Major League Soccer: Round 22 preview

Our soccer writer previews round 22 of Major League Soccer which gets underway on Saturday.

We’re almost two thirds into a regular Major League Soccer season and round 22's fixtures have some enticing encounters in store for us. Shock results were the order of the previous round and the trend might continue as we approach the pinnacle. One thing is for sure, entertainment is guaranteed and the games will be even more if they yield some profit. Brace yourself for a thrill-packed weekend of football.
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Saturday 22 July

Orlando City 39/20 | Draw 49/20 | Atlanta United 31/20
After a 3-1 defeat at the hands of top-placed Toronto FC, Orlando City will have one thing in mind, revenge. Kaka’s team lies sixth on the Eastern Conference standings and they are only one point clear of their nearest pursuers. They have suffered two defeats in their last five outings, winning one and drawing two.

Atlanta United are fourth on the standings and they are really in good form. They come into this match boasting four wins and just one defeat in their last five games. However, a defeat or a draw could make things very interesting since the gap between fourth and seventh is just two points. Atlanta are in good form and are tipped to win here.

New York City 8/10 | Draw 47/20 | Chicago Fire 34/10
In their recent encounter New York City relinquished a lead to settle for a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC. This is their chance to give their fans something to cheer about by beating the team that’s one spot above them on the Eastern Conference standings. The team’s striker David Villa is second on the goalscorer’s chart, finding the back of the net on 13 occasions so far this season.

Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Chicago Fire - as their name suggests - keep raging with a great deal of intensity. They lie second on the log with only three defeats in their 19 games so far this season. The Fire haven’t tasted defeat in their last five league games but they’ve recently been knocked out of the US Open Cup by Cincinnati courtesy of a penalty that resulted into the game’s solitary goal. The MLS leading goalscorer Nemanja Nikolic will be hoping to add to his tally of 16 strikes. A stalemate is on the cards here.

Minnesota United 5/2 | Draw 5/2 | New York Red Bulls 19/20
This has been a very bad season for Minnesota United as they anchor the Western Conference table with only five wins in their opening 20 games. They have only won one of their last five games. In their most recent outing they managed to hold Houston Dynamo to a goalless draw.

This is a story of two teams with contrasting fortunes since New York Red Bulls have won all their last five league games. They’ve also recently beaten New England Revolution 1-0 in the US Open Cup to progress to the semi-finals. Their recent performances have been something to behold and that’s why they’ve suddenly climbed to fifth on the Eastern Conference log.

Sunday 23 July 

DC United 23/20 | Draw 49/20 |Houston Dynamo 2/1
DC United lie bottom of the Eastern Conference table with only five wins in 20 games. They’ve lost all their last five games in all competitions. Turning the corner against high-flying Houston Dynamo will be an almost insurmountable task.

Dynamo are going through a bit of a rough patch with a mixed bag of results. In their last six games they’ve managed three draws, on victory and two defeats. They come into this match on the back of being held to a goalless stalemate by strugglers Minnesota. I think Houston Dynamo will return to winning ways in this clash.

Toronto FC 9/20 | Draw 31/10 |Colorado Rapids 57/10
A strong mentality saw Toronto FC come back from 2-1 down to salvage a point against New York City on Thursday. They haven’t lost a single game at home this season with seven wins and two draws and that’s why they are the Eastern Conference log leaders.

Colorado Rapids has been blowing hot and cold and being second from the bottom of the Western Conference log is a true reflection of their season so far. The last time they took to the field they were thrashed 3-1 by Seattle Sounders. BMO Field is a fortress hence Rapids will lose on the road.

Columbus Crew 15/20 | Draw 5/2 | Philadelphia Union 7/2
Columbus Crew are one point shy of the top six and a win is what they need to put themselves in a good position ahead of the final third of the season. This is an opportunity for them to redeem themselves at home after being beaten by Philadelphia Union the last time out.

Philadelphia Union are five points behind their opponents and cutting the deficit is all they have in mind. They might be enduring a tough season but they’ve won all their recent three games against Columbus Crew. Philadelphia’s recent dominance of their opponents will continue.

New England Revolution 8/10 | Draw 26/10 | LA Galaxy 3/1
New England Revolution are still licking their wounds after going down 1-0 to New York City which saw them crash out of the US Open Cup in the quarterfinals. Prior to that they had lost four and won one of their recent fixtures which has further deepened their crisis and they find themselves languishing in 10th place on the log.

Fresh from a 5-2 defeat by Manchester United in a friendly they were slightly edged out by Vancouver Whitecaps which has stretched their losing streak to five games. Conceding 33 goals in 19 games doesn’t make for a good reading and it highlights LA Galaxy’s poor defence this season. David Beckham’s former team will turn their fortunes around against fellow strugglers.

Montreal Impact 5/4 | Draw 9/4 | FC Dallas 2/1
Montreal Impact have been toying with their fans’ hearts of late, winning the current game only to lose the next. They have been defeated twice and won twice in their last five fixtures. They have not beaten FC Dallas in their last five encounters.

The only thing that can cost FC Dallas this game would be complacency as they are wearing the favorite tag. The lie second on the Western Conference standings and they’ve only been beaten once in their last five matches. Dallas should easily win this clash.

Real Salt Lake 15/10 | Draw 22/10 | Sporting Kansas City 17/10
After relinquishing their lead to lose 1-0 to Manchester United in a tightly contested friendly Real Salt Lake went on to smash Portland Timbers 4-1 in a shock league result of the round. If they take their recent performances into the next games they could soon be knocking on the top six's door.

Sporting Kansas top the Western Conference standings with 32 points after 20 games and they’re just one point clear of FC Dallas who have played two games less. This is their opportunity to manage what they can, to win their game and hope other teams do them favours. I foresee current form helping Real Salt Lake topple the table toppers.

Monday 24 July 

Vancouver Whitecaps 9/10| Draw 24/10|Portland Timbers 29/10
In the previous round Vancouver Whitecaps defeated LA Galaxy away from home which has made it two wins on the bounce and propelled them to fourth place on the Western Conference standings. They are tied on points with the two teams below them so they desperately need a win to stay ahead of the chasing pack and challenge for the top spot.

Having played three games more than their opponents, Portland Timbers are just one spot below Whitecaps. They come into this match having endured a five-game winless run. I don’t see Portland Timbers stopping Whitecaps from recording a victory.

Written by Benedict Ngwenya for

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