MLS 2012, Week 2: What To Watch For

MLS 2012, Week 2: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 15, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 2, Andrew Wiedeman, Aron Winter, Ben Olsen, Brad Davis, Carlos Rodriguez, Chris Wondolowski, David Beckham, Dwayne De Rosario, Edson Buddle, Fabian Castillo, Features, Frank Yallop, Jason Kreis, Landon Donovan, Markus Holgersson, Olympic Stadium, Robbie Keane, Roy Miller, Ryan Meara, Thierry Henry

Just an incredible scene last night in LA. I won’t go into the sad facts of Seattle down in Mexico but let’s all tip our hats to Toronto FC for being the only MLS side left standing in the CCL after last night. Wow. I never thought I would type that little bit of info.

Now LA, Toronto and Seattle have to move on to another weekend of league play. For LA and Seattle, home games should be a little bit of comfort after losing in the CCL. Though for LA it seems that home is not where the heart is as they’ve lost two in a row at the HDC. Weird times indeed.

We have a massively large weekend ahead of us with nine games on the menu – seven of them set for Saturday. The lone team not included for those keeping score at home is the Columbus Crew.

There certainly are plenty of good talking points going into the second weekend of the season so here is what I’ll be watching out for.

1. The Big O. Montreal is planning and hoping to blow the roof of the Olympic Stadium. Over 50,000 are expected to be on hand and the Impact are hoping to make it closer to 60,000 by kickoff. Yeah you read that correctly, 60,000. The Impact host a hungry Chicago Fire team that had last weekend off. You have to figure the Fire are ready for this one, even though they’ll face a monster crowd at the Big O.

Montreal is looking for their first MLS goal as well. Last weekend they struggled on offense against an up-and-coming Vancouver defense. I’d expect an even tougher task against a Chicago defense that is stronger this season. Second-year defender Jahil Anibaba is a guy that will dictate a lot in the defensive third. 

2. Is San Jose for real this season? One of the bigger questions to come out of week one surrounded the San Jose Earthquakes. They pretty much dominated the New England Revolution in the season opener and got yet another goal from Chris Wondolowski. But is this club legit? I know it is too early to tell but momentum is one thing and so is confidence. A win like last weeks had to give Frank Yallop’s side a good bit of confidence going into a tough week two match with the Houston Dynamo.

One interesting nugget to point out is this one will be at AT&T Park, not at Buck Shaw Stadium. Yay for the Quakes getting a game to boost their season attendance numbers. But I digress, back to the point at hand.

Houston will certainly bring a stiffer challenge to the team from the Bay Area. Defensively the Dynamo are as strong as they come in MLS and if Brad Davis can get things going for the Dynamo on offense, the Quakes will certainly have their hands full. If anything, this game will show us what this San Jose squad is truly made of this season.

3. Dallas depth to be tested. One thing Dallas fans will constantly hear this season is how weak their midfield depth is, and for good season. Brek Shea will be gone with the U-23 national team for Olympic qualifiers and Fabian Castillo could be out with a knee injury. So who is left for Schellas Hyndman on the wings when they host the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening? We’ll likely see newcomer Carlos Rodriguez on one side, and if Castillo can’t go, look for Generation adidas player Andrew Wiedeman to be on the other. Wiedeman had a strong preseason for Dallas but a lot of those goals he scored did come against college sides. Translating that kind of play against higher level competition will be tough.

Portland will bring a squad that has a ton of confidence after their season opening win over Philadelphia. But the best way to get by Portland has always been on the flank, if that part is cut off for Dallas it will turn into a battle in the middle. The advantage could go to the visitors then, who only won two games away from home last year.

4. Trouble brewing for NY? Let’s just say it, without a quality defense, this New York side is going to struggle a lot this season. Thierry Henry can only do so much in the attacking third. Last Sunday in Dallas, Henry got absolutely no help from his midfield. I don’t think it will get any easier this weekend for him in Salt Lake. RSL’s midfield is easily one of the best in MLS and they proved it last weekend on the road in LA.

New York will have to get their act together in the defensive third however. Rookie keeper Ryan Meara did well in his debut last weekend but his defense gave up two real silly goals. RSL is much stronger in the attacking end than Dallas and you have to believe Jason Kreis will be eating up the film he saw from Sunday’s game in Dallas. Look for him to add a ton of pressure on the back four of New York, particularly against Roy Miller and Markus Holgersson. Neither one of those two had a good game in Dallas and were the weak link in the back.

5. The high and low at Qwest. On one end you’ll have a team riding high after a huge CCL win and the other will be hoping to forget what happened down in Mexico. Seattle got spanked around by Santos last night. The first half was close but the second half was just down-right ugly.

I’d expect this one to be a bit close as Seattle will have to get their legs underneath them a bit after making the long trip back to the Pacific Northwest while Toronto will be coming off an incredible high of winning in LA. I’ve been raving how much I like Toronto this winter and this is a game that they can use to prove themselves even more. Yes the LA series was a big stepping stone for Aron Winter’s club but doing the same against a tough Western conference side in league play is just as important.

6. Will LA bounce back? Let’s point out one thing, now that LA is out of the CCL they can at least get back to concentrating on the MLS regular season slate for a while. LA fans should be able to rest easy knowing that fact. They host a D.C. United squad on Sunday in a match that should be a tough one for the Galaxy. Teams are obviously finding ways to win at the HDC this season and you have to think this will be a big opportunity for Ben Olsen to get on board with winning there.

Olsen has to get his offense going though, particularly with Dwayne De Rosario, who was neutralized pretty well in the season opening loss to Sporting Kansas City last week. Juninho and guys in the midfield will have to lock down DeRo, while hoping David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane can carry the offensive load against a young defense from United. It is as simple as that, those four have to carry the load while this defense of LA’s gets settled here this season.