It’s Friday, so you know what time it is. That’s right; it’s time to get down with my 3 big questions heading into this weekend of games.
1. Does RSL stay unbeaten?
In what may be the most exciting match-up of this weekend, RSL take on the Galaxy at the StubHub Center. Real Salt Lake being unbeaten up until this point is a surprise to a lot of people, including myself. Coming into the season, it didn’t seem like they had a defense that could stop much of anything, but they’ve acquitted themselves quite well. It definitely helps when you have a player like Burrito Martinez doing the things he’s been doing. But, they head into LA to face a Galaxy team that might just be firing on all cylinders. Coming off a 4-1 thrashing of the Houston Dynamo, it seems as if this Galaxy team has been a case of addition by subtraction. With the injury to Robbie Keane, and the suspension to Nigel de Jong, Bruce Arena was forced to switch up his formation, deploying Gio Dos Santos as a number 10 (his most natural position), and forcing Steven Gerrard to sit deeper (again, his most natural position). I think it’ll be tough for RSL to take a win in this game, but I think both teams would be happy with a draw. This match comes down to LA’s ability to stop Burrito (looking at you, Ashley Cole) and how Kyle Beckerman handles Dos Santos.
2. Who separates themselves in the East?
Interestingly enough, all the teams in the East play against one another, aside from Chicago (bye) and Columbus (they play Houston). This scenario allows for some interesting story lines, but one come to mind in particular. Does Orlando take advantage of RBNY? In my opinion, Orlando’s season has been sneakily decent up until this point, when you take in consideration of their context. Kaka missed the first 3 games of the season, Cyle Larin has been hurt, they’re still trying to figure out their best formation, etc. They have an opportunity to go on the road (where they’ve actually played better, by the way) and cause some serious damage against a reeling Red Bulls team. If Orlando wants to be considered as a contender in the east, this is just the type of game where they need to take the bull by the horns and do something productive with.
3. Are the Earthquakes for real?
It seems like every year, we expect Dom Kinnear teams to be awful, but they aren’t. This is another case like that. Time is a flat circle. Except, this particular San Jose has one caveat. They’re playing good soccer at the beginning of the season and not the end. So, that raises a rather large question, is this sustainable? I think the answer to that question is both yes, and also no. Here’s what I mean. The answer is yes because this is arguably the most talented San Jose team ever -- yes, even better than that 2012 team. In every position they seem to have 2 or 3 players that could be starting, to the point where they’ve usually had 2 DPs starting on the bench. They’re poised for a serious run, if all goes well. But, more often than not, things don’t go well. Here’s where I think things could fall apart for them: they can’t keep relying on teams to collapse late and someone else besides Wondo needs to score once and awhile. This week, they face off against a very good Kansas City team who is finally at something resembling full strength. But, they haven’t won in San Jose in 16 years, and Avaya has turned itself in a bit of a fortress. I think San Jose announces their intentions to everyone with a comprehensive performance against SKC.
As always, feel free to blast me with tweets on Monday morning when I am inevitably made a fool. Find me at @mkstnr.