Normally, this weekly bit previews interesting matches that are either big in scope, or under appreciated in their significance.
This week, we're previewing whatever we can get our hands on. There aren't a lot of options this week, people. FIFA International Dates tend to do that.
Can Blatter get anything right?
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United // Saturday 6:30 p.m. CDT, Gillette Stadium, MLS Live
Ben Olsen and DCU just can't catch a break. They always seem to be playing a team that is "so hot right now", and this week is no different.
The Revs are fresh off of demolishing the LA Galaxy, whose mistakes were picked apart with wild abandon by a suddenly clicking New England attack. This week on Sirius XM FC's drive-time show "Counterattack", keeper Bobbly Shuttleworth went to great lengths to praise Revs gaffer Jay Heaps, saying his attitude, consistency in training, and attention to detail have really helped the team.
The Heaps plan is a classic case of building from the back, focusing primarily on defense and midfield strength, and moving on from that once it's settled. With Diego Fagundez earning praise for his performances, Saer Sene back, and Lee Ngyuen being Lee Nguyen (which is to say, solid), the Revs have real hope that goals will start flowing.
DC United is a massive, tragic and elaborate soccer catastrophe. Everything about them is terrible. The defense, the midfield and the offense are all mediocre to poor. There are a few bright spots, but it's like trying to focus on the positives of the Hindenburg Disaster.
- D.C. United's squad picture for the 2013 season.
I'm putting my sterling reputation (ha) for predictions on the line here:
There's no way DC wins this one. A draw would be a massive result for the black and red.
Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy // Saturday 8:30 p.m. CDT, Rio Tinto Stadium, MLS Live
Which LA Galaxy team will show up to this game? The one that crucified Seattle to the tune of 4-0? Or will it be the squad that played the part of "Frontline Redcoats" in the reenactment of the Battle of Bunker Hill this past Sunday?
Nothing makes sense this season. The last time the LA Galaxy played RSL, Bruce Arena trotted out a group of ragtag misfits. Second stringers, academy signings, 3rd string bench depth, and more all had their chance to take down Jason Kreis' Army, and they succeeded. In fact, they succeeded to the point where Salt Lake didn't really have a prayer of crawling back into that game.
The last time, mostly starters were used for the Galaxy and, well... 5-0 speaks for itself. Can Gyasi Zardes save the Galaxy from under-performing?
Real Salt Lake has been equally up and down, but unlike the Galaxy have had some consistent form over the past few games. They pummeled the San Jose Earthquakes, defeated the Atlanta Silverback in the US Open Cup, and have notched a win and a draw against Chivas USA and the Chicago fire, respectively. Alvario Saborio might be missing (due to a callup for Costa Rica), but Robbie Findley has been quite decent for RSL, so there's not a big drop off in quality.
I can't even begin to guess as to how this one is going to go. The Galaxy will have to make up their mind beforehand as to how they're going to play. Maybe they'll care enough to try, or maybe they'll fall asleep at the wheel and crash into the river again.
Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps // Saturday, 9:30 p.m. CDT, CenturyLink Field, NBC Sports
This is actually an interesting match, and some of the MLSsoccer.com writers are pegging Vancouver to pull off an upset.
It isn't a wild theory, although normally it would be hard to envision how they would take down a Sounders team who are measurably better than the Caps. The thing is, the Sounders are missing a lot of important pieces.
Seattle will be rolling out a swiss-cheese lineup, with glaring holes due to the international callups that are plaguing most MLS squads at the moment. Seattle will be without Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso (due to, yet again, injury) and Steve Zakuani (also injured, long-term). If anything is going to work in Vancouver's favor, it will be the lack of first team starters playing in this game.
When you look at that absence list, it isn't crazy to think that Vancouver could perhaps take a point (or all three) from Seattle.
But then you remember that Vancouver has disappointed so often, especially after "turning the corner" about 3 different times, that it wouldn't be a surprise to see them squander this chance.
Food for Thought:
- Where will you be watching the USA qualifying matches?
- Call the upset this week. Be bold!
- McDonalds or Taco Bell? I don't want to hear any "Ugh I only eat healthy food" garbage. Pick one.