- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On June 6, 2012
- 0 Comments
- 2012 MLS Season, Features
Yesterday I took a look at the item(s) that the Eastern Conference clubs need to either stay on course for a playoff spot, get a playoff spot or, even better, get the Supporters’ Shield trophy.
Today we move over to the Western Conference.
All winter long and even most of this season so far, folks like me have praised just how good the Western Conference is this year. How good and how deep.
Like I mentioned yesterday, the unbalanced schedule is playing a tricky part in how we judge some teams. For the most part however we know where teams are at and where they should be going here this season.
Time for the offense to click. I still believe that Robin Fraser knows what he is doing with this group. His defense is only going to improve with the likes of Danny Califf in the back. But the main thing this club needs is some punch to their attack. I doubt they’ll go out and spend any big money this summer but they did make two big trades recently that shook up their lineup a good bit by bringing in Juan Agudelo. Chivas has only scored nine goals this season – good for second worst in front of Toronto and Philadelphia with eight. That offense has to come together or else the playoff dream will not happen this season.
Consistency. I feel like this is true every season for the Rapids but even under Oscar Pareja this group still finds a way to be inconsistent from game to game. Somehow the Rapids are locked into the 4th spot in the Western Conference. If they want to stay there for better, they have to find a way to go on a good run that sees them win more than one game in a row. The talent is there and the veteran leadership of this club knows what it takes to get to a MLS Cup but at some point things have to click all around for this group.
Health and mental improvement. Injuries have been a big part of the lack of success for FC Dallas this season. But so has the mental lapses this club has had to deal with. Suspensions after suspensions have hurt this club almost if not more than the injuries have. Schellas Hyndman hasn’t been able to put out anywhere close to his best lineup since the first week of the season. Losing in the Open Cup was probably a blessing more than anything to get everyone back on the same page. The talent is there to make a big run but they do have a mega hill to climb to get to the playoffs.
Some miracle with Omar Gonzalez. Can we go back and change last year’s MVP to Omar Gonzalez? All kidding aside and no disrespect to Dwayne De Rosario but seriously no one player has meant more to his club than Gonzo has here this season to the Galaxy. Without him Bruce Arena hasn’t had the same defensive toughness that guided them to two straight Supporters’ Shields. Everyone always plays their best game against the Galaxy and so far this year, the Galaxy haven’t shown their muscle.
Offensive creativity. Kris Boyd should have been the answer in the Rose City. Should have been. But really it comes down to a lack of creativity through the midfield that is leaving him alone up top to do all the dirty work. He can score goals, that we know, but he needs better help than he is getting at the moment. Also, some better wing play would probably help things out as well.
Real Salt Lake
Status quo. Right now, my money is on this group for the Supporters’ Shield. They have had some issues in some games this season but good teams know how to win when they need to and RSL has shown us that as well. For the most part Jason Kreis doesn’t need much else to change here. His side will have more games to deal with late in the season with the Champions League but thankfully they should be built to handle it.
San Jose Earthquakes
Health and depth. One thing everyone seems to be waiting on is for this club to just hit a wall. Losing two out of their last five games is a slight sign of that but really they still have a good chance at continuing to surprise us all with a playoff and potentially a Supporters’ Shield run. Right now they need to find a way to keep the core players healthy and improve the depth of their roster. I don’t believe this side is totally built just yet to go too deep into their bench. That has to improve late in the year if they want to really contend for things.
Seattle Sounders FC
Healthy Mauro Rosales. When Seattle is at it’s best it is largely due to Rosales. Without a healthy Rosales and to a lesser degree Alvaro Fernandez and Fredy Montero, the Sounders attack lacks a big bite. Teams are able to spread them out a little more and maintain more possession. But with Rosales healthy, the Sounders are dangerous and tough to slow down in the attack. They do have a lot of games on the schedule but this club is built to handle it. Keeping the main parties healthy is key to their success this season.
Their attack to finally come alive. I think we’ve all been waiting here to see this big attack from Vancouver come alive. The defense improved dramatically from last season – which has lead them this far – but their attack has to pick up the slack to get them into the post season. Manager Martin Rennie needs to break the training wheels off or something here and let Camilo, Eric Hassli, Sebastien Le Toux and the rest break free here in the attack. We’ve seen them be super dangerous at times but the second half of this season will be huge for this group to take charge and guide this club.