Quick note: We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming (in-depth interviews, long form analysis, witty commentary) shortly.
MLS revving up this weekend while the EPL is winding down and some great match-ups.
Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers: First up in the homeland is the least hyped match of the year, the Seattle Sounders taking on their pesky little brother Portland Timbers.
If you’re an MLS fan, you’ve been inundated with promotion for this game, but it’s justified.
Seattle has been playing uneven at best and comes off a shaky two game road trip that saw them wilt in DC and hold on in Columbus. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid by the way has never lost to his old employers the Crew.
This week though the Sounders face a Portland team that appears to be gradually coming together under John Spencer. As much Portland has attempted to play a more open and attacking game, it’s their set piece work (Spencer is of course a disciple of Dom Kinnear in Houston) that has been lethal. Jack Jewsbury doing an impeccable job in the early going serving up the stopped ball.
For Saturday, expect Portland to play the ball down the flanks as Seattle’s fullbacks, Leo Gonzalez and James Riley, have been susceptible to giving up the corner. Look for the new apple of TSG’s eye Jorge Perlaza to be a handful.
Going the other way, same attack story for Seattle, finding offense through Erik Friberg’s service and Alvaro Fernandez’s best Zakuani impression to open up Fredy Montero in the middle.
Galaxy vs. Sporting KC: If I’m an LA fan….I want to see David Beckham play some defense and make some on-target…non-yellow card tackles. Has to be hard for Bruce Arena to look a player like say 30-year-old $130K-a-year Todd Dunivant–who’s going up-down every game on the corner–in the eye and tell him it’s $5M-a-year Beckham that needs the rest.
FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union: The Union still cannot get their offense in gear. Mentioned it previously, but Philadelphia would have been a lot better off saving their Carlos Ruiz money and selecting and inserting Will Bruin into their line-up. Mind you, not because Bruin’s been hot, but because Ruiz and Sebastien Le Toux go together about as well as Timbers and Sounders fans. Both makes the same runs and both drop the same place in the midfield.
How will the Union deploy this weekend?
Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake: Koke and a smile this weekend?
Okay, didn’t know where to put the following and I want to comment on it.
Here was MLS exec VP Nelsen Rodriguez on the Marcos Mondaini suspension (for breaking Javier Morales’ ankle with a late slide from behind)
“During its discussions, the committee characterized Mondaini’s tackle as late, clumsy, and from behind,”
“It was also, however, seen as an attempt to prevent his opponent from scoring. Brian Mullan’s tackle on Steve Zakuani last month did not serve such a purpose. Rather, it showed utter disregard for his opponent’s safety and appeared to be driven by anger.”
You know the problem I have with this? The implication that it’s okay to foul someone to prevent them from scoring. Yes, it happens and players, coaches official know it will happen, but you can’t justify the Mondaini (short) suspension by saying it’s attempt to prevent a score. What does that say about your league, about the type of play you expect?
Whether you believe Mondaini got too lenient or harsh a sentence for the penalty, the league acknowledged that it’s trying to crack down on overtly physical play. It’s a smart move that will improve a more flowing, attacking brand of football.
Now with the lack of penalty for Mondaini, you (the league) has almost acknowledged those types of fouls are permissible. The league should have come down just short of Mullan (8 games) and said, “We don’t care about the injury. You can’t project one will happen. But we care about reckless play and we want players to think twice before intentionally following someone.”
David Ferreira fouled a league-high 84 times last campaign. Javier Morales; 76. If I’m a player looking to come to MLS and I’m a creative type that will make the league more exciting, don’t I put this on the “negative” side of my positive-negative review of coming to the States.
Look at the SPL; its reputation as a physical league precedes it. How many “beautiful game” players, how many Brazilians, Argentinians play in that league?
The FA Cup: Manchester City vs. Stoke City: Either way this game will be, let’s say, energetic. Either Manchester City will brandish their class and ring up a 3-0 victory or Stoke City will initiate Project Mayhem on the pitch and look to lay the wood on City and rough them up at every turn, leading to a 1-0 or nil-nil 90 minutes and extra time.
Really quite fascinating because Stoke City can’t really compete on talent here with Manchester City looking for their first silverware and champagne….supernova.
Wigan vs. West Ham: Better than the FA Cup, the relegation battles and this is the biggest one of the season. Wigan on 36 points, West Ham, a paltry 33 points. This is a must-game for West Ham or they’re headed down. Period. Wigan are home and with the weather report expect to be a rainy 55 degrees, this one’s going to be a slopfest…and it favors the home teal as they bring down the Hammers and send them to the Land of Lower TV Revenue.
Oh by the way, my EPL predictions? Close, no cigar. Here’s what I had at the beginning of the season:
• Matthew, TSG: (5) Manchester City, (4) Liverpool, (3) Arsenal, (2) Manchester United, (1) Chelsea
I’ve probably got the top five here as Liverpool should go out swinging, but I didn’t think United had it this year. Wrong.