Skip to content

About those Saturday “must-win” scenarios in Major League Soccer

Mar 30, 2013, 9:29 AM EDT

Before becoming the head coach of the Portland Timbers in 2013, Caleb Porter amassed a record of 119 wins, 18 losses, 17 ties, and one national championship in seven years at University of Akron. (Photo: Getty Images.) Getty Images

There are no must-wins four weeks into an eight-month season, but since that’s the language that gets thrown around, we’ll roll with it. Yes, anybody can recover from a winless month, but since nobody wants to go into April with a “0” in the win column, a sense of urgency is understandable.

One team is already guaranteed a winless month, with Chicago getting the weekend off after a 0-3-1 start. As a result, rumblings are beginning to sound around Frank Klopas, the man at the helm of a team expected to compete for the playoffs. If the Fire can’t get things turned around in April, Steve’s words may prove prescient: “Klopas cannot possibly survive much more of what we’ve seen around Toyota Park.”

It’s important to note Klopas’s potential peril is the result of expectations – goals which feed into the early angst. But not every team expected 2013 to be a winning one. Of the league’s four active winless sides, only two expected to be contenders this season, and while the situation in Portland is unique because of the hype around Caleb Porter, the Timbers’ Saturday opponents had few expectations of playoff soccer.

With that context, here’s how we rate the severity of today’s must-win scenarios, in terms of need:

1 – New York Red Bulls: Really need to break through

New York’s at home, against a team they should beat, and haven’t been that bad this season. Their two losses were on one-goal defeats at Montréal and San Jose, and you could argue the Red Bulls could have won their draws against Portland and D.C. United. Yes, their failure to get wins is more important than their proximity to them, but their underlying form matters when judging how the team’s actually played.

If they carry that form into today’s game in Harrison, New York shouldn’t have much of a problem against Philadelphia (3:30 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN). If they do, new management could start asking questions. Mike Petke’s unlikely to feel much heat, but some of the players – particularly the ones held over from the previous regime — could be put under the microscope.

2 – Portland Timbers: First doubts could surface

The Timbers have looked good this year. They played the perfect Montréal Impact as well as anybody. They got a point in Seattle, and they overcame Mikael Silvestre’s early hiccups to get a first kick point from New York.

But Saturday at Colorado is a no excuses scenario. If The Caleb Porter Project is worth the hype, Portland wins in Commerce City.

Portland has never done well at DSG (outscored 9-1 in three visits), and the team has only three road wins in franchise history, but if they can’t get three points at Colorado, it will be worth considering if they’ve made any progress under Porter.

3 – Seattle Sounders: Need a stronger performance

If Seattle loses at Real Salt Lake, the organization isn’t going to panic; however, if the team looks as bad as they did last week in San Jose, growing fan could star consolidating their growing worries about Sigi Schmid.

The most concerning part about Seattle isn’t their lack of wins. It’s their lack of quality. They have one goal this year, a score that was more Steve Zakuani’s individual effort (to set up Eddie Johnson against Portland) then anything systemic.

If Seattle goes four games without showing signs of attacking life, the team should be concerned. They have too much talent to be taking these kinds of steps backward.

Right now, it looks like something’s wrong. At some point, you have enough information to act.

4 – Colorado Rapids: The bar’s pretty low

Conor Casey, Jeff Larentowicz, and Omar Cummings were shipped out this winter. Edson Buddle’s injured, as is Matt Pickens. Martín Rivero has yet to play this season.

Of course Colorado’s going to be concerned if they lose at home to Portland. Any team would be, but there weren’t big expectations coming into the year. Colorado need to take a longer view of the season, one which precludes any must-win scenarios five rounds into the campaign.

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Diouf dribbles for miles, nutmegs Hart to upend City 1-0

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:19 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Mame Biram Diouf is back from Germany, and the Senegalese forward has already scored a Premier League goal in exhilarating fashion.

  2. Watch Live: Everton vs. Chelsea (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:11 PM EDT

    tim_howard Getty Images

    Watch Everton and Chelsea clash, right here.

  3. Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Sunderland: Austin helps QPR get three points

    Aug 30, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    One goal does not an exciting game make, but Harry Redknapp will be content to snare his first three points of the year.

  4. Manchester City 0-1 Stoke City: Diouf’s dribble springs upset

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Manchester City v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Mame Biram Diouf’s dazzling run through Man City was the moment, but Stoke won the match with defense.

  5. Swansea City 3-0 West Bromwich Albion: Dyer’s double sends Swans top

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Swansea flying after third-straight win to start the season.

  6. Newcastle United 3-3 Crystal Palace: Zaha hands Warnock dream comeback

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT

    Newcastle United v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    Remember the name Rolando Aarons, as the 18-year-old Jamaican-born Englishman starred in leading Newcastle back.

  7. West Ham United 1-3 Southampton: Stylish Saints bag first win of the season

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    West Ham United v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Schneiderlin double hands Saints their first win of the PL season.

  8. LIVE – Half time update: QPR, Swansea ahead, Stoke holding Man City

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT

    Manchester City v Sporting Kansas City Getty Images

    All the action from a frantic first half. Watch the 2nd half live, right here.

  9. West Ham officially adds Alex Song on loan from Barcelona

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:12 AM EDT

    ?????

    The long-time Arsenal midfielder is returning to both London and the Premier League.

  10. Burnley 0-0 Manchester United: Sloppy Utd overshadows Di Maria debut

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

    Burnley v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    The Premier League got its first taste of what Di Maria can do when he served an absolutely gorgeous 50-yd ball to a streaking van Persie.

  11. Watch Live: Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:13 AM EDT

    Monk Getty Images

    Can the Swans win three on the spin to the start the season? Watch their game against West Brom live, right here.

  12. Watch Live: Queens Park Rangers vs. Sunderland (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers' Park challenges Sunderland's Larsson during their English Premier League soccer match in London Reuters

    Jozy Altidore is on the bench for Sunderland, but the bigger striker news is that Chelsea target Loic Remy is not on the bench for QPR.

  13. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT

    Newcastle left it til late, but finally found a winner courtesy of Papiss Cisse. Getty Images

    The newest England call-up and ‘Ginger Pirlo’ Jack Colback will join a dangerous NUFC unit that sees Remy Cabella, Moussa Sissoko and Siem de Jong in the mix.

  14. Watch Live: West Ham United vs. Southampton (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT

    Southampton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Saints grab their first win the season away from home against West Ham? Watch live, here.

  15. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Stoke City (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:04 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Bacary Sagna makes the lineup for City, who will start Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic up top.

  16. Report: Loic Remy heading from QPR to Chelsea in $13 million move

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    Mourinho will remember Remy’s Man of the Match performance for Newcastle United in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at St. James Park last season.

  17. Report: US, Bayern Munich starlet Julian Green to join Hamburg on loan

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Belgium US AP

    According to reports in Germany, Green, 19, heading to Hamburg for the 2014-15 season.

  18. Report: Ajax accepts $23 mil Daley Blind bid from Manchester United

    Aug 30, 2014, 7:20 AM EDT

    Netherlands' Daley Blind, center, celebrates with Bruno Martins Indi, right, after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup third-place soccer match between Brazil and the Netherlands at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, July 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez) AP

    Don’t mind Louis van Gaal: he’s just setting Manchester United up to immediately contend.

  19. Watch Live: Burnley vs. Manchester United (Lineups)

    Aug 30, 2014, 7:07 AM EDT

    10633046555_cbefbc577e_z

    It’ll be a big day at Turf Moor regardless of result, as it’ll mark Louis van Gaal’s first Premier League win or Burnley’s first PL point.

Featured video

Breaking down Di Maria, Balotelli deals