Major League Soccer: Week 11 talking points

The entertaining Major League Soccer 2014 season enters week 11 with a host of important and riveting match-ups lined up.

Multiple teams around the league are set to lose their star players to international duties, which makes these clashes a little more intriguing. Real Salt Lake can move up to first place in the Western Conference with a win and a Seattle Sounder loss or tie, but they’ll have to do it without their leader, Kyle Beckerman.

[Real Salt Lake’s heart and soul, Kyle Beckerman]

As usual there are multiple topics worthy of recognition, but here are three mouth-watering talking points that deserve your full attention.

Will failure to win cost John Hackworth his job?

Philadelphia Union

Maurice Edu, one of Philadelphia Union’s offseason acquisitions. .

Philadelphia Union fans thought their team was a Supporters Shield contender after signing two designated players during the offseason. But instead, the Union is ninth in the Eastern Conference after picking up nine points from 11 games.

The fans are fed up with the team’s dreadful start and they are asking the management to take action by firing Hackworth. Although they’re a little too harsh on the coach, the 44-year-old is largely at fault for the lethargic performances. He’s made a slew of errors, but his worst came when he traded last season’s top scorer, Jack Mclnerney, for a player who has seven goals in 57 MLS appearances.

It won’t get easier for Hackworth as he leads his team into battle against the two best teams in the conference.

On Wednesday, the Union travel to face an experienced Sporting Kansas City and on Saturday New England Revolution pays Philadelphia a visit. If Hackworth can’t lead his team to positive results in both games, he could be sent packing.

[New England Revolution, the most complete team on paper]

How will Eddie Johnson react to being snubbed?

Johnson thought he was going to Brazil this summer, and then he wasn’t. Jurgen Klinsmann didn’t include the forward in his 30-man preliminary World Cup roster.

For Johnson, the exclusion was a heartbreak, but for DC United it could be a blessing in disguise. The forward, who hasn’t found the back of the net all season, could decide to go on a goal-scoring rampage.

The egotistical goal-poacher will want to show Klinsmann what he’s missing by destroying Montreal Impact’s subpar defense. This season, the Canadian club’s back line has allowed 17 goals in just nine games.

Or he might just whine and blame his teammates for his shortcomings, like he’s more accustomed to doing?

Who will fill the shoes of departed stars?

Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Waylon Francis, Omar Gonzalez and Alvaro Saborio are a handful of players who won’t be competing in this week’s matches. These players are an integral part of their team’s game plan, which means someone else will have to step up.

Several coaches will look to the bench for answers. In Los Angeles, Bruce Arena already has two players, Gyasi Zardes and Kofi Opare, who can slot right into Landon Donovan and Gonzalez’s spots, but who steps in for Brad Davis in Houston?

Will Sigi Schmid play Kenny Cooper or Lamar Neagle alongside Obafemi Martins or will the Nigerian be left alone up top?

These critical questions have to be answered, and fast, because teams can’t afford to give up easy points before the World Cup break.

For more rumors, news and opinion, check out our Soccer page