MLS Week 2: Predictions and Previews for the Week Ahead

Ned Harwood@@RBStampedeContributor IIIMarch 14, 2012

MLS Week 2: Predictions and Previews for the Week Ahead

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    After an interesting and exciting MLS First Kick, our tongues have just begun to taste the potential of what this season has to offer. Last week, we saw last minute winners, west coast dominance, and the official debut of MLS' new TV partner NBC Sports.

    All that being said, there will be plenty of great matchups and stories to watch as the MLS enters the second week of its 17th season in action. Check out the Week Two Preview here. Enjoy!

Montreal Will Have a Happy Home Opener

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    It’s the moment Montreal fans have been anticipating for years now. Saputo Stadium will be hosting its first MLS regular season game this Saturday, and if history tells us anything, it will be a successful home debut for the league newcomers. The last four expansion teams’ home openers have each ended up in three points and at least three goals for the league newbies.

    Week One may have been a rough awakening for the Impact, but surely the team will make a stronger first impression in front of their home crowd.

New York Will Struggle... Again

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    Can this even be labeled a prediction anymore? The Red Bulls are as close to a club in crisis as we have seen in a while, with the team’s identity currently lost in limbo. Hans Backe’s tactics have been questionable to say the least, and the defense returns in 2012 somehow even more suspect than it was last season.

    Add all that with the fact that Luke Rodgers remains out indefinitely and RSL is coming off a terrific performance against the defending champs, and you have a potential rout at the RioT this weekend. 

Sapong Will Be on the Scoresheet

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    The reigning Rookie of the Year already opened up his 2012 scoring account last weekend with a 90+ minute winner against DC United. If scoring is what you are getting used to seeing from Sapong, don’t expect anything different this weekend.

    SKC will take on a shaky Revs defense at Livestrong Sporting Park, where they had the third best home record in the league last season. Sapong also is quite familiar with the LSP ground, considering all but one of his MLS goals in his career have been in front of the Blue Cauldron.

    With Bunbury at U23 camp and Sapong surely to get the start, expect the spectacular sophomore to continue his good form this weekend. 

NBCSN's TV Ratings Will Not Improve

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    There has been a lot of buzz around the MLS world about the disappointing ratings for the NBCSN’s season debut. Unfortunately, considering the hype surrounding the NCAA Tournament this weekend, don’t expect a Sunday afternoon game between small market teams such as the Union and Rapids to draw a bigger audience.

    The New York and Dallas game struggled due to the fact it was played on Selection Sunday as the NCAAB conference tournament finals were simultaneously on. With big name schools such as Michigan, Michigan State, Kansas, and Duke all having the potential to be placed at that 4pm time slot, enhanced ratings certainly should not be anticipated. 

Vancouver Will Put on a Show

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    I stated in my preseason predictions that Vancouver is a team to look out for, and Chivas USA better take that statement to heart this weekend. Vancouver showed last weekend how dynamic their revamped attack really is and the multitude of ways this offense can score now with Le Toux running the show.

    This Vancouver team will take on an under-supported Chivas USA squad that had the worst home record in the Western conference last season and still seems to be stuck in preseason form. It won't be hard for the Caps to find a way to get on the scoreboard this weekend in LA. Vancouver will steal three points on the road and stay on pace with the rest of the West’s best. 

Week Two Preview: What to Watch for

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    Game to Watch: Montreal vs Chicago- Of course, the must-watch game of the weekend will be Montreal’s home debut against the Chicago Fire Saturday afternoon. The Fire look to continue their strong form dating back to the end of last season, while the Impact are hoping to grace their home with its first three MLS points. The game will be showed on TSN starting at 2:00 EST. 

    Player to Watch: Arne Friedrich- Also featured in Saturday’s game will be the MLS debut of German veteran Arne Friedrich for the Fire. Friedrich signed with the club a few weeks before the season and will immediately provide a strong, aerial threat that Chicago was missing last season. Watch for the big man this weekend and see how he handles the speedy Montreal attack this Saturday.

    Story to Watch: Who Will Step Up For Philadelphia?- With hindsight, Peter Nowak might be regretting his attitude towards Sebastien Le Toux while letting the franchise's all-time leading scorer walk away for little to nothing. It is evident that although the Union have brought in a few replacements, no player is really ready to step up and assume the role of “offensive leader” for Philadelphia.

    Freddy Adu looks unconfident and out of place on the wing, Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney haven’t earned the trust of Nowak yet, and Pajoy was nothing more than a manikin at the head of the Union attack on Monday. While there is still plenty of time to figure these things out, we should at least be getting hints as to who will be the leader of the Union attack this season in the upcoming weeks. 

    Score Predictions

    Montreal 2-1 Chicago 

    San Jose 1-1 Houston

    Kansas City 2-0 New England

    Portland 1-0 Dallas

    Seattle 0-0 Toronto

    RSL 2-0 New York

    Vancouver 2-0 Chivas

    Philadelphia 1-1 Colorado

    Los Angeles 1-1 DC

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