MLS Weekend Preview: 6 Players to Watch

Juan Carlos SalasContributor IIIMarch 15, 2012

MLS Weekend Preview: 6 Players to Watch

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    It's another full slate of Major League Soccer matches this weekend. 

    Even though it's very early in the season, some players are starting to make waves around the league with their play.

    Six players have peaked my curiosity coming into this weekend, either by their performances with their teams last week or by the expectations that have been building since preseason.

Dan Kennedy

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    You can't help but feel sorry for Chivas USA's goalkeeper.

    Dan Kennedy busted his butt for 90 minutes, keeping the Rojiblancos in the match, thwarting away clear goal-scoring opportunities from the Houston Dynamo last Sunday, only to have his defense let him down in stoppage time.

    I still have Kennedy winning the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year at season's end; however, it will be hard to do so with a spotty defensive line in front of him.

    Kennedy will again be up against a now strong Vancouver Whitecaps team who comes off a 2-0 victory of Montreal, and want to continue claiming a piece of the Western Conference pie.

    The 30-year-old will have to be a wall between the pipes once again, if Chivas wants any chance of coming away with any points.

Kenny Cooper

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    The bright spot in New York Red Bull's 2-1 loss to FC Dallas was Kenny Cooper finding the back of the net for the first time since his return to MLS, via a Thierry Henry assist.

    However, the task won't be any easier this week, as New York travels to face Real Salt Lake.

    With Juan Agudelo now training with the U.S. U-23, head coach Hans Backe will need to start Cooper up top. 

    Watch for the big man to make a better connection with Henry, and either Dax McCarty or Teemu Tainio as the Red Bulls look to upset the powerful RSL and get its first points of the season. 

Javier Morales

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    So much for not being in full form.

    Javier Morales came in off the bench in the 67th minute and scored Real Salt Lake's go-ahead goal against the Galaxy in the 80th minute last week.

    It's not certain if head coach Jason Kreis will try to push Morales for the full 90 minutes, but what is certain is that Morales can be a threat regardless when he enters the game.

    Nevertheless, Morales will be hungry to add to his tally as New York has shown it has a very questionable defense. 

Luis Silva

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    I'll flat out say it. I like this kid. Luis Silva is fast, he is skilled, and he is very composed on the ball. 

    Silva showed it in preseason and in his two games against the LA Galaxy during the CONCACAF Champions' League matches. He should have tallied his second goal of his pro career Wednesday night, but his strike just brushed wide left.

    Now it's time for Toronto FC to focus on MLS as it opens league play at Seattle. Since Silva was kept on the bench till the 63rd minute, expect him to be in the starting lineup.

    Will Silva keep up his good form against a tough Seattle opponent and the intense crowd at CenturyLink Field? 

Kris Boyd

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    It wasn't only a perfect introduction of MLS to Kris Boyd, but also of Kris Boyd to MLS. 

    The Scottish forward's 66th minute goal caused an boisterous explosion of roars at JELD-WED field, as the Portland Timbers came from behind to beat the Philadelphia Union

    So will Boyd repeat his performance when they travel to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas?

    On paper, I can say yes. But the environment affects a player.

    Boyd might have felt at home playing in front of a rambunctious Portland fan base and under the famous Pacific Northwest weather. 

    But Texas is different, and so is Pizza Hut Park. 

Dwayne De Rosario

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    Much was talked about of Dwayne De Rosario beginning his full season with D.C. United, after he was acquired during the 2011 season.

    Last year’s MLS MVP will want to take advantage of a depleted and distraught LA Galaxy side that dropped their CONCACAF quarterfinal match Wednesday against Toronto FC, and was crushed in their home opener against RSL last Saturday. 

    Don’t expect any sympathy from De Rosario as D.C. tries to recover from its own last-minute loss at home at the hands of Sporting Kansas City.