MLS Week 20: What To Watch For

MLS Week 20: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 28, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 20, What To Watch For

Philadelphia looks to stay on top in the Eastern Conference. (Getty Images)

Well that was fun now wasn’t it? The MLS All-Star Game is over and done with for another year. We can now move on to things that are a bit more important like another CCL match tonight for a MLS club, this time FC Dallas. Both Seattle and Toronto have already played the first leg of their play-in round, both with different results. Seattle stumbled in Panama while Toronto was able to go up in their first leg 2-1.

The weekend slate in MLS looks to be a full one though starting with a game tomorrow evening. Its the final week of July, which means the playoff push is in full swing now for all MLS sides.

1. Union hold Eastern cards. The so-called start of the second half of the season begins in Philly with the Union hosting the defending champion Colorado Rapids. I believe the Eastern Conference could and should run through Philadelphia is every thing holds serve here. The Union have been the top dog in the East for the majority of this season and while their play may not be the sexiest at times, its getting the job done. Hosting the Rapids won’t be easy given how the Rapids played a week ago. Neither team had loads of guys missing due to the All-Star game so both should be fresh here. Philadelphia has to continue to battle through and get results though, with Columbus, KC and NY all on their heels they can’t stumble in home games like this one.

2. Can LA pull away? With fewer games left than most MLS sides, the LA Galaxy have a lead in the Supporter’s Shield race, but not a big one yet. Game this the one this weekend in Vancouver are a chance for the Galaxy to get three points and hope for the clubs behind them to stumble a bit. But this could be a tricky game for the Galaxy. Vancouver may be at the bottom of the standings but its about time they start playing the all important spoiler role here. In a way this game feels almost like a trap for the Galaxy after the All-Star break. With no David Beckham (suspended for yellows) and possibly no Landon Donovan (injured), they’ll need to lean on guys who haven’t quite stepped up like they should this season (I’m looking at you Juan Pablo Angel).

3. Sounders in need of response. Yeah, Tuesday for the Sounders was not good. They went down to Panama and lost in their opener of the CCL in a game they really should have dominated. That’s always the tricky thing about the CCL, even when playing the minnows, you could stumble. Now they must battle the Dynamo in Houston on Saturday, which is never an easy thing to do. Fatigue shouldn’t be an issue for the Sounders but Sigi Schmid has to get his offense going quicker in this game if they want to get out with points.

On the Dynamo side of things, I’d love to see Geoff Cameron in the defense instead of the midfield. Last night’s ASG reminded us of what Cameron brings to the defense. I’m not saying the Dynamo are in need of him in the defense right away but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. He’d be a big difference maker for them in the back line against a team like Seattle.

4. Can the Revs continue to surprise on the road? Two straight road games last week and the Revs nearly pulled off the unlikely six point swing in Colorado and in D.C. Turn forward to this weekend and the Revs go to the newest building in MLS, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, a very tough place to get points in. It won’t be easy at all for the Revs given how the Sporks have been as of late. If New England is to make this one interesting they must dominate the midfield and score early to put the pressure on KC. If KC gets out in front this one could be all over in a hurry.

5. Another RSL-Columbus meeting. Thanks to the CCL this marks the 4th time that these two sides have met in 2011. This is just another week where RSL and quietly continue their path back up the standings though. Columbus will give them their biggest challenge in a while though as the Crew are one of the better defense teams in the league. I wouldn’t imagine this one being a high scoring affair given how these two play defense. A lot will henge on the health of Jamison Olave though for RSL. The star defender went out early last night in the ASG with a knee injury. Should he be out a while it could hurt what RSL does in defense. Plus there is that whole Jeff Cunningham thing in this one too. You know he’d love to break that all-time league scoring mark against his old club.

6. Time for the Timbers to make some noise. A meeting with Toronto at home seems to always be the trick to get an offense going. It did wonders for KC last week and we’ve seen other clubs like Philadelphia cash in against this defense this season too. So why not Portland? Boy, they need to find that creative juice that we saw earlier in the year again. Mainly this club needs guys like Kenny Cooper, Darlington Nagbe and Jorge Perlaza to get collectively on track. This team has the talent to do some good but its starting to look like they’ll be more of a playoff spoiler now than a contender, especially if they fail to get more than a point from this game against a struggling Toronto side.

7. CCL hangover for Dallas? You want a trap game, it’s likely this one for FC Dallas. The club plays down in El Salvador to finish out their tough three countries in a week road trip (Toronto and NY last week). Coming home Sunday to face Chivas USA won’t be easy either. While Chivas doesn’t have a winning record they do have one thing going for them, some momentum. As they should get striker Alejandro Moreno back from Copa America duties here soon their offense should begin to get better. Dallas won’t be easy to beat at home though for Chivas. The heat will still get to anyone playing down in Dallas and with weekend temperatures at game time likely to be north of 100 degrees, Dallas could see the advantage as the game wears on due to their conditioning to play in that kind of heat.