MLS Week 29: What To Watch For

MLS Week 29: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On September 29, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 29, Features, What To Watch For

RSL hopes to get back on track with a win in LA. (Getty Images)

Week 29 in Major League Soccer has already gotten off to a bang with last night’s games. Out of nowhere the Chicago Fire go to Salt Lake and beat up on RSL in a 3-0 win. No one saw that coming and sure the officiating was questionable to some, you have to give Frank Klopas and his club some credit for continuing to make this playoff race an interesting one.

The Fire are still in it and on the flip side Sporting Kansas City is now the leader in the East. SKC looks like a real viable contender at this point in the season too.

There are plenty of quality games ahead this weekend as we roll into another set of games with a lot on the line. Here are some items I am looking at this weekend.

1. Philly or DC ready to take leap? Tonight, one of these clubs has to take a big leap forward in the Eastern Conference race. The Union know the EC title is still very much up for grabs while DC is hoping to cash in on these games-in-hand that they currently possess. The big factor in tonight’s match will certainly be Freddy Adu and his first meeting with his old side. We know the emotions will certainly be there but he has to use those emotions to help carry his side in this one. Philly certainly has the talent to get the result but they have to get on the board early and not play from behind in this one as well. Too many times recently they have waited for the other side to score before they jump into the game. DC is too good of a side at the moment to allow such a thing.

Also, keep in mind the DeRo factor. Dwayne De Rosario has thrusted himself into the MVP spotlight as of late and another strong performance will only help his candidacy.

2. Tough call for Chicago. Take a gander at how the Fire have been doing as of late. Very well really, winners of five out of their last six now after their big win in Salt Lake last night. They get Houston this weekend, a team that is coming off their first road win. Traveling to Houston won’t be easy for this considering they have a huge USOC final next Tuesday in Seattle. Does interim boss Frank Klopas rest some key starters for Tuesday or go all in and hope for the playoff push to continue? You gotta think finding a balance for Tuesday won’t be easy for him considering how big each match is right now for his club.

3. More on the New York saga. Some were quick to say last week after their embarrassing loss to RSL at home that this side was doomed once more. But their resounding 2-0 win last weekend did help ease those minds. Now they face a confident Toronto side on the road. TFC knows their playoff dreams are pretty much over but you know they’d love to play spoiler in this one while they get ready for their final CCL group game in Dallas in a couple weeks. Hans Backe hasn’t decided yet on what he will do with defender Rafa Marquez for this game. More than likely he’ll play from the sense that I’m getting. Just a matter of how much will be interesting to see. A win in Toronto means their playoff chances increase for another week but we all know what doom lies ahead if a loss happens. End of the world? No, but probably pretty damn close to it.

4. Dallas hoping to clinch, Colorado hoping not to collapse. Dallas rested a few starters last night in the CCL due to injuries and suspension. Colorado rested quite a few regulars as well but the results for each side was definitely different. Colorado won on the road in a big way while Dallas was punched in the gut a few times down in Panama. Dallas knows they can possible clinch a playoff berth this weekend in Colorado and while their offense finally woke up in Panama their defense looked horrible (plus playing without two players for some of the second half didn’t help).

Colorado on the other hand has to win this match. And I mean has to, as in this is a must win. Take a quick look at this standings and their spot in the wild card is no longer a sure bet. SKC just leaped them in the standings, Houston is tied with them on points while Columbus, Philadelphia, NY and DC are all right on their tails. A loss or even a draw really does them little favors considering the fact that they will only have two games left after this one.

5. Has RSL killed their momentum right before meeting LA? Boy a week ago this LA-RSL match looked to have so much riding on it, the Supporter’s Shield, the league’s best team and a few other things. Now with RSL’s two game losing streak, this match has lost a ton of it’s luster. RSL really has a smaller chance at catching LA in the standings now and a win by the Galaxy in this one will pretty much give them the Shield for the second straight season.

You have to wonder again where the confidence has gone in Jason Kreis’ locker room. Sure the cards and poor officiating hasn’t helped them but they haven’t helped themselves in the last two games by giving up two straight hat tricks. Never thought I’d see a club like RSL do that in back-to-back games. Not having Kyle Beckerman for this game will certainly hurt their chances in the midfield too. Time for this veteran squad to step it up a few notches.

6. Anything left for the Crew? This game will have a little more meaning after tonight’s DC-Philly game (same goes for Philly-Chivas USA). But my focus is on the Crew in this one, not so much with DCU. The Crew have to get points in this one, it is as simple as that. Their late loss to the LA Galaxy last weekend did them no favors and you look this club and wonder if there is any confidence left in the tank. The defense has been leaky and the offense has been nonexistent for the last month or more. It is funny to see how south this club went once the Crew’s management signed manager Robert Warzycha to a long-term deal. At some point he has to get his club back to where he had them before that deal was signed.

7. BC Place finally opens. The last remaining game in the Cascadia Cup this year (not like it matters since Seattle took home the trophy last week), and it should be a fun one with the opening of BC Place. If you haven’t seen this place and what they’ve done to it since last year’s Winter Olympics, do yourself a favor and check it out. Naturally they are claiming to have the best field turf in the league but we all know how that goes. What should we expect though in this one? Well, for starters the Timbers have to win this one if they want any shot at the playoffs here. After a couple disappointing results last week, the Timbers now face a major uphill battle. Beating a rival will certainly help but they absolutely need to find their offense again.