What To Watch For: 2011 Week 5

What To Watch For: 2011 Week 5

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 14, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 5, What To Watch For

JELD-WEN Field should be packed for two games this week.

This week has already gotten off with a bit of a bang…or a dud depending on how you look at it. LA and Toronto played to yet another deadlock of a game up at BMO Field last night. While in the Rocky Mountain Cup, Fabian Espindola found the back of the net in the last seconds of the match with the Colorado Rapids. Real Salt Lake remained unbeaten on the year with the win and while it wasn’t pretty it sure was enough.

With one game tonight and eight more this weekend, week five is a full one for sure.

Below are some items that I will be keeping track of this weekend (and tonight).

1. Portland’s Home Debut. From the supporters singing the national anthem, to the general coolness that will be Jeld-Wen Field (or PGE Park probably to most folks), the Timbers home debut tonight will likely rival the coolness that was the Seattle Sounders debut a couple seasons ago. One thing is clear though for me with the Timbers, they are getting healthy and have had the proper time off since their last game to really get ready for this home debut against the Fire.

On the flip side the Fire are coming off some short rest and may fall victim in this one. If I recall correctly, it was the Fire that had to deal with the first goal in Toronto FC history, don’t be shocked if they have to put up with Portland’s first home goal in MLS as well. Tough spot to be in if you ask me.

2. Philly really this good? Another stern test at home this weekend for the Philadelphia Union come in the form of the Seattle Sounders. I’ve felt the Sounders are a much better team than their record suggests and will put up a nice fight with Philly. The Union have to find a way to get on the board more than once in this one though. Sure the 1-0 wins are good enough to keep them high in the standings for right now but that won’t last too much longer as the season goes on. Another thing to think about, can Philly find a way to come from behind if need? They didn’t in their only loss of the year to LA, so it is something they’ll have to prove if Steve Zakuani or O’Brien White get Seattle on the board early in this one.

3. More fun at Empire Field. So far every game at Empire Field this season has been entertaining in some form. The debut was great, the come from behind draw against Kansas City was epic and the card-fest against New England was rather interesting as well. So what is in store for the game against Chivas? Probably a Vancouver win, if anything. The Whitecaps get a couple players back from suspension and will have had a full week of practice with rookie Omar Salgado playing with the first team. Hopefully we’ll see more of the number one overall SuperDraft pick in this game.

4. Improving Reds. I’ll admit, Toronto is getting better by the game here and before long they’ll start to take off here. I still feel they are missing a playmaker and a top scorer but they’ll likely pick those up this summer. As long as they can continue to make strides until then, Aron Winter’s team should be very much in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. Consider the game with D.C. United this weekend, while D.C. has also improved they are only a couple PKs away from being at the bottom of the league table.

5. Crew defense against SKC offense. This one should be entertaining on the basis that you have a solid defense in Columbus going up against a very good offense in Sporting Kansas City. We know SKC can score, and in bunches too. But until their defense holds a team scoreless or enough to get a win, it is still hard to take them real serious. Same kind of goes for the Crew too as their offense is still struggling to get going but has done enough to at least get them five points on the season. Either way this one won’t be a dud like the last Crew game against Chivas.

6. Redemption for New York. For Red Bulls fans at least this one will be true, a redemption factor against the San Jose Earthquakes for knocking them out of the playoffs last year. The thing is the New York offense has really yet to get going and is really a Juan Agudelo breakaway from being down near the bottom of the table. San Jose on the flip side can’t win at home but has looked very good away from the Bay Area (a win over FC Dallas 2-0). They know how to get a win at Red Bull Arena too and Frank Yallop’s club is too damn pesky to just dominate for 90 minutes.

7. Short week for Chicago. Consider this, the Fire have to go to Portland tonight and then travel home to play LA on Sunday. Sure it is a home game but the Galaxy have an extra day to get ready for this one even though they’ll be coming from Toronto. The Fire’s depth will be tested in this one and will have to put up the good fight to continue to prove whether or not that they belong in the contenders discussion this season.

8. Cards in the midfield for LA. After last night’s draw in Toronto, the Galaxy saw that they’ll be missing both Juninho and David Beckham for the Chicago game. Ouch. Plus, there is no¬†guarantee¬†that Landon Donovan will be ready to go for the Fire game as well. Just like the Fire, depth for LA will be tested in this one on Sunday.

9. Short(ish) turnaround for Portland. Just like for the Fire and LA, Portland also has a short turnaround this weekend. At least they are staying at home for the second game of the week. But hosting a team like FC Dallas, who finally started to show signs of life last week isn’t the best thing for the young team. Portland needs to get their first win out of the way on Thursday or else the pressure may be too much to get it done against a strong defensive team like Dallas. Plus, I’m not sure they have someone in the midfield that can slow down David Ferreira just yet either.

10. The old New England-Houston battle. I still feel engaged to watch any match with the Revs and Dynamo. It just takes me back to the time when both teams were the class of the league and were playing one another in the MLS Cup each year. Things have changed, at least players have on both sides but the tiny rivalry still remains the same to me. Yeah, that’s right I called it a rivalry. Both teams have plenty to prove still in this young season. The Dynamo finally got off the mark last week while the Revs continue to confuse people like myself with silly fouls and questionable attacking. I’d say the Dynamo may have a second win coming their way.

11. Packed houses. One final note, aside form Crew Stadium and Red Bull Arena (man it’s sad I have to write that one), the rest of the games this weekend should be in front of fairly large crowds. From Portland’s two games, to the Whitecaps, Union and TFC games, this weekend should see nice crowds. Hopefully Columbus can make up for it and continue to have a decent showing like they did against FC Dallas a couple weeks ago. As for New York, I don’t know what to make of their “lack” of crowds so far. I really hope that changes soon.