My PWP-Pick-List Week 7 by Drew Olsen

It's a busy week for Philadelphia. If you get into Fantasy Football, it's my recommendation you have at least two players from the Union in your squad this week. Who they are is up to you - I have added Amobi Okugo and Raymon Gaddis. In considering my PWP Pick List this week, here are my prognostications based on not having any additional injury or suspension information than I was aware of Friday.

New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union:  Bottom line here is that the overall tenor of the attack and defending of the Union has been better this year than New York.  A more potent attack wasn't in the cards for the Red Bulls against DC United, and I'm just not seeing it happening here either.

Wenger added value early on, as did Edu later, against Real Salt Lake. That value should continue, provided Kimura still lines up as the right fullback for the Red Bulls. Yeah, it's hard to go against a team with the firepower of New York, but I'm just not linked in to seeing Mike Petke win a battle of chess against Hackworth - for whatever that means...  Union take 3 points - I hate saying that again, but it is what it is. If Eckerlsey lines up with Sakagya, Olave and Miller, then New York wins.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution:  This is a tough one - both teams are performing well early. The hitch for the Revolution has been scoring goals while the giddy-up for Chicago has been a renewed attack with Amarikwa leading the way.  If Amarikwa gets a goal against the stingy defense of New England, the Fire remain on fire. Otherwise I can see this game finishing in a nil-nil draw.

Philadelphia Union vs Houston Dynamo:  I'm not sure why I feel this way, but my thinking is the Union defense won't be able to contain a renewed dynamic Dynamo, with a return of David Horst and a focused Will Bruin (one of the more normal #9's in MLS) after having just played 3 days ago against a Red Bulls teams that was itching for it's first win. I don't see this as a high scoring game but Houston gets my head nod this week.

Colorado Rapids entertain San Jose Earthquakes:  A solid three points last week saw the Rapids take advantage of an injury depleted Toronto side. San Jose continues to have one of the poorer performing defenses across MLS this year and I see the Rapids rapidly taking advantage of that. Might we see Brown get the nod to start against what I consider to be a slower defensive center-back pairing of Bernardez and Goodson?  Rapids win.

Vancouver returning home to face LA in a quick back-to-back out West:  Hard to see Vancouver take three points here against a team that completely dominated the PWP six-step process against them just this past week; the Whitecaps will be lucky to escape with a draw but I think they can in the friendly confines of BC Place. If not, LA is slamming its foot down early this year and, like Seattle, if they can muster points early on this season, then most of the other teams will be chasing the Galaxy.

Columbus Crew vs DC United:  Can DC win three on the trot - not likely if Columbus are healthy and firing on all cylinders.  Berhalter was probably okay with 1 point traveling out to San Jose this past week, but three points are three points. To set the tone for a continued presence atop the Eastern Conference, this is a game the Crew should win; 3 points to Columbus.

FC Dallas entertains a still hurting Toronto:  If Toronto is going to win this game, they need to contain a very aggressive Dallas attack - an approach like they had against Seattle would do well for the Reds.  Is everyone healthy? If so, I think the passive aggressive Reds can take three points in Dallas - if not then Dallas probably puts at least one past Toronto and wins at least 1-nil.  Expect Toronto to have no more than 40% of the possession this game... key is Defoe and Bradley teaming up to penetrate the weak center of Dallas.

Sporting Kansas City vs Montreal:  I may get burned on this one, but I think this is a no-brainer; Sporting take 3 points against a Montreal team that will probably have poor possession, poor penetration and poor results in shots on goal against one of the best defenses in MLS.

Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers:  Wow - talk about a tough hill to climb so early in the season for Portland. What should have been 3 points melted away in the final 20 minutes to one point against a Chivas side that actually had 52% of the possession against Portland.  Talk about a difference between one year and the next - if memory serves, the last time Portland entertained Chivas at home, they won putting three goals past the Goats.  And in their last game of the season the Timbers put five past Chivas while having ~54% of the possession.  I just don't see the Timbers taking three points here against the greatest nemesis of 2013 - Real wins.  As a supporter of the Timbers, it really pains me to say that, but if Portland is going to turn this season into a positive before mid-April, then their defense REALLY needs to get better...

Chivas USA vs Seattle Sounders:  It would be surprising, very surprising, to see the Goats take 3 points - or even 1 point - against Seattle.  With Dempsey beginning to find his role (in attack and defense) I just don't see Chivas scoring unless they really abuse a slower Marshall in the center - otherwise there are simply too many attacking angles that the Sounders can offer - if there is a blowout this weekend it's likely to come here as Seattle take 3 points.

That's all for now - I was five for nine last week - not bad. It's always a dodge to offer up prognostications, but there you have it.

Next up my Cumulative PWP Indices through Week 6.

All the best,




Vegas Posts Odds on MLS Cup 2014 by Drew Olsen

I'm not usually interested in sports betting. I think most would find that surprising because we run an analytics site, and most analytics fit jointly, at least in Europe, with gambling. I avoid gambling for numerous reasons, but in general because I like the money I have and would hate to lose it.  However, there is a bit of value in looking at the betting lines and understanding which teams are favorites and why. It can give us a bit of early insight into who people consider "the best" teams. In case you missed it, Las Vegas odd makers metaphorically walked to the front of the class room and posted the first pre-season grades, identifying who they believe to the best teams in MLS. Basically they painted big red targets on the back of the LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City going forward.

Here is a little snap shot of the complete lines, courtesy of Steve Davis and NBCSports.

Here are few things that pop out at me just looking at this list.

First, the LA Galaxy are a club that we liked a lot going into the MLS Cup. We ranked them second in terms of the probability of winning the Supporters Shield and then third in the likelihood of winning the end of season tournament. Being cast aside by Real Salt Lake in the first round was not unimaginable, and yet it kind of took us all back for a moment. It's not surprising to me that they probably hoist the imaginary pre-season trophy at this point.

Second, Portland and Seattle are neck and neck in odds. If you thought the rivalry between these two I-5 teams culminated with the playoff match, you have another thing coming. This season is going to be rife with parity, and the difference between the 1st seed and the 5th could be substantially less than what it's been in a number of years. This is only going to throw more wood on the fire for clubs like Seattle and Portland, creating an even more tension filled stadium. Oh, hey Vancouver, you're there also... your just not "there" yet.

Third, Toronto goes from being on the worst teams in the league to big signings and having the 8th best odds to come home with silverware at the end of the season. The tides look on the brink of turning in the Queen City and could yield a very fun summer for the Reds. Some thing well deserved for their fans with the incredible support shown through some disappointing years, and really since their arrival to MLS in 2008.

Lastly, who could blame you if really you wanted to throw five dollars down on DC United. Eddie Johnson/Fabian Espindola, a rebuilt back line, and young potential US internationals in Perry Kitchen and Bill Hamid. 50-1 odds? Heck, I may just throw 20 dollars on them and become a season long United fan.