- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On August 16, 2013
- 0 Comments
- 2013 MLS Season, 2013 Week 25, Features
As hard as it may seem, we’re already at the mid-way point in August. Teams are hitting their final stretch of the season, which means the playoff push is officially underway.
1. Double dips ahead. The schedule begins to get a tad nutty again for several clubs. That is what an unbalanced schedule will do. Plenty of teams have games Saturday, followed up by midweek games and then another game next weekend. Several coaches hate this kind of scheduling as it brings havoc on their rosters. Still, with the playoff push in full force, teams must play it smart in the coming weeks. Clubs like San Jose and Houston have to play the Champions League games in the middle of their league games with a cautious eye as their playoff hopes are in danger. Yes, the same can be said for LA, Montreal and Kansas City, but I see Houston and San Jose in more danger of missing the playoffs due to the CCL run than those three.
Then you have other clubs that are just getting caught up in the schedule like Dallas, Seattle, and Portland. For a team like Seattle, using those games-in-hand over everyone is absolutely huge right now. If they get wins over their next few games, they’ll easily put themselves in contention in the Western Conference, not only for a playoff run but possibly even a top two spot in the conference.
2. The DP goes full circle. It truly has taken seven years for the Designated Player rule to go full circle in MLS. For the first few years we never thought we’d see the likes of a young player like Omar Gonzalez be able to be signed to a DP deal like the one he signed yesterday with LA. We never thought we’d see someone like Clint Dempsey return to the US for a DP deal like the one he got in Seattle. This is all big news because a few years ago it wouldn’t have happened. Teams and the league weren’t as interested in investing big money in young American players but they are now. That is what is important going forward.
It does make you wonder though moving forward if teams will be pushing to get other American players abroad back in the league. Think someone like a Michael Parkhurst or even a Herculez Gomez would be worth a DP tag now? Maybe, maybe not. But nothing is out of the question now for some clubs.
3. Can Portland rebound? It seems weird to ask of a club that only has three losses on the season that they are in need of a rebound here but the last five games in league play for Portland haven’t gone as well as the previous few months. The Timbers are 1-2-2 in their last five league matches. With only one loss before that stretch, the question has to be asked, is this Portland team still for real? I think the answer is still yes but with a bit of an asterisk beside it. While Portland hasn’t lost many games this season, they also haven’t won as many as most clubs around them in the standings either. Their eight wins are the fewest of any club that is currently in the top five of their conference.
So can Caleb Porter’s team rebound from this ‘slump’? They certainly can here though their upcoming stretch will tell us a lot about the make up of their club. Home with Dallas on Saturday, followed up by a game with Salt Lake next Wednesday and then a big one in Seattle next weekend. Yes, a big few days ahead for Porter’s club. If they win two of those three, they’ll be fine but if they drop say two of those three, I don’t think it would be out of the question to doubt their chances of making the playoffs here. I’ll put it this way, should Dallas actually spring the upset on Saturday in Portland, the Hoops will leap over the Timbers in the standings by a point. With Seattle, LA, Colorado and Vancouver all tightly surrounding the Timbers in the standings, they could see themselves drop out of the top five this weekend if they aren’t careful.
D.C. United at Montreal Impact – A couple months ago this would have been an easy call. But now, the Impact are slumping and United are actually looking better by the week with their youth movement. This is a must-win game for the Impact, no doubt about that. They looked better in the CCL last week and I think that play will help them out at home in this one.
WVH Prediction: Montreal 2, D.C. 1
Toronto FC at Columbus Crew – Somehow the Crew always find ways to surprise me. They did so last week. But no surprises here as they win a rivalry game at home against the Reds this weekend.
WVH Prediction: Columbus 2, Toronto 0
Chicago Fire at New England Revolution – Two teams that desperately need points to stay alive in the playoff push. That kind of desperation will lead to a pretty good fight between these two gritty clubs. I think in the end we’ll see a draw though. Neither has looked all that great over the last few weeks, which leads me to lean this way.
WVH Prediction: New England 1, Chicago 1
Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls – Could we see an upset here by the Union? Possibly, the Red Bulls could be without some of their key players in this one. This one will quietly be one of the better games on the schedule this weekend. I see a draw in the end as the Red Bulls pull one back late.
WVH Prediction: New York 1, Philadelphia 1
Seattle Sounders at Houston Dynamo – Clint Dempsey returns to Texas. Ah. That is the big story for this weekend right? Sure but this one is all about Seattle getting some points on the road to prove their playoff abilities. Houston needs to start showing me something here as I don’t feel confident about their playoff chances right now. I think Seattle pulls the road upset here.
WVH Prediction: Seattle 2, Houston 1
Vancouver Whitecaps at Colorado Rapids – So Colorado finally got their DP in Gaby Torres. This is a big home match for the Rapids as they still have a small shot at a top two spot in the West here. They need to pick up three points from this one and if Torres can get some good minutes in this one to prove his DP worth, I think they’ll come away with those points.
WVH Prediction: Colorado 2, Vancouver 1
Real Salt Lake at LA Galaxy – Big match for both sides, this little rivalry has been doing well for years in my book and will only continue to get better over time. Salt Lake still holds the edge in the Supporters’ Shield race but winning away from home will certainly help create some distance in that race. LA looked a little over matched by Dallas last week and had it not been for Landon Donovan and some blown offside calls, they would have lost that one. I see the Galaxy making this one interesting and bouncing back at home.
WVH Prediction: LA 2, RSL 1
FC Dallas at Portland Timbers – Can Dallas end their 10-game winless streak on the road, where they’ve only picked up a single win all season long? Doubtful with some of the injuries that they have here. Portland has to get back to some winning ways here and Dallas is the right team for them to get those points against.
WVH Prediction: Portland 2, Dallas 1
Sporting KC at San Jose Earthquakes – Two teams that have CCL goals ahead of them. SKC is doing well enough in the East while San Jose needs three points in a bad way to have any shot of a playoff dream this season. This one will be close but I don’t see any late San Jose magic to get three points, maybe a draw at the best.
WVH Prediction: San Jose 1, SKC 1