Major Soccer League: Round 23 Preview

Our soccer writer preview the Major League soccer round 23 action which kicks off on Saturday. 

It's crunch time as we are now into the last third of the MLS season and each team is making its intentions for the season clear. The run in is very exciting with shock results being the recurring trend.

Finishing in the top six qualifies you for the MSL Cup at the end of the season and finishing in the top two ensures that you avoid playing off for participation. Let's predict how this round of fixtures will pan out.
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Saturday 29 July

Atlanta United 11/20 | Draw 31/10 | Orlando City 4/1
Already fourth on the standings, Atlanta need to challenge for the top two positions to avoid playing off for the MLS Cup. They have won four and only lost one of their last five games. Last week they beat their Orlando City 1-0.

This time it’s Orlando City who are visiting Atlanta and revenge is all they have in mind. Nothing will stop them from throwing caution to the wind as there’s no immediate reunion with their hosts. Kaka’s team is now seventh on the Eastern Conference and a win might see them climbing back into the top six. Atlanta will win in their backyard. 

Sunday 30 July  

New England Rev. 6/10 | Draw 3/1 | Philadelphia Union 4/1
A seven-goal thriller last week saw New England Revolution overcome LA Galaxy 4-3. That was the sweetest way possible to redeem themselves and boost their morale after crashing out of the US Open Cup. They’re second from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and tied on points with their opponents who are just a place above them.

For Philadelphia, this is one of those so-called six pointers where you need to beat your opponent to increase the gap or at least draw to stay above them. Losing this one would extinguish their hopes of finishing in the top six. I’m backing Revolution for a victory.

New York Red Bulls 11/20 | Draw 32/10 | Montreal Impact 17/4
Thiery Henry’s former team, NY Red Bulls’ recent form has been absolutely amazing. They’ve won their last three games, finding the back of the net on a staggering 11 occasions. They are placed fifth on the Eastern Conference with 32 points in 20 games.

Montreal Impact are eighth on the Eastern Conference log with two games in hand on sixth-placed Columbus Crew. They need to start collecting points to cut the seven-point deficit. Montreal come into this one on the back of a period of inconsistency having won two and lost three of their last five games. NY Red Bulls are on form and they will edge the win here. 

San Jose Earthquakes 15/20 | Draw 51/20 | Colorado Rapids 7/2
Three heavy defeats in a row have seen San Jose slide down the Western Conference table and they’re now one point adrift of sixth place. Perhaps facing a side that is six points below them will give them courage to execute their game plan accordingly otherwise their woes will continue.

Lying 10th on the log, Rapids surprised everyone last week by holding Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC to a 1-1 draw. They also do have a psychological advantage over their opponents since they beat them 3-0 the last time they met, actually they haven’t been beaten by Rapids in the last three encounters. This one is more likely to end in a draw. 

Houston Dynamo 15/20 | Draw 11/4 | Portland Timbers 3/1
Dynamo are deservedly in third place as things stand. Their form both away and at home has been good. If they win this one, they stand a good chance of topping the standings even though that is dependent on the results of the other top two teams. Pushing it to the limit and leaving the rest to sort itself out is the best option.

What makes this clash enticing is the fact that Timbers are hot on their opponents’ heels and only one point is the deference. Similarly, Timbers could find themselves in the top two by the end of the round and they have it all to do for themselves in terms of leapfrogging Houston Dynamo. The teams will cancel each other out and the match will end in a draw. 

Minnesota 27/20 |Draw 47/20 | DC United 18/10
Nothing is going right for Minnesota this season as they’re rooted to the foot of the Western Conference table and winless in their last five games. They have only won five of their 21 league games so far.

DC United is kind of the Eastern Conference’s mirror image of their opponents, having lost their last five games and anchoring their table with only five victories in 21 games. The match will be a battle of two struggling sides and DC United will lose because of their horrendous away form. 

Sporting Kansas City 19/20 | Draw 47/20 | Chicago Fire 26/10
This is a top of the table clash with two sides that have been nothing short of impressive this season. Sporting Kansas will be looking to pile the pressure on top-placed FC Dallas and come into this one unbeaten in their last 19 matches on their ground.

On the other hand, Chicago Fire are off the back of a 2-1 defeat away to New York City, ending a run of 11 matches without a loss. When these two sides last met, Chicago Fire managed to avenge the previous defeat by reversing the 1-0 scoreline. Even though I like Bastian Schweinsteiger’s team here, I think they will lose to the hosts.

FC Dallas 5/10 | Draw 32/10 | Vancouver Whitecaps 47/10
Dallas are unbeaten in their previous five matches with three wins in a row being their recent record and that sums up why they're top of the Western Conference league. The one point advantage over second-placed Sporting Kansas City should motivate them to fight for a win.

Whitecaps are fourth on the standings with a recent record of two wins, two defeats and one draw over a period of five games. Finishing in the top two and avoiding MLS Cup play offs at the end of a regular season is still a possibility but this is a stern test against the table toppers. Dallas will manage a narrow victory. 

Written by Benedict Ngwenya for

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