What To Watch For: MLS Week 15

What To Watch For: MLS Week 15

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On June 23, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 15, What To Watch For

The San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy renew their rivalry this weekend. (Getty Images)

While most of the soccer world or at least the soccer region around here will be fixated on the US-Mexico game in the Gold Cup this weekend, others will be watching the 10 Major League Soccer games schedule between today and Sunday. Yes, there are 10 matches left on the slate this week.

With so many games there will be plenty to talk about so let’s not waste another moment here.

1. CLink Field (formerly Qwest) opening everything up for Red Bulls. Seattle decided to open up their stadium above the usual 36k for tonight’s match against New York. Seriously? Its possibly they’ll have around 50k on hand tonight. That is crazy considering Thierry Henry was likely one of the main reasons for doing this. And yet he won’t be playing due to his silly red card that he got against Portland last week. New York was likely going to rest him for this game anyways but the fact remains he won’t be there for it. Oh well, it shouldn’t put a huge clamp on this game though as Seattle will hope to put pressure on Dallas and LA in the West while the Red Bulls will need to find some consistency in their play if they hope to get keep the Eastern Conference lead.

2. Old foes meet in D.C. Usually when Houston and D.C. meet it is a big deal. Now with the two in the same conference I think it means even more. Both are neck and neck in the standings at the moment and with the Eastern Conference being so open this season, each need to get points here to take a claim to one of the three automatic playoff spots from that conference. I’d love either of these teams to find some consistency here. Just when you think they’re putting a good step forward they both tend to take two or three steps back. In a year with more pressure on everyone they cannot continue to do that for long.

3. California rivals clash (no pun intended). Sometimes we tend to forget the old San Jose-LA rivalries used to be pretty special. They were after all the first true regional rivalry that Major League Soccer had before the expansion waves took off in this league. San Jose has proven to be a tough cookie to crack so far this season and at home they can be hit or miss. We know what the Galaxy bring to the table, points and loads of them. They may have played more games than anyone else thus far but what they’ve done is set themselves apart from the rest of the league. No one is touching them here so far and they nearly have double the points as the Quakes do right now. San Jose will need to bring high pressure and loads of speed to catch the Galaxy off guard here. I think this one will be an interesting battle, it is just too bad it comes on the day when Landon Donovan is out with the US National team.

4. Will the Union show back up? Boy, just when we thought the Union were going to start running away with the Eastern Conference, they buckle up a bit and throw up a couple duds of games over the last couple of weeks. Their offense has disappeared yet again while their defense either gives up crappy goals or none at all. Results haven’t been that impressive as Peter Nowak’s team is now tied with the Red Bulls for first overall in the East. Injuries to Danny Mwanga didn’t help matters. Without him, Sebastien Le Toux hasn’t been the same. Getting the most out of Le Toux has been a challenge this season, if he doesn’t get going here this season it will make his stellar 2010 campaign seem like a distant memory.

5. Will FCD knock off Portland? It’s hasn’t been that pretty for FCD over the last couple weeks but they did get a result in LA against Chivas so there is something still there. A win against Portland though will go a long way. I wrote about what FCD needs to do to beat Portland over at BigDSoccer earlier today. Check it out.

6. The Sporting Way. Another home game and this time against the team right with them in the standings, Vancouver. I’d say three points is a must for Sporting as they continue to try and claw their way back into the league standings. It’s impressive that a team that hasn’t lost in a month still remains in last place though in the Eastern Conference. KC will want to use their high pressure and hold off Vancouver this time. Remember the last time these two faced off? I’m sure KC does as they had a nice comfy lead before the Caps came back in a 3-3 thriller.

7. Thursday-Sunday double dips. For Seattle and New York, they square off tonight and then have games on Sunday. At least for Seattle they are home for both as New England comes into town on Sunday. New York travels back east a bit to face the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park (that game in on ESPN btw, yes ESPN, not ESPN2). It will be interesting to see how the Red Bulls handle this more than the Sounders. The short rest for two straight home games shouldn’t bother Sigi Schmid’s team all that much but the travel and short rest for the Red Bulls could be a thing to watch for.

8. Time to break a funk for RSL. In a rare winless win for Real Salt Lake, the club has one decent thing to hang their hats on this weekend, by hosting Toronto FC. TFC still struggles on the road here and RSL as we know is always dominant at home. With the Gold Cup players coming back into the fold for Jason Kreis, look for his team to be more like themselves again here this weekend. If they fall flat once more however it could be a sign that this club needs to make some moves in the transfer market.