Here we are, at the end of the first month of the season already and by the end of the weekend we’ll be in April. Week 4 in Major League Soccer gets started a little early with a game tomorrow night in DC with United hosting FC Dallas.
The theme of the season will still be going on as we have five matches between Eastern and Western conference clubs. Unlike last weekend though the majority (three) will be in Western conference venues.
Below are some talking points going into the new week.
1. Will United and Dallas provide anything on Friday? Remember the two games between D.C. United and FC Dallas last year? Nope? Yeah, I didn’t think so because each ended in a 0-0 draw. Nothing to show for from each side. So what will this early and only meeting of these two clubs bring this season?
For United it could be a good chance to get more than a point but more importantly get their offense going. So far in three games the Black-and-Red have one goal to show for and it came from a rookie midfielder. The 2011 MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario hasn’t look himself just yet as he is still getting use to some new faces like DP Hamdi Sahili. Neither have really gotten on the same page but I do think it is only a matter of time before it happens.
As for Dallas, this game is about getting points but getting back to normal. Fabian Castillo should return to the lineup and so could Brek Shea. That’s good considering the lack of offense the Hoops had in the second half against Kansas City last weekend. Even if Shea doesn’t go the full 90 for Dallas it will still be something to have him and Castillo back on the wings. If all of them can get on the same page with Blas Perez and Ricardo Villar, they could sneak out of RFK with some points.
2. RSL bouncing back. I claimed Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 loss at home to Chivas USA as a fluke. Most people did. Now RSL has to go on the road to a place they struggled at last season, JELD-WEN Field in Portland. Lucky for RSL, the Timbers are coming off a bad loss as well. This one will be all about the midfield play for me. Who takes control and gets their front men the best chances will undoubtably win this one. The talent edge has to still go to RSL but you can never count the Timbers out at home now can you?
3. Just how good is San Jose? I’ve been saying all season long that I’m not entirely impressed with the San Jose Earthquakes. A Week 1 win over New England wasn’t much and the win last week in Toronto was something to say the least. But just how good is this club? Honestly a win in Seattle against what I think could be the best team in MLS will get me thinking more about this team of Frank Yallop.
Obviously in the lone loss of the year against Houston the Quakes had no answer for a tough defense. Seattle is right up there with the Dynamo in the tough defense department, that we know. San Jose will need to play to their strengths up top with Chris Wondolowski and find a way to keep the wings involved with Shea Salinas and Marvin Chavez. Those two were very active in the two San Jose wins but were quieted in the loss. Seattle is good at controlling the game in their home stadium, so this one will be extra tough for San Jose. I have a feeling we still have a ton to learn about this club.
4. A fresh LA. A week off and now a home game against a club that has to travel across the country. Man life must be nice for the LA Galaxy. Bruce Arena’s club gets a New England side that got their first win last weekend at home against Portland. While that was nice and all a win in LA won’t come easy against a team that will be fresh. Expect LA to use all of their star power in this one.
If New England is going to get in this one they need to catch LA napping early like they did against Portland. That may be their only way out of this one. LA is too talented up front and even without Omar Gonzalez in the back they still have plenty to draw from against a New England offense that is still going through some growing pains.
5. Can Chivas make it two in a row? Some folks out there weren’t calling the Chivas win in Salt Lake a fluke. Good. I like to see optimism with this club. If they really want to impress, make it two in a row against a top club in the league. This weekend they host the only 3-0-0 team in the league, Sporting Kansas City.
Sporting looked good in their win over Dallas last weekend, controlling the match and really having their way with a Dallas squad that was truly defensive all over the field. Sporting has done a good job so far at not quitting in the late stages of the game, winning two games last so far this season.
Chivas will need another gritty performance out of their defense and from keeper Dan Kennedy. If Robin Fraser’s offense can gain some sort of spark in this one that would be nice but so far the Goats offense hasn’t given us any real reason to think that will happen.
6. What about the Fire? I get this question a bunch, why not write more about the Chicago Fire here? Simple, I’m still learning a ton about them here and this game on Sunday in Colorado will be a good chance to see what they are really made of. I liked them in their 1-1 draw in Montreal and last week’s home opener win against Philadelphia was equally nice. But going to the Mile High city is always a challenge and the Fire have to show a little more offense if they want to get out with points.
Dominic Oduro has already picked up two goals this season but he needs help from others around him like Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko. The big key in this game will be using the width of the field, something neither the Fire or Rapids are really great at.