MLS 2012, Week 3: What To Watch For

MLS 2012, Week 3: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 22, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 3, Carlos Rodriguez, Carlos Valdes, Chris Wondolowski, Dane Richards, Danny Califf, David Estrada, David Ferreira, Dominic Kinnear, Dominic Oduro, Fabian Castillo, Features, Freddy Adu, George John, Hans Backe, Joel Lindpere, Kei Kamara, Peter Nowak, Rafa Marquez, Thierry Henry, Torsten Frings

Houston and Seattle battle it out tomorrow night. (Getty Images)

We are chugging along here in the first month of the 2012 season. The third week of the season brings another full slate of games and talking points. There are a few decent games this weekend with a couple more that could end up being decent as well when it is all said and done.

Nine games on the menu this weekend across three days – only the LA Galaxy are off this weekend.

Below are some points I’ll be keeping an eye on this weekend.

1. West meets East. Six of the nine games this weekend feature a East v. West battle. Big games between Seattle and Houston and then Sporting KC and FC Dallas headline the weekend. Big thing to keep in mind is of those six games, four of them are in Eastern Conference venues. It will be interesting to see if the Eastern clubs can turn the tide at home after going the first two weekends without much to show for against the West. 

2. How good is Houston? Two road games in a row and two wins in a row have the Dynamo off to a rocking start. But how good is Dominic Kinnear’s club really at this point? The two 1-0 wins have come against one of the worst clubs in the league (Chivas) and a team that is decent (San Jose). Also, the Orange haven’t exactly lit up the boards with their offense as they’ve only chipped in two goals on the season, one being from the penalty spot last week.

Houston heads to Seattle for a big primetime battle with the Sounders tomorrow night. Seattle looked good in their home opener last week against Toronto as David Estrada ran all over the Reds with a hat trick. Toronto is a different defensive club than Houston is here. The Dynamo use the defense to their strength and will need to push around the Sounders early and often to get them off their game.

3. About those Quakes. San Jose takes their 1-1-0 record to the road to battle Toronto FC in their home opener. So far we’ve seen the Quakes play decent in a win over New England but then stumble against Houston last week. We know Chris Wondolowski can score but so far no one is really feeding him the ball. But they may be in luck as Toronto sweeper Torsten Frings is on the mend for a few weeks. Without him in the midfield, expect Toronto to be a little different and likely a bit weaker. If San Jose is indeed better this year, this will be a ¬†game that they can prove it to us. On the road, in a tough environment, against a pretty decent team.

4. The questions in Philly. We’ve heard all week about stuff going on with the Philadelphia Union. Peter Nowak is playing things very oddly and in a way that can be easily made fun of too by folks in the press and online. This Union squad has talent, make no mistake about it, but right now they seem to be lacking some heart across the field. You’d expect a guy like Danny Califf or Carlos Valdes to step up and be the true veteran leaders that they are, but that hasn’t exactly happened yet in their two losses (for a variety of reasons no less). Offensively speaking the Union haven’t got it going so far this year and not having Freddy Adu isn’t making it easier.

The Union head to Chicago for their home opener. The Fire looked decent in Montreal last week but still have some question marks of their own. We don’t know how good this club really is or will be yet but we do know one thing, Dominic Oduro is certainly trying to make us realize that he isn’t going to be a one-hit wonder.

5. Turn the heat up in New York. We’ve talked about it this week, the heat under Hans Backe’s butt has to be getting warmer and warmer here. The Red Bulls opened the season with two straight road losses and losing their home opener is definitely out of the question. The panic button hasn’t been pushed, not yet at least. They get a Colorado Rapids squad that will be missing a key midfielder in Jeff Lawrentowicz, who got red carded late in Philadelphia last weekend. That’s a huge blow for a club on the road seeking a third straight win.

New York has to play their style of game. Direct, with pace on the wings with Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere. So far neither one of them has been involved much in their two losses. Without their services on the wings, Thierry Henry has been forced to sit further back into the midfield to get the ball. That cannot happen for a player like Henry. Having Rafa Marquez back in the lineup should help though, if he can be the defensive force in the midfield, it may allow pressure off the defense and some better service. At least one would hope that will be the case. If not, Backe and this club will be forced to answer a lot of tough questions.

6. Dallas travels with a slew of missing players. We’ve talked about wondering just how good a couple clubs are, well Sporting KC fits that mold. They’ve done well in their two wins to start the season, one on the road in D.C. and the other at home against a 10-man New England. Now they’ll host a FC Dallas squad missing Brek Shea, Fabian Castillo and likely David Ferreira. That’s a ton of offense for Schellas Hyndman to be missing, not to mention newcomer Carlos Rodriguez, who has been filing in on the wings will be out with the Panama U-23 national team. Ouch.

To me this one is simple, if KC plays to their strengths up top with Kei Kamara and CJ Sapong, then this one will be their’s without a doubt. Dallas has a strong defense for sure this season with the return of George John and newcomer Hernan Pertuz looking good but without the wing play in the midfield, Dallas will struggle in this one.