If you’re looking to send a message in MLS Week 12, you better put your money where your mouth is. Lord knows the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy have.
The mid-week action subsided in Week 12, but it did not disappear altogether.
A second-half surge from the Galaxy led to a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night. Union head coach Jack Hackworth was looking for respect ahead of LA's visit. His team will have to keep looking for it after conceding three goals in the final 20 minutes at home.
Both teams—along with 16 others—will return to action this weekend.
So, what warrants your attention in Week 12?
Which match will you—the fan—be watching this weekend?
Before we delve into the featured storylines for this weekend's action, here is the complete schedule and guide for Week 12.
The results from Wednesday night's action are posted as well.
The Montreal Impact are idle this weekend. The team will have a week to recover after Wednesday's scoreless draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg of the Canadian Championship.
Philadelphia Union 1-4 Los Angeles Galaxy
Montreal Impact 0-0 Vancouver Whitecaps (Canadian Championship)
Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew, 5:00 p.m. ET, Univision Deportes
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers, 7:00 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution, 8:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
New York Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN 2
D.C. United vs. Sporting Kansas City, 5:00 p.m. ET, Univision Deportes
Chivas USA vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET, MLS Live
Week 12 could feature a pair of debuts for two of MLS’ most experienced prospects.
Juan Agudelo failed to make his Revolution debut in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against his former team. His inability to feature in a full training session with the club warranted his exclusion from the roster.
This week is said to be different.
Agudelo participated for a full training session on Tuesday. Head coach Jay Heaps is cautiously optimistic about the 20-year-old’s inclusion moving forward (per MLSsoccer.com):
I think this is a good week for Juan...We're training him this week. We're getting him back to see where he is [in terms of his] fitness level...This week will be important to gauge him.
Over on the opposite coast, Chivas USA successfully pried Gabriel Farfan away from the Union—and his twin brother—in exchange for a SuperDraft pick in 2014 and allocation money.
So much for Philadelphia being the city of “brotherly” love.
Farfan will be eligible to play in Sunday’s match against Real Salt Lake. Should he see the field, he won't be asked to play the hero. Head coach Jose Luis "El Chelis" Sanchez Sola made that crystal clear in his own unique way (per MLSsoccer.com):
We’re not looking for anything more, nothing extraordinary. Here, no one is required to do the extraordinary, and Farfan is not an extraordinary player.
Extraordinary or not, Chivas can use the help. A five-game winless streak has dropped the Goats to last in the Western Conference.
You’ll have 19,034,998 reasons to watch the Red Bulls and the Galaxy do battle Sunday afternoon. That astronomical figure is the combined payroll of MLS’ most rampant spenders.
For the only time this season, all those high salary figures on a spreadsheet will generate results on the same field.
MLS formulated the “Beckham Rule” in 2007 to bring the high-profile name westward. New York has habitually abused the rule, signing six designated players since its adoption.
So, is anyone surprised that both teams are responsible for 24 percent of MLS’ total base salary in 2013 ($79,040,041)?
And yet—despite their high payroll—the Red Bulls have made it abundantly clear that they will target a third designated player in the forthcoming transfer window (per Grant Wahl). The Galaxy have been rumored to be pursuing a third designated player of their own (per LA Galaxy insider Adam Serrano).
Clearly, the resources are there to escalate this coastal arms race for financial supremacy.
Whether either team is successful in their lavish expenditures remains to be seen. What will be seen, however, is who received more bang for their buck in Week 12.
It hasn’t been New York lately. Not in 2012. Not ever.
Eighteen years. Zero trophies. But the opportunity is there for the Red Bulls to flex their moneyed muscle on Sunday.
A victory in the battle of the bankroll would retain the team’s first-place status in the Eastern Conference.
Improved. Determined. Flourishing.
The glowing praise for midfielder Rodney Wallace has intensified in recent weeks, and deservedly so.
His contributions during Portland’s nine-game unbeaten streak have been instrumental. His stat line is reflective of that: Six starts. Three goals. Two assists. And it was his stoppage-time equalizer that sparked Portland’s unbeaten run in Week 3.
It’s week 12. Wallace is already one goal and two assists short of surpassing the career-high totals he posted in 2009.
It didn’t come easy.
The Costa Rican international started this season coming off the bench—a role he begrudgingly knew all too well. Only 53 percent of Portland’s games the last two seasons have featured Wallace in the starting XI.
That percentage is similar in 2013 (54 percent). But Wallace has started in five of Portland’s last six matches. Head coach Caleb Porter has finally found a way to maximize the Costa Rican’s talents. Wallace’s production comes as no surprise to the rookie head coach (per the team's official website):
I’m not sure why he hasn’t had a breakout year up to this point because I think clearly he is one of the better wingers in the league. He’s really flourishing.
Recent form supports Porter’s comments. Wallace attributes that form to Coach Porter’s “willingness to give players a long leash.”
Forget the leash. This dog is off the chain and ready to continue his ascendancy in Vancouver this Saturday.
There are team wins, and then there is the Colorado Rapids.
But the difference between the two is reflected in the standings.
Chivas’ fluctuating roster is a consequence of the franchise’s instability. A bevy of suspensions—Mario de Luna being the latest culprit—and an uninspired style of play has led the Goats to a five-game winless streak.
Colorado, on the other hand, has seized the opportunity to overcome adversity. The Rapids are 4-1-1 in their last six matches.
Young guns Clint Irwin, Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers are leading the charge for the new-look Rapids. The trio’s success has led many to dub this 2013 version the “Colorado Rapkids.”
But a challenging westward trip awaits Colorado on Saturday. A visit to Buck Shaw Stadium—to face the struggling Quakes—presents the Rapids with an opportunity to solidify their standing in the Western Conference.
The team sits in fourth place with 15 points. A win on Saturday would continue their Cinderella form and further cement their early playoff positioning.
Rap superstar Jadakiss wanted to know who’s real and who’s not in 2008. MLS prognosticators are looking for the same answer in Week 12.
The Sounders have been no strangers to the injury report in 2013. The team has been unable to unleash the high-octane duo of Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins for a full 90 minutes this season. A slew of other injures led to the worst start in team history.
But a pair of impressive victories in Week 11 extended Seattle’s unbeaten streak to five. Even better, the Sounders found the win column in three of the last four matches.
FC Dallas, on the other hand, has yielded an unimpressive 24 points through 12 weeks. It’s good enough for first in the Western Conference. But it’s not good enough to buy the team as a viable MLS Cup contender.
Seven of the team's 11 matches have been played at home—tied for the most in the league with San Jose. To keep things in perspective, Seattle has only played four matches before a home crowd at CenturyLink Field this season.
Four of Dallas’ seven wins have come against teams with a combined average of 0.99 points per game. The other three victories are attributed to fortune and perfect timing, not skill.
A missed handball call in Week 3 allowed Dallas to escape with a 3-2 victory over Houston. Real Salt Lake were without the services of Alvaro Saborio, Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran in a Week 4 loss. And a wild 1-0 victory over the Galaxy just happened to be the return of one Landon Donovan. Robbie Keane was omitted from the lineup as the team was still recovering from a loss in Monterrey just three days prior.
It even took a masterful dive from Blas Perez to salvage a point at home against Portland in Week 11.
The own goal suffered by Brad Rusin in Week 8 is a microcosm of Dallas' season thus far. The lucky ball has continually bounced in the team's favor. Look no further than Je-Vaughn Watson's game-winner against a pathetic United side in Week 11 for further evidence.
Week 12’s showdown provides both teams with an opportunity.
For Seattle, it’s a chance to send a message against the Supporters’ Shield leaders: We're back.
For Dallas, it’s an opportunity to capture a signature win.
So, “who’s real, who’s not?” Don’t worry, Jada. MLS Week 12 will “point ‘em out.”
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