- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On September 22, 2011
- 0 Comments
- 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 28, Features, What To Watch For
The MLS playoff picture could become a little clearer this weekend. A couple teams have a chance to clinch berths while a few others could be eliminated for good. Every club is in action this weekend, which will be fun. You have to like this time of the year when everyone is involved in some form and that each game has some meaning behind it.
With plenty to look forward to this weekend, here are some times I’ll be keeping watch on this weekend.
1. Defense is key for KC and Philly. I talked about this earlier today at SBNation.com, both the Union and Sporting will have to have their defenses at the top of their game tomorrow night. Last time these two met it was a 0-0 barnburner. But KC didn’t have Graham Zusi in that one and Philly didn’t have Freddy Adu. Big x-factors for each club tomorrow.
2. Texas derby heats up. The Texas Derby is always a big one to watch for. Right now it comes at a big time for each club. Dallas is on a bad spell of games and have even dropped a few at home recently while the Dynamo are still searching for their first road win of the season. You got to feel they’d love to not only get their first road win of the year against Dallas but to also win the season series for the first time in a couple years against their North Texas rivals.
Houston will need to get in this game early to force Dallas and their struggling offense to play from behind. Dallas hasn’t been getting done offensively for a few weeks here and will need more out of Brek Shea and possibly the return of Marvin Chavez. Set pieces will be key for the Dynamo as well, if Brad Davis can set things up nicely it will cause big issues for the Dallas defense which gives up its fair share of set piece goals.
3. Salt Lake looks to clinch. Is anyone hotter in the league at the moment than RSL? Seriously, after the dark run the club went on in the summer, Jason Kreis’ team has a new lease on life and looks like a legit MLS Cup contender at the moment. Last night’s win in New York showed that this is a club that is back on track and back to the way we expected them to be this season.
DC United is a club that could give them fits on the road here but as we’ve seen out of United, closing out games isn’t their strong suit.
4. Galaxy hoping to open up 10 point lead. Should things go the Galaxy’s way this weekend, they could open a 10 point lead in the standings over Salt Lake and Seattle. RSL does have a game-in-hand at the moment on them but a 10 point lead this late in the season is huge. LA goes to Columbus to face a reeling Crew team that at the moment have little defense to guide their club. Even if Chad Marshall came back for this one it likely wouldn’t be enough as the Galaxy attack is just too strong to handle in this one.
5. Is NY dead? Usually a visit from an expansion team can lift a club’s playoff hopes. We thought that a couple weeks ago when Vancouver visited the Red Bulls but that one ended in a 1-1 draw. Portland coming into town means a couple things. Should the Red Bulls fail to get a win, their playoff dreams will be reduced in a big way as these Timbers will have some advantage on them in the end. For Portland a win means the obvious, their playoff hopes continue for another week and it could mean they leap a couple teams in the standings to get a little more comfortable.
At the end of the day this one is really huge. Both clubs have to get the win and a draw does neither any real favors. Portland mainly just doesn’t need to pick up a road loss here. They’ve played well over the last couple weeks and if Kenny Cooper and Jack Jewsbury can frustrate an already frustrated defense that could be without Tim Ream or Rafa Marquez (apparently there are talks that neither could start on Saturday, then Portland could be sitting pretty.
6. Seattle hopes to clinch as well. A win and they are in, fairly simple (though they’ll clinch in other ways too this weekend without a win). The Sounders just need to keep going here even without midfielder Mauro Rosales, who is sidelined for a couple weeks now with a MCL sprain. They travel to Cascadia Cup rivals Vancouver this weekend in the last game at Empire Field. We know the Caps will be eliminated in some form this weekend (even with a win it is possible), so they have to go into spoiler mode. Their defense has improved a little bit in recent weeks but the Caps haven’t proven to be able to beat a quality club with a strong offense just yet.