2012 MLS, Week 25: What To Watch For

2012 MLS, Week 25: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On August 23, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 25, Features

Montreal looks to continue their quest for a playoff berth against D.C. United. (Getty Images)

The make or break part of the season is here. At this point teams can earn a lot or nothing at all. Most teams are hitting that final stretch of games that will either put them in the playoffs or will put them in a position to have a high draft pick in next January’s SuperDraft.

Either way there is plenty to talk about going into the new weekend slate of games.

1. Will the Impact continue putting pressure on the rest of the East? Another home game at Stade Saputo for the Montreal Impact this weekend and this one couldn’t be any bigger as they face the one club they are chasing at the moment in the standings, D.C. United. Montreal has been stellar at home since moving into Saputo and they’ll need that form to continue against a D.C. squad that just bounced back last night in a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire.

Montreal has to keep it simple, pack the pressure on D.C. early and often in this one. They’ve done a good job at frustrating clubs with their physical play this season and now their defense is starting to come around. A lot of it has to center around the play of Patrice Brenier, who has been arguably one of the best additions in MLS this season. In my mind he is the new Shalrie Joseph, the new Jeff Larentowicz. He’s the guy that will either guide this team to an improbable playoff spot or at least to the very edge of it. D.C. has to find a way to get around him in order to see some success in this one.

2. RSL hopes CCL win gets them back on track. One quote that jumped out for me on Tuesday night from RSL manager Jason Kreis was how he felt about winning in the CCL despite being on a three-game bender in league play. His reply was rather amusing.

[quote style=”boxed”]Why’d you have to bring up the losing part, I was feeling good for a minute. It’s really good.[/quote]

I’m sure the good feelings will last longer with a win this week in league play. Rarely does RSL drop four in a row in league play under Kreis.

RSL now heads East for a tough inter-conference showdown on Friday with the Philadelphia Union. John Hackworth’s club is on life support at the moment in terms of their playoff hopes. Hackworth has been pretty vocal as of late about Freddy Adu and how he needs to produce for the Union to achieve any sort of success here. I totally agree as their 4-3-3 set up has to flow more through him on the wing than anywhere else. We’ve seen this before that Adu is just better off when he isn’t “the man” of the club but in this case he is going to have to be here.

3. New-look Crew hope to continue good form. The two draws last week were alright but last night’s win over Toronto showed that this Columbus side has what it takes to get the job done when they need to. The new look offense with Jair Arrieta and Federico Higuaín is paying off in a big way for the Crew at the moment. Higuain for one has a goal and two assists in his first two games with the Crew – not a bad start for their DP.

Columbus has another home game this weekend – this one against the struggling New England Revolution. This one will be tricky for the Crew for a couple reasons. For one, they’re coming off a midweek game and their third in a matter of a week. Secondly, New England has to be entering desperation mode if they aren’t already there after losing a few in a row. Jay Heaps has a quality group of players that will put it together before long so you can’t count them out of a game just yet.

The Crew have to keep to what is working at the moment up top and hope that the defense – which has been very strong this season – can continue hold up. Defense does win a lot in this league and that will help the Crew out in a big way in games like this.

4. The other Cascadia game. We’ve seen Seattle and Vancouver lately and before that was Seattle and Portland. Now we get the Timbers and Whitecaps. The hype should be bigger for this one but it is not at the moment. Vancouver has been struggling lately and the Timbers have been poor for pretty much the entire season. Last week was enough proof out of the Timbers to see that they very well could end up at the bottom of the table this season.

The one thing going for them in this game will be the home crowd. Even though the faithful at JELD-WEN Field are growing tired of Gavin Wilkinson and his roster building ways, you know they will get up for this one in a heart beat.

This game comes down to not only who wants it more but which offense will show up. You have to think Vancouver’s offense with the likes of Darren Mattocks, Camilo and Kenny Miller will eventually get on the same page as one another and begin scoring as a group. They almost have to. Portland on the other hand has Kris Boyd but does anyone really believe he wants to be here long-term anymore? I sure as hell don’t after seeing him play a couple times as of late.

5. Can Dallas continue their upward movement? The last couple weeks for FC Dallas have been fun to say the least. Fabian Castillo is producing like many hoped he would last year and David Ferreira looks like his old MVP-self again. Now it looks like striker Blas Perez could be on his way back to the starting lineup which means Dallas may finally have as close to their first choice lineup as possible here for the first time all season.

The three straight wins in league play are impressive, especially since the last two came on the road but none will be bigger than this Sunday in LA against the Galaxy. LA is going to be coming off a CCL date tonight against a tough Metapan club. If Dallas is to catch LA in the standings the time has to be now. Tired legs for the Galaxy could be an issue come Sunday as Dallas will be rested and in LA today to watch the Galaxy in their CCL game.

Dallas just needs to continue what they’ve been doing here for a few weeks. Focus on allowing Ferreira to open the game up offensively for them and get the likes of Castillo and Brek Shea involved early. In their previous meeting a few weeks ago with LA, the Galaxy shut down Ferreira early and will look to do so again. Dallas has to expect that and see Andrew Jacobson and Julian de Guzman step up in the process in the middle of the park. Those two will be the key to three points or zero points – which also means playoff hopes still alive or totally dead.

6. Top Eastern sides collide. New York and Kansas City have been on a collision course with one another for weeks at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. This weekend’s match in KC will be all about a potential Eastern Conference finals preview. Who is the better side and which defense can hold off the other’s attack.

This one looks like an immovable object (KC) going against an unstoppable force (NY). We know the Red Bulls can and will score but their defense is what is going to be a cause for concern down the stretch. KC on the other hand has to hope that Kei Kamara and Teal Bunbury continue to produce as their offense really does live and die with those two.

Expect the better defense to come out on top in this one as New York showed last week how suspect their defense is against one of the league’s worst sides in Portland. Like I said with the Crew, defense is what wins and KC’s defense is certainly one of the strongest in the league.