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MLS Western Conference Week 11: Moving on Up

Omar Salgado may constantly wear a terrified expression on his face, but it's opposing defenders who should be frightened.
Omar Salgado may constantly wear a terrified expression on his face, but it's opposing defenders who should be frightened.

Yay! The Portland Timbers aren't in last place anymore! In fact, if you go by points per match, which I do, the Timbers are now in 7th place, ahead of Dallas and LA. Just goes to show that three points can go a long way, especially when only one other Western Conference team wins.

Draws are common when evenly matched teams go head to head, but in Week 12 four intra-conference matches will feature a top half team playing a bottom half team. San Jose takes on last place LA this evening, before RSL hosts Dallas, and Seattle travels to face Chivas on Saturday. That's in addition to Portland opening its Cascadia Cup run against a strong Vancouver side.

So tell us in the poll below: with the exception of Portland, which lower half Western team is most likely to pull off an upset this week against their stronger conference rival?

Read on after the jump.

Seattle Sounders

Last week: 2-2 draw at Vancouver

A very entertaining Cascadia matchup hurled rival against rival, ending with the best possible result for the Timbers, who now have the opportunity to jump into the lead in the Cup competition with a win on Saturday. The Seattle defense, still by far the best in the league by the numbers, looked completely lost against teenager Omar Salgado. Fortunately for them Vancouver's defense was also playing below expectations, and Seattle took advantage in the 90th minute.

Week 12 projection: 1-0 win vs Columbus; 1-0 loss at Chivas

San Jose Earthquakes

Last week: 1-1 draw vs Columbus

The Earthquakes did everything but win against the Crew, pounding 24 shots, eight of them on target (including a PK), but only one of them (not the PK) got past zombie hunter* Andy Gruenebaum. After starting the season strong, San Jose are winless in their last three, probably due to nothing more than instant karma knocking Steven Lenhart in the head.

(* Am I the only one who thinks Andy Gruenebaum looks a lot like Shane Walsh from Walking Dead?)

Week 12 projection: 3-1 win at Los Angeles; 1-1 draw at Kansas

Real Salt Lake

Last week: bye

RSL got to kick back and relax last week in preparation for a visit by Dallas in Week 12. A fully rested and restored Salt Lake squad should have no trouble with them.

Week 12 projection: 2-0 win vs Dallas

Vancouver Whitecaps

Last week: 2-2 draw vs Seattle

Portland's next opponent is a dangerous one, no question. In spite of their attack-minded 4-3-3 formation the Caps have still managed one of the best defenses in MLS, and they've enjoyed such depth in their lineup as to allow a run at the Canadian Championship and the Cascadia Cup at the same time. They'll be a tough nut to crack this Saturday.

I'll have more detail on the strengths and weaknesses in Vancouver's lineup tomorrow.

Week 12 projection: 2-1 loss at Portland!

Colorado Rapids

Last week: 2-2 draw vs Kansas

The whole high elevation thing is a cliche at this point, but that doesn't make it any less true. After completely dominating the first half, SKC forgot how to play soccer in the second half. That's not to take any credit away from the Rapids, though. Conor Casey is looking healthier, and while he's not quite at full fitness yet, he was at least able to use his size to boss around Aurelien Colin, allowing the rest of the offense do their thing. Their thing is still booting the ball high and wide of goal, but they'll get there. They'll get there.

Week 12 projection: 2-1 win vs Montreal

Chivas USA

Last week: 1-0 win vs Los Angeles

Chivas finally won their first home game on Saturday as they showed off a retooled lineup and played a very different style. Rather than sending Ryan Smith down the flank, they elected instead to control possession and carefully apply pressure until their opportunity arrived. The result was a dominant 1-0 performance that allowed the Galaxy very few scoring chances. Danny Califf appears to have coalesced with his new team very quickly, but Juan Agudelo, playing in just his fifth game of the season, has a ways to go before he's productive.

Week 12 projection: 2-0 loss at New York; 1-0 win vs Seattle

LA Galaxy

Last week: 1-0 loss at Chivas

Another game, another anemic performance, and yet another loss. It's been over a month since the last LA win, and their next one is unlikely to come about very soon, as they host San Jose before traveling to Houston. Against San Jose they'll be without David Junior Lopes, who earned a straight red card with a handball on the goal line against his former team. They'll also be without Landon Donovan, who has joined the US National Team camp in preparation for World Cup qualifiers.

Wah wah.

Week 12 projection: 3-1 loss vs San Jose; 1-0 loss at Houston

FC Dallas

Last week: 1-1 draw vs Philadelphia

One terrible team whose best players keep leaving via trades faced another terrible team whose best players keep getting injured or suspended, and they played a terrible, boring match ending in a 1-1 draw. The Euro break can't come fast enough for Dallas fans.

Week 12 projection: 3-0 loss at Chicago; 2-0 loss at Salt Lake