This week's slate of games looks interesting enough that it was hard to single out three. There are also bonus, hand-crafted bits of MLS news covering the fallout of the midweek games.
This has the makings of an exciting meeting. The game involves a Real Salt Lake side fresh off defeating another Canadian team, and an Impact side still stinging from a bitterly fought loss.
Not enough can be said about the Impact's performance against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. If the game had gone on another two or three minutes, there's every reason to believe Montreal could have come back to earn a tie. As it stands, they took a loss, but only thanks to a thunderous, otherworldly goal from superstar Thierry Henry. What is the Impact to do when Henry has that kind of skill ready to be unleashed at will?
Marco Schällibaum praised his team, saying he was proud of their fight and that they did everything in their power to get a result, and he's absolutely correct. I feel a bit sorry for RSL, because they're going to be playing a team so desperate to win, that simply being well-prepared might not be enough.
If the Impact have their legs back in shape, it's not likely Kreis' boys can match their motivation. The Impact are too angry about their loss to put out anything less than maximum effort. Should that effort meet inspiration, I don't think RSL stand a chance.
Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes // Saturday, 3:00 p.m. CT, Century Link Field, MLS Live & Univisión Deportes
This is a game that is interesting primarily because, at the beginning of the season, this is the matchup many would have liked to have seen. As it stands, both of these teams got off to uninspiring starts, though the Sounders have managed to turn it around as of late.
Seattle have just come off of stunning Sporting Kansas City, scoring a winner in the last minutes of the game to once again leave SKC ruing lost points at home. The luck that seemed to elude the Sounders during the early season seems to be coming back, as they are finally scoring goals to go with their attractive midfield play. After a few confidence boosting wins, they return home to take on the Chain Gang known as the Quakes.
Unlike Seattle (who impressed yet couldn't win), the Quakes haven't really impressed anyone this season. Yes, they keep scoring goals late in games, and yes, Adam Jahn is currently running away with Rookie of the Year votes (though it's far too early for that), but their results are hiding large issues. Their defense is a roughshod mess, meaning that all those lovely stoppage time goals? Those late strikes are rescuing points for the Quakes, rather than earning them wins like last season.
If I had to guess, I would say the Quakes lose this one. Seattle is beginning to pull it together, and at home they should have enough to see SJ off the field.
Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City // Sunday 7:00 p.m. CT, BBVA Compass Stadium, MLS Live
What is this? A Houston Dynamo game that isn't being broadcast on Unimás or some other Spanish broadcast? Shocking, I know, but once you get past that shock, this could well be the game that sees Houston's home unbeaten streak end.
Sporting have been wildly inconsistent this season. Every time they win two or three games, everyone is quick to crown them as the Once and Future Kings of MLS. They simply haven't been good enough defensively in clutch moments, while their scoring has disappointed as well. That can change though, with Kei Kamara back from England to bolster the KC corps, and despite their points total looking rather disappointing (by their standards) I don't expect KC to get down on themselves.
I think KC will have something to prove, while Houston is looking right into the maws of the dreaded Trap Game.
Houston systematically dismembered what little remains of DC United, and threw the rest of the poor team's limbs to the birds. There is a reason the whole notion of a trap game exists, and it stems from overconfidence causing a team to lessen their level of play and being punished for it.
You could argue that Houston beating LA is a sign of a great team, and you would be right. But that confidence is exactly where the danger lies, because no one is immune from hubris.
I'm calling the upset. Sporting win this one.
MLS Quick Hits
- Caleb Porter and John Hackworth have both been fined for comments about the officiating this past week. It's not surprising, but it's sad that Hackworth got fined because unlike Porter, Hack's criticism was 100% accurate. There should not be a double standard, but there is a big difference between the two. One has a legitimate beef with the officiating (which was dreadful in that Seattle-Philly match) and the other is sour his team got an "unacceptable" call that most people are okay with.
- DC United looked a hot mess on Wednesday against the Dynamo. Unless they undergo a magical transformation (not unlike Sailor Moon), it's okay to feel good about Saturday. It's true that anything can happen in this league, but it's no secret that DC are a very poor team.
- Omar Salgado is Hurt. Again. That #1 draft pick for the Vancouver Whitecaps in their expansion season was met with much skepticism, and while it wasn't injury related skepticism, it goes to show that sometimes draft-discussing talking heads get it right.
- For all the criticism levelled at Chivas USA's transfer policy, the latest one can't be blamed on Chelis. He claims to not have known about the Juan Agudelo trade.
- False alarm, everyone! Toronto FC are a bad team again. *whew* Everything is right with the world now.
- Ryan Nelsen recently had something to say about North American players.
From Jeff Carlisle over at ESPN FC.
"I'd say what [North American players] don't have is a hardened edge you get from cut-throat professional environments in Europe and South America and Africa," he said following Tuesday's practice session. "Where at 12, 13, 14 it's not the white-collar sport. It's hard-edged, and if you don't [progress] you get cut."Maybe it has something to do with your roster, Mr. Nelsen, and not with American/Canadian players as a group?