Friday, March 25, 2011

MLS Week 2

After a bright week 1 in MLS can Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake keep the moment going in week 2? Will Seattle turn it around after two loses in the opening week of the season? Let’s see what’s to come. I’m hopefully, this week we’ll see better defensive performances across the league.

Seattle Sounders FC v. Houston Dynamo
Seattle kicks off MLS week 2 on Friday night hosting Houston Dynamo. Seattle comes in to their third match following a home loss to LA Galaxy and a road loss to New York Red Bulls. Seattle should have at least taken a point from New York, but Freddy Montero’s finishing was diabolical. Seattle has no one that can pick up the slack when Montero is misfiring now that Blaise N’Kofu has been let go. Houston lost their opening match to Philadelphia Union in a drab 1-0 match thanks to a goal-mouth scramble goal by Union defender Danny Califf. Houston doesn’t have much up top and should struggle this season for goals. Seattle should take all three points at home. Seattle’s midfield has more quality and Alvaro Fernandez combined well with Montero last week in New York. This should be a break out game for Seattle and Houston will continue to be scoreless on the season.

Toronto FC v. Portland Timbers
Both teams come into week 2 on the back of defeats. TFC, though controlling position, looked awful and displayed some of the worst defending you’ll ever see in MLS; though they did have two lovely goals from Dwayne De Rosario and Maicon Santos. Many are pointing to TFC’s control of position, but position does nothing for you if you don’t do anything with it; or defend against the counter attack. Too many people are excited over their position and think TFC have turned the corner, I don’t think so, however. Portland was hammered by MLS champions Colorado Rapids. Portland was just over matched in the encounter looking like a traditional expansion team. This should be a good match of two teams trying to find their feet early in the season. Neither team plays particularly good defence, but we should see some goals in this one ending 2-2.

Columbus v. New York
Columbus looked terrible in week 1 against DC United. They’ve looked terrible in all but one Champions League match prior to the MLS season. Their fullbacks aren’t quick enough and across the backline they’ve made mistake after mistake. The Crew look idea-less in attack and facing a stronger defence this week won’t get a lot of shots on goal. New York will be without Juan Agudelo, who got the winner last weekend, Rafa Marquez, Tim Ream and maybe without Thierry Henry who has picked up a knock. Luke Rodgers could be deputised to fill the void, and he brings a different style to the front line. Rodgers is a more physical striker and should be able to hold the ball up and bring the Red Bull midfield into the game. Mehdi Ballochy and Dane Richards were impressive against Seattle, but Joel Lindpere drifted in and out of the match. New York has enough talent to put the Crew away. But without their starting centre back pairing of Ream and Marquez they’ll be a different team at the back. Columbus should be able to get at goal unlike Seattle did last weekend, if Columbus can get better finishing this week I think they can at least get a point from the Red Bulls.

Philadelphia Union v. Vancouver Whitecaps
Both teams come in with opening week wins, but only one will leave with a full six points out of six. Vancouver should take the spoils after showcasing a deadly counter attack. The team features the underrated Eric Hassli who scored two against TFC last week. David Chiumiento and Terry Dunfield were fantastic in taking on TFC defenders and distributing the ball; but it looks like Chiumiento may miss out due to injury, however. The defence maybe shorthanded as well with a few knocks sustained last week and Jay De Merit will be missing on USMNT duty. Many of Vancouver’s players played with the team last season in division two, and you could see the chemistry between the players in week 1. The Union were ineffective in attack last week, and they will have to get Sebastion La Toux more service to have a chance in this match. Vancouver will see more of the position in this match, and if the midfielders can get the Union’s defenders in one on one situations I like the Whitecaps to surprise everyone and move to 2-0-0.

Chicago v. Sporting KC
Chicago looked good against FC Dallas last Saturday, and if it wasn’t for a Milton Rodriguez wonder goal Chicago would have notched the victory. Sporting KC defeated Chivas USA with some slick attacking, despite showing some poor defending in the second half. Chicago didn’t look like the team of last season, however, it took most of the first half for manager Carlos De Los Cobos to realise his 3-5-2 formation doesn’t work and revert to a more traditional 4-4-2. Sporting will be without several key players: Shavar Thomas will be away on international duty, Teal Bunbury hasn’t been confirmed after his elbow injury, Craig Rocastle limped off last week, Jimmy Smith is still recovering from off season surgery and from what I’ve read Kei Kamara will be away on international duty with Sierra Leone. Sporting aren’t in as bad shape as it would appear. C.J. Sapong was fantastic in week 1 and proved why SKC selected him first in this year’s Super Draft. If Sapong and Omar Bravo can put pressure on the Chicago back four it should lead to an exciting game. Unfortunately, SKC’s defence was caught napping twice by Chivas and looked shaky at times. If Chivas had a true goal scorer they’d have at least snatched a point. I see this being a high scoring affair and ending in a draw (3-3).

New England v. DC United
One of the bigger rivalries in MLS continues this weekend when DC venture north to Foxborough. DC looked good in their opener, and showed their depth by bringing Charlie Davies off the bench scoring two and putting that match away. They didn’t even use last season’s team captain Santino Quaranta who sat this match out on the bench. DC United is definitely the stronger of the two teams and I believe will push New York this season for the Eastern Conference crown. New England picked up a hard earned point against LA Galaxy with a Shalrie Joseph goal. They’ll need more from other parts of the team to get anything from this match. But I think DC United has too much fire power and will continue to build momentum in the early part of the season.

FC Dallas v. San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose should have taken a point from Real Salt Lake last Saturday. Unfortunately, poor finishing from Chris Wondolowski and company doomed the ‘Quakes. They didn’t look bad in week 1 and were the better team for much of the match. Dallas comes in after taking a point of Chicago in which they were second best throughout. Milton Rodriguez needs more help up front as FCD looked anaemic in front of goal. I don’t think they’ve replaced the players they allowed to leave in the off season, and it will continue to hurt the team. Dallas was fantastic last season at home and their home form should at least get them a point, and if San Jose can’t finish it’ll be a long day in Dallas. However, this should end 1-1 with some decent attacking football and the goalkeepers coming up big to earn both teams a point.

Real Salt Lake v. LA Galaxy- Match of the Week!
LA comes in already having played two matches and gaining four points from a possible six. They should have done better last Sunday at home to New England. Salt Lake is already four games into their season after playing three Champions League matches and one MLS league game. They’ve looked good in nearly all their games. Though, they did look tired in a rain soaked Buck Shaw Stadium last weekend and were saved by a Kyle Beckerman goal and some man of the match goal keeping by Nick Rimando. Sorry Omar Bravo, but Rimando was my man of the week. RSL’s all-around game is superior to the Galaxy’s, and I feel will take this one. They’ve gotten some rest this week and will be taking their amazing home record into the game. LA Galaxy has relied on Juninho too much in their first two matches. He has scored both LA Galaxy goals. Chad Barrett has done little and Juan Pablo Angel has been fighting fitness. LA needs Angel to play and show the fantastic form he always displayed for New York. Donovan is set for US Men’s National Team duty, and without him I think the Galaxy will suffer. RSL will have Beckerman marking Juninho in the midfield and should keep the Brazilian quiet in this one. RSL should get on track and will take this 2-0.

Chivas USA v. Colorado Rapids
Chivas was all around terrible last week. Zarek Valentine and Jimmy Conrad routinely lost the man they were marking and looked second best throughout. Alejandro Moreno barely had a sniff of the ball and Justin Braun can’t complete a pass. This says more about the ineffective Chivas attack than the Sporting defence. This week they will be going against the most physical attack in the league. Colorado hammered a poor Portland team (Poor-land?). The attack looked great with Jamie Smith, Jeff Larentowicz and Omar Cummings scoring. Conor Casey and Cummings will be too much for Chivas’s defence. Sporting’s attack is a fast paced three man front while the Rapids play a 4-4-2 formation and like to cross the ball for Casey to knock down for Cummings. The Rapids’ midfield will over run their counterparts and Chivas’s attack featuring the terrible/overrated Braun will have no answer to the Rapids. The Rapids should make easy work of this on the road 3-0.

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