Monday, September 6, 2010

The Jamaican Terror and Goalie Gaffes: Weekly Update

Let's be honest, it's a little hard to pay as much attention to MLS at this point in the season since it's that weird stretch where you kinda know who playoff teams will be but it's not an all out push quite yet and college and NFL football are starting up. That's what I'm here for though, quick hitting updates of what you may have missed while watching your team beat down some I-AA opponent (note: does not apply to Ole Miss fans).

Game Reports

As hot as the New York Red Bulls seemed to be these past few weeks, Real Salt Lake are still the champions and showed why with a 1-0 victory at home. Unfortunately, a game that could have been a spectacle of what MLS can offer was also the most affected by international matches as there were a combined 7 players (6 starters) missing from the two sides. Fabian Espindola's header in the 4th minute was the only shot that went in but both Greg Sutton and Nick Rimando made some great saves (mostly on headers, oddly enough) to keep their teams close. That shouldn't be taken to mean it was a close game though. RSL pretty clearly outplayed New York in this game, their defense basically made Henry disappear and he only got one shot, and they deserved all three points.

The other game that was significantly affected by the international date was Toronto FC visiting FC Dallas. Dallas took advantage of Toronto missing their best 3 players (de Rosario, de Guzman, Attakora) and won 1-0 behind Jeff Cunningham's 129th career goal. The game also featured a lot of young players for FC Dallas who probably have the most youth of any MLS team. They are going to have 7 players protected from the expansion draft for age/homegrown reasons (the most anyone else has is 3), including 3 who played last night (Guarda, Avila, Luna). Dallas was probably unlucky not to score another goal given all the breakouts they had in the last 10 minutes of the game too, nearly all of them involving my boy Brek whose motor just doesn't stop. One semi-positive for TFC: O'Brian White showed a little bit of the form that made me think he could score 7-10 goals this year. Oh well.

The most exciting game of the day was Chicago Fire hosting Los Angeles Galaxy and playing them to a 1-1 draw that needed all 90 minutes to get the scoring in. After Segares was rightly shown a red card in the 22nd minute Chicago seemed in pretty bad shape. Sean-Johnson-man-child continued to impress, however, stopping Landon's penalty. Granted it wasn't the best-taken penalty ever Landon goes right something like 80% of the time, but penalty stops down a man are always worth some praise. So do his other 7 saves, including one in extra time off a Sean Franklin volley that saved a point for Chicago. Both goals here came after the 88th minute. First, Collins John put home a free kick from just outside the corner of the box after Donovan Ricketts left the back post waaaay too open. Chicago probably thought they were set at that point, but a great header from Omar Gonzalez off a Landon corner tied the game in the 91st minute and left the game at 1-1.

Colorado Rapids continued to be a rude host with their second straight 3-0 victory at home, this time over Chivas USA. Omar Cummings always kinda flies under the radar (unless you're a Wire fan who recognizes how awesome his name is), but he's been a legit striker these past two seasons. He had the lead part in all three goals for Colorado, blasting a shot off Zach Thornton that Conor Casey knocked home on the rebound, making Ante Jazic look like an And-1 victim turning him twice before rifling a low shot far post, and then beating the entire Chivas backline to a ball and slotting it home below Thornton. The cheese stands alone. Oh, indeed.

The New England Revolution rode a great 11 minute stretch to beat Seattle Sounders 3-1. Steve Zakuani did his part, maintaining his great form from the US Open Cup game and scoring his 8th goal of the season in the 59th minute. Seattle's defense disappeared after that though, allowing goals in the 70th (Chris Tierney), 73rd (Marko Perovic) and 81st (Kheli Dube) minutes to a New England team that hasn't scored that many goals since May. Dube earned his goal though, with a great strike off the outside of his foot

Geovanni got his first start for San Jose Earthquakes and showed why he's getting DP money, leading the team to a 2-1 victory at Houston Dynamo. Geovanni set up the first goal with a wonderful cross to Khari Stephenson that he easy put past Pat Onstad, and then added his own for his first MLS tally after running on to a loose ball in the box in the 64th minute. The Dynamo had a little bit of hope after a great individual effort by Brian Mullan down the right flank led to a goal headed in by Brad Davis in first half stoppage time. Unfortunately for the Dynamo they couldn't finish any of their other chances, and there were many that former Earthquake Cam Weaver has sole blame for. The worst part about this game: I believe it was the first on a lined football field this season. Ugh.

Columbus Crew ended their week how they started it, with a victory at DC United. This time it was just a 1-0 win, and that goal was due to a terrible whiff on an attempted clearance by 19 year old keeper Bill Hamid. I still have faith in him being a great goalie though, and here's why: that's not a mistake that comes from goal keeping skill. Yeah, he took a terrible touch and then couldn't volley the ball out with Schelotto bearing down on him. It was an amateur mistake to try the touch and then an embarrassment to miss the clearance. But he still has all the physical skills to succeed and, I think, better fundamentals than fellow young phenom Sean Johnson. Meanwhile, DC's attack kept to it's unimpressive ways, not forcing a single save out of Will Hesmer.

Finally, Philadelphia Union tied Kansas City Wizards 1-1. Yeah, Le Toux got his 10th goal of the season and Seitz was way out of position (shocking, right?) on Kansas City's goal, but that's not why you're really here. It's time for another MORE MWANGA update. Here are 3 highlights from the game:
  1. Assist to Le Toux 
  2. Skinning the full back and taking a rip
  3. Unbelievable skill after a bad first touch to keep possession, beat two defenders, and hit a streaking Justin Mapp in stride
SIGN THIS MAN UP!!! Seriously, what needs to happen to fast-track some US citizenship?

Random Thoughts

The Supporters' Shield race is wide open, with 3 teams within 1 point of each other and FC Dallas 4 points back with a game in hand on the other 3. It will be a super exciting race to the finish as each of these teams attempts to lock up home field advantage.

Mista may end up being one of the worst DP's in league history, like Denilson-and-Landin bad. Giving him a contract worth nearly a million dollars is mind boggling to me.

What's the record for fewest professional starts for a keeper before being called up to the USMNT since MLS started? Sean Johnson may break it. This kid is special.

I dare any Seattle fan to try to justify to me why Roger Levesque deserves MLS minutes. Just send this guy back to USL for Christ's sake.

Records and streaks for you to keep an eye on:
RSL hasn't lost at home in 22 matches.
Jeff Cunningham's 129 career goals leave him just 3 behind all-time leader Jaime Moreno.
FC Dallas hasn't allowed more than 1 goal in league play since April 22nd.


MLS Elo Ratings
1,584.20 - Real Salt Lake
1,565.40 - Los Angeles Galaxy
1,565.20 - FC Dallas
1,559.70 - Columbus Crew
1,519.00 - Colorado Rapids
1,502.00 - Chicago Fire
1,501.13 - New York Red Bulls
1,500.54 - Seattle Sounders
1,492.62 - San Jose Earthquakes
1,483.35 - Kansas City Wizards
1,472.03 - Toronto FC
1,471.04 - Chivas USA
1,465.18 - Houston Dynamo
1,455.17 - Philadelphia Union
1,455.14 - New England Revolution
1,408.33 - DC United

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