What To Watch For: Week 6

What To Watch For: Week 6

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 21, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 6, What To Watch For

D.C. United look to stop their Atlantic Cup rivals the New York Red Bulls tonight. (Getty Images)

It may be hard to believe but we’re already at the final week of this month. Week 6 is here and get started tonight with a big Atlantic Cup rivalry match between the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United. Compared to last week, this is a lighter week due to the cancelation of the RSL-Philly game. Given how RSL played last night it was a good thing they got an extra couple days off.

Below are some items I’ll be keeping an eye on this weekend. Feel free to post anything else that I may have missed below.

1. Which Red Bulls team will show up? Yeah we know the New York Red Bulls finally woke up last week and dominated the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0. We get that. But will they have the same fire in them for a rivalry game in D.C. tonight? We’ll have to find out. New York will have to put pressure on the D.C. defense early I think. It worked well for them last week to get on the boards early against the Quakes. We’ve seen D.C. fall behind early in games already this season too.

2. Atlantic Cup in general. I really hope this is the year though that this rivalry actually takes off in a big way. So far ESPN has done a decent job promoting it and let’s hope more folks get behind it. I know it takes both clubs being marginally good at the same time for it to happen. At least going into this leg of the series for this season, both clubs are coming off big 3-0 wins at the same time. That has to stand for something right?

3. Will Pablo return to save the Rapids? With Pablo Mastroeni the Rapids are a dominate side. Without him they are getting dominated. It is still very early on the season though but against FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, the Rapids looked like a team that we’ve seen out of them in years past. Wildly inconsistent and one that doesn’t look good enough to do well over the long haul. They need that consistent leadership in the midfield out of Mastroeni, that or, they need someone to step up in his place. So far Jamie Smith and Joseph Nane haven’t been up to the challenge.

4. Sounders on the road. So far the Seattle Sounders FC have lost to LA and New York. Two very good clubs. I’ve felt Seattle has been very much in every game so far this season and have been unlucky at times not to come away with more than a single point. But playing in Colorado at altitude is another animal at times and Colorado does do well at Dicks Sporting Goods Park. I think coming away from there even with a draw has to be a goal for Seattle come Friday night.

5. Trillium Cup. Another rivalry game on the menu for this weekend. This one is always interesting given how poorly Toronto has done in it so far in their history. They’ve never beaten Columbus and even last year got scored on by a goalkeeper late in a game that saw them ahead by a goal. Crazy. Toronto needs a win in this rivalry to really get it going though but so far the Crew are looking like a pretty decent side with a defense that hasn’t given up a goal since the first week of the season. I don’t know if Toronto has the offensive punch yet to get through that tough back line.

6. Can San Jose find a win at home? If any week was the perfect time to get your first win at home it would be this one for the Quakes. Playing a team like Chivas USA, which has plenty of issues all over the field of their own should be a perfect team to get a rebound win against. San Jose looked out matched last weekend in New York and need three points to keep them in the playoff discussion for the season. Right now they look like a border-line playoff club at best. They have to get a win at home this weekend or else they’ll just be another pretender club to me.

7. Will the real FC Dallas please stand up? This club has some fight in them for sure but can they put it together for 90 minutes on the road? I’m not so sure but going against a banged up expansion club would be the best chance they’ll get for a while. Given the busy month of May coming up for FCD, scoring a win right now is a must. Dallas probably cannot afford to get into a shootout with the Whitecaps either as they haven’t proven to be able to play from behind very well so far this season. The early goal will be vital in this one, the team to gets it will likely come out on top (obvious statement but very true for these two clubs).

8. Truth about New England. While I don’t think Sporting Kansas City is all that great, I feel the same about the Revs here too. At least for now. The newcomers that are coming on board like Benny Feilhaber and Rajko Lekic will make this club more interesting for sure. They should easily make their offense more watchable for the first time since Taylor Twellman was healthy too. Will it come this weekend against Sporting? Doubt it. But over time this season it should start to show up. Kansas City needs to get on the boards early in this one as well or else they’ll be looking at another tough road match.

9. Surging Orange. Don’t look now but the Houston Dynamo are an improving club here. With newcomers like Serigo Koke ready to get involved, the Dynamo should start being in the discussion for the contender role in the Eastern Conference. Their opposition this weekend in the Chicago Fire on the other hard are anything but that at the moment. The Fire have given up a league-high 11 goals and so far don’t look like a team that is ready to make a big leap like some had thought after the first week of the season. I still like their offense with Diego Chaves and Marco Pappa but their midfield continues to lack the bite that other clubs have. Geoff Cameron and Brad Davis should have plenty of room to work in this on to create chances on goal.

10. Back to the real world for Portland. As good as last week was for the Portland Timbers, they’ll have to face the harsh reality that is playing the LA Galaxy on the road. You’ll see a different Timbers club against LA, one that probably won’t find as much open space to create out of the midfield. Portland doesn’t have the defense over a 90 minute period to stay with a quality club like LA either. Even should Landon Donovan be out again for this match, LA should have the firepower to put away the Timbers here.