Add your weekend commentary here….
I’ll mention it again. Thanks to all of you who pushed for TSG to get into and starting covering MLS. It’s been a great experience from learning all the team names–kidding–to interacting with the media teams of many of the clubs.
The Galaxy, the Earthquakes, the Wizards are just some of the clubs that have been great to work with.
In homage to the move to cover MLS, we’ll lead this weekend preview with MLS as opposed to the EPL as we customarily do.
The Herbalifers hope to slow down the running of the Red Bulls
Los Angeles-New York 11 p.m. EDT ESPN2
Maybe it’s the absence of Thierry Henry or that the Los Angeles Galaxy will trot out promising, but wet-behind-the-ears Leonardo, and Trinidadian Yohance Marshall in central defense as Omar Gonzalez is on suspension, but there’s a little less luster to this game than last time around.
Or maybe it’s the Friday night start time.
Anywho, the fulcrum point of this game will be in the central midfield, specifically how Los Angeles manages protecting their 2nd-string central defense pairing while linking the ball and countering the forceful Rafa Marquez and Tony Tchani of NYRB.
Juninho–who was fit, but didn’t play against D.C. United–is again the key figure here. In fact, it seems that the Galaxy’s play turns on just how much the lithe Brazilian can boss the game and find his spots.
This game will be no different. If Juninho can control the tempo and Dema Kovalenko (who I expect to start as well) can play enforcer well, the Galaxy should still handle this one at home. Beckham is a 2nd half sub in my mind. Last thing you want him having to do is run around after Tchani or getting terrorized by Marquez to start the game.
You know what would be the best golden moment in this? A bench shot of Jovan Kirovski (who has to be tired from all the minutes up top lately) and Eddie Lewis eating hot dogs with their cleats off. 140 caps between the old guys.
The Vermes Army entertains the ‘Stache and the Hoops
Kansas City-Dallas 8 p.m. EDT Direct Kick
Here’s your game of the week in my opinion.
The Kevin Hartmann storyline won’t happen here. Kansas City is playing some excellent attacking ball right now and come off a zestful midweek come-from-behinder against the “other Texas team.”
Meanwhile, Dallas–who I consider to be the most balanced team in the league–will have to survive without MVP candidate Hartmann and that will come down to how well their defense can marshal themselves in his absence on the road.
If you’re looking for one MLS game to watch this weekend, this is the one.
Toronto FC needs a good showing on the road at San Jose.
Toronto-San Jose 4 p.m. EDT Direct Kick
Soft spoken giant Khari Stephenson is the key in this one. He enables Sam Cronin to go rooting around the pitch for a tackle or pass reception. In short, San Jose has been a different team with Stephenson in the middle.
In fact, the Jamaican has been so good since joining up in San Jose that his national team has recalled him for the first time in more than a year for its next friendly series.
The Union show the love to Chivas: TSG has a Justin Braun interview coming up shortly.
D.C. Disbanded welcome the what-is-sure-to-be a fired up Dynamo squad: Pontius. Out. Hamid. Out. Roque Santa Cruz? Yeah, he’s not coming. Bank on it.
The Ljundberg Bowl goes down in Deep Dish Town: It’s old Freddie versus new Fredy. New Fredy will continue to make his mark.
RSL America host the Bolton of MLS, the Colorado Rapids: Your prediction? Does Marvell Wynne have a neck? Sorry that just popped in there.
The Citizens of Manchester have their say against Chelsea.
Chelsea-Manchester City 7:30 a.m. EDT ESPN2
First, didn’t Mark Hughes start better than Mancini last year?
Chelsea has an astounding 21 goals on the campaign. Manchester City has three fit defenders.
Arsenal’s B Team looks to get healthy at West Brom.
Arsenal-West Brom 10 a.m. EDT FSC
Don’t look now, but West Brom. Yes, West Bromwich Albion are on a roll. A midweek Carling Cup win over Manchester City and a 3-1 home win against Birmingham (who could only manage 5 total shots) coming on the heals of a draw with Tottenham.
What’s working for the Baggies? Talented Nigerian marksman Peter Odemwingie seems to have finally matured this season at the midlands Premiership stop and is exerting the talent that once made him the captain of his national team.
Odemwingie is opening up space in the midfield for Chris Brunt, who is just a year removed from a fine Premiership season. Add in a steady if not spectacular defense and you have West Brom.
West Brom will give Arsenal a fight.
The team formerly known as McBride’s open the Cottage and hope to devour The Toffees
Fulham-Everton 4 p.m. E.D.T (Delay) Fox Soccer Plus
Have you seen Everton’s new kits? Anything to take people’s mind of how the play in them. Rim shot! Sharp kits though.
This has the makings of a hard-fought contest or a defensive snoozefest. Both teams are licking their wounds as Fulham comes in with Eddie Johnson as one of the top strikers after ill-timed tackles have taken out their dynamic scoring duo of Bobby Z and Dembele.
I still believe that Everton are in their typical early season swoon. Although this year, with the Carling Cup loss this week, it’s more pronounced.
The problems at Everton? Trouble as ever in the attack and scoring department, mostly from a lack of recognition from the forward-striker position, inconsistency across the line-up…and lack of any semblance of a wide player anywhere on the roster. Beyond Leighton Baines, you can typically find Bily, Pienaar and Osman nearly paired with Arteta or Cahill in a three-legged race.
Everton also suffers from having too many ‘tweeners on their team–players who are interchangeable, but experts at none. The result is a lack of flow and understanding of who is a primary and who is a complement.
They sure could use Landon Donovan’s pace and edge play right now, huh?
Key here for Everton is to keep the offensive pressure on Fulham throughout the game and trust that their defense can shut down Dempsey, Gera and whoever else the Cottagers have left up top.
Hammer’d again? Will West Ham Get Spurred?
West Ham-Spurs 12 PM EDT Fox Soccer Channel
It says a lot about what the team thinks about Jonathan Spector that the London club has left Spector out of the 18 for the past two league games this season…and are leading the league in conceded goals. (Spector is also hardly a shoo-in for the rightback spot come 2014 as some misguided writers suggest.)
The problem for Spector? He’s often asked to be a utility man at either outside back spot without developing a chemistry with his partner to the interior. In fact the interior is where Spector should be playing.
Our bet that Specs goes somewhere in the January window.
Have a look this game at Victor Obinna this game and you’ll be looking at “Jozy Altidore Plus.”
Obinna, property of Rafa’s Inter, is on loan this season to the Hammers. He is equally capable of devastating offensive bully and score move or of knocking the ball off his shin, hence the Altidore reference. Frustratingly promising…
The Seasiders take on the Rovers in Blackpool: If you remember Blackburn was my surprise team of the season. They haven’t quite got it going yet, but they’ve been in every game.
The Hodgson’s take on Gyan and Bent: Unfortunately, this game takes place at Anfield…or Asamoah Gyan could probably earn about 50 penalty kicks on the grabby Jamie Carragher. Where’s the pride, Liverpool?
Owen Coyle matches wits with Sir Alex as Bolton Wanders into Trafford:
This is the game you’re going to want to take in on Sunday.
A frisky Bolton side that gave it about 60 strong minutes a few weeks ago at the Emirates take to the pitch to shut down United.
If you’re looking for a story on Bolton beyond Stu Holden, check out Johan Elmander. The Swede looked to be on the outs heading into the season and he’s been masterful in the early going, bringing down and depositing crosses and making runs of Kevin Davies. A revelation thus far.
For Manchester United with Antonio Valencia out, the United crew are going to have to make due again with the vets, specifically Ryan Giggs until at least the January window.
Valencia–who many feel has been just “okay” for the Red Devils–gave Fergie much-needed width with his wing play that Nani and Giggs–who both like to play more centrally on the wing–don’t (sensing a pattern here). Will be interesting to see how the team adjusts as they need to find a new way to create more space.
The Wolves of Wolverhampton look to feast on their visiting Villains: Yawn…Wolves will look better at home. I expect Stephen Ireland to make folks forget about James Milner shortly.
Newcastle vs. Stoke City: Big deal. That said Newcastle keeper Steve Harper is out for 3 months after crashing into Everton’s Jermaine Beckford. The back-up is Tim Krul…if you need a fantasy goalie on the cheap…he’s your guy.
Bo’Munchen-skins prepare to be Shalked
How do you think the meeting will go on the pitch between Junior and Jermaine Jones.
Junior: “So man, why’d you turn down that invite from my Dad for the Brazil game?”
JJ: “Sorry man, Sunil told me that Klinsmann would be the coach and I thought it would be easier to assimilate to the team if I had a German translator.”
Junior: “Oh…Well you’re not invited back.”
JJ: “I wouldn’t be surprised, your dad does a lot of odd things.”
Both these teams have been so horrific in the early going that Ricardo Clark thinks he has a chance to start in Chicago.