MLS Weekend Preview: Week 3

MLS Weekend Preview: Week 3

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 3, 2009
  • 8 Comments
  • Amado Guevara, Darrius Barnes, David Ferreira, Dwayne De Rosario, Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero, Jeff Larentowicz, Kenny Cooper, Kevin Alston, Pablo Ricchetti, Shalrie Joesph, Weekend Previews
Freddie Ljungberg and Seattle take their show on the road to Toronto. (Getty Images)

Freddie Ljungberg and Seattle take their show on the road to Toronto. (Getty Images)

I just realized we have a slew of games this weekend. Seven games across two days, eight if you count the Thursday night game. The unbalanced schedule creeps in starting this week as Columbus has the lovely Thursday-Sunday swing going on. All clubs are in action this weekend though unlike the last two weeks.

But as mentioned we have seven games, four tomorrow night and three on Sunday. A lot of action if you are going to be around the house this weekend to watch. A few really good matchups too to look out for as well. Its still very early in the campaign but it will be interesting to see if clubhouse leaders Seattle and Chivas can keep up their good form.

As always feel free to pipe in your game predictions for the weekend below.

Seattle Sounders FC – at – Toronto FC:

1. Which side can win the midfield battle?

Both clubs are amped for this one. Seattle has all the momentum in the world and Toronto will be on their home opener for the year. Most will say this is the matchup of the weekend, I couldn’t disagree with that statement in the least bit.

The winner of this will surely come out of the midfield. Neither will be without any major players in the midfield in this one. For Seattle to win they have to get pressure on the backline and on Carl Robinson or rookie Sam Cronin. I think so far they’ve done an excellent job of pressuring the other club in the midfield and the lovely turf at BMO Field shouldn’t be an issue in this one.

Toronto needs to return the favor here and get the home crowd into it early. Dwayne De Rosario and company need to spread Seattle wide in this one and get Amado Guevara active right from the start.

If it comes down to it I think I will take the homeside’s group but its mighty close with the way Seattle pressures in the midfield. Osvaldo Alonso has been much better than advertised for this club already here.

2. Can Toronto shutdown Fredy Montero?

Can anybody really shut this Columbian down? This will be a good test for both sides here, Montero on the road for the first time in MLS and Toronto against a really good striker. So far Toronto hasn’t faced a really good striker this season so I am curious to see exactly how John Carver’s club defends him. Thing is as Real Salt Lake found out last week, if you mark him closely it leaves guys like rookie Steve Zakuani and Nate Jaqua wide open.

Toronto cannot allow Montero space in the midfield and near the box because he produces goal of the week material when he is given the space.

3. Player to keep an eye out for.

Normally I don’t like to talk about guys we know a lot of about in this one but I really want to see how Sigi Schmid uses his DP midfielder Freddie Ljungberg in this one. I expect he will at least come off the bench tomorrow for this one. If last week is any indication he will be fine as a playmaker for this club. If he goes from the start I would imagine a lot of the offense will flow through him, which isn’t a bad thing.

Quick Thoughts:

This really should be a fun one to watch, DVR, TiVo or whatever you have. We know what BMO Field brings to the table here and really what these two clubs are about right now. Toronto got a little lucky last week in Columbus but I don’t see that kind of thing happening this weekend against a very hungry Seattle club. I think this is a big game for both in a lot of people’s eyes. We want to know if Seattle is legit and if Toronto can beat a quality opponent.

I think the big thing will come down to if Montero plays or not. Reports this morning suggest he may not play this weekend in Toronto. That could be the break that Toronto needs but I still like this one in a draw.

WVH Prediction: Toronto 1, Seattle 1

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FC Dallas – at – New England Revolution

1. Can Dallas control the midfield against New England?

So far Dallas hasn’t been able to do much and its largely due to their midfield play, not just their poor defense. No one is stepping up enough there to control things or settle things down when things aren’t going well and that is why Dallas is playing the way they are. New England on the other hand is pretty steady in the midfield and that’s why they have four points in two games.

For Dallas they need more from David Ferreira in the attack and more from Pablo Ricchetti in defense. If those two can control their respective ends and distribute wide to David van den Burgh and Dax McCarty.

But as far as controlling the midfield they have to shutdown guys like Shalrie Joesph and Jeff Larentowicz…which is easier said than done for most.

2. Can New England get into some sort of offensive rhythm against Dallas?

What’s the best way to get your attack going during any part of the season? Face a very weak defense. Right now Dallas looks terrible on defense and while New England is missing Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston to their attack they still have some quality scorers in Joesph, Sainey Nyassi, Kenny Mansally and Kheli Dube.

To me this looks like a good game for those guys to step up and get on the boards here this season.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

For me its between rookies Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes for the Revs. Both are play above and beyond their years here so far this season. They have the task of shutting down Kenny Cooper this weekend. If he shoots the way he was a week ago against Chivas it won’t really matter what they do.

Quick Thoughts:

Honestly there is no way I can even imagine picking Dallas after seeing them these last two weeks. New England hasn’t looked all that great but they’ve at least found results where as Dallas has given them away with ease so far. I think the Revs come into their home opener and handle this game with little problems.

WVH Prediction: New England 2, Dallas 0

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Houston Dynamo – at – DC United

1. Which defense actually shows up for both clubs?

Until last weekend we thought Houston was still a defensive power but 15 minutes in San Jose really made us question that thought. DC sometimes shows the potential to be good at defense but continue to come up short on that end.

Dominic Kinnear’s bunch has to bounce back quickly against Luciano Emilio and company. If they produce the same sort of performance that they did a week ago they could be staring at another big loss on the road to a club that has an even better offense than San Jose. I see Kinnear getting his troops to come back in play better than last week, its a good thing too because they will be pressued early and often by DC’s attack which is improving.

2. Can DC put it together for a full 90 minutes?

Put the injuries aside for a minute, this club hasn’t been consistent enough so far this season. You’d be kidding yourself if you thought otherwise. It was a problem a season ago and it continues now. They’ll look good for 20 minutes and terrible for the following 20. Against a well-coached club like Houston, DC cannot afford to fall into their typical trap of playing bad for long stretches of the game. Some of that comes down to coaching but the rest comes down to the talent on the field.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

We joked last week when Chris Wondolowski scored against San Jose down here in Dallas. We figured a Wondolowski scoring a goal singals the end of the world or something. Jokes aside I think he is slowly turning into a decent player up top for Houston. With a new striker on the way down there he need to continue to impress or he will be back on the bench.

Quick Thoughts:

DC hasn’t won a game in a long, long time here folks. Many believe they were jobbed out of three points in week one and could have even seen three points last week. Fact of the matter is the funk that ended last season is still there. Houston put themselves into a bit of a funk last week when they were missing a couple key guys and their defense stunk up the place. I see this turning into a tight contest with neither one really giving up a lot in the midfield. On paper DC should control the game but their inconsistent play could doom that at times and Houston is still a good enough team to take advantage of it. I like this one in a draw, I just don’t feel comfortable enough to pick United just yet here until I see them put it together for a full 90.

WVH Prediction: DC 1, Houston 1

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Colorado Rapids – at – LA Galaxy

1. Did Bruce Arena use the week off to his advantage for his young players?

For any Galaxy fan you hope the week off meant players got healthy and the young players got more practice time to get use to the MLS style of play. Knowing Arena he definitely used the time off to get the younger guys use to the play here. A good thing too for his young backline because Colorado is playing pretty well offensively with Omar Cummings and Conor Casey. Last year’s rookie of the year Sean Franklin and potential ROY candidate for this year Omar Gonzalez will have their hands full this weekend. Lucky for them and the Galaxy, the Rapids have largely been terrible away from home, especially in LA (4 wins all-time in 19 league matches).

2. Can the Rapids continue their momentum from last week or return to their inconsistent ways?

Colorado is another team that bounces around too much from game to game. If they can put it together for a few games and keep the momentum up from a good win like last week they could actually be a true contender out west. Thing is they typically follow a good performance up with a dud. If that is the case, expect this one to be that dud.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

I think for Colorado a lot is being put on Mehdi Ballouchy’s shoulders this season in the midfield to create. I honestly don’t like the idea but sometimes you never know when a player can change his fortune. Against a slightly suspect defense this could be a good chance for Ballouchy to shine.

Quick Thoughts:

To be fair I honestly don’t like this matchup for Colorado. I just don’t see anyone shutting down Landon Donovan here just yet this season and the Rapids definitely don’t have the defense that can handle him for a full 90. If the US game this past week is any idication as to how well Donovan is playing right now I would expect him to continue scoring in this one and be back up top the Golden Boot standings by the end of the game.

WVH Prediction: LA 3, Colorado 1

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New York Red Bulls – at – Chicago Fire

1. Will the new additions for New York finally make their debut?

It sure looks like midfielder Albert Celades is available to play, as is Carlos Johnson. But are they ready enough to play could be a bigger question? I doubt they’ve had enough time to get adjusted to their new team just yet. Not to mention the MLS style of play. Celades is the big question, if he proves to be the player that most think he is he will make Juan Carlos Osorio into a genuis. However if he turns out to be another Juan Pietravallo, he will just be another waste of money by Osorio.

2. Is Blanco going to go the full 90 here for the Fire?

I kind of have a feeling he will at least start in this one for the boys in red. No reason not to at least since he has been getting more minutes off the bench and last week he looked pretty healthy against DC in his second half appearance. Thing is do the Fire need him to go the full 90 just yet or is he better off getting healthy now and now burning out later on. If that is the case I think Dennis Hamlett is doing a good job of managing this situation with him so he is fit enough to last the entire season.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

Chris Rolfe is been a thorn in the side to the Red Bulls over the last couple of years. Last year alone he scored four goals in their three meetings. Even should he be a sub like he was against DC I think he will put some big time pressue on a still shaky defense.

Quick Thoughts:

I honestly don’t know what to make of New York. Until I see their new guys making a difference they still seem to be the same overrated club that they were a year ago. Good up top but terribly overrated in the back. We saw better out of them last week but it wasn’t that much better when you really look at things. Chicago seems like they were almost resting their key guys up for this one last week and I think it could pay off. They get some key guys back in defense which should actually help fuel their attack. I don’t think they will blow the Red Bulls out like they did twice last year but I think they will get the three points.

WVH Prediction: Chicago 2, New York 0

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San Jose Earthquakes – at – Kansas City Wizards

1. Can San Jose keep up their offense from a week ago?

No one expected that kind of offensive outburst from the Quakes, especially against a good defense like Houston. Now the Quakes take their show to the road against a defense that I think has not played well at all so far this season. Two games in and the Wizards have already given up five goals. Not the best way to start a new season.

San Jose needs another big showing from their midfield, especially from guys on the wings like Darren Huckerby and Arturo Alvarez. I’ve said for a while that a way to beat the Wizards is to get wide and spread out this defense. San Jose is a good team on the wings and I think it should help their attack once again.

2. What can KC do to get going here this season?

Obviously Davy Arnaud’s two stellar strikes weren’t enough in week one to get this club off on the right foot in 2009. A lot of us are waiting to see when Santiago Hirsig will actually start and contribute to their attack. So far this season the Wizards have had to rely on rookie Graham Zusi to lead their attack in the midifeld. While Zusi hasn’t played bad he also hasn’t really help create the chances that most believe Hirsig will.

Plus they need better production out of their striking core. Claudio Lopez and Josh Wolff don’t seem to be on the right page with one another just yet this season. That has to change.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

For the Quakes to get some road points on Sunday they need a big game in the defensive side of the midfield from Ramiro Corrales. I think if this veteran goes against a rookie like Zusi he should have little problems helping control the midfield for the visitors. This game will come down to who controls the midfield and I think Corrales should get the Quakes going in the right direction with his play Sunday.

Quick Thoughts:

I want to pick the Wizards since they are at home but so far this season they haven’t given me a reason to buy into them. Sure some guys haven’t played a full 90 and they have some injury issues already but this should be a game they can win I think. Howver I am going with the Quakes here, not based on their performance last week against Houston but based on how well I think they will control the midfield. I think the Quakes will spread out the attack with Huckerby and Alvarez which will lead to some easy goals for Cam Weaver and company.

WVH Prediction: San Jose 2, KC 1

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Columbus Crew – at – Chivas USA

1. Did the Crew just put all their eggs in this game’s basket and not Thursdays?

No one really expected the Crew to go down that badly in Salt Lake City last night. To me it looked like they were hoping for a road point when they tied things up in the first half. It was like they packed things in a bit and hoped not to get anyone hurt before Sunday’s game with Chivas. That came back to bite them in the ass as RSL poured three goals on them in the second 45. Columbus can’t allow Chivas to do a similar thing because the AmeriGoats are starting to play with confidence here this season.

2. Can Preki’s group keep it up against a good club?

For the most part Columbus is still a good club, every club has a bad day every once and a while. Plus Chivas really hasn’t played a good club yet, they’ve beaten Colorado at home and Dallas on the road. Six points is six points but most of us believe they need to get three points against a team like Columbus to prove how legit they are here.

A lot will come down to shutting down the Crew’s midfield, mainly Guillermo Barros Schelotto. If they can replicate what RSL did last night and hope the Crew is still a bit winded from playing Thursday night they could catch the break they need to prove their worthiness here this season.

3. Player to keep an eye on.

Even if he comes off the bench again you have to watch Chivas’s Bojan Stepanovic. His first touch of the ball lead to his first goal in MLS. Not a bad way to build confidence with a new club either. If Columbus gives him an inch he could make them pay for it.

Quick Thoughts:

Columbus needs to bounce back in this one. They should have Aljeandro Moreno and Frankie Hejduk for the full time in this one, unlike last night. I think that will be a big difference on both sides of the ball. Especially not having Hejduk in the back last night proved the Crew really need him this year. Chivas is playing well and will keep this one close. I think end the end it will be a draw as these clubs typically play one another very close. I also think we will see some nice goals in it too from guys like Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers.

WVH Prediction: Chivas 2, Columbus 2

  • Kevin

    With regard to Montero: he probably won't be playing. According to the Sounders, he has the flu or something, but Ives says he may be having some legal trouble after allegedly sexually assaulting and stalking a woman. So TFC may not have any trouble marking him at all!<br />
    <br />
    With regard to DC United: I think you hit the nail on the head. We've all made excuses with injuries (myself especially guilty), but the inconsistency is true. We've played great for stretches even without the injured players, but then we just stop playing for the next stretch of time. We need A) a 90 minute effort and B) those starters to come back, as they are always the ones providing the best efforts. Unfortunately, according to Goff, none of them look really ready. So it could be a rough game for DC fans if Houston can figure out and exploit our weaknesses, and make the most of the times that United are not playing well.

  • Charles K.

    Montero IS NOT playing.

  • Kevin

    With regard to Montero: he probably won’t be playing. According to the Sounders, he has the flu or something, but Ives says he may be having some legal trouble after allegedly sexually assaulting and stalking a woman. So TFC may not have any trouble marking him at all!

    With regard to DC United: I think you hit the nail on the head. We’ve all made excuses with injuries (myself especially guilty), but the inconsistency is true. We’ve played great for stretches even without the injured players, but then we just stop playing for the next stretch of time. We need A) a 90 minute effort and B) those starters to come back, as they are always the ones providing the best efforts. Unfortunately, according to Goff, none of them look really ready. So it could be a rough game for DC fans if Houston can figure out and exploit our weaknesses, and make the most of the times that United are not playing well.

  • Charles K.

    Montero IS NOT playing.

  • SDM

    Yeah, Montero not being there will change the whole dynamic of that match, but it should still be entertaining. As for the DC-Dynamo match…..that might be the ugliest game of the weekend.

  • Alex

    I'll take a draw @ Toronto. <br />
    <br />
    Best lineup sans-Montero (which we may have to get used to…) is starting Ljungberg and moving Le Toux forward with Jaqua. <br />
    <br />
    I completely agree on Osvaldo Alonso – he's been very impressive in the first 2 weeks.

  • SDM

    Yeah, Montero not being there will change the whole dynamic of that match, but it should still be entertaining. As for the DC-Dynamo match…..that might be the ugliest game of the weekend.

  • Alex

    I’ll take a draw @ Toronto.

    Best lineup sans-Montero (which we may have to get used to…) is starting Ljungberg and moving Le Toux forward with Jaqua.

    I completely agree on Osvaldo Alonso – he’s been very impressive in the first 2 weeks.