Five-a-side: Questions I want answered in MLS today
1. Can the Galaxy right the ship?
I think it’s fair to say today’s biggie (Galaxy vs. New York Red Bulls) is more “biggie” for the home side, the Galaxy.
Hans Backe’s men will get their suspended star (Rafa Marquez) and their injured star (Thierry Henry) back in the rotation soon enough. So it’s really just about holding serve for now. Even if the Jersey Boys can’t do that, there’s no psychological scarring afoot; If they do take an L.A. beat down at the Home Depot Center, well, that’s what everyone more or less expects, right?
But what if L.A. loses? What if all that controversial rest for Robbie Keane and David Beckham (who remained at home while the rest of the side went up to Seattle for a mid-week match) fails to pay dividends? If Dax McCarty bombs around the midfield as he did for New York last week, if goalkeeper Ryan Meara keeps surprising us with un-rookie-like work, if Markus Holgersson’s good day at center back last week gets to be more of a habit, then a point (or three) for the Red Bulls is hardly out of the question (especially given the continued distressed state of the Galaxy defense).
2. Is Eddie Johnson about to go on a run?
The NBC crew is in Seattle for this one, Seattle’s second game in four days. Johnson has found goal in two consecutive matches. Fredy Montero also struck an absolute stunner in Wednesday’s win over L.A.
But we expect Montero to score. Some of us thought he might score in bunches this year. But one missing piece around CenturyLink has always been a reliable second threat. Can if be Johnson, who hit 15 with Kansas City in 2007 in his last pass through MLS? If so, catching San Jose for Western leadership won’t seem nearly such a tall order.
Don’t forget, Peter Nowak is in the stands for this one.
3. Can Portland crack the code?
The Timbers were stale as quick-sale bread on the road last year, gaining just 12 of a possible 51 points. But the expansion side remained stubbornly in the playoff chase most of the way thanks to a reasonable home record. Things aren’t falling their way so far at Jeld-Wen in 2012, with a concerning 2-2 mark. Today’s contest against Columbus, a club near the bottom in the East, is a jim dandy spot for Timber Joey to fire up that crazy chain saw a few more times.
Of course, Kris Boyd could assist the chain saw celebratory cause; three goals in eight matches isn’t awful, but it’s not scoring-table leadership stuff. In general, the Timbers need a leader or two to rise – of this thing could tailspin before anyone knows it.
4. Did Vancouver’s Martin Rennie stumble onto something special?
You remember all the talk about No. 1 draft pick Omar Salgado being a project as a target striker? Well, strike that. All of it.
He’s not a project any more, perhaps. Nor is he a target man. Not for now, at least.
Salgado has played out wide left for manager Rennie lately, and the man is really looking in the mood. Of course, that means leaving someone significant on the bench today against West-leading San Jose. Eric Hassli scored in the midweek Canadian Championship match, so he seems unlikely to take a seat. So is it Camilo? Or Sebastien Le Toux? We’ll see.
5. Will Sporting Kansas City show any rust?
I’ve already expressed some fear for Montreal in their visit to well-rested SKC. But is there another way to look at tonight’s match at Livestrong? Is it possible that Peter Vermes men might be rusty, having last played 14 days previously?
Could be that the time off a momentum buster. Again, we’ll see. By the way, the expansion Impact is 0-5-1 so far on the road while allowing 13 goals.