Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Free Kicks

The MLS playoff race is heating up and we have teams choosing their own destinies. It's my favorite time of year. A hint of fall, the weather is cooling and we have MLS teams who find themselves at crucial junctures where player decisions, injuries and tactics can make or break a season.

We got a taste of this in DC midweek against Chivas. The Goats are a team who clearly still have fight left in them. Their performances are inconsistent but it's clear that they WANT to win. That's something we do not see from every team. United was up by 2 goals at home and they allowed Chivas USA to mount a comeback not because the Goats were exceptionally impressive in their play, rather United lacked the drive to continue competing throughout 90 minutes. This certainly speaks to the character of two teams with playoff hopes that might be moving in different directions.

Looking ahead to the weekend, the Sporting Kansas City vs Philadelphia Union match promises some fireworks. This match could potentially have a huge impact for the Eastern Conference standings and with such a tight race, better believe each team will come out fighting. It's the Union though that in this match have the most to prove. A valiant display by them could see them return to the team we had at the beginning of the season. So much tinkering in the lineup could be the Union's downfall in failing to reach the playoffs. Sporting Kansas City has the right formula, but will need to finish the chances they create. Count this as a match to watch for sure.

The other game that jumps out at me is the Houston/Dallas matchup. The Texas derby is a good one, though with them being in separate conferences it's tough to judge the impact. What might be most notable about this match is how FC Dallas bounces back from their recent struggles. The Dallas can get back some of their form now and avoid a slump, then the race for automatic spots in the West gets that much more interesting.

Oh and when was the last time MLS was on ESPN? That NBC deal is going to be nice.