2012 MLS, Week 21: What To Watch For

2012 MLS, Week 21: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 26, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 21, Features

What will Martin Rennie do with the Whitecaps next? (Getty Images)

The 2012 MLS All Star break is over – if you even want to call it a break. It may be hard to believe but we are at the final week of July on the regular season slate and oddly enough CONCACAF Champions League group play starts up again next week.

I won’t get too much into the All Star game from last night. It was a nice win for the league – even if the late goal by Eddie Johnson was a total fluke. Still, good to see him score and good to see the league do well on a national/international stage. Most of you know I am not the biggest fan of the All Star game but I think the league is finally getting a lot of the little things right with it (no confetti cannons for the trophy celebration is one plus).

Anyways, time to move on as we have a game tomorrow evening to kick off this new week. Here are some items I’ll be taking a closer look at this weekend.

1. Martin Rennie and his tough calls. It has been a very interesting few weeks for the Vancouver Whitecaps. A couple tough road losses followed by a couple good home results. But the bigger news had to be off the field with two big trades involving two big strikers – Eric Hassli and Sebastien Le Toux. The Caps now also have a tough call to make with defender Jay DeMerit who went the full 90 in last night’s game. Rennie will have to decide if taking a tired DeMerit in the center of his defense against one of the league’s better attacks is worth it or if he just need to suck it up for a game and save DeMerit for the next one.

It is a risk either way you spin it for the Whitecaps – with the game at Real Salt Lake tomorrow evening – Vancouver cannot afford to lose one of their better defenders at this stage in the season. I’d sit DeMerit but that may just be me.

2. Hot Dynamo hit the road. It has also been an interesting few weeks for the Houston Dynamo. They’ve been red hot as of late thanks to some home games that saw them score bunches of goals. Now they hit the road to face an equally hot home team in Toronto FC. Paul Mariner has his team playing much better than earlier in the year and now that they have a big striker in Eric Hassli on board – watching him get used to his new team will be a point of interest here.

If Hassli can get going like he did last season with the Vancouver Whitecaps, then Toronto made the right call on this move.

But this will likely be the first Dynamo game without defender Geoff Cameron, who is finally making his way to Stoke City. How Houston reacts to losing it’s best defender will be key moving forward in their playoff hunt here. So far Houston has shown a ton of growth over the course of the last few weeks – from being a team that was iffy in some regards to making the playoffs – to a team that looks like they are true contenders again.

3. Galaxy surging but will miss Donovan. One of the big talking points going into the All Star game was how the LA Galaxy have seemingly turned their season on a dime. They went from absolutely dreadful the first two and a half months of the season to, well, their old selfs that usually just smack teams around. The defense is slowly coming together as Omar Gonzalez gets back to 100% but offensively everything is flowing because of the big three – David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.

But this weekend will be interesting. Keane will be in Dallas, Beckham will be making a trip back from London to Dallas, but Donovan will be out due to yellow card accumulation. While Keane and Beckham are still strong enough to beat a FC Dallas squad that just found their way out of the cellar last weekend against Portland, it is Donovan that has always been a thorn in Dallas’ side.

LA has to find a way to get Keane going early and often in Dallas on Saturday evening. With the Dallas heat set to be around the triple digit mark that day, and a tired Beckham (boy how does he do it with all of those air miles? plus will he actually make it back?), LA will be pressed against a team that is hoping to rekindle their playoff hopes.

4. Will the offense come alive in KC? Both the Columbus and Sporting Kansas City have some issues going on at the moment. Neither one has an offense that is really sparking fear. Teams have figured out the speedy Sporting attack this season but it has been their defense that has saved the day on more than one occasion.

Columbus is similar though, they have a stellar defense but an offense that hasn’t really hit a big spark this season. Now if Dilly Duka, who returned from injury recently, can say anything about that, we could be looking at a Crew side that may just put enough pressure up top on folks to continue to get points. Columbus is talent enough to sneak into the playoffs and this game on Saturday with KC is a big one for that reason. They need to show that they can hang with a quality defensive side like KC and have enough offense to come away winners.

5. Can the rut in for the Rapids? It has been a long and bumpy road this season for the Colorado Rapids under new manager Oscar Pareja. The losing streak has been well documented as of late and this weekend they return home to host the Seattle Sounders. Questions come to mind, did the short break help the Rapids – seeing as how they had no All Stars and Seattle had a couple? Or will it just be more of the same?

Colorado needs to return to basics here. Find what works and stick with it. Too many times have the lineups changed or something pops up that causes a riff in the flow of this team. Time to either put up or shut up because one or two more losses will really kill their playoff chances this season.