Well a lot of MLS teams are in action on Wednesday with various friendly matches, but the league play will start on Thursday night as San Jose will look to become the 3rd team to beat the LA Galaxy. It is a light week of MLS action since many teams are still on their "SuperLiga" breaks and next week is the MLS All Star match, so only 5 matches will be played this weekend and it all kicks off with:
There has been no bigger story in MLS this season than the 12-2-3 start of the Galaxy, they were able to keep their incredible pace up during the World Cup despite missing Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle. If they maintain their pace they would end the season with 68 or 69 points, the record is San Jose's 59 points in 2005.
While many people will try to convince you that LA is good with or without Donovan and Buddle, the reality is that Edson account for almost half of their offense with 11 goals and 2 assists out of their 27 goals. Of course he has gotten a lot of help from Landon who has 2 goals and 10 assists. LA gets some offensive support from Jovan Kirovski (3 goals, 1 assist) and Tristan Bowen (2 goals, 1 assist) but beyond those 3 players nobody has more than a single goal. One player that many think may be a real star in the making is rookie Michael Stephens who in his first year already has a goal and 7 assists.
For me the most impressive thing is the 8 goals allowed by LA in 17 matches, a 0.50 GAA for First XI MLS All Star Keeper Donovan Ricketts is simply impressive. Toss in the solid play of their young defenders in Gonzalez and Franklin who have blossomed under the veteran leadership of Dunivant and Berhalter. You can also credit Chris Birchall whose defensive play in front of that backline should have gotten him on the All Star roster. There are no weaknesses at LA and if the rumor that before the month is out that they will be adding Ronaldinho, well it will simply make the best team in MLS better.
A look at San Jose and my prediction after the jump:
After starting 5-2-1 in league play San Jose have cooled off and are just 1-2-3 in their last 6 matches but were able to get a last minute 2-1 win over Philly in their last league match. San Jose might be walking with a bit of a grudge as they failed to get a single player named to the MLS All Star team despite their 22 points in just 14 match. Most teams would take that 6-4-4 start but for San Jose you keep waiting for things to click and for them to take it to that next level. It could be when Ryan Johnson starts scoring goals like he did last year, so far he has just 1 goal and 4 assists, or it could be when Bobby Convey stops just providing and starts scoring, his 8 assists are second in MLS to Landon Donovan. Something is likely to give and when it does I think San Jose will challenge for one of the West's playoff spots.
In the favor of the Quakes is the fact that they have a winning record on the road at 3-2-2 with 7 goals for and 7 allowed, and since rejoining the league in 2008 they are 2-1-3 against the Galaxy so they will have their work cut out for them. I do think if LA should stumble or make mistakes that the Quakes unlike LA's last opponent DC United will be able to take advantage of them and make them pay. San Jose hasn't lost since they made the change to Jon Busch in goal, they are 1-0-2 and Jon has an impressive 0.67 GAA.
I don't think that will be enough for San Jose to get the win, LA is simply too good and should win this one 2-1, but any mistakes and we could see this one end up level.
OFF MY SOAPBOX