2012 MLS, Week 27: What To Watch For

2012 MLS, Week 27: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On September 13, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 27, Features

Oh boy, can DC cope without DeRo? (Getty Images)

The second FIFA break of the season is over and done with. Players from all over are returning to their clubs to begin preparing for a new weekend slate of games. MLS pushes onward in September as clubs hope to get closer to a playoff berth. One team is already in (San Jose), one could clinch this weekend (Seattle), one is already eliminated (Toronto) and one could join them (New England).

A very busy weekend a head, so let’s get down to what are the hot topics going into the weekend.

1. What losing DeRo means for United. This one is tricky for sure and we saw how an injury to Dwayne De Rosario effected D.C. United’s playoff hopes last season. A couple games without their MVP and the team sunk down and failed to get anything positive done with games in hand down the stretch. Fast forward to this season and United are in a similar situation going into Saturday’s game with New England as De Rosario has a possible MCL injury after Tuesday’s game for Canada in Panama.

An injured De Rosario could spell disaster again for United if players like Chris Pontius, Brandon McDonald, Perry Kitchen and Nick DeLeon don’t step up.

United has the talent to get into the playoffs without DeRo if that comes to it but one thing is certain, Ben Olsen has his work cut out for him if DeRo is down for the count on the season.

Update: DC announced this morning that DeRo is out for the rest of the season with a MCL sprain. Ouch.

2. Can SKC lock up the East? A big test for Sporting Kansas City is set for tomorrow evening when they host the Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo are currently forth in a heated Eastern Conference race for the final couple of playoff spots and are in desperate need of a win away from home again. KC on the other hand has been doing very well to stay afloat on the top of the Eastern standings. At this point in this season KC is pushing for two things, an Eastern Conference regular season title and more importantly, home field advantage in the playoffs – even potentially at MLS Cup.

KC has to continue to do what has got them this far – play with stingy defense, use the width of the field to spread teams out, and hope that Kei Kamara and CJ Sapong can do enough to carry the load offensively. It won’t be an easy task against a Dynamo team that knows they are going up a hill in this battle. Points are a premium right now and both teams know how important playoff positions are at this stage in the season.

3. Time for LA to catch RSL in the standings? The Galaxy are certainly an interesting bunch to figure out this season. The talent is unquestionably there and the experience to win in this league is second to none at the moment. But can LA finally put real pressure on the likes of RSL above them in the standings?

I think so, that extra game in hand will come into play tomorrow night when LA hosts the struggling Colorado Rapids. The Rapids have struggled to really put anything solid together this season and a trip to LA has never been a safe place for them to get points. LA needs to put the foot on the gas pedal and go full steam ahead in this one – make the rest of the West think for a moment about how good this team can really be when they have to be.

4. Cascadia heating up. The last few weeks of the season will be centered around the Cascadia Cup. It just will folks. This weekend Portland hosts Seattle in a big, and I mean BIG, conference showdown. Portland doesn’t have a ton to play for this season but they can claim the Cascadia Cup, which is obviously huge for them.

It won’t be easy given how the Sounders have been over the last couple of months. Eddie Johnson goes firing on all cylinders for one game and then Fredy Montero follows in the next. The Sounders offense will be tough to stop but thankfully for the Timbers –  with this being a rivalry game – anything can and will happen.

Portland just has to play gritty and tough like their old boss John Spencer. They know they can beat the Sounders and could really put a wrench in the Sounders playoff plan – which at the moment is going very well to get a playoff berth and home field advantage in the first round (uber important for them).

5. Battle in Frisco. The other Cascadia team, Vancouver, has a bit of a situation on their hands going into this weekend. They have a slim four point lead on FC Dallas for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West (plus a game in hand as well). The Caps have been dreadful over the last couple of months and really it boils down to if Martin Rennie can get a good game out of his club away from home for a change or not come Saturday evening.

Dallas just has to win, it is as simple as that for this game. A loss and their season is pretty much toast as they’ll only have four more games left on the year with three of them coming away from home. Dallas will finally have one of their healthiest rosters of the season come Saturday too with really only Ugo Ihemelu being on the injury list as “out”. There is no question that Dallas is talented enough to win a few more games this season but if Vancouver comes in and bunkers down with their defense – which has been very good this season at times – it could be a long night in Frisco.

6. Can Columbus rebound? Oh boy, as good as some games are this weekend none may be more interesting than the Columbus Crew traveling to the Big Apple to face the New York Red Bulls. This one has serious playoff implications written all over it as the Red Bulls look to get back into second place in the East (Chicago took it from them last night in Toronto). Columbus is right behind the Red Bulls in the standings and will need a big performance after dropping their last one in New England a week ago.

But the big question is, did that loss cool off the Crew? It is certainly possible that it did as momentum is a huge thing in MLS. Columbus will need to get on the board early in this one as New York can be a very good defensive team at home. One thing though that the Crew have to bring is pressure from the start, we’ve seen before this season that New York can buckle under heavy pressure.

Either way, this game has all the makings of being one of the best this weekend.