2012 MLS, Week 22: What To Watch For

2012 MLS, Week 22: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 2, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 22, Features

Houston hopes to slow down Kenny Cooper and the Red Bulls this weekend. (Getty Images)

As the London Olympics roll on this week, Major League Soccer doesn’t stop as we head into a new month of play, starting tomorrow evening.

I feel like I haven’t done a ton around this site this week, and for that I blame the Olympics. I get caught up in everything from beach volleyball to water polo. I love it all – even if NBC decides not to show anything live (except for online).

MLS teams have already been busy this week with CONCACAF Champions League play, Real Salt Lake stumbled in their opening match in Costa Rica but boy did Toronto FC dominate last night in their opener. In a tough group like the Reds are in, they needed that large outburst of goals. Tonight LA and Seattle being their quest.

Some of those clubs are also busy this weekend in league play, it will be interesting as always to see how they handle the additional games in the schedule. Below are some items I’ll be focusing in on this weekend.

1. Can Houston continue their impressive form? The Dynamo have been on fire lately, going 5-0-2 in their last seven games. Impressive form to say the least but it really has come down to the fact that this group from top to bottom is finally coming together. There were never too many doubts defensively out of Dominic Kinnear’s bunch, and even without Geoff Cameron who is off playing with Stoke City these days, the men in orange are doing just fine. It was the offense that was always a worry for Kinnear and Dynamo fans. Brian Ching wasn’t getting any younger and teams were figuring out how to eliminate the passes and open field that Brad Davis was getting. 

Now all of that is changing. Houston brought in a DP in Oscar Boniek Garcia that seems every bit worth the cost that they paid to get him from Honduras. His addition to the midfield has allowed Kinnear to mix up his lineup a bit to give Davis more room to work with.

This weekend Houston hosts the New York Red Bulls, a team that has looked very good at times lately and at other times very bad. The addition of Tim Cahill sparks some interesting thoughts and wonders about this New York side. The offense should remain stout but can the defense hold it together in a tight Supporters’ Shield race? They need big games out of Dax McCarty and improved play out of their back line to do so.

2. Can the Crew do it on the road again? Last week’s shocker in Kansas City proved a couple things. One, the Crew can score now that they have some firepower up top with Jairo Arrieta. Secondly, if that defense continues to shine in the back in front of Andy Gruenebaum, this club could sneak into the playoffs. The true test will happen this weekend in D.C. as the Crew take on a United squad that needs to bounce back.

For weeks United looked like a team that was going to go places this season but lately they’ve hit a wall and without any big trades or reinforcements on the horizon coming in for Ben Olsen’s team, things could get very interesting as teams continue to figure out this bunch.

Columbus will go as Arreita goes here. After last weekend that may be a good thing for their playoff hopes.

3. New England without Shalrie Joseph. The big trade came down yesterday morning that we all talked about. On paper it seemed odd but really when you boil it down, the Revs were doing the right thing even though it was the toughest call to make.

New England now goes into a home game with Sporting Kansas City and hope to prove to the faithful that it was the right move to make. In the short run it may be tough to figure it out since Joseph hadn’t really been apart of Heaps’ plans these last couple of weeks. Injuries played a part, as did poor form. What Revs fans will have to be is patient here as this move gives them some big flexibility going forward for next season. I don’t see this move yesterday opening up any doors for this season now that the MLS summer transfer window is closed (they can still go after free agents though).

4. The Italians against the young kids of the Union. Who would have thought this game between Montreal and Philadelphia would have any decent storylines a few weeks ago? The Union have been playing very well as of late and are getting a ton in return out of their young core of players like Jack McInerney and even Freddy Adu. They head to Montreal to play in one of the tougher venues in MLS against the Impact.

Montreal has proven a couple things lately to me. For one, they’re tough at home and you really cannot count them out at Stade Saputo. Second of all, their Italians lead by Marco di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta may very well be the real deal for them going forward. Last week’s game against New York was a huge test and Nesta passed it with flying colors as he and Nelson Rivas secured the back line and really made the Impact look good defensively for the first time all year.

Doing it against some young guys from the Union should be a piece of cake right? Don’t count on it, one thing John Hackworth has taught us since taking over the Union is that his teams are never out of it. Expect fireworks late.

5. Seattle and LA headline the weekend. People want the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy to become a big rivalry. They just do for so many reasons. I get it, they have all that star power and both have really good fan bases. Sunday’s clash in Seattle should be a fun one as the Galaxy hope to continue their hot form. Seattle has to come out firing on this one and put LA under pressure early. That is something Dallas failed to do last week as LA was missing both David Beckham and Landon Donovan.

I see this one coming down to the defense of both sides. LA is improving with each week and now that Omar Gonzalez has returned – possibly for good – the Galaxy will only continue to get better. Seattle has to step it up and hope that newcomer Christian Tiffert is the real deal as well.

Set your DVR for the Olympics Sunday night because this one will be worth tuning into.