MLS had a bit of an odd schedule this week, with the Champions League semi-final and a few school night matches set up for midweek viewing. To compound the torrent of results was a full day of Saturday games that left Sunday oddly empty but in the end the effect is the same: We have scores and debating to get into.
I'm going to just skip the CCL match against Santos because, let's face it, this one was never in doubt. Santos had been on an absolute tear prior and were poised to tear apart a very weak Toronto team (which they did). So let us put a tombstone on MLS' CCL aspirations and be done with it.
The matchweek opened up with RSL facing lowly Montréal in a boring contest that unfolded exactly as anyone would have predicted: Salt Lake won. The result was favorable to Real but the actual game was not nearly as positive, with the Claret-clad team unable to make much of anything happen against the Impact besides a penalty. I would have pegged them to score at least one in the run of play, but nothing much happened.
Montréal finally managed to get its first win of the season against the absolutely awful Reds of TFC. The Impact's two goals were nicely worked pieces of soccer that were rewarded OR they were gifted to them by laughably inept defending. Either way the Impact walked away with their first win, and didn't look awful doing so. This game was more about Toronto in some ways, as the narrative of their terrible start keeps piling on against them.
Speaking of narratives, how about the one involving the Red Bulls? This story has been completely turned around, with the New York offense exploding for a zillion goals in the past three games, including a 4-1 spanking of the Columbus Crew. Thierry Henry has been masterful, but equally important has been Kenny Cooper who is the target man that New York has needed for so long. Only a month ago Cooper was possibly fourth in the striker depth chart. Crazy.
Not content to let Henry take all the credit, Chris Wondolowski continued his scoring craze as well, tacking on two during the Quakes' win against the Vancouver Whitecaps. San Jose has done well for themselves so far this season and have already knocked out two MLS pre-season favorites in Vancouver and Seattle. Vancouver on the other hand have completely disappointed so far. They are as exciting to watch as a vasectomy and produce much the same results. The Whitecaps are going to have to find some way to start scoring; if New York can figure it out, Vancouver should be able to as well.
D.C. United put up a good fight against the Seattle Sounders this weekend and held them to a scoreless draw. While scoreless draws at home are nothing to write home about, taking any points from a Western Conference team will help DC, especially when they come against one of the best. Seattle on the other hand will be disappointed that they did not score, but again this comes against a rival conference, so there's that. Seattle's offense really needs Mauro Rosales back as they really have lacked any sort of creativity on the field since his injury.
Real Salt Lake got over their midweek blahs to dominate the Colorado Rapids and take the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup 2-0. RSL really controlled the pace of the game throughout and despite Colorado controlling possession through most of the second half, they couldn't convert any of it to goals. Right now Salt Lake looked like this Réal deal (see what I did there?). They're strong in all areas and weak in very few.
Portland is discovering new and inventive ways to blow leads at home, this time to Chivas USA. The game provided viewers a stark contrast on either side of the half: On one side, Portland dominated and really controlled the entire field, on the other side Chivas controlled play and forced Portland to constantly defend. The goal that Portland did get themselves was an ugly one, a mistake by Chivas' Dan Kennedy and his centerback rather than any bit of skill by the Timbers (other than the cool finishing of Kris Boyd). The Goats' goals however, were very well-executed plays that resulted in pretty goals, both crosses with a header to finish them into the net.
Finally we get to the big one, the Los Angeles Galaxy vs Sporting Kansas City. This was the marquee match of the week, one that ESPN had picked up and it looked every bit as exciting as any match prior, absent Beckham not withstanding. What we got however, was a impotent and flaccid Galaxy midfield who did almost nothing of note the entire game. Sporting completely controlled the run of play and the Galaxy are lucky to have only lost by one. It also featured an impressive celebration by Kei Kamara. LA has now lost three of four while Sporting sport a lovely 5-0 record.
Questions from Week 5:
1) What exactly is the issue with the Whitecaps' offense? A lack of linking play? Poor passing? Bad off-the-ball movement?
2) Is this the real New York Red Bulls? Are they showing us something that can be sustained? Because if they are god help MLS against a team scoring four to five goals a game.
3) What in the world is going on with LA? The loss against Sporting cannot really be attributed to their defense for once, but to the lack of any real threats against the SKC net.
4) Portland: In a rut, or are they just not that good?