MAJOR League Soccer expert Will Dyer (@W2Dyer) returns with three more Stateside punts.
Chicago Fire v New York City FC | Saturday 01.00
Chicago have won their last two home games and created an awful lot of chances in each win. The Fire are probably benefitting from Shaun Maloney’s invention in midfield and look pretty good on six points after just five games. They haven’t played for 20 days now whilst NYCFC have played three games in the last 13 days.
New York City are really struggling in front of goal with David Villa sidelined. They’ve scored a paltry five goals in seven games. Villa has two of those. He didn’t train on Wednesday so looks unlikely to feature this weekend and that could be a big blow for New York.
A turn-around of back-to-back wins has me impressed with this Chicago side. The Men in Red lost their first three but delve further and it’s probably understandable.
Fire started off with a trip to the LA’s StubHub Center which is the toughest fixture in Major League Soccer. They followed that up with a home tie against Vancouver Whitecaps who are currently sitting pretty at the top of the Western Conference with five wins from eight and the other defeat came in Northern Californian going down 2-1 to San Jose.
The Western Conference has superseded the Eastern for some time now so it comes as no to surprise to learn that Fire have won both their games against their fellow Conference rivals and lost all three to Western sides.
I’m backing the Fire to win here; they only lost two of 17 home games last season, many of those were draws but Frank Yallop’s changes in the off-season look like they might have done the trick. I had NYCFC down as the bottom side in my season preview, they are going the right way about proving me right and without heir marquee man they look set to struggle.
Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union | Sunday 00.30
The U’s defence was their Achilles heel last season and it looks like that’s spilled over to this campaign. Their 13 goals conceded is the worst in MLS and they hold a poor record in this derby ever since the club’s conception.
Crew have kept three clean sheets in five games and won two of their three ties in Columbus. A clean sheet alone could be good enough for them to win this game as Philly have yet to keep one. They’ve fired in eight goals in six games, which is a pretty decent return.
Union have lost four of their last six games. They’ve only picked up points in back-to-back ties with NYCFC who are also struggling. Fernando Aristeguieta has bagged three goals for Philadelphia but he’s been eclipsed by Crew’s Kei Kamara and with Jason Meram also chipping in with two already, it looks like Crew’s approach to goal is providing the strikers with plenty of chances.
Crew have dominated this local derby since 2010. There have been 14 competitive meetings of which Columbus have W10-D1-L3. I think it’s pretty likely that they’ll add to that already dominant head to head record with a win over leaky Union.
Vancouver Whitecaps v DC United | Sunday 03.30
How many times will Vancouver get lucky? I opposed them with Real Salt Lake last weekend, which didn’t pay off, but I doubt they would have won that game without RSL’s second-half red card. Darren Mattocks goal was their only shot on target. Sooner or later it’s going to pay to oppose them, big time.
DC United have lost just once in six and that was away at the Red Bull Arena. Defeat to New York Red Bulls in their own backyard is no disgrace, NYRB are the only unbeaten side left in MLS and have just hit the top of the Eastern Conference.
So then, we have ourselves a very solid DC United side. I tipped them to finished second in the East and that’s where they currently stand and that’s largely because of their defensive record. I think they could avoid defeat quite easily in Vancouver, Double Chance looks a good option at odds-against but I can’t help but get drawn in by that gargantuan price on the away win.