major changes at the club. This could be a transitional season for the Red Bulls as Mike Petke has gone, a new manager is in and several key players have departed, none more important to the side than Thierry Henry, who hung up his boots at the end of the 2014 campaign.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 4th – P34 – W13 – D10 – L11

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What needs to change this year?

The Red Bulls need to find a killer instinct in games, something which they lacked on occasions last season and they must concede fewer goals. To have had top scorer, Bradley Wright-Phillips in their side and only end the campaign with a +5 goal difference is proof of their inability to shut teams out. The Eastern Conference was closely contested last year with just nine points separating the New York Red Bulls in 4th and DC United at the top. With such fine margins and an even more competitive conference this season, they must perform at the highest level for every game.

The Eastern Conference is going to be fiercely competitive this year, with new teams New York City FC and Orlando City looking to raise a few eyebrows, while the New England Revolution look strong candidates to push all the way as they did last campaign. So it is essential that the Red Bulls get off to a strong start this season if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs. That will give supporters confidence, something that is crucial at this stage and new head coach Jesse Marsch will need the fans on his side if his team are to be successful.

Key changes to squad

Ins: Kyle Reynish – Goalkeeper, Andrew Jean-Baptiste – Defender, Damien Perrinelle – Defender, Ronald Zubar – Defender, Sal Zizzo – Midfielder, Leo Stolz – Midfielder, Felipe Martins – Midfielder, Sacha Kljestan – Midfielder, Mike Grella – Forward.

Outs: Thierry Henry – forward,  Tim Cahill – Midfield, Ryan Meara – Goalkeeper, Kosuke Kimura – Defender, Ibrahim Sekagya – Defender, Richard Eckersley – Defender, Jamison Olave – Defender, Ambroise Oyongo – Defender, Bobby Convey – Midfielder, Eric Alexander – Midfielder, Saer Sene – Forward.

Key player: Bradley Wright-Phillips – Forward

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Wright-Phillips is undoubtedly the key man for the Red Bulls and he has even more weight on his shoulders with the key departures of Henry and Cahill. He showed last season what a brilliant goalscorer he is and how he can be the difference in the side. It will be difficult for him to match last seasons total of 27 but he will be determined to try and beat that and continue where he left off. He has signed a Designated Player contract and his performances will be essential to how the Red Bulls get on this season. Without the extra threat of Henry, teams will set up to focus more attention on BWP as they know he will be the man to stop. The Englishman will certainly fight for his team and it will be interesting to see how he gets on after such a brilliant season last time out.

One to watch: Ronald Zubar – Defender

Ronald Zubar could well make the difference at the heart of the Red Bulls defence and with his vast experience of playing in top European competitions, his teammates can learn a lot from him. Zubar has nine Champions League appearances to his name and it will be intriguing to see how his Red Bull career will unfold. At 30 he still has a few years ahead of him and could play a crucial role in helping New York steady the ship.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 8th 

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The fact is that the Red Bulls look to have changed too much, too quickly. It will take time for Jesse Marsch to get his new ideas across to his players and the squad has changed dramatically too. Star striker Wright-Phillips is still there but without the support of Henry it will be a monumental challenge to build on his 27 goals in the regular season last year. A good start is crucial but it looks like the Red Bulls may have to settle for a year of transition before coming back stronger in 2016.

How do you think New York Red Bull will fare in 2015?

Teal Bunbury: We can win the MLS Cup

Teal Bunbury believes New England Revolution can win trophies in 2015 after an “unbelievable” first year with the club.

“The welcoming I got throughout the whole year just progressed and it was an unbelievable season. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was exciting and I’m still excited to this day to be part of the Revs,” said Bunbury while talking to the New England Revolution YouTube channel.

Bunbury joined the Revs after a four-year spell at Sporting Kansas City and chipped in with six goals and eight assists from his 35 appearances in all competitions.

The 24-year-old forward come winger is in a confident mood heading into the new season.

“I hope it’s just like last year, I want it to be a progression. I want to be able to give all I can on the field. And this year, I feel we can win the MLS Cup and Open Cup as well.”

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New England Revolution fell just short of winning their first ever MLS Cup in 2014 when they lost 2-1 to LA Galaxy after an extra-time winner from Robbie Keane in what was a pulsating final.

The Revs have now been to five MLS Cup finals and have failed to get over the line on every occasion, but Bunbury feels this New England side has the spirit to finally win that elusive title in 2015.

“When you’re a player it’s all about winning games, it’s about winning championships and that’s really what you play for. You obviously want do well individually, but as a team I feel this group of guys has the best chemistry I’ve seen on any team, through my club days when I was younger up until now.”

Can Teal Bunbury and the New England Revolution win the MLS Cup in 2015?

Seattle Sounders midfielder Andy Rose full of praise for “fantastic” Gonzalo Pineda

Andy Rose is a midfielder that is very much still learning his trade at Seattle Sounders, but believes he’s developed his own game by being around players such as Gonzalo Pineda.

“He’s a fantastic player”, Rose told the Seattle Sounders YouTube channel. “Obviously you don’t play for the Mexican national team unless you have something special.  The way he collects the ball, how quickly he plays, his fitness levels are incredible.”

The 24-year-old Australian only featured six times in the 2014 MLS regular season, which gave him plenty of time to study Pineda’s style of play and it’s helped him learn crucial elements of becoming a successful midfielder.

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“He floats around, he’s very smart on the ball, he always knows what he’s going to do with it before he gets it, so these are things I think I’ve developed watching him and playing with him.”

Rose is also sure that a career in coaching is sat waiting for Pineda when he finally has to hang up his boots.

“He’s great with me, I think he’s going to go on and be a great coach just because he’s always talking to the youngsters and giving them little words of advice here and there, so obviously a great guy to learn from.”

Will Andy Rose step-up and become an important player for Seattle Sounders in 2015?

New York Red Bulls assistant coach Denis Hamlett says his “experience can help”

Denis Hamlett has joined up with Jesse Marsch as the New York Red Bulls assistant coach and is confident that their good relationship can have a positive influence on the club.

The pair previously worked together as the coaching team at Montreal Impact in the 2012 season and achieved a seventh place finish in the Eastern Conference.

When speaking to the New York Red Bulls YouTube channel, Hamlett said, “I’m extremely excited to be here with the staff and working with Jesse. I think the last ten days has gone really well for us in terms of the guys working hard, adjusting to the demands that Jesse wants the team to play.”

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Understanding

“We have a good relationship, but at the same time I think when we get on the field, I understand the things that he wants to get accomplished with the group, so I feel that it’s a good balance of me knowing him, but more importantly just getting stuff done on the field.”

“Because I know him so well, I understand the things that he wants to get accomplished from our days of working together in Chicago, so a lot of the stuff we do is similar.”

“I think my experiences can help him get across the messages that he wants his team to play and look like, and just be there as a good resource, I think that’s important.”

Will Jesse Marsch and Denis Hamlett work well together in 2015?

Montreal Impact new signing Eric Alexander says players “have to push” each other

Midfielder Eric Alexander has recently joined Montreal Impact following two successful seasons at New York Red Bulls and has already spoken positively of how the team can improve.

When speaking to his new club’s YouTube channel this week, he said, “competition is always good in positions and it brings out the best in players. There are a lot of good players here, especially in the middle so it’s going to be tough but I think it’s going to be good for the club overall because we’re going to have to push each other.”

He also added that he hopes to bring “competitiveness” into positions where he may be playing and will “push” his teammates in order to try and “make everybody better.”

Eric Alexander is an experienced MLS player and has also had spells with FC Dallas and Portland Timbers before his time in New York.

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Settling in at a new club can sometimes be a daunting prospect, even for the most decorated professional players, but it isn’t something that fazes the 26-year-old.

“It’s my fourth team in six years so being traded is nothing new. You always know it can happen, but I’m pretty excited to be here and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Alexander sees his strongest position as a central ‘box-to-box’ midfielder and said, “my better stretch of games came last year when I played in the middle, I think that’s my more natural position, but I don’t mind playing out wide at all. I’m not your typical winger but I still feel I can contribute.”

How important will Eric Alexander be for Montreal Impact in the 2015 MLS season?