We have a new leader in the our conference! The team that had one of the best offseasons in MLS this winter, the San Jose Earthquakes, are the new bosses out here in the west.
The match between Real Salt Lake and the Quakes started off normal enough, but before the first half was over Fabian Espindola had gotten himself sent off and Kyle Beckerman was booked. Espindola's tackle in particular stands out as it was an awful, badly timed, two-footed slide tackle that just barely missed Sam Cronin's family jewels. Real can't really complain about that call, and Espindola didn't argue his case too much which should be a pretty big indicator of his guilt.
The final scoreline might have been different and ended up tied 1-1 if not for another red card issued to Jamison Olave for a tackle that supposedly brought Steve Lenhart down on a breakaway. As Olave was the last defender, it was an automatic red card and he was off.
To me however, it looked like Lenhart went down with very little contact and could just as easily have been booked for diving or embellishment. You can see the replay for yourself but I wouldn't be surprised to hear of a fine or something similar coming Lenhart's way.
The missing defender would prove to be a critical missing piece as in stoppage time the Quakes would go on to win the game by a final scoreline of 3-1. San Jose has earned their keep, even if a little bit of luck did break their way, and are now marked men as the leaders of the west.
Meanwhile in Colorado, the Rapids simply couldn't handle the Los Angeles Galaxy, who are starting to resemble the champions from last season with each passing week. Los Angeles found themselves up 2-0 at the half due to some Beckham free kick trickery and Landon Donovan's well-placed shot off a pass from Robbie Keane.
Colorado had a few threatening moments and carried most of the play in the game at first, but after Magee's goal the Galaxy were firmly in control of the match and didn't really relinquish momentum until after the Cummings goal. The Cummings goal would set up for late game dramatics as the same referee who called the awful PK against Dallas last week stepped his game up a bit for this one. The Rapids were gifted a pretty weak penalty at the death and if not for Cummings' awful shot (and an equally impressive save by Josh Saunders) the game might have ended 2-2. As it stands the game ended with a well-deserved Galaxy win.
Sporting Kansas City's run of perfection ended in the unlikeliest of ways, dropping a 1-0 result to the struggling Portland Timbers. The lone goal came off a Chance Meyers own-goal which he headed into his own box off a cross from Kris Boyd. It needs to be said however, it was a hell of an own goal. If you're going to do yourself in, you might as well go off with a bang!
Kansas City fans can argue that the lone goal came from their own team, but their highly-touted offense couldn't solve Portland's defensive cohesion (finally, defensive discipline!) and the Timbers valiantly held on to earn a solid result at home, and the fans couldn't have left the park happier. It takes a bit of pressure off of John Spencer for now while he gets his team's act together and attempts to get consistent results.
I'm not sure quite how to describe the match between D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. It is best summed up as "New York makes many mistakes, DC punishes them severely." The man-marking and zonal awareness that every team requires during the course of a game was something that apparently New York thought was completely optional. Ball-watching has become a time-honored tradition amongst the Red Bulls.
Almost every single goal resulted from some laughable miscue. If it wasn't Maicon Santos outright bullying New York's backline by drawing and outplaying three defenders, it was Dwayne De Rosario shrugging off centerbacks as if they were flies. Holgersson even chipped in by deflecting goals into his own net. The Red Bulls' offense never really got going and Henry could only do so much with a lack of linking play in the middle of the field, while Kenny Cooper had a few suspect passes and sketchy decision making when holding the ball inside the DC box.
If you think Dallas had it rough this weekend, just remember we weren't pummeled 4-1 by our fiercest rivals in front of their home crowd.
The most outright disappointing result of the weekend, sadly, was the one that opened up all the action early Saturday afternoon.
Toronto FC was very excited as Torsten Frings was re-inserted into the lineup to help deal with a pesky and speedy Chicago Fire midfield corps, and as the whistle blew hopes were running high. Twenty-five seconds later it all came crashing down as a horrid turnover by Torsten Frings allowed Patrick Nyarko to steal the ball away from him and slot it forward to Dominic Oduro, who didn't mince his chances in a one on one situation and got it in the net for a goal.
TFC had several moments throughout the game where they performed admirably. They scored two goals, which is massive progress for them at this point, and held together reasonably well after Oduro's goal. At one point the Reds were even up 2-1 thanks to a some shiny and impressive play from Reggie Lambe, but in the end the defending again proved to be incredibly suspect and Aron Winter and the Toronto fans are left wondering if this year is all flushed down the toilet before the tenth week.
At this point Winter has got to be considered the one man under the most pressure to get results. Winter refuses to adapt his system to the players he has and so far, while the CCL was an impressive feat for such a new club, it has yielded a grand total of zero points in the league in which this team is actually based.
Toronto might not want to start from scratch after all this re-tooling has taken so long to take hold, but if Toronto can't turn it around drastically in a few weeks, Winter might see himself out of a job by the transfer deadline.
My prediction that you would make the playoffs look silly now, thanks TFC.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.