MLS Weekend Preview: Week Two

MLS Weekend Preview: Week Two

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 27, 2009
  • 8 Comments
  • 2009 Week 2, Weekend Previews

It’s that time of the week, so that means one thing, weekend previews! A huge slate of games this weekend, a couple good rivalry games on the menu to discuss, and a couple interesting matchups out west. It really is a good weekend of soccer in Major League Soccer.

Last week the league kicked off with a pretty big bang up in Seattle, but I am sure week two won’t be any different with the Trillium Cup clash in Columbus.

As always feel free to post your predictions to this weekend’s games below.

Toronto FC – at – Columbus Crew:

1. Can Toronto actually win back-to-back games on the road?

Let’s face it for us to really take this Toronto club seriously in 2009 we need to see them win more than a couple games on the road and we have to see them win some back-to-back roadies too. Toronto looked good in week one with their 3-2 win over KC. I think had it not been for two stellar goals by Davy Arnaud that game would have been a shutout for the Reds.

I think we know Toronto can win on the road here with the way Dwayne De Rosario and Amado Guevara looked last week. Thing is they will have their hands full with Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

2. Who will handle the international callups better?

Here’s the list for both clubs:

CLB: Frankie Hejduk (USA; vs El Salvador, March 28); Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela; vs Argentina, March 28); Duncan Oughton (New Zealand; vs Thailand, March 28) … TOR: Amado Guevara (Honduras; vs Trinidad & Tobago, March 28); Carl Robinson (Wales; vs Finland, March 28)

For the most part it seems like Columbus will be missing more with no Hejduk and Moreno gone. Thing is I see Robinson and Guevara being a bigger hit for Toronto than most will think. Robinson controls a lot in the defensive side of the midfield and Guevara showed last week that he may have MVP form this season.

Still its pretty even on boths sides here. The Crew will have to find another scorer though with Moreno gone. I see Robbie Rogers stepping up in a big way for this one to make up for the loss of Moreno.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

Emmanuel Ekpo will be a guy on the wings for Columbus that Toronto may not have an answer for with their international callup losses.

Quick Preview:

This one as we know should be pretty exciting. We know of the rivalry and what it is turning into. Crew Stadium should be pretty full for this since the club will be celebrating their title from last year before the game in a banner ceremony. Add to that the couple thousand Toronto fans that will be making the trip and this could be the game of the weekend. If this game were in Toronto I’d feel better about picking TFC. At Crew Stadium I just can’t go against the Crew just yet here this season.

WVH Prediction: Columbus 2, Toronto 1

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DC United – at – Chicago Fire:

1. A sloppy and injury ridden defense going against a strong defense missing two key players…who has the edge?

Seeing the Fire without both Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares could be just what DC United needs. Thing is Chicago has a better midfield than DC right now so the edge easily moves to the homeside. With the injuries in the midfield (Fred) and some questions in defense (McTavish, Janicki), DC will likely have more pressure on them than the Fire will.

But one advantage that could be on DC’s side, the road club has been pretty dominate in recent meetings in this rivalry.

2. How big of a factor is having Ben Olsen on the field for DC?

The thing I love about Ben is his ability to lead a club, even when he isn’t at his best. Having him back this year should be a big lift for the Black-and-Red. If anyone is to lead a club out of a funk (United is winless in their last 10 away league matches, losing seven and drawing three, and have lost 16 of their last 21 away matches in all competitions since the start of 2008), it’s Olsen. And right now DC needs to lead on him more than they ever have.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

You want speed? Patrick Nyarko is definitely your guy. I think with the injuries in defense and in the midfield you could see the second-year striker have a big evening.

Quick Preview:

I know the road side has been good lately in this series but I see that coming to an end tomorrow night. While DC looked decent at times last weekend in their opener I really felt the Fire looked a lot better in their own. What it comes down to for me is defense and even without Segares and Soumare I still feel that the Fire have a better club overall than United right now. The midfield play from the Fire will be too much for DC to overcome.

WVH Prediction: Chicago 3, DC 1

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New England Revolution – at – New York Red Bulls:

1. Can the Red Bulls respond to their horrible opener with a strong showing against a I-95 rival?

I think if the Red Bulls struggle out of the gate in this one there could be a lot of boos from the crowd at Giant Stadium by halftime. We know their showing last week in the opener was bad but if they follow that up with another stinker to a rival club in their conference it could really put this club in an early hole in the standings. Luckily for them they play a Revs side that is still hit with some injuries here already at the start of the year.

Also keep in mind that New York will be without their own share of players for this one due to international callups. Newly signed Carlos Johnson will be missed again along with Andrew Boyens and Jorge Rojas. I think the Rojas loss could be a tough one to overcome.

2. Who has the edge in the midfield?

Judging by the callups and injuries I have to give the slight edge to New England here. I just don’t like a midfield that has Juan Pietravallo in it. The midfield that the Revs put out still is a strong one with Shalrie Joespeh and Jeff Larentowicz. I still believe the Revs have one of the best midfield groups in the league due to those two, at leat they are definitely underrated by most.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

For New York watch out for rookie Jeremy Hall. I did see a few good things out of him last week and I really believe he could be a strong candidate for rookie of the year this season. He might be a strong addition off the bench for New York in the second half if he doesn’t start.

Quick Preview:

New York will be under pressure to show that last week’s game was a total fluke. I think they will have to lean heavily on Juan Pablo Angel in this one. If he doesn’t come up strong then it will be up to some unproven guys to do the workload. If it comes to that I think the Revs could come up strong and win another early road game here this season. Neither offense really showed a lot in week one but defensively New England looked pretty good. I’m going to give New York the benifit of the doubt for last week and call this one a draw. I still lean a bit to New England but I think New York can at least get a point in this one.

WVH Prediction: New York 1, New England 1

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Kansas City Wizards – at – Colorado Rapids:

1. Can KC get over the hump in the Mile High City?

The Wizards haven’t seen kind times in Colorado for a while. The Wizards haven’t won in Denver since June 9, 2004, a span of five league matches. The Rapids have won four of those, with one draw. Overall the club hasn’t done well historically in Denver, winning only four times in 22 meetings.

To get over the hump they need to rely on their midfield, particularly the hot foot of Davy Arnaud. If he can even have half the performance that he did a week ago, it could be just the boost the Wizards need here early on in the year.

2. Player to keep an eye on for both clubs.

Gregory Richardson for Colorado. I really think his signing will prove to be a good one for the Rapids this year. If he is given the right amount of time he could see a good game tomorrow against the Wizards. His size and speed could be tough to handle late in the second half if he comes on as a sub.

Herculez Gomez for Kansas City. Gomez has been one of those hot and cold guys in his career. I didn’t think he had a real solid opener last week but I think he could bounce back with a nice showing against the Rapids.

Quick Preview:

I will be real honest, this could be the least interesting game on the slate this weekend. It doesn’t mean that it won’t matter any in the long run but to be honest in a rivalry weekend this one just doesn’t excite me like other do. No offense Rapids or Wizards fans, but I just can’t say I am amped for this one. It sounds to me like it could be a close one with a slight advantage for Colorado based on what I saw out of Conor Casey last week. I think he will break through on the scoring.

WVH Prediction: Colorado 2, Kansas City 1

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Houston Dyanmo – at – San Jose Earthquakes:

1. No Ching for Houston, who’s gonna carry the offensive load?

No Brian Ching and no Kai Kamera for Houston. Does this mean no offense? Probably not, because this club will rely heavily on set peices in a game like this. If they score any in this one you better believe it will be due to some quality service on a corner or on a free kick. It may be a good weekend for Stuart Holden to live up to some of hype this weekend.

2. Can San Jose get over the hump and actually show they have offense worth watching?

Listen, a lot of people knocked the Quakes for their showing against the Revs last week and for good reason. But every club has a game like that where they can’t hit anything. It happens. I don’t see it being the case here as Cam Weaver looked dangerous and I highly doubt Darren Huckerby will struggle to find the back of the net like he did last weekend.

The offense is going to come, though against a strong defense like Houston we may be waiting another week. I may just have more faith in Frank Yallop’s club than most here though.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

Geoff Cameron for Houston. I think Cameron will have his hands busy in the backline with a guy like Weaver on the attack for the Quakes. If Cameron and Bobby Boswell can shutdown Weaver and company it could be a long evening for the Quakes. I think Cameron is just the guy to do it as he is the style of player Dominic Kinnear loves, a true workhorse.

Quick Preview:

This rivalry is an interesting one and may be even more different now that former Quakes Dwayne De Rosario aren’t in a Dynamo jersey. I still believe it will be a hard faught game. The clubs have a lot to prove right now and it will make for an entertaining game I think. Not a lot seperates the two right now with the callups and injuries. I will however give the slight edge to the home side. Maybe I am just more of a Quake believer in 2009 than most but I think they will bounce back well from last week’s poor showing.

WVH Prediction: San Jose 1, Houston 0

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Real Salt Lake – at – Seattle Sounders FC

1. Which club is really for real here?

No pun on the word real either but a lot of people love Real this season and everyone has jumped on the Sounders bandwagon here. So what gives? I think it will come down to midfield play for this one more than anything else. Each club has a decent backline and a decent attack but the midfield action is where it will be at. Right now I have to give a slight edge to the visitors with due to their MLS experience over a fairly unknown Sounder midfield. Sure they had one good game but will it carry over against a club who actually has a solid midfield?

2. What should we expect out of Freddy and Fredy?

Seattle’s two Freds should be an interesting watch in itself. Fredy Montero was a beast a week ago as he scored two and earned the league’s honor as Player of the Week. I think he could have a repeat performance in this one too. The other Fred, as in Freddy Ljungberg could be set to make his Sounder and MLS debut tomorrow. If he can be the Ljungberg that carried Aresenal a few years back then the Sounders will be a real tough team to beat in the middle. If not then he will just join the past DPs that were a waste of time and money to the league.

3. Player to watch.

For me it’s gotta be Javier Morales for RSL. The man is Schelotto like in the middle and should find a way to get his club on the board in this one. If he can break down young Osvaldo Alonso in the middle it could be a very good start to the season for RSL.

Quick Preview:

People are high on both clubs and for good reason. Seattle looked great in the opener against New York and most expect RSL to carry over what they started last year. I still want to see what exactly RSL brings to the table in 2009. I think they will be good, no doubt but I think Seattle has a good chance to push them around in this one due to the strong crowd and the actual quality that they have on the field. I think RSL gets on the board in this one but Seattle pulls through late.

WVH Prediction: Seattle 2, RSL 1

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Chivas USA – at – FC Dallas:

1. Can FC Dallas get over their offensive woes?

This looks like a good game for Dallas to find their scoring touch. Though typically Chivas plays them very well at Pizza Hut Park. Dallas just needs to find a way to get David Ferreira more involved in the offense. I really felt last week against Chicago he wasn’t seen enough around the ball in the attack. Sure it was his first MLS game but the first impression didn’t leave me with much. For Dallas to do well here they need him to step up and be the playmaker that they expected him to be when he signed.

2. With Sasha Kljestan gone to be with the national team, who steps up in the midfield?

That’s a big one for Chivas. IF anyone is to step up it may have to be their goalscorer from a week ago, Paulo Nagamura. He was the biggest reason why the AmeriGoats won their opener, not just the two goals but he was seriously all over the place a week ago. He was like a whole new player for Chivas out there and if that is the case we could see a good replacement for Kljestan when he decides to take off to Europe.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

I think for Dallas you gotta watch out for David van den Burgh. The Dutchman was a big part of the team’s offensive plays last week and I don’t see that changing. Since he won’t have to deal with Kljestan as much in the midfield he could see more space in the middle of the park to create some magic for Dallas. Plus the wings should be more open too for that matter.

Quick Preview:

I think Dallas should be able to respond here against Chivas this weekend. Thing is Chivas is a very tough team to judge with the way Preki coaches them up, even when their best players are out hurt or due to callups. I think it could be a tight game but just as season ago I see Dallas scoring early but giving up a cheap one late.

WVH Prediction: Dallas 1, Chivas 1

  • Emilio

    Ljungberg doesnt have to play like he did for Arsenal several years ago, he just needs to play like he did last summer for Sweden when he played every minute for them at Euro2008 and was easily the best player for a team that got out of a tough group. That level of performance would get Seattle into the playoffs… and he's still got it!

  • Geoff

    Drew just thought I'd point out that the United vs Fire game is at RFK and not Toyota Park! Other then that I completely agree!

  • WVHooligan

    AH shit, you're totally right…good catch

  • Emilio

    Ljungberg doesnt have to play like he did for Arsenal several years ago, he just needs to play like he did last summer for Sweden when he played every minute for them at Euro2008 and was easily the best player for a team that got out of a tough group. That level of performance would get Seattle into the playoffs… and he’s still got it!

  • Geoff

    Drew just thought I’d point out that the United vs Fire game is at RFK and not Toyota Park! Other then that I completely agree!

    • AH shit, you’re totally right…good catch

  • Kevin

    &quot;I think if the Red Bulls struggle out of the gate in this one there could be a lot of boos from the crowd at Giant Stadium by halftime.&quot;<br />
    <br />
    How can there be a lot of boos if the only fans there are the pidgeons in the Swamp rafters?

  • Kevin

    “I think if the Red Bulls struggle out of the gate in this one there could be a lot of boos from the crowd at Giant Stadium by halftime.”

    How can there be a lot of boos if the only fans there are the pidgeons in the Swamp rafters?