2012 MLS, Week 24: What To Watch For

2012 MLS, Week 24: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 16, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 24, Features

Lots of teams and players will pull double duty this weekend after a busy Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

What a night huh? The US won in Mexico certainly trumped the draws in Columbus and Toronto and the win by Dallas in Vancouver. Still the busy night will turn into a busy weekend as MLS pushes forward with nine games on the schedule for us.

Teams push into the middle of August here in hopes increase their odds of getting into the playoffs this season.

As much as I want to celebrate the US’s big win last night in Mexico, I do have to turn my attention to the busy schedule this weekend. Here are some items I’ll be keeping an eye on this weekend.

1. Double duty out of several clubs. Last night was a tough night for some clubs like Vancouver and Dallas. Both teams were ravished with injuries, suspensions and international call-ups on Wednesday. In the end Dallas scored a big 2-0 win on the road – their second win away from Frisco this season. Each side will be back in action on the road this weekend. Vancouver gets a rivalry game with Seattle while Dallas travels to Salt Lake. Ouch for both.

Columbus, Portland and Toronto all carry the double duty this weekend as well. Portland stays on the east coast to visit New York on Sunday; Columbus has a tough task traveling to Houston; and Toronto probably has the best go of it at home with Sporting Kansas City.

Most clubs will be welcoming back players who had international games this week as well. Nearly every side had a player called into one of the many midweek friendlies around the world. How clubs and players handle the extra travel and minutes will go a long way in shaping this weekends’ slate of games.

2. Cascadia rivalry begins the weekend. Saturday starts off with a bang – a Cascadia Cup game with Seattle and Vancouver. Both teams have been up and down lately and each really need three points to stay on track in the Western Conference playoff race. Seattle has had a week off to get over the rough week they had last week when they lost on the road in the USOC final and on the road in the dying seconds of the game to San Jose.

This game comes down to pure heart in my book. Who wants it more and who is willing to take it. Seattle needs to get back to its ways in the midfield with Mauro Rosales on the wing and Fredy Montero or Eddie Johnson scoring up top. Thankfully Sounders fans can be happy with newcomer Christain Tiffert, he’s looked pretty good so far – better than Vancouver’s Kenny Miller.

Speaking of Miller and the Whitecaps, if they want any shot of winning this game in Seattle the offense has to come alive. Either Camilo or Darren Mattocks have to contribute or Miller has to finally open his account in MLS.

3. Can the Fire close the gap? One sneaky team in the Eastern Conference in my book has to be the Chicago Fire. They currently sit forth place and just five points back of first place Kansas City. I love their chances at the moment to sneak up the standings and surprise people.

[twocol_one]Their new look offense with Alvaro Fernandez, Chris Rolfe and DP Sherjill MacDonald have ignited this club over the last couple of games. Consistency is starting to finally happen for this bunch and I think before long we’ll see these new players an a positive effect on the likes of Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro in a manner of how they won’t have to carry this club offensively as much as they have in the past.[/twocol_one][twocol_one_last]

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Don’t sleep on this Chicago squad folks, they are just dangerous enough here to make some real noise this fall.

Chicago host the New England Revolution this weekend – a team that used to be a big rival back a few years ago. Now days that rivalry has died off a bit. The Revs have looked dreadful as of late and really need to find a way to bounce back. Offensively they have dipped off in recent week since Saer Sene had his legal issues, and Jerry Bengtson was off in the Olympics. But what it boils down to is the midfield stepping up and performing the way Jay Heaps needs them to here.

4. United hoping to push off Union’s charge. The race in the Eastern Conference is a tight one. Teams all the way down to even the Philadelphia Union still have a shot at reaching the post season – even if it is a slim chance at this point. D.C. United hosts the Union this weekend in a must-win game for both sides. Must-win for United in the fact that they have the Columbus Crew and the Montreal Impact chasing their tails for that coveted fifth and final playoff spot in the East.

It’s a must-win for Philadelphia because of how far out they are in the playoff hunt at this point. Clinching a playoff berth at this point would be a very impressive thing for the Union considering the kind of season that they’ve had here. They’ll welcome Jack McInereny back into the line up this weekend – a spark that they certainly need against a strong United attack. The bigger question will center around Carlos Valdes in the back though for the Union. Without their defensive leader the Union look like a side that is more destined for a top SuperDraft pick rather than a run at the playoffs.

United has to take control of this game from the opening kick. It’s a rivalry game, one that will get physical. They must get Dwayne De Rosario going or at least find ways to have rookie Nick DeLeon or Christ Pontius involved in the attack quickly. Defensively United just need to hold their shape and limit the passing out of the midfield for Freddy Adu and Gabriel Gomez.

5. Will New York pour on the goals against Portland? If any game has a chance to get out of hand and be truly ugly this weekend it is the Portland-New York game. The Red Bulls have been very strong at home this season and now that Tim Cahill has gotten off the mark with his first two assists in a Red Bull kit, you have to feel this one could be a blood bath for the Timbers and their defense that has been one of the leakiest in MLS this season.

Portland showed well enough last night in Toronto to gain a road point but that was against Toronto – a team that is pretty much as bad as Portland is this season. New York just needs to open the attack early and stay hungry in this one as the goals scored is a big thing now with the new tiebreakers. If the Red Bulls can use games like this to their advantage and take real control of this game, there is no doubt in my mind that they can win by four or five goals.

But saying all of that comes down to the Red Bulls willingness to actually take advantage of the situation that is in front of them. We’ve seen it before where they fail to really do what is expected of them. They need a statement win in my book and oddly enough a blowout win over the lowly Timbers would be just enough to get them over the hump in my mind.