MLS Weekend Preview: 6 Players to Watch and Why

Juan Carlos Salas@juancsalasContributor IIIMarch 22, 2012

MLS Weekend Preview: 6 Players to Watch and Why

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    You have to love the current state of the sport in the U.S. when there are three consecutive days of Major League Soccer action.

    There are many matches this weekend worth watching, starting with Houston visiting Seattle Friday evening on NBC Universal Sports, and ending with FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City on Galavision.

    However, this isn't about breaking down teams, but rather the players than can be influential in the end result for some of the teams in action.

    So here are my six guys I will be taking a closer look at this weekend, and why you should too. 

Fabian Espindola (Real Salt Lake)

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    Fabian Espindola has taken charge in the absence of Javier Morales to produce for Real Salt Lake. He has scored in both RSL matches against the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls.

    Next, Salt Lake will host Chivas USA, a team that hasn't been able to cut it defensively, and with mental lapses that have cost the LA-based squad valuable points.

    You have to feel bad for the Rojiblancos, but I can't help foresee Espidola and the rest of the RSL offense tearing Chivas apart playing in Rio Tinto Stadium. 

Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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    Chris Wondolowski had a tough time against the Houston Dynamo last weekend. He had some looks at goal, but wasn't able to capitalize.

    Wondolowski will need some more help from his San Jose Earthquakes midfield if the club wants to be successful when it travels to take on Toronto FC.

    The Canadian club won't want to repeat its performance in Seattle, especially at home. Therefore, it will be especially important for Wondolowski to be in top form. 

    Fortunately for him, Toronto's defender and designated player Trosten Frings will be out for four to six weeks due to injury, leaving TFC to probably rely on a rookie defender.

    Watch for Wondolowski and San Jose to take advantage of TFC's loss to capture valuable road points. 

Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City)

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    Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic took advantage of a 10-man New England Revolution to trigger the team's three goals in its 3-0 victory over New England on Saturday.

    If Sinovic can repeat his performance, pushing from his outside-back position forward, he will again be another facilitator to Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong and Graham Zusi when Sporting KC hosts FC Dallas Sunday.

    FC Dallas hasn't been solid in the back to begin the season, therefore it will be curious to see if Sinovic can take advantage of any space Dallas provides. 

Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps)

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    Since when have the Vancouver Whitecaps become the model for defense in MLS?

    Okay, it's only the third week of the season, and the Whitecaps haven't been challenged by any powerful offensive team, downing the Montreal Impact and, most recently, Chivas USA.

    Nevertheless, Vancouver hasn't allowed a goal in the young 2012 campaign, and a large part of that has to do with team captain Jay DeMerit.

    DeMerit has been able to direct the Whitecaps' back line successfully, helping the team out the gates with a perfect record, and even notching his first goal for the franchise (the game-winner against Chivas USA).

    Now DeMerit and Co. will host D.C. United, who haven't yet shown much offensive presence, but feels like a team that can explode in any minute. 

    Will DeMerit continue to successfully manage his team—who have slowly been climbing the ranks to become one of the stingiest teams to start a season—and maybe add couple more goals to his tally?

Marvell Wynne (Colorado Rapids)

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    Jeff Larentowicz could have been the goofball of the week, but it was Marvell Wynne who saved him with his remarkable defensive performance for a short-handed Colorado Rapids.

    Colorado was able to hold up an attacking Philadelphia Union with a 2-1 mark, after Larentowicz was sent off with a second yellow.

    The Rapids will travel to face the lackluster New York Red Bulls, who have the personnel to win, but haven't been able to do so.

    The veteran Wynne will need to play his best defense against the Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper combo, which will be looking to finally get some points in the 2012 campaign.  

David Estrada (Seattle Sounders)

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    David Estrada's hat trick was the highlight of the Seattle Sounders' home opener last Saturday, downing Toronto FC with a 3-1 score.

    The forward hadn't even logged more than 200 minutes since joining the club. But now in his third season with Seattle, it took Estrada only 87 minutes to throw CenturyLink Field and the Sounders' supporters into a frenzy with the first three goals of his MLS career.

    Seattle hosts the Houston Dynamo Friday evening in this week's national broadcast on NBC Universal Sports. Will Estrada have the same impact he had over Toronto?

    It's doubtful he'll notch another hat trick; Estrada will have to deal with pressure from a Dynamo back line that has posted shutouts in its first two games.

    Estrada's response after a dream start to the season will be an interesting storyline to follow

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