2013 MLS Season, Week 9: What To Watch For

2013 MLS Season, Week 9: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 25, 2013
  • 2013 MLS Season, 2013 Week 9, Features
Can Portland hold off Graham Zusi and Sporting KC? (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Can Portland hold off Graham Zusi and Sporting KC? (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

For whatever reason, this week has dragged on. I could blame a number of things on it but we’re finally at Thursday which means it is time to look ahead to this weekend to see what is around the corner in Major League Soccer.

Just as in last week, we have a full slate of games to discuss with eight games on Saturday and one lone game on Sunday.

The one team that is off for the weekend is the Seattle Sounders, who are fresh off their first win of the season. Kind of a crummy time to get a bye-week if you ask me.

So let’s get down to the big stories of the week, followed up by some quick thoughts on the other matches.

Porterball goes to the midwest

Looking through the schedule for this weekend – one game jumped out at me – as Portland sets to visit Sporting KC. Caleb Porter’s club has quietly turned things around this season after a sluggish start. Their 2-1-4 record appears misleading in some instances after their stumble late in San Jose last weekend but for the most part, I think the Timbers are here to compete this season.

Porter won’t acknowledge the term Porterball but we’re seeing exactly the style of play that he wants to use with his squad right now. He’s getting more out of key players like Diego Valeri and Diego Chara, their two Designated Players. Also, his defense has dramatically improved over the last few games. Part of that may be due to the formation shift to a 4-3-3 or it could have something to do with Donovan Ricketts playing like his former self again.

Whatever it is, it is working. But it will get tested big time this weekend in Kansas City against Sporting.

Peter Vermes’ club is coming off a bad loss on the road to the LA Galaxy last weekend. You could blame the cross country travel but really, the Galaxy exposed how to beat Sporting. You allow them to press high but counter attack the living hell out of them. Portland does have the attackers in Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe to do a counter attack. It is just a matter of if they can handle the pressure on the road.

RSL-LA rekindle a rivalry

Two of the last three MLS Cup winners square off for the first time this season (for those out there, Colorado is the other recent MLS Cup winner). Salt Lake put out this nifty little infographic yesterday about the rivalry.

Salt Lake comes into this one on a bit of an incline with four points in their last two matches. Injuries have taken a toll on Jason Kreis’ club this season but with guys like Javier Morales returning to full health and the defense improving with each game, things are looking up.

Salt Lake will need all the momentum that they can get with LA coming into town. The Galaxy looked like their old dominant self last week against Sporting KC. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane were running the counter attack game to perfection and the defensive quartet of Dunivant-DeLaGarza-Gonzalez-Franklin looked strong too.

Salt Lake needs to find a way to get Morales and Alvaro Saborio on the same page against the top competition in the league. Too many times we’ve seen Saborio disappear against teams like the Galaxy over the last couple of seasons. For Salt Lake to do well in this one, they need a big outing from their top striker. It is as simple as that.

(Edit: As pointed out to me by Real Salt Lake’s media folks, Saborio has 2 goals and 2 assists against the Galaxy in the last four meetings. Whoops. I still think he needs a big game though for them to get three points.)

Other matches:

New York at Toronto: Four straight draws for TFC? Maybe that win in the Canadian Championship will help boost them at home in this one.

Chicago at Montreal: Seems like a bit of a trap game for the Impact. They struggled on the road last night in Toronto and will need to have all the cards in place to try to win the series next week at home. So this is possibly the Fire’s to lose here.

Dallas at Vancouver: The return leg of this two game April series. Dallas got what they wanted last night as Vancouver had to get two late ones against Edmonton. I’d imagine another make-shift lineup by Martin Rennie on Saturday.

Philadelphia at New England: The Revs really struggled last week but another week of training for Saer Sene should help. Before long something will click in the positive way for the Revs’ offense.

D.C. United at Columbus: It is all on the players now says Ben Olsen. Time for that offense to wake up is more like it.

San Jose at Chivas: Could be a good game but could also be a slugfest with two of the more physical teams squaring off.

Colorado at Houston: The Dynamo do not lose at home. Period.