MLS Week 32: reviews and previews

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:宗儿 来源:云顶集团4008 点击:276 次

Well we now know one more of the MLS delegates for next season's Champions League. Seattle Sounders , against RSL, and judging by the state and smell of their locker room after the game, it's safe to say they enjoyed the occasion.

Back to the more familiar sights and smells of the playoff race this weekend — a race that D.C., having got their CCL spot, have graciously declined to enter. They're back home on Friday night to play one of the hopefuls for one of the final Eastern spots, Chicago. Meanwhile down in Houston, the Dynamo will be trying to show they're on their (slightly later than usual) scheduled late-season run against a Montreal side equally determined to show they aren't collapsing down the stretch.

Saturday evening opens up with New York looking for the point that would clinch their playoff place against New England, who still need all the points they can get, while the intriguing tie of the round might come in Columbus. The Crew's revival under Brian Bliss has pushed them back into the playoff picture, but the one big blip on his record is a 3-0 loss at Sporting Park. Sporting suffered a setback at home against Philadelphia last time out — can they arrest that mini-slide at Crew Stadium?

Speaking of the Union, Philadelphia are back home for the visit of Toronto on Saturday night, with Zac MacMath in goal rounding into form nicely, just in time to face a Toronto side who got 4 against D.C.'s reserves last week. That D.C. line up was of course explained by the fact they were facing RSL in Tuesday's Open Cup final. Salt Lake will try to regroup against Dallas this weekend. Given Dallas's form at the moment, there are potentially worse ways to regroup.

And speaking of regrouping, the two LA sides are both coming off losses when they meet each other in the SuperClasico on Sunday evening. The Galaxy's righteous indignation about the offside decision that denied them an equalizer at Portland last week swiftly turned out to be not that "righteous" at all. Let's see if they can get an onside goal against a Chivas team who just seem to be losing that little bit of momentum they'd been picking up.

Finally on Sunday night, it's Cascadia Cup action (the first of three such games in a week) as Vancouver host Portland, with the former in deep trouble in their playoff push, and the latter within touching distance of their first ever playoff series.

Nailed on as certain league destinies look now, so did RSL's Open Cup prospects — hence all the gently speculative blather above, rather than hard and fast predictions. One set of people who know all about the dangers of predictions, but who do it anyway — our regular panel of fan reps and writers for each of this weekend's competing teams. See what they made of this week's stories, and the upcoming games, have your say in the comments, and then join us on (my money's on: "Be careful with premature '2013 Open Cup winner' tats").

All kick off times are listed as ET

DC United vs Chicago Fire

Fri 8pm, RFK Stadium (NBCSN)

Kim Kolb, :

It's not difficult to come up with this week's big story for . The team traveled to Salt Lake City and came back with the US Open Cup. Ben Olsen changed some tactics and the team came home with it's 13th major trophy. The surprising move was that Luis Silva was used as a substitute. But the addition of Lewis Neal turned out to be a stroke of genius as it helped plug the middle of the field, and he scored yet another game winner. The move mirrored Olsen's moves last year when they continually paid off in the late season run. But what does that mean for the rest of the 2013 campaign? Starting Friday, players can start making statements for their 2014 jobs, and the fringe US National Team players like Chris Pontius and Bill Hamid can work on shoring up their resumes in case Jurgen Klinsmann starts looking around. Now that the US Open Cup will find a place in the trophy cabinet, the pressures of the horrible season can be forgotten and they can play out the remaining games without a dark cloud over their heads.

Scott Fenwick, Editor, , Chicago:

How many times can a team disappoint its fans in one season, let alone one month, before the latter simply throw up their hands and direct their attention to other matters? At what point do supporters begin to actively avoid the pain and frustration of unmet expectations, of a campaign gone south? After a dramatic, gut-wrenching, 2-2 draw last Saturday night vs. in front of a raucous Toyota Park crowd, it seems only the true believers remain hopeful their talented, yet underperforming Chicago Fire will earn a shot at MLS Cup. In the end, if Frank Klopas and company don't make it above the thin red playoff line, future reflections on the 2013 season will likely begin with a tuneful lament: "Do you remember, that substandard month of September?"

Indeed, after an August that saw the Men in Red go 3-1 vs. Eastern Conference opposition and battle their way up the table, the wheels fell off the red clown car. Chicago Fire's performance in September, amidst a highly-contested playoff race, amounted to one win, three draws, two losses, and a -3 goal differential. Four valuable points were lost at home during the stretch, the result of soft, last-minute goals conceded to Houston and Montreal.
Astoundingly though, the Fire are still in the hunt, a mere two points off fifth place. With four games left, it's win and stay in this Friday night vs. DC United at RFK. Anything less and the fat lady will be clearing her throat.

Houston Dynamo vs Montreal Impact

Fri 8.30pm, BBVA Compass Stadium

Stephen Eastepp, , Houston:

Houston, like nearly the entire Eastern Conference, is in the midst of a huge battle for a playoff spot. You could probably say the same about most clubs, but this weekend's matchup is huge. In fact, their final four games will likely be important to secure a playoff spot. The Dynamo organization has dubbed their next three games "Push 4 the Playoffs" and rightfully so. After getting a solid 1-1 road draw against New England, Houston's destiny truly sits in their control. The Montreal Impact come to BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday night for a third versus fourth place battle. With the Impact sitting two points above the Dynamo in the East, a win would put them in.

It's not going to be easy as Houston has struggled with the Impact. Last time these two faced off, Montreal wiped the floor clean with the Dynamo defense and blasted the club 5-0 – albeit in Montreal. It's not that easy to defeat Houston at home, but New York proved it at least possible.

The Dynamo are nearing full strength and appear to be rolling into form at the right time. The key to victory here is easy said – but not done: contain Marco Di Vaio. The Houston back four will be the key to getting three points on Friday as Montreal is a dangerous opponent on the attack. Houston's forwards look to be confident again and I think they'll be fine. Defense. Defense. Defense.

Sofiane Benzaza, , Montreal:

The Children have come to play and they are playing well. Maxime Tissot and Wandrille Lefevre were the story of the week for the Montreal Impact. Having Lefevre play 90 solid minutes at the back was huge for Les Bleus. Even better, Tissot is the first Academy player to ever score a goal in MLS for the Impact. Combine both performances and the Impact get out of Chicago with a point, that could almost be tagged as a "stolen point".

Even if Montreal took a point from Toyota Park, the quality of the soccer produced on the field was worrisome. Marco Di Vaio did score his league-leading 19th MLS goal but the team as a whole was sluggish and slow. Usually that would not be a problem when the Fire decide not to apply a high pressing on Montreal. But with 5 games left to the MLS schedule, isn't the best time and the only time to get organized tactically to be ready when the playoffs come?

Winning is the only remedy to all ailments hence being in the playoffs is only that much more important. The game against the seems like a must-win game. But is Marco Schallibaum more content with getting 1 point hence blocking Houston from getting 3 points?

New York Red Bulls vs New England Revolution

Sat 7pm, Red Bull Arena

Tim Hall, author of "The View from 101" column for , New York:

In the rain and the wind, on the road, on turf, without three starters, in a hostile environment. You could absolutely be forgiven for thinking that Mike Petke would have sent his Red Bulls team out on the field in Seattle with one directive: park the bus. But to his credit, Petke didn't. New York played solid offensive football the entire first half. A silly PK given up by Markus Holgersson at the end of the half could have demoralized the team going into the locker room, but instead Petke rallied the troops and the mighty Metros came out firing in the second. Were it not for the woodwork, New York easily could have escaped Starbucksland with a win. As it was, though, a late Tim Cahill goal gave both teams an equal share of the points and kept the Red Bulls on top of the league.

Whether New York wins the Supporters Shield is out of their hands now. Their three goals right now, in order, are to make the playoffs, finish in the top three to avoid the wild card game, and then to win the East to ensure home field advantage. The easiest way to go about that is to win out, starting at home against New England, which is a game the Red Bulls must be expected to win, though with assorted injuries, it will again be down to Mike Petke to piece together a lineup and motivate them properly as he seemingly has this entire season, which is why he's in the discussion for Coach of the Year honors.

Mary Carradine, Midnight Riders, New England:

Had last Saturday's draw vs Houston taken place three months ago, many Revolution fans would have left Gillette Stadium feeling mostly content: a well-attended 1-1 draw against a quality opponent. It was a match where the Revs showed decently and almost won, which would have felt OK. Three months ago. But in the waning stages of the season, this home draw felt like the start of an impotent Revolution endgame which will eventually keep the Revs home in November for the fourth year in a row.

Now sitting underneath the red playoff line, the Revolution have the unenviable task of going on the road for three of their last four matches, and their next opponent is a team no side fighting for points wants to face: the Supporter's Shield-leading . The Revs are 1-1-1 vs RBNY this year (including the USOC win), but the loss was a hideous one: a 4-1 thrashing in New Jersey, and a reminder of the power RBNY can bring on their home pitch. But that was April, and this is October - our defense has solidified and we've established a rhythm of meaningful contributions from Sene, Rowe, Nguyen and Fagundez. Most importantly, we secured RBNY's star homegrown player in Juan Agudelo. Agudelo has professed his readiness to play a full 90 minutes on Saturday, and if the Revolution are going to march into the playoffs, Agudelo must put this team on his back with a vigorous and vengeful performance against his former club.

Columbus Crew vs Sporting Kansas City

Sat 7.30pm, Columbus Crew Stadium

Ian Fraser, , Columbus Crew:

One month ago, the thought of this season ending with a playoff appearance seemed an afterthought. 4 wins out of 5 under interim coach Brian Bliss and the idea has become a reality. Although we mustn't be fooled, even though the Crew has managed to climb their way up to 6th and within a point of the last spot, they have still played 1 more game than the cluster of teams around them. Other results have started to go Columbus' way and more assistance will be needed these last couple of weeks. It doesn't matter what happens with other games if the Crew don't take care of themselves first. There is a growing confidence on this and hopefully this momentum keeps snowballing.

Bliss is continuing to make his case to remove the interim manager title. The players are starting to heap praise on his style and communication. The team is playing at a faster pace with increased and higher pressure defensively with a quick transition into the offense. This new philosophy has been instilled in practice where Bliss is employing short intense drills to create the tempo he wants in games. Bliss' style seems to be getting the best out of the squad.

SKC were the last team to beat the Crew and if Columbus can get a result here it will set up a nice home and home with fellow playoff hopeful New England. In the words of Federico Higuain — "impossible is nothing" (with some help please)!

Malena Barajas, co-founder, , Sporting Kansas City:

After three consecutive wins in league competition, Sporting KC lost at home to Philadelphia last weekend. Despite having more shots (19 to Philadelphia's 8) and more shots on goal (5 to Philadelphia's 3), and by far greater possession (62 percent vs 38 percent), SKC was unable to stop Philly's Connor Casey from scoring the game winner off of a rebound in the first half. SKC remains in second place in the Eastern Conference despite the loss – the fifth home loss this season.

Don't count on SKC winning the Supporters' Shield or being three-peat Eastern Conference champions, but you may be able to count on SKC defeating Columbus at Columbus Crew Stadium this weekend. SKC has been winning on the road, and the two have already played twice this season, with SKC coming away the winner both times. The Crew will come into the match with confidence after defeating 4-2 and chasing a playoff spot. Columbus forward Dominic Oduro has recently earned MLS Player of the Week and Month honors, and as his position has shifted to the wing, SKC's shaky midfield will be smart to neutralize that threat early in the match.

So what if SKC doesn't finish on top? It may stand to benefit from a lower seed in the playoffs. As the regular season nears the end (only four matches remaining!), the fear that the Houston Dynamo (which SKC will play once more during the regular season) will knock SKC out of the playoffs begins to creep in.

Philadelphia Union vs Toronto FC

Sat 7.30pm, PPL Park

Dan Walsh, , Philadelphia:

occupy the driver's seat in the race for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot thanks to last weekend's big 1-0 win over Kansas City. They currently hold fifth place, one point ahead of New England and Columbus and two ahead of Chicago, but they have the most favorable schedule of the four teams, with two games at home and two against conference doormats Toronto FC and D.C. United.

That means little, of course, if they don't take care of business on the field. It starts this Saturday with Toronto at home. Toronto is coming off a 4-1 demolition of D.C. United's reserve team, which means they are coming in on a high but remain a tragically (or comedically, depending on your point of view) bad soccer team.

The game has "trap game" written all over it. During road games, Toronto often parks the bus, prays for one good scoring chance, and plays clutch-and-grab. (That should be familiar to the Union, because they beat Kansas City last week doing the same thing.) That works against the Union, who fare best when they sit deep, play good defense, and beat teams on the counterattack or set pieces. Being forced to actually take a game to an opponent doesn't always work out well for the Union, because their midfield is generally weak in possession, last Saturday's good game from Michael Farfan notwithstanding. It could be an ugly game, and a draw won't be good enough for Philadelphia.

Duncan Fletcher, , Toronto:

TFC Win! TFC Win! TFC Win! Yes, last week saw struggle a bit before eventually coming away with a comfortable win against a USOC-distracted DC United. Given the amount of players rested by DC, it's something you can really read too much into, but the 3 points did take TFC ahead of last season's total, put an end to an 8 game winless streak and give the weary fans something to cheer about for a while, so that's nice.

This week it's back to playing spoiler, hoping to harm Philadelphia's playoff hopes. It's certainly not out of the question as Philly have struggled recently, and TFC have done quite well against them this year, twice taking a 1-0 lead into injury time. Sadly, both times they left Jack McInerney alone in the penalty area on a set piece and he equalised, avoid doing that and they might well get a result, not that it matters. At least it's almost over.

Off the pitch is generally where the fun is with TFC these days, so what's this week's big distraction? Not much really, it's been fairly quiet (though I've written that before and things have subsequently blown up, so don't hold me to it). Head honcho Tim Leiweke keeps musing about stadium upgrades, which would be welcome but would probably be tied to the arrival of the CFL's Argonauts, which wouldn't be so nice, and that's about it really. Meh.

Real Salt Lake vs FC Dallas

Sat 9pm, Rio Tinto Stadium

Denzel Eslinger, :

Either the 1-0 loss at home in the US Open Cup final on Tuesday will crush the morale of RSL and they will wither into the playoffs, then go away quickly lamenting what could have been, or they will use that loss as motivation to do all they can to claim one of the two remaining trophies that they are competing for. Saturday, when FC Dallas comes to town, we will likely see the answer.

has most likely secured their playoff spot, it would take a lot of unlikely things to keep them out, while FC Dallas has seen their playoff chances likely dashed by 3 straight losses and while they are just 5 points out of the final playoff spot their remaining 4 matches are tough and they will need some help to get into the playoffs. Dallas was the hottest team in MLS at the start of the season, just 1 loss in their first 10 matches but they have struggled since then with just 2 wins since the end of May. I don't pity FC Dallas on Saturday, but unless they find some magic I think a very upset RSL team is going to extract some vengeance of possible biblical proportions on them. RSL will be looking to find their defensive form that has let them down in recent weeks, and to turn up the energy and effectiveness on the highest scoring offense in the league. Yeah I don't pity FC Dallas at all, I expect we might just find a way to score at least 4 on Saturday, I look for a 4-1 RSL win.

Gina Zippilli, , Dallas:

This must be rock bottom, right? Another disheartening, unacceptable loss to Columbus was allegedly followed by a showdown meeting between Schellas Hyndman and Clark Hunt. You have to imagine the coach was given four games to save his job, but to be honest, I'm ready for a change. You look at the starting eleven and see a talented line up that shouldn't be playing how they're playing and it's got to be the coach's fault at this stage. Certainly the fans seem to think so and have finally turned on him — there were chants of "Fire Schellas" at the last game.

As for a replacement, please let it be someone from outside. We don't like Fernando — his acquisitions have been pretty uninspiring at best, and tend to always be injured, suggesting something about how he does his research.

This weekend it's Real Salt Lake, which is always a difficult place to play. They'll be embarrassed about what happened against DC in the Cup and likely to be a wounded animal. I can't see us getting anything out of this game, or the rest of the season.

Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounders

Sat 10pm, Dick's Sporting Goods Park (NBCSN)

Todd Haggerty, , Colorado Rapids:

After two weeks to stew on what could have been against Portland, the Rapids host Seattle in a match with massive implications. The 'Pids hold the last playoff spot, sitting one-point ahead (and a match in hand) of the Earthquakes. If the Rapids are a legit playoff contender than three points are a must this weekend. The Rapids need to start turning possession into goals and there is no better time to start scoring than against a Seattle team that seems to have little issue converting chances. With so much on the line and a full house expected, three points would give the Rapids momentum as they head (potentially) towards the playoffs. Yet, I'm still not sold that this team has shed its past. Thus, a narrow Rapids loss is the most likely result.

Sam Chesneau, , Seattle:

First off a big congratulations to the New York Red Bulls for the offside goal that keeps them in the Supporters Shield race...

Whatever happened in last week's game the fact is that we're still in the Shield lead, with games in hand on everyone and with most points-per-game in the league. Not that it's straightforward from here on in as there's a tough schedule coming up with games against playoff and local rivals starting with Colorado at the weekend.

This weekend's match against the rapids feels like a trap © Admiral Ackbar in that it's very important in order to come up with a result to maintain position for the supporters shield but with the cascadia matches looming following and the uncertainty in who will be called up for the inconsequential world cup qualifiers during the home stretch. MLS, please get it together.

The bigger picture has seen some discussion about selection issues. The national press have been somewhat dismissive of the Martins/Johnson partnership, but they've got eight goals apiece, with Lamar Neagle getting another eight, and there's not a lot to complain about there. What IS more worrying is whether Clint Dempsey's injury and national team duties will keep him out of crucial games. We're facing the possibility of playing games against Portland and Vancouver next week without him, Johnson and Evans if they all get called up for the World Cup squads.

Squad rotation hasn't really been an issue though — the defense in particular has seen a number of different configurations with Yedlin and Gonzalez coming in and the likes of Hurtado really stepping up his play. The team has one of the best defensive records in the league and that's going to be vital in the run-in.

LA Galaxy vs Chivas USA

Sun 5pm, StubHub Center (UniMas)

Josh Guesman, founder, The Section 108 blog, co-host of podcast, LA:

The coaching staff says it's a matter of wanting the ball more. It's a matter of fighting more than the other guy. It's a matter of pride. But the haven't shown much of that recently. Instead they've shown how to play down to an opponent when facing bad teams and shrinking from the moment when against good ones. The 1-0 loss to Portland an example of the latter.

The offense, anchored and solely possessed by Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, is faltering. The Galaxy have become one sided and uncreative in the final 3rd. Playing almost exclusively through the left side with Gyasi Zardes and Todd Dunivant, shots were few and far between. While Zardes did well to keep 3 of his 4 shots on goal for a change, they were easily handled. The rest of the offense was absent, lost and ineffective; Landon Donovan didn't get a shot off. Realistically, the Timbers were also stymied in this game. Getting only five shots on goal and giving the lions share of the possession to LA, but they found a goal and the Galaxy struggled to create offense. If you can find a goal when your opponent can't you're winning.

There are four games left for the Galaxy in 2013 league play; three home games. It all starts on Sunday as LA look to beat in-stadium-rival . With international absences on the horizon it is as big a game as the Galaxy have played this year. Goals will need to be found and someone will need to step up. Unless the Galaxy can summon some sort of MLS Cup super power, they may be in for a longer off season than planned.

Matt Hoffman, , Chivas:

Chivas USA further burnished San Jose's "Goonies never say die!" ethos. Despite having been a man down, Chris Wondolowski scored the winner in the games dying minutes in 1-0 game. It was a sloppy affair. Chivas never mounted much of any attack. Erick Torres has been handcuffed to a handful of touches in the last two games. His performance has dropped off while he's continuing to play alone on top. Torres is electric when he can make runs into the box, find deflections and have space to move. He's being boxed in and it's affecting the bottom line.
While it's the first time since early August that Chivas has lost consecutive matches, it's deflating how they've lost (i.e. blowout in Houston, conceding a shorthanded goal). The three remaining matches are all against Supporters' Shield aspirants including this weekend's match against the LA Galaxy. Chivas, never possessing much in defensive depth, will be missing key defenders. Midfielder Oswaldo Minda is suspended. Steve Purdy is out after sustaining a Steven Lenhart elbow to the face. Carlos Bocanegra missed last week's match so his status is questionable. The Galaxy's Robbie Keane, meanwhile, will be on the pitch, escaping punishment for his antics from last week. Chivas has seldom fared well in the SuperClasico but derby games are if anything, unpredictable. A win, however unlikely, would go a long way to helping owner Jorge Vergara's mandate that the team "move forward."

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers

Sun 8pm, BC Place

Brenton Walters, :

Ugh. That sums up our loss to Real Salt Lake perfectly. They fielded their Reserve squad, we had almost a perfect starting XI, and lost 1-0 at home in a game that we needed to win to keep our play-off hopes realistic.

There are still four games left, and if we win three of them we should make it in. But that's asking a lot from a team that barely mounted a coherent attack against a Salt Lake team that was squarely focused on their US Open Cup final.

Nigel Reo-Coker seemed to criticize Martin Rennie publicly for lacking a system, before back-tracking to smooth over any ill will. But he was only saying what many of us (and presumably other players) are thinking.

I hate to repeat myself, but here ya go: Martin Rennie has largely lost the backing of the fans, and rightly so. Four games, Martin...

Roger Anthony, , Portland:

There's a spot near downtown Vancouver that holds a special place in the hearts of Portland Timbers fans. It's about 25 or 30 yards out from the goal at the west end of BC Place, at maybe a 35-degree angle from the left post. From there, the Timbers have launched by Kenny Cooper (2011) and Jack Jewsbury (2012) to shoot down the Whitecaps by 1-nil margins.
Can Cascadia Cup history threepeat itself this Sunday? Well, Portland comes into the match fresh off a pair of hard-fought 1-nil triumphs against division and playoff-position rivals Colorado and Los Angeles. Those wins were less about the team's speedy attackers, and more about the wily core of 30-somethings now forming the back five. (Even with outlier LB Michael Harrington, a mere 27, the back five's average age is 31.6.) If the Timbers can manage to get their rediscovered poise and grit through customs – a big "if" – Portland is not a team against whom you can afford to fall behind. Newly acquired forward Maxilmiliano Urruti answered some questions in his second start last week, beating the Galaxy with a second-half corner kick he deflected with the cleats of his right boot. There've been ample flashes of speed and skill, but his ability to withstand the physicality of MLS remains in question.