- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On March 31, 2011
- 0 Comments
- 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 3, What To Watch For
First off, sorry for the lack of updates this week. My day-job schedule has been a little different this week, meaning the time I usually write hasn’t been the same and when I do have time to write I just had little energy to say anything. It happens, hopefully today, tomorrow and into next week will be different.
Anyways, we now head into week three of the Major League Soccer season. Its April, well, tomorrow is but for the season we leave the first month and head into the second month. I won’t be doing any player or team of the month for March. I find that silly to do a monthly review for just two weeks.
Week three is a little more spread out than the last and a couple sides have the weekend off.
1. Dallas on the road. Big thing to watch for tomorrow night in Columbus, can Dallas regain it’s 2010 form? This is a game that I’ve been saying that they must-win. I know its early but sometimes you do need a must-win game early in the season to get things going for you on both sides of the ball. Dallas is in that situation where they need their defense to step up to the caliber of defense they produced last season and for their offense to finally find the back of the ol’ onion bag. It will be interesting to see who starts in the back (Brek Shea or Ugo Ihemelu) and how long 18-year old Fabian Castillo gets to play on the wings.
2. Toronto to make it two in a row? Let’s be honest, the Reds got a ridiculous opening slate. Two expansion teams in a row (sure they lost the first one as we know) and then Chivas at home. If they don’t get three points in this one then something is terribly wrong. Chivas and Portland are the two worst sides in the league right now and most believe Toronto isn’t that far off of them. The Reds have to show that they are a level above those two. Having Dutchman Javier Martina score another couple goals certainly wouldn’t hurt. They looked so much differently on offense with him leading the charge.
3. Playmaker for Chivas. One thing is certain to me, if Chivas had a playmaker in the middle they wouldn’t be nearly this bad. Their defense isn’t that terrible and their offense could get going with someone leading the way out of the midfield. They really need someone like Blair Gavin to take charge. If not, it could be a long wait until the summer transfer window to bring in some much needed help.
4. Whitecaps bounce back. Vancouver returns home after their first (disappointing) road trip to Philly last week. Without Eric Hassli (suspended) for this one, their offense will have to look elsewhere. Maybe Atiba Harris? Maybe someone else. Either way the offense may have to come out of the midfield in this one. They should get their defense back in order, which will be needed against Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara. I thought they handled the speed and skill of Philadelphia well until the late goal by Carlos Ruiz last week, should they keep Kamara and Bunbury at bay, they could see points again at home in this one.
5. Is New England this good? We’ll know a little more this week when they host the lowly Portland Timbers, who are coming into their third straight road game. I do wonder if John Spencer’s defense will ever show up here. So far this season they’ve given up some pretty easy goals to Toronto and Colorado. New England isn’t a world beater on offense but they do know their way to go with guys like Shalrie Joseph and Zack Schilawski.
6. Houston under pressure. Not a great week for Houston to have to face New York, who will be getting the bulk of their lineup back from international duty. The Dynamo looked a bit over their heads in the 1-1 draw to the Sounders a week ago. They did manage to get on the boards early and hold a lead for the bulk of the game but they can’t sit back against a team like New York that has so much fire power in the midfield and in defense. The Red Bulls have the speed on the wings like the Sounders do to do some damage in this one. Dominic Kinnear’s side must find a way to get on the board early and put the pressure on the Red Bulls in this one.
7. Health of Henry. The bum hamstring still has Thierry Henry listed as questionable for this weekend’s match with the Dynamo. You want to see your top star play but at the same time you have to think Hans Backe is looking out for the best interest of his club and Henry here. Not starting him or even playing him again this week wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. You need him healthy for the long haul.
8. Bounce back in LA. Boy the Galaxy got thumped last week huh? Let’s be fair, they were missing Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez and Donovan Ricketts. Three players that make this club look totally different. Would they have still lost with those three in Utah? Possibly, but the game certainly wouldn’t have been the 4-1 blowout that we saw. I think this is a week the Gals bounce back in a way. They know if they want to stay in the Supporter’s Shield race this season that getting full points at home is a big deal.
9. The real DOOP. I still have trouble looking at the standings. I know it is still very early but seeing the Philadelphia Union atop the Eastern Conference standings still makes me do a double take. Kudos to them. The real test comes this week though, they enjoyed a road win against Houston and a home win against an expansion team. Going to LA will be a whole new animal for them to tackle, especially given the fact that the Galaxy will be looking to bounce back from a 4-1 blowout from last week. Good teams usually respond well to losses like that and that will only make this challenge harder for Peter Nowak’s club. I believe they have to get on the boards early in this one, bring the pressure to LA. The Galaxy never do well when having to come from behind as it is, so an early goal is key.
10. Wondo streak. Chris Wondolowski has scored his club’s last 12 regular season goals. A streak that is really unheard of in pro soccer. The thing is someone else needs to step up for the Quakes in this one to help share the load from Wondo. Seattle’s defense is looking pretty good too even though they’ve let in a couple goals already this season. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado will likely be all over Wondo in this one, so having a guy like Ryan Johnson or Bobby Convey step up would be great to see.
11. United in Colorado. Most D.C. fans will tell you, they hate going to Colorado (or Salt Lake). Their club just has never done well in the Rocky Mountains. Could this Sunday’s game be any different? Maybe, if the Black-and-Red are able to possess the ball a little more. One thing I noticed against New England (and the week before against Columbus), when D.C. holds the ball they actually look a lot better. Beating Colorado takes patience on offense and loads of possession to wear down their defense. Doing it on the road won’t be easy but I wouldn’t be shocked if Dax McCarty would love to get some redemption on the Rapids for beating him (and his old club Dallas) in last year’s MLS Cup.