Week 25 in MLS emphasized a few things. Among them:
- The LA Galaxy are a far better team with David Beckham than they are without him.
- Real Salt Lake might have snuck into the playoffs last year, but this year they are among the league’s elite teams.
- The Seattle Sounders are peaking at the right time, and could be dangerous in the playoffs, assuming they end up in the postseason.
- Usual playoff teams like New England, Houston and Chicago all could be on the outside looking in come the 2010 postseason.
Looking Good in Week 25
The LA Galaxy were struggling vs DC United, and if it weren’t for the two late goals scored by Landon Donovan the Galaxy would have lost this one. For me though, the difference in the game was the insertion of David Beckham into the lineup in the 53rd minute. Beckham made the field wider and longer with his on-the-ball skills. His presence and playmaking allowed more room for Donovan and Edson Buddle, making the Galaxy more dynamic in the process.
The Seattle Sounders did the unexpected, walking into Columbus Crew Stadium and thumping the home side 4-0. Designated Player Blaze Nkufo (MLS Player of the Week) scored three goals, making the best team in the East look pretty vulnerable.
Real Salt Lake is unbeatable at home, with their 1-0 win over Chicago making it an MLS record 23 consecutive games at home without a loss. They still have a shot to win the Western Conference, although the Galaxy have the better remaining schedule. Chicago, on the other hand, look like anything but a playoff team.
And FC Dallas continue to impress, doing things the hard way. Their 2-2 draw at home vs the New York Red Bulls was truly a great effort. They lost Captain Daniel Hernandez to a hamstring injury in the first half, then lost midfielder Brek Shea to a red card before losing goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to a strained right MCL. With 10 men, they still managed a draw, stretching their unbeaten streak to an amazing 15 games.
On Wednesday FC Dallas (with key players out) take on an ice-cold New England Revolution, while the Kansas City Wizards host the struggling Houston Dynamo.
On Friday, it’s the marquee matchup as the Galaxy host the Red Bulls. Donovan, Buddle and Beckham vs Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and Juan Pablo Angel. (Editor's Note: Henry has since been ruled out of the match with a knee injury.)
On Saturday, of local interest, the Union are back at home, hosting Chivas USA. At this writing, both teams still have a mathematical shot at making the playoffs, although it’s a long shot. The Union lost a tough one last week to San Jose. Brad Knighton had another good outing in goal, and it was good to see the speedy Shea Salinas get some minutes in the second half. With some injured players having some time to heal, it will be interesting to see Philadelphia’s lineup on Saturday.