- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 24, 2011
- 1 Comments
- 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 2, What To Watch For
Week two in Major League Soccer is another full one. Eight games take place on Saturday with one lone game on Friday night up in Qwest Field. Six more clubs get their home debuts this weekend as well, so it will be interesting to see how the attendance goes for those openers. The bar is already set pretty high for that after a strong opening week in MLS.
Below are some items I am keeping an eye on for week two in MLS.
1. Can Seattle bounce back? Another home game for the Sounders, this time against the Houston Dynamo. Seattle has to find a way to get their offense going in this one and then again so does the Dynamo who missed plenty of chances in their opener last week. I’m very curious to see if Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani can finally get on the boards in this one. They need to find a way to get in and around the Dynamo defense, by exposing the speed of their wings.
2. Will Toronto fans be patient? They almost have to be at this point. If they watched last week’s game in Vancouver, they should know by now that this will not be a quick turnaround for them this season. That being said they do get a slight break as they host the expansion Timbers who struggled in the first week of play in Colorado. Toronto has to jump on top of things early to win it, if they allow Portland a moment in this game, it could be another disappointing game for the Reds.
3. The call-ups for NY. We’ve heard a decent amount of talk this week about the number of international call-ups that are going to affect the New York Red Bulls this weekend. In fact the Red Bulls had to cancel the reserve game with Columbus this weekend because of the lack of players. I still believe New York has the better team but going on the road in Columbus could be a tough break for them. The Crew need to take any sort of advantage away from New York early and pressure the defense to get a result in this one.
4. Robbie Rogers watch. We discussed it yesterday, it was talked about a little more today. What will happen with Rogers in Columbus? More than likely he stays. The club says they have no interest in trading him, but I wouldn’t sleep on them still searching for a trade partner willing to take on the risk of having him for only the remainder of the season (he’s in the final year of his current deal). I’d imagine he’ll start this weekend for the Crew after not cracking the starting XI last week. Should he be on the bench again, we could hear more grumbles about this situation come next week.
5. Whitecaps on tour. Okay, the fun could be over for the Whitecaps as they hit the road for the first time as a MLS team. As good as their debut was a week ago, going across the country won’t be easy, especially in a place like PPL Park. Philadelphia looked good in their debut, winning on the road in Houston. I’d expect the Sons of Ben to be out in full force for this one and have a packed house for the season opener there. We’ll know for sure if Vancouver is for real or just another expansion club this weekend.
6. Fire or Sporting, take your pick. Both teams impressed more than most thought they would over the weekend, largely because of newcomers on the roster. Both have to do the same though again this weekend as the Fire will have to find ways to get their offense going more consistently, while Sporting will need to lock things down in the back a little better. As good as Omar Bravo, Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong were last week, their defense still gave me doubts that they’ll be contenders. This is a good week for them to step up.
7. Can Davies do it again? The Charlie Davies story goes on the road for the first time in MLS, this time to New England. United will have to get on top of this game and pressure the Revs early. One thing we know is if the Revs get a lead they will camp on it as much as they can, like they did against LA this past Sunday. United will need to lean on CD9 a bit in this one to get the offense going, I think his speed and ball skills around the 18-yard box could do some damage. But we can’t sleep on Josh Wolff either up top for United, I felt he was a huge reason for the win last week against Columbus.
8. Tired legs for Dallas. FCD had a midweek friendly last night in Mexico against Tigres for the first leg of the Rio Grande Plate. San Jose has to take advantage of any tired legs out there as Dallas did take a decent chunk of starters on the trip. Dallas did leave home a few main starters like David Ferreria, Kevin Hartman and Daniel Hernandez though. The Quakes need to get on top of Dallas early and hope their defense can hold on to the pressure that Dallas employs on the wings.
9. PHP attendance. We know it was a sell-out last week in Frisco but can the club come close to it again? I doubt it. I’d be really shocked to see a sell-out two weeks in a row for Dallas but you never know. I think as long as the club doesn’t have a drastic dip in attendance this week, they’ll be fine. I think this will be the first indication of how well Dallas actually did in the season ticket sales over the offseason.
10. Stars out for RSL-LA. Its disappointing that this weekend is also a FIFA fixture date, so both RSL and LA are going to be without plenty of stars. No Landon Donovan in this one, or Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborio, or Artuo Alvarez for RSL. The homeside in this one is missing a quality chunk of players so their depth will have to stand up and prove itself once again. I still believe this will easily be the game of the week but it is still upsetting that both sides won’t be at full strength for this one.
11. Will Colorado continue to prove doubters wrong? This week the Rapids head on the road to face Chivas USA, anther club expected to be in the bottom of the standings this season. The Rapids looked great in week one against expansion side Portland but will have a slightly bigger test on the road with Chivas. Colorado has to continue to prove folks that they are worthy of being a MLS title contender again this season, so getting off to another hot start against Chivas will help them do that. They should be able to exploit rookie Zarek Valentin in the back the way Kansas City did last week too.
12. Will Ochocino be a distraction for SKC? One of the biggest things to see this week, has to be how Kansas City handles the slight distraction that has been Chad Ochocino being in camp on trial. For the most part I doubt most of the players will be fazed by having someone like Ochochino there but you never know how some young players will handle the extra media attention that the club has been getting. Extra pressure there could be cause for concern.
13. Gates at other openers. Last week the league enjoyed its best opening week attendance in it’s short history with just a shade over 21k at each game (well that was the average I should say). With RSL, Philly, Toronto, and Chicago having openers this weekend the league should have some more solid numbers at the gates. It will be interesting to see how both Columbus and New England do. I know the Revs are opening up more seats at Gillette but will that make a difference?