MLS Week 22: What To Watch For

MLS Week 22: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 11, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 22, Features, What To Watch For

Fredy Montero and Seattle take on Chivas USA this weekend. (Getty Images)

It is nearly time for another packed weekend in Major League Soccer. Week 22 is on the book and not everyone is involved this weekend. Both LA and Kansas City were scheduled originally to play this weekend but that game was moved to Labor Day (not sure about the reasoning behind the move). But everyone else is set up for action this weekend.

We have a few good games to discuss here as teams are continue to fight for playoff seeding and positioning. We saw that the playoff schedule came out earlier in the week and now clubs know now more than ever that they need to be in the top three of their conference to avoid any crazy scheduling that may be involved.

1. Is Chivas ready to take a leap forward? I look at Chivas USA and continue to say, boy they need just one or two more pieces to be a playoff team. Should the news about Freddy Adu and possibly Eddie Johnson come true for them, then I would fully expect them to be in the hunt this fall. Thing is neither of those USMNT players are with Chivas just yet and they have a big task at hand in Seattle this weekend.

The Sounders as we know are a top four team in MLS. They’ve been on good form, aside from a stumble in Houston a couple weeks back, and continue to make me think that this could be a year that they could very well make it to MLS Cup if all the chips fall into place for them. With a full weeks rest under their belts and no CCL games to deal with this week, look for the Sounders to take care of business at home. They’ll have to find a way to handle Nick Labrocca and Justin Braun though. But seeing how some key players for Seattle are near their return, I like Sigi Schmid’s club’s chances here.

2. Any defense for Toronto would be nice. Say what you will about Aron Winter’s TFC side and all the moves they made recently, at least their offense is finally providing some talking points. Before it was all about how they couldn’t score and couldn’t defense. Now its just about how they cannot defend. The MLS trade deadline is still a little over a month away, so I wouldn’t count Winter as being done with making moves here. The thing is I do wonder if Winter and TFC are just making moves for the CCL right now and not for MLS. They have to know that getting into the playoffs at this point would be a huge task, especially given the amount of extra games they have come up in the CCL.

It won’t get any easier though for this bunch that lately have found ways to at least earn some entertaining draws. Real Salt Lake comes to town and after last week, it looks like they mean business once again. Games in hand for RSL in the standings mean this is a game they need to win to continue their path upward into one of the three auto-bids from the Western Conference. The way things are set up right now, RSL would be dealing with a wild-card game before having to play one of the conference winners. I can’t imagine Jason Kreis wanting to have to deal with that come October.

3. New York moment. At some point this New York club has to make a push or something here. With a struggling Chicago Fire team coming into town it seems like this weekend is as good of a time as ever to do just that. Sadly enough we’ve been saying that for weeks here. Depth is a concern, injuries, lack of quality leadership, whatever. Something has to change in New York or this disappointment becomes larger and larger.

4. DeRo and Hassli collide at RFK. This game normally wouldn’t be a huge deal to me but given how Dwayne De Rosario and Eric Hassli have been playing as of late, the interest is a little better from me. I have to say it, Dwayne De Rosario is a MVP candidate right now for, and oddly enough, so is Vancouver’s Frenchman. Yeah I said it. Both DeRo and Hassli are MVP candidates right now and the stats just don’t lie with either of them. Hassli has a strong case with 10 goals while DeRo has been lights out since coming to D.C., his nine goals and six assists are starting to be very loud figures for a D.C. team that is starting to make some noise. All I can say is this one could be very interesting because of these two.

5. Philly and Dallas game could be as good as it gets this weekend. If you want a headline game for the weekend, then it should be this one. Sadly enough it won’t be on national television, which is a shame really. For me, this one comes down to a midfield battle. Both teams have the offense to get the job done and as we’ve seen all season, each have the defense to put a stop to just about anyone in this league.

When these two got together last time in Dallas, we saw Philly race out to a quick start only to be up-ended by their own defense. Dallas brings a lot of pressure from the wings and I wouldn’t expect anything less in this one. The Union have to get their attack going early to pressure the Dallas back four. Had it not been for some heroics the first time around from Kevin Hartman and Ugo Ihemelu, that game would have likely been a lot different with the way Philadelphia came out in that one. They have to do the same in this one and press hard for an early goal.

6. Portland ready to make a leap? Road trips to Houston are never easy for anyone, even when the Dynamo are struggling. Portland has shown some chops in recent games to let everyone know that they aren’t going away lightly here this season. At the moment they’re just three points back of a playoff spot, that is pretty damn good for an expansion team. One of those teams standing in the way is this Dynamo team.

The Dynamo are a team that needs consistency here. I still believe they need to shift Geoff Cameron back to their defense to sort out issues in their back line. Offensively they have to hope they can get goals out of Carlo Costly here soon. They made a big gamble for going for him and they must get something to show for it. Going against a defense that tends to be leaky like the Timbers, this is a chance for him to silence his critics.