We’re already off to a good start to the new week in Major League Soccer. Week 7 had two extra games to kick us off early last night with DC tying Montreal and Sporting Kansas City continuing their good form by improving to 7-0-0 after beating the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1.
Three of those four teams from last night have double dips this week and will see action this weekend.
For the first week in I don’t know how long, we only have a couple East v. West matchups on the slate. The majority of the weekend schedule sees conference rivals clashing against one another. Should make for a fun weekend when it is all said and done.
So here are some items I’ll be giving a closer look at this weekend.
1. Can Toronto get over the hump? One thing is clear, due to the unbalanced schedule we don’t know a ton about the Chicago Fire. I’d imagine neither do their Week 7 opponents Toronto FC who are hoping to get their first point of the season. Aron Winter is quickly getting placed on the hot seat by fans and pundits around the league. For good reason too, his team has been dreadful this season except for three games in the CCL.
The defense for Toronto has been terrible but the offense hasn’t been up to speed yet this season either. Something has to give with this group as they do have enough talent to do well in this league. Danny Koevermans, a preseason favorite to win the Golden Boot (by me and plenty of other people) hasn’t done much and fellow DP Torsten Frings has been hurt. Something has to give with this club and the Fire could be the club to get a least a draw from here.
2. Is LA really back? The Galaxy’s 3-1 win over Portland last week was a good indication that Bruce Arena’s club wasn’t going to stay down in the cellar for too long. They have just too much talent to be down in the dumps. But that was last week and now this club heads to the road to face a good Colorado Rapids squad that is getting the most out of good teams like Seattle and Salt Lake.
The Rapids pose a tough test for the Galaxy who got Landon Donovan back on the scoresheet for the first time this season. Oscar Pareja’s club does an excellent job of frustrating teams within the midfield and uses an underrated defense to keep them in games. If the Rapids can find any bit of offense for this one, it could be a tough out for the Galaxy to get two wins in a row here.
3. Double dips for DC, KC and Vancouver. You have to love the unbalanced schedule. D.C. United, Sporting Kansas City and the Vancouver Whitecaps each play two games this week. Both D.C. and Vancouver got two games at home but neither really made a good start of it last night with a loss by Vancouver and a draw for United.
I’ll get to Sporting’s run in a moment. But for D.C. and Vancouver, this is a good chance to stay in contention in their respective conferences. United has to get more out of their offense here as it won’t be easy to stay with the Red Bulls’ attack this weekend.
Vancouver on the other hand needs their entire team to step up here. Two games in a row with disappointing defense and still a lack of offense has to worry the locals. The Whitecaps need to also take advantage of a FC Dallas squad that will be making one of their longest road trips of the season here on Saturday.
4. Sporting going for a record. With a win this weekend at Portland – Sporting KC will tie a league record for consecutive wins to start a season – set all the way back in 1996 by the LA Galaxy. Impressive to say the very least. SKC’s style may not be loved by other teams in the league but there is no doubt that they get the job done here.
A trip to Portland won’t be easy though for Peter Vermes’ club. Even though the Timbers are currently down in the standings and are not playing well at all right now, they do pose a tough threat to this record. Not to mention, the crowd at JELD-WEN is always worth noting.
Thing that Sporting is riding at the moment is their defense. A total team defense really. The back four for Sporting has easily been the most consistent and complete group this season. If they stay healthy, there is no doubt they’ll continue to win games.
5. Chivas and playing at home. So we get that Chivas USA can win. Three wins this season prove that but all of them have come on the road. Robin Fraser has to get his team in the same winning mentality at home as he has on the road. They get a Philadelphia Union squad coming off their first win of the season at home this weekend. I don’t want to spoil my predictions for tomorrow’s post but this one has a draw written all over it in my mind already. Chivas, while improved, still lacks that bite in the attack. The Union on the other hand haven’t really shown us enough this season that they have a go-to scorer.
Still with saying all of that, this one is one of the more intriguing games in my mind of the weekend. It should answer a lot of questions about each side as we’re still figuring them both out here.
6. Quakes and RSL meet up. Easily the match of the weekend in my book, Real Salt Lake at the San Jose Earthquakes. A smaller field certainly helps San Jose but we know just how good this RSL squad is here too. Defensively the matchup in this one has to be one of the best we’ve seen this season.
RSL doesn’t lose two in-a-row very often these days so don’t expect them to lay down for the Quakes here. RSL needs to get their offense going early in this one to put pressure on the Quakes. So far this season, in the one loss for San Jose, their offense didn’t get going against a team (Houston) who scored early. With no Marvin Chavez or Shea Salines on the wings though for San Jose, we’ll really get a true test of how good this squad is in terms of depth. My concern is without those two, they’ll revert to their 2011 style of play, which is not good.