Monthly Archives: April 2011
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
One thing that you notice if you follow the MLS with any great regularity, is that the lower-echelon MLS teams have been in qualifying for the U.S. Open Cup.
Cup tournaments are generally the bread and butter of most international professional teams, giving them an opportunity to pick up silverware even in the most dire of league seasons. (I’m looking at you, Birmingham City) It is something that we North Americans have taken longer to adjust to, though it’s picking up steam a little. In addition to the Champions League, which a U.S. team has yet to win, we have the U.S. Open Cup, which I’ll tell you more about it in a bit, we have the Canadian Championship (meh), and we had the SuperLiga, which was cancelled this year, presumably because MLS and Mexican teams found it cluttered their schedule too much. In addition, Mexican teams can qualify for the Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana (which Mexican club Pachuca won a couple years ago), both South American cup tournaments. There has been discussion about having MLS teams participate in one or both of those tournaments, though it hasn’t happened yet.
The U.S. Open Cup is a tournament – founded in 1914 – open to all adult soccer clubs in the U.S., including MLS teams. Winning the tournament gives one team a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League the following year. Mainstream media hasn’t really caught on with covering the tournament so far, though hopefully that’ll change as more money comes in from the Champions League and stuff. If that happens. The MLS qualification process is a bit convoluted. To avoid having all 18 teams playing matches against the Tucson Sahuaros and North Oklahoma Football Club, they instead have the top six MLS clubs by points qualify automatically, while the other 10 (from the USA – Toronto and Vancouver don’t compete) play each other in qualifying.
The two teams who have won the cup the most are Bethlehem Steel (no longer around) and Maccabi Los Angeles (apparently still a team, but neither seen nor heard from in a while) with five cups each. The top MLS side in the competition is the Chicago Fire, with four wins, though the Seattle Sounders have won the last two.
So where are we at right now? Well the first round of qualification saw Portland knock out Chivas and DC United knock out Philadelphia. The second round is also almost complete – New England just knocked out DC United, the Chicago Fire beat Colorado, and Kansas City beat Houston. The only remaining tie has Portland hosting San Jose. The teams who have already qualified (automatically) are Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake and Seattle. I’ll try and keep you updated on the goings-on with this tournament once we reach the actual cup tournament.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
*Game to watch ^Game not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual.
Houston v DC United. (5:30 p.m.) After getting crushed by the Red Bulls at home, United travels to Houston, who are undefeated in five (two wins, three draws), only conceding four goals during that span. For United’s part, Charlie Davies is the leading scorer in the MLS so far this season. They will probably try and hold off Houston and counterattack, but it’ll be a tall order in Houston. Prediction: Houston 2-1
^Philadelphia v San Jose. (1 p.m.) In this week’s “Game Not To Watch” (trademarked), Philadelphia, who have the league’s stingiest defense along with New York, play host to San Jose, who are currently last in the Western Conference. San Jose were thrashed by New York then promptly handed Chivas, the last winless team in the league, their first win. If the Union are anywhere near as strong defensively in this match, they should win it. Prediction: 1-1
Columbus v Vancouver. (4:30 p.m.) I’ve found that my first inclination when coming upon a Crew match is to automatically mark it as the game not to watch, but I really need to stop that. Stop it! Stop! But this one was tempting. Vancouver have been in bad form essentially since they beat Toronto 4-2 in their season opener. They have yet to win on the road, and if you discount their three-goal-in-20-minutes rally against Kansas City, they’ve only scored three times since the season opener. Columbus have been productive and unexciting, though at some point they need their forwards to start putting the ball in the net. It very well may happen in this match. Prediction: Columbus 3-1
New York v Kansas City. (4:30 p.m.) After only scoring twice in their first four matches, the Red Bulls scored seven times their next two. They now take on Sporting KC, who are tied for second worst in the league for goals conceded and will be missing Aurelian Collin, who was red-carded in the last match against New England. Kansas City are still in the midst of their absurd 10-match season-opening road trip. To nip a point from this match, they’d have to hope New York play really badly, which is probably not that likely. Prediction: New York 2-1
Colorado v Chicago. (6 p.m.) I wouldn’t say either team, despite both having endured 3-match losing streaks, have entered crisis mode yet. Colorado played reasonably well against both Real Salt Lake (in a 1-0 loss) and Seattle (a 1-0 loss), but the offense seems to be struggling without Conor Casey, who probably won’t be back until at least next week. They’ll also be playing without Brian Mullan, who was suspended for 10 matches for breaking Steve Zakuani’s leg. Chicago have been out of sync lately, and aside from Diego Chaves and Marco Pappa, seem to have an aversion to scoring goals. Prediction: I still don’t feel like either team will miss the playoffs, but they need to turn it around soon. 1-1
Seattle v Toronto. (7 p.m.) Seattle will take on Toronto in their first match without the injured Steve Zakuani. Alvaro Fernandez will probably come into the squad. He’s a handy player, and he grabbed the equalizer two weeks ago against Philadelphia, but he doesn’t offer the pace or eye for goal Zakuani has. Toronto are starting to play a little better after getting thumped by DC United at home a couple weeks ago. Except for Tony Tchani’s sending off, they were the equal to Columbus last week – albeit at home. They’re still a long, long way from a playoff contender, though. Prediction: Seattle 2-0
*Portland v Real Salt Lake. (7 p.m.) I know I’ve picked Portland matches a couple times for the game to watch already, but this one is intriguing for a couple reasons. First off, Portland will get to test their 100 % home record against the league’s top team. Secondly, RSL will be trying to recover from the heartbreak of losing the Champions League final at home. As you will probably see with most Portland home matches, this should be a fun, attacking match. Since RSL aren’t playing at home, I expect Portland to nab at least a point. Prediction: 2-2
Chivas USA v New England. (7 p.m.) With a rally against 10-man Kansas City last week, the Revs have been labeled as a team to beat in the MLS by MLSsoccer.com, which is a bit curious. The addition of Benny Feilhaber certainly makes them better, and Rajko Lekic isn’t a bad looking signing at forward. They’re still hit-and-miss on defense, though, and their wide players are abysmal. Chivas will look to ride their wave of success after winning their first match last week. They still don’t have any good forwards, but this is a winnable match. Prediction: Chivas 1-0
FC Dallas v Los Angeles. (4 p.m.) Dallas lost reigning league MVP David Fereira to injury in a win at Vancouver last week, so it’ll be interesting to see how they react to not having their talisman on the field. They still certainly have some quality attacking players on the team, though they haven’t been playing quite up to their potential. Who will step up? For Los Angeles, they will be playing without David Beckham, who is, predictably, attending the royal wedding in England. I don’t think he’ll fly back in time for the match. Could I be wrong? Yes. Am I wrong? Probably not. Still, Landon Donovan will play, and as we know, he is the one that makes the team tick. Interestingly, if you want to read the kind of story that reflects how a lot of Americans cover the MLS, go here. Sorry, Beckham going to the royal wedding doesn’t make the MLS a joke, it makes his time with the Galaxy one. But we already knew that. Prediction: 1-1
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
The MLS announced today that Colorado Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan would be suspended 10 matches and fined the lofty sum of $5,000 for his tackle last week that broke the leg of Seattle winger Steve Zakuani.
Now I’m sure debate will rage (as much as it can rage over a league that not too many people talk about in the U.S.) about whether Mullan’s tackle deserved such a suspension. Well the answer is, no, the tackle didn’t. But I’m going to commend the league for doing it anyway. And here’s why:
Unfortunately, one by-product of starting a relatively second-tier (though rising) league in a country like the U.S. is, it’s only natural that soccer fans in the UK or some other European leagues are going to scoff at such a league. At different points, I’ve heard the MLS referred to as a “Mickey Mouse league” or a league on a par with the Championship in England or Denmark’s Superliga. Some of these comments have been made by U.S. soccer fans, who seem, in some cases, to hate the league with a passion, though that’s a story for another day. But with this “Mickey Mouse league” talk comes the perception that teams in the MLS play a brutish, physical style of football, which is sometimes true, but mostly not. This is what the league is trying to fight against – and that’s why they made decisions like suspending Mullan for 10 matches.
As I said, it was a bad tackle, but it clearly wasn’t a tackle made with the intent of injuring Zakuani. In many European leagues, it’s a tackle that wouldn’t be punished besides a red card. When you take a look at a league like England’s Premiership, which I think is the strongest in the world – at least on the basis of teams’ quality from top to bottom – there is also the perception that the league is overly physical with very little actual quality and skill on the ball. This isn’t really true, but the FA’s continued reluctance to punish players for any poor play or bad behavior has only succeeded in furthering this stereotype. And this is something the MLS should avoid. And is by making decisions like this. I feel sorry for Zakuani – clearly one of the best young players in the league – and I hope he is back on the pitch soon. I feel sorry for Mullan as well. He’s not a dirty player, and by all accounts, was distraught over the injury. But maybe now he and similarly over-exuberant tacklers in this league will learn a lesson from the punishment he received.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
Heartbreak for Real Salt Lake as their 34-match unbeaten run at home comes to a close with a close loss to Monterrey in the second leg of the Champions League final.
Humberto Suazo, predictably, scored the long goal with a tap-in off a cross from Sergio Santana. Fabian Espindola had two great opportunities to score in the first half, but missed wide with both. In the second half, RSL battered the Monterrey goal but failed to find the equalizer. RSL was clearly missing captain Kyle Beckerman, who was suspended.
Too bad for Real Salt Lake, who played well, but probably just aren’t quite as good as Monterrey, and on the basis of two legs, I’d say the best team wins. Maybe next year? Is it safe to say Humberto Suazo is the best player in North America? Or at least the best striker…
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
I know there are a few weeks left, but since we already know who is going to win the title (Manchester United), the likely Champions League teams (United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City), the likely Europa League teams (Birmingham City, Stoke, Tottenham or Liverpool), and at least one of the relegated teams (I’m looking at you, West Ham), I thought I’d pick my team of the season. Agree? Disagree? Comment below.
Goalkeeper: Peter Cech, Chelsea. I know, I hate to give an award for something like this to a top club, since generally their goalkeepers don’t have to do as much, but Cech conceded the fewest goals in the league, and if you want to get even more stattey on people, tied with Birmingham’s Ben Foster for the highest save percentage. (I think Joe Hart was up there too, but I’m not a calculator people.) Cech looks like he’s finally returning to his best after a couple lean years. Chelsea still are having a lousy season though. Also considered: Hart, Foster, Ali Al-Habsi (Wigan)
Left back: Leighton Baines, Everton. I struggled with this one, because no one really stood out. Everyone always picks Ashley Cole for this spot, but he hasn’t been great this year, and Chelsea have been terrible, so how can I make my first two players Chelsea players? Patrice Evra is generally the “if not Ashley, then who?” choice, but he has been solid if unspectacular this year. The same can be said for Arsenal’s Gael Clichy. This leaves Baines, who has scored four goals this season and has probably been the best player on an Everton team that aren’t awful but aren’t up to their usual standards. Also considered: Cole, Evra, Clichy, Jose Enrique, Newcastle
Central defender: Vincent Kompany, Manchester City. The vaguely Frankenstein-esque centerback from City has been the outstanding defender in the league this year – if not the outstanding player. (sorry, Gareth Bale, but you’re waaaaaayyy down the list) He has been extremely solid this season, even if his partners have ranged from the curiously inconsistent and/or drug-addled (Kolo Toure) to constantly terrible (Joleon Lescott), and he has helped City to the second-best defensive record in the league.
Central defender: Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United. Vidic has taken over for the mostly broken-down and creaky, though occasionally still classy Rio Ferdinand as United’s stalwart in defense. He has been a towering figure in their defense, particularly at home, where United have only conceded nine goals. Now I wouldn’t trust a Serbian to mow my lawn, but if I had to put together a Sunday co-ed league time, I’d start with this guy, even if he’d always eat all the oranges himself. Also considered: David Luiz, Chelsea; Robert Huth, Stoke City; Gary Cahill, Bolton Wanderers; Roger Johnson, Birmingham City
Right back: Bacary Sagna, Arsenal. I’m probably least-excited about this pick, because I can’t think of anyone at all who deserves this. Maybe I should’ve gone with a 3-4-3? United’s right back (Fabio or Rafael, I can never remember which one) has the potential to be good, but isn’t quite there yet. I think Branislav Ivanovic is a great player, but again, I don’t want to add another Chelsea guy, and he’s pretty much a non-entity when it comes to offensive play from right back. Tottenham had Alan Hutton starting most of the games at right back this year. Enough said. Liverpool? Glen Johnson. Meh. The list goes on and on. So we’re left with Sagna, who is always a decent right back. That’s about it. Also considered: Everyone, and no one
Left wing: Nani, Manchester United. Nani has evolved into though not quite Cristiano Ronaldo, still a very good player. He has scored 9 goals and assisted on 14 others, and I think he (along with Vidic and Chicharito) is responsible for United winning another title. He has done well to finally escape the clutches of being a completely infuriating player with great talent who does nothing with the ball except tricks. Will he ever turn into a star of stupid Ronaldo’s magnitude? No, probably not. He’s still a very good player though. Also considered: Matthew Jarvis, Wolves; Matthew Etherington, Stoke City; Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur; Chris Brunt, West Brom
Midfield: Raul Meireles, Liverpool. A signing made with very little fanfare, Meireles has nonetheless been arguably the best midfielder in England this year. Even when Liverpool was managed by that old guy who used to manage Fulham, Meireles produced some fine performances, and he only got better once Kenny Dalglish was appointed manager. He scored five goals from midfield, many of them stunners.
Midfield: Stuart Holden, Bolton. What, a Bolton player in the team of the year? What, an American player in the team of the year? That’s right, I’m a homer. (In the case of the American player thing; No one really cheers for Bolton) Until a bad injury ended his season early, Holden helped drive a Bolton team playing surprisingly flashing, interesting football into the top half of the table and almost to European qualification. Do you think it’s a coincidence that after he was knocked out that they were crushed by Stoke City in the FA Cup semifinals? Well, maybe it is, but still. Also considered: Kevin Nolan, Newcastle; Nigel De Jong, Manchester City; Rafael Van Der Vaart, Tottenham Hotspur; Charlie Adam, Blackpool
Right wing: David Silva, Manchester City. Interestingly, the first part of the season after being signed, Silva was a bit of an afterthought, often sitting on the bench behind James Milner (remember him?). Apparently at some point, however, manager Roberto Mancini realized he was starting James Milner ahead of David Silva, and the rest is history. Really, if City weren’t quite as wasteful and disappointing a lot of the time, he could have even more assists (he has five) and City might actually be competing for the title. Also considered: Samir Nasri, Arsenal; Ashley Young, Aston Villa (though he doesn’t deserve it); Lee Chung-Yong, Bolton; Jordan Henderson, Sunderland
Forward: Peter Odemwingie, West Brom. Forward is also a difficult position to pick due to some players being grumps that rarely start (Dimitar Berbatov, Nicholas Anelka), stars who aren’t producing (Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres), or people we’ve never heard of who seem to stumble their way to decent goal totals. (DJ Campbell, Johan Elmander) Odemwingie might belong to the final category, but he makes it on the team by virtue of the fact that he has continued to score for West Brom despite a managerial change many people didn’t want, horrible struggles on defense and Scott “Butterhands” Carson in goal. Odemwingie overcame racist abuse in Russia (fans at Lokomotiv Moscow unfurled a sign that said “Thanks West Brom” and had pictures of bananas when he left the team), and scored game-winners against Sunderland and Arsenal, as well as nabbing the equalizer in the reverse fixture against Arsenal and Sunderland.
Forward: Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez, Manchester United. Chicarito nabs the other forward spot on this team despite scoring less goals than teammate Dimitar Berbatov, or as I like to call him, Mr. Frowny. Nonetheless, his 18 goals this season were invaluable, as a number of them were game-winners, and let’s be honest: Wayne Rooney hasn’t exactly set the world alight this year. It remains to be seen whether Chicarito will be an all-time great or merely just a very good player, but he will certainly be remembered by the four or five true Manchester United fans left on Earth for his exploits this year. Also considered: Berbatov, Carlos Tevez, Manchester City; Robin Van Persie, Arsenal; Darren Bent, Sunderland/Aston Villa; Clint Dempsey, Fulham
Manager of the year: Alex Ferguson, Manchester United. I am already tired of typing about Ferguson, but he took one of the more mediocre Manchester United teams we’ve seen and let them to the title and Championsleaguzzzzzz…
Player of the year: Kompany
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
A woeful performance by Schalke, who surprised Inter Milan and everyone else to reach the semifinal, but were overrun and outclassed by Manchester United.
All the press in Europe (and here to the small extent people in the U.S. cover soccer) are falling over themselves in praise of Schalke’s Bayern Munich-bound goalie, Manuel Neuer, who indeed had a fine game. You could certainly make the argument that Manchester United were wasteful in a first half where they had 12 shots, but maybe that’s just me. Anyway, Ryan Giggs broke the deadlock in the second half, and Wayne Rooney stopped posturing and complaining long enough to add his 14th goal of the season in all competitions, which is third on the team and 20 behind his pace from last year.
Schalke now needs to win by three goals or win by two and score four, which just isn’t going to happen. Will ManU take on Barcelona or Real Madrid in the final? I’m going with Barcelona. Don’t be shocked if the two-legged tie between those teams is a stinker, incidentally.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
With a win or 0-0 or 1-1 draw in the CONCACAF Champions League final (Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Salt Lake; TV broadcast on Fox Soccer), Real Salt Lake will become the first American team to play in the Club World Cup in December.
The Claret and Cobalt (Yes, that’s apparently their nickname), defied the odds in drawing 2-2 at Monterrey, albeit in a match where they were largely outplaying. Now they play at Rio Tinto Stadium, where they’re undefeated in 34. Can they win it? Well yes, absolutely. Will they? I don’t know. Odds are they will do enough to win, but Monterrey is still a very good team – one that has yet to lose in the Champions League this year. The Rayados will be missing Aldo de Nigris, Luis Ernesto Perez and Jesus Zavala, and RSL will be missing captain Kyle Beckerman in midfield.
One thing in RSL’s favor is the fact Monterrey have to beat Chivas this weekend to qualify for the Mexican league playoffs, and that game is going to be at least partly on their mind. But with that said, you’d expect Monterrey will desperately want to beat a team that everyone (in Mexico at least) thinks they should beat easily.
Prediction: RSL brings the Cup home to the U.S. 2-1
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
All times Pacific; first No. is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…
1 – 1. Real Salt Lake didn’t play. Seeking to become first U.S. team in Club World Cup in December. Season: 4-0-0, 8 gf, 1 ga; Up next: Wednesday at Monterrey in second leg of CONCACAF Champions League final
2 – 3. Red Bull New York beat DC United 4-0 in Washington. After an uneven start to the season, the Red Bulls (and Thierry Henry) have come alive. Season: 3-2-1, 9 gf, 2 ga; Up next: Kansas City on Saturday
3 – 4. LA Galaxy beat Portland 3-0 at home. Had a fairly easy time of it against Portland. Look so much better with Donovan in the team. Season: 4-3-1, 10 gf, 7 ga; Up next: At FC Dallas on Sunday
4 – 2. Philadelphia Union didn’t play. Will the offense finally start firing after their week off? Still, they’ve only given up two goals. Season: 3-1-1, 4 gf, 2 ga; Up next: San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday
5 – 6. Houston Dynamo drew 1-1 at Chicago. The Dynamo have sort of fumbled and bumbled their way to nine points from the first six matches. A win against DC this weekend and people will have to take notice. Season: 2-3-1, 7 gf, 5 ga; Up next: DC United on Friday
6 – 8. Seattle Sounders won 1-0 at Colorado. The Sounders continue to play well, but the loss of Zakuani will be difficult for them to overcome. Season: 2-3-2, 7 gf, 7 ga; Up next: Toronto FC on Saturday
7 – 7. Columbus Crew drew 1-1 at Toronto FC. The Crew are producing very little offensively, but they’re not giving up goals, which will keep them in the playoff hunt. Season: 2-3-1, 5 gf 4 ga; Up next: Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday
8 – 5. Colorado Rapids lost 1-0 at home to Seattle Sounders. After a good start, Colorado has lost three straight. Their offense, which looked so vibrant early on, has ground to a hault minus Conor Casey. If you can believe that. Season record: 3-0-3, 8 goals for, 7 goal against; Up next: Chicago on Saturday
9 – 13. New England Revolution beat Kansas City 3-2 at home. According to MLSsoccer.com, the Revs have a “rock-solid defense.” Are we watching the same team? Still, the addition of Feilhaber could pay dividends. Season: 2-3-2, 8 gf, 9 ga; Up next: At Chivas USA on Saturday
10 – 16. FC Dallas won 2-1 at Vancouver. It remains to be seen how Dallas – who have underperformed this season, do without David Fereira. Will someone step up? Season: 2-1-3, 8 gf, 9 ga. Up next: LA Galaxy on Sunday
11 – 11. Sporting Kansas City lost 3-2 at New England Revolution. KC continue their marathon road swing with a trip to New York, where they will either perform impressively and get a draw or lose by four goals. Season: 1-1-3, 10 gf, 12 ga; Up next: At New York on Saturday
12 – 10. Portland Timbers lost 3-0 at LA Galaxy. The Timbers get their first big home test Saturday against the Champions League finalists. Is Jeld-Wen Stadium THAT much of a fortress? We’ll find out. Season: 2-1-3, 9 gf, 13 ga; Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday
13 – 14. Chicago Fire drew 1-1 at home with Houston. The Fire ended their losing streak against Houston, but their non-Diego Chaves forward line has been anemic. Season: 1-2-3, 9 gf, 12 ga; Up next: At Colorado on Saturday
14 – 9. DC United lost 4-0 at home to New York. United were drilled at home against New York, but have a young team, so should bounce back against Houston. Not necessarily by winning, but at least by playing better. Season: 2-1-3, 9 gf, 12 ga; Up next: At Houston on Friday
15 – 17. Chivas USA won 2-1 at San Jose. Chivas gets their first win of the season. Their midfield looks very good, as does their defense, but they are struggling to find a producing forward line. Season: 1-3-2, 5 gf, 6 ga; Up next: New England on Saturday
16 – 12. San Jose Earthquakes lost 2-1 at home to Chivas USA. If the Earthquakes fail to beat the Union, you have to wonder if there will be questions about Frank Yallop’s job. Thankfully, they’re better on the road than at home. Season: 1-2-3, 6 gf, 9 ga; Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday
17 – 15. Vancouver Whitecaps lost 2-1 at home to FC Dallas. After an exciting season opening win, the Caps have only grabbed three points from their last six. It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Columbus. Plus, the game will be difficult. Season: 1-3-3, 10 gf, 12 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday
18 – 18. Toronto FC drew 1-1 at home with Columbus. Toronto might have played their best game of the season last week – at least for the first half. But still, only one point. They are looking better, though. Season: 1-4-2, 7 gf, 10 ga; Up next: At Seattle on Saturday
We’re going to have a dotcom address this week! Maybe even today!
Also, I am once again soliciting writers. Anyone want to contribute to the site? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last but not least, April is our first month with over 1,000 page views. Thanks to all our readers.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
A weird weekend, where two key players get injured and several questionable calls are made by referees.
Colorado Rapids 0, Seattle Sounders 1. A good, if not particularly overwhelming, win by Seattle, who lose Steve Zakuani to a leg break on a terrible tackle from Colorado’s Brian Mullan (who was red-carded) in just the third minute. Going a man down for the last 87 minutes of a match is never a good recipe for success, whether you’re at home or not. Despite losing, Colorado was decent in this match, but failed to create much on offense. Their winless streak now extends to three.
Toronto FC 1, Columbus Crew 1. The MLS’ bizarre policy of having refs send players off for post-goal celebrations continues. Tony Tchani scores a nice goal – first for Toronto, and only his second in his career – and after a questionable yellow early in the match, is promptly sent off for jumping over the advertising boards and celebrating with fans. You do occasionally see players yellow-carded for excessive celebration in Europe, but I don’t recall seeing players sent off for it, particularly just for jumping into the arms of fans after a goal. Emilio Renteria scored the equalizer for Columbus, who bossed the second half. Toronto have never beaten Columbus, I don’t think – at least in their last 12 matches - but will feel slightly aggrieved by this result. This matchup is apparently called the Trillium Cup. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to signify.
San Jose Earthquakes 1, Chivas USA 2. Chivas shock San Jose in Santa Clara for their first win of the season. After getting bulldozed by New York last week, the Earthquakes are rapidly approaching crisis mode. They can’t score many goals (Chris Wondolowski has 3 so far, but the team has 6 total), and they can’t defend. (Five goals in the last two matches, nine conceded overall) Wondolowski’s goal was actually the first time the Quakes have led a match at home, and they’re still looking for their first win there after four matches. For Chivas, Mariano Trujillo nabbed the winner after Jon Busch parried Justin Braun’s shot. Alejandro Moreno scored the other goal for Chivas.
Vancouver Whitecaps 1, FC Dallas 2. Dallas finally put a decent performance forward on the road, but lose reigning league MVP David Fereira – possibly for the season – to injury in the second half. Alain Rochat scored the opener for Vancouver. George John got the equalizer in the 53rd. Eric Avila – coming in for Fereira – got the win in the 83rd. Encouraging play for Dallas, but if Fereira is out for the year, they’re really going to struggle to make the playoffs.
New England Revolution 3, Sporting Kansas City 2. Questionable refereeing again mars what was a pretty entertaining game. After a nice opening goal from the Revs Marko Petrovic gave them the lead, Kei Kamara scored twice, one a penalty that wasn’t really, to give KC the lead with 20 minutes to go. Funny how Kamara can put the ball in the back of the net from the farthest extremities of the penalty area, but can’t score from here. Oh man do I love that video. Anyway, before his penalty, both teams had relatively solid penalty claims turned down. The ref compounded his errors by sending KC’s Aurelien Collin off after a 50-50 challenge in the box on a corner. They later said that it was because he punched new Revs signing Benny Feilhaber when he got up, but that was debatable too. After that, Shalrie Joseph headed in a goal, and Rajko Lekic, who had a fine game, scored the winner in the 83rd minute. Nice rally for the Revs, but I’m not going to start going on about how they’re a contender now like the rest of the U.S. soccer press because they have Feilhaber, for three big reasons: Didier Domi, Kevin Alston and Zak Boggs. KC is now halfway through their 10-match road swing to start the season. They’ll be OK, but they need to pick up some points.
Chicago Fire 1, Houston Dynamo 1. The Fire nearly win before a late Bobby Boswell goal gives the Dynamo a point. Chicago once again rues poor finishing from anyone not named Diego Chaves (who got the opening goal). Chaves is a great signing, but the question I have for Fire fans is this: Knowing what you know about Chaves, is having him on the team worth having to bring Gaston Puerari to the team as well? At least Puerari is better than Dominic Oduro, who’d have trouble hitting a duck with his gun controller pointing toward that special spot on the screen in Duck Hunt where you never miss no matter where the duck is. OK, that one was a bit of a stretch, I realize.
LA Galaxy 3, Portland Timbers 0. The Galaxy predictably thrash Portland on the road. Don’t worry, Timbers fans: The Whitecaps will probably lose by three in LA too. Portland will pick up their share of points on at home, but their defense is probably the most mistake-ridden in the league, and that’s saying a lot with teams like Kansas City, Vancouver, DC United, New England and San Jose around. Will they win on the road? Well, MLS teams rarely go winless on the road, but I’m going to predict that Portland wins once this year on the road. They still might make the playoffs though. Landon Donovan, who despite being almost impossible to cheer for, is quite a fine player, and Beckham or not, the Galaxy go from being average to elite with him in the team. Donovan scored twice and set up Chad Barrett to – get this – hit the ball on a half-volley for a goal. Chad Barrett. I’m not joking. Can the Galaxy turn him into a decent striker?