All eyes this weekend will be on Houston. Major League Soccer get to open up yet another soccer specific stadium and BBVA Compass Stadium will certainly be a proud one to display to the world. The bright orange seats and the oven-like feeling inside will almost certainly give the Dynamo a tough home environment to deal with.
Aside from that Week 10 in MLS also has some other good games of note including a huge showcase game in Seattle between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders. That clash will open up the Western Conference race a bit and show who really is the top dog in the league.
There are plenty of talking points for the weekend so here are some items I will be keeping a close watch on.
1. BBVA Goodness. I said yesterday in my predictions of New York and Houston that the Dynamo would likely not come out on top. The club would have their mind’s elsewhere and mostly they would be on Saturday’s home debut at their new stadium. Houston comes into this match with a respectable road record of 2-3-2 after seven games. Good but not great and certainly better than previous clubs who’ve started out the season with long road stretches while a stadium is being finished.
The Dynamo need a spark though. They’ve been marginal in seven games and really were just playing like a road team throughout. Hopefully the home game, in front of their fans, in a new environment that they can call their own will be enough of a spark to see just how good this team really is.
2. Can the Impact stay hot? I said it earlier in the week in my weekly recap, Montreal is the hottest Eastern Conference team going right now. Yeah, going 3-1-1 in their last five tells you that Jesse Marsch is finally hitting some of the right buttons. The midfield is coming around nicely and the defense isn’t giving up a ton of ugly mistakes.
They host the struggling Galaxy in one of the final games at the Big O this season for them. Naturally this will be another big draw for the expansion city. David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and company all come to town hoping to finally get going for good here this season.
Honestly, after nine games you have to think the Galaxy may be as good as they’re going to be here this season. They obviously have the talent to do some serious damage still in this league but something hasn’t clicked for them this season and I don’t see it happening on the road in a game like this. Montreal plays a physical brand of soccer, not one that LA will do well against unless someone sees an early red for the Impact.
3. Sporting to get back on track. Two straight surprise losses to Portland and Montreal have everyone really wondering about Sporting Kansas City. The club started out strong winning seven in a row before falling in their last two. Either clubs have figured out how to contain Sporting or maybe Peter Vermes’ side just hit a bit of a wall here. No matter which way you look at it if they go three in a row without a win, some serious questions will be raised about them.
They head to Chicago this weekend to face the Fire, a club that is still searching for an identity. The Windy City bunch are coming off a solid home draw to Real Salt Lake last night. Marco Pappa is looking dangerous by the minute for the Fire and defensively Frank Klopas’ side is getting better as well – last night’s shutout proved that.
4. Pioneer Cup weekend. This isn’t a major rivalry in MLS but FC Dallas and Columbus do play for a shiny trophy. The two Hunt Sports Group franchises are struggling big time though at the moment. Each side is dealing with a ton of injuries to key players and both come into this game searching just for points.
If anything this could be a game that comes down to the wire. Dallas looked strong last night against Seattle for the first 60 minutes or so but just failed to convert any chances. Columbus on the other hand has an offense that you really can’t write home about here so far this season. Six goals on the season puts them near the bottom of the league in that department. Dallas isn’t a ton better with 10 goals scored but something tells me after last night that they’ll have a better shot at things with Blas Perez back on the field.
5. Battle for the top spot. While San Jose may have something to say about things on Sunday with their game against Chivas USA, both RSL and Seattle will be dogging it out Saturday night to try and take hold of first place in the Western Conference and MLS. Each side are playing very well these days and the Sounders are certainly the hottest club in the league right now.
Sigi Schmid was wise and lucky enough to rest some key players last night in Dallas for Saturday’s game. He mentioned afterwards that getting Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales some rest will certainly go a long way for this weekend’s result.
Defensively though should be a fun clash. Seattle is on a nice shutout run while Salt Lake proved in Chicago that they can win without Nick Rimando in goal.
6. New York looking for more. I have to give it up to the Red Bulls. Without Thierry Henry they continue to grind away at the 1-0 results (now three in a row). Dax McCarty has stepped up nicely as a leader in the clubhouse while the young defense in front of rookie keeper Ryan Meara continues to shine.
Hans Backe has finally gotten his side into position to succeed in my mind. At 19 points after 10 games, the credit goes to the unlikely sources like Meara and McCarty.
The Red Bulls have to deal with a Philly club that is still struggling to find a footing into this season. The Union have one of the worst attacks in MLS right now and defensively have struggled to stay in games. I’d imagine this one will be a physical affair, possibly one that sees a few cards. But given the style of play out of these two sides right now I really wouldn’t expect anything more than a 1-0 or 2-0 game here.