MLS Week 24: What To Watch For

MLS Week 24: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 25, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 24, Features, What To Watch For

Dane Richards and NY hope to get the best of Landon Donovan and the Galaxy. (Getty Images)

So far so good. That’s seems to be the story of the week for Major League Soccer. A couple quality results in the CONCACAF Champions League, an expansion club getting into the playoff mix and a slew of decent games on tap this weekend.

The playoff race got a little more interesting last night with Portland 1-0 win over Chivas USA. I’ll have more on their remaining schedule later today (or tomorrow). They are now tied in the standings with the New York Red Bulls for the 10th and final playoff spot at the moment. Goal differential separates the two but as we are seeing right now the playoffs are really up for grabs for at least 13 of the 18 clubs.

As we head into the weekend there are plenty of talking points too. Here is what I am looking into this weekend.

1. Any CCL hangover for Seattle? We saw it last week between these Sounders and FC Dallas where the Hoops were really gassed after their big win down in Mexico. Now that the Sounders have done the same, will they too be gassed? Don’t count on it as much. Seattle wisely rested a few starters and only used key players like Oslvado Alonso for a brief time late in the game. That’s good too considering they’re hosting a tough defensive team like the Columbus Crew. We’ve always talked about Sigi Schmid going against his old clubs and while he didn’t leave Columbus on bad terms (depending on if you aren’t talking to a Crew fan), he does enjoy getting the best of them when he can.

2. Tough draw for Dallas. FC Dallas may have gotten another win in the CCL today but the rain delay last night did them absolutely no favors for Saturday when they have to play at Kansas City. They should get defender Zach Loyd and striker Maicon Santos there for that one though as both stay out the CCL clash in Toronto.

This is a really tricky spot for Dallas to be in. The month of August hasn’t been kind to the North Texas side in league play (CCL play has been a different story). Does Schellas Hyndman use a little different lineup on Saturday? I think he should to be honest. If he can get Loyd healthy, and Andrew Jacobson healthy as well, then that would be a good start for him. At least the club knows they can rely on newcomers Jeremy Hall and Jack Stewart. Both played very well in the CCL restart game today against Toronto.

But be on watch for KC in this one. Sporting spanked Dallas 4-1 earlier this year in Dallas and they have looked tough over the last couple weeks. Where KC can stumble is where Dallas needs to pick things up. If Dallas uses their speed on the wings and stays compact in defense, they could give KC a tough go of it.

3. Can Portland continue to climb the mountain? They got the big home match with Chivas out of the way with a huge goal from defender Eric Brunner. That’s all good and nice but Portland has to pick up points on the road here if they want to see the post season in their inaugural campaign.

United will present them a hefty challenge too. D.C. is in the thick of things for a wild card spot and has to bounce back from a disappointing run of things from last week. D.C. has to be smart in their attack and find ways to involve Dwayne De Rosario early and often. United is most dangerous when they get him going early and allow him to find Chris Pontious, Charlie Davies and others in the attack. Where Portland has to step up is by using their outside speed to pressure the young defense from D.C.

4. Can RSL end this rut? Think about this for a moment, RSL has lost four out of their last five. Yup. One point in five games. No matter who you are or how deep your club is that is a bad rut to be in. Jason Kreis’ club hasn’t really looked like the team that was so good last year for a while now. The biggest issue for them at the moment is coming up short on the road. No road wins since early this season and most of it comes down to this club not having a true offensive link on the field.

RSL travels to LA to face Chivas USA this weekend. Safe to say that both clubs need three points in this one. RSL sits at 36 points but does have games in hand still at the moment. Lately they haven’t been cashing those in.

RSL has to come into this one with a chip on their shoulder. We’ve seen too many times this season where things go wrong with them and they don’t respond to it. Javier Morales went down, they failed to really respond. Loss in the CCL final, they failed to respond. It is time for them to step up here, a win on the road will certainly do it and put pressure back on the top four (LA, Seattle, Dallas and Colorado).

5. LA and New York headline week. They may headline the week for most people but for me their game doesn’t matter all that much. LA may be involved in the CCL and we could see some effect to their play on Sunday from that but really it comes down to the Red Bulls in this one. Another loss or draw really signals a lot to me about this club and their playoff chances.

With all the stars in this one it comes down to which defense steps up. From what we’ve seen out of the Red Bulls lately the defense is the biggest problem, or at least one of the biggest. Rafa Marquez looks his age, Tim Ream gets left out to dry and the keeper situation is just laughable at this point. If anything, LA should capitalize on the issues in the back with a big effort from Robbie Keane, who will likely be sitting out tonight’s CCL match.

6. Philly’s time to respond. With KC, Houston, DC, and NY all in the mix around them (Columbus as well even though the Crew hold the edge there), the Union need to get back on the horse here with a strong effort at New England. against New England. (Edit: been pointed out to me that I read the schedule wrong, sorry about that)

Here’s the question with this one, how much will the pending Hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean effect this game? Will it get canceled? We don’t know yet even though it looks like things could get nasty weather-wise on Sunday. With PPL Park’s field being soaked you have to expect a sloppy game if it is played with the rain that is likely going to be involved.