There are so many things to talk about this weekend that it will be difficult to shove them all into one post. However, challenges such as this don't hinder the bold, so let's attempt to get to all of it in less than 2000 words.
The Columbus Crew disappointed both the home crowd and TV audience alike, losing 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls. As usual, the NBC Broadcast put their best foot forward in order to get the most out of something that should have been an exciting match. Sadly, it was not exciting at all. While there were chances, the game had no flow and was a dreadful bore for anyone watching. Move on everyone, this wasn't the match you were hoping you would get. The only thing really worth mentioning is that Tim Cahill got on the scoresheet yet again. That's pretty impressive for a guy who doesn't score often.
The first match really worth discussing occurred at the same time as the snoozer in Ohio, and oh boy did it deliver in both the drama and goals department.
The Seattle Sounders drew 2-2 with the Philadelphia Union in a game that had all the action you could hope for. Red cards, silly goals, wild tackles, all came in spades. Discussing the first goal cannot be done without pointing out Zac MacMath, a young goalkeeper who was supposed to be the future for the Philadelphia Union. Just like David De Gea for Manchester United, MacMath had a rough start last year and it was expected that he would grow into the role and mature over the course of the year. To this point in time however, he has done no such thing and committed such a colossal error that it will tarnish his reputation for quite a while. The goal follows below.
Without mentioning the man-marking (there was none) MacMath HAS to get that ball. He is about one whole yard inside his net (what is he doing there??) and as if that isn't bad enough, he spills the ball. There is simply no excuse for a professional goalkeeper to make this sort of mistake. It might be forgiven for a proven keeper such as Nick Rimando or someone similar, but MacMath has a long and established history of terrible decisions and blunders, and his positioning here is so awful as to be inexcusable. The Union better be searching for a goalkeeper, because MacMath has not proven he can handle MLS-caliber competition. Would Faryd Mondragón have made the same mistake?
The end of the game involved not one, or two, but THREE red cards handed out by PRO Referee Jorge Gonzalez. The first two red cards were issued to Lamar Neagle and Sheanon Williams for "violent conduct" (go watch the video and decide for yourself), while the other was given to Deandre Yedlin for an ugly tackle on Michael Farfan. The Yedlin red card makes some sense, especially if you're a strict referee. The cards on Neagle and Williams were highly questionable and, combined with a penalty no-call late in the game, made John Hackworth lose his cool.
After the match, Hackworth said:
"Look, I'll raise my hand and take the fine.... because it has to be said that we cannot be in this league and have this level of play and have officiating be as bad as that."
Does he have a point? Is this sour grapes from a manager who also had a clear penalty denied at the death of the game, or are his words true regardless of context? Media reaction seems to be in agreement that Gonzalez had a pretty poor officiating stint, so it seems likely that Hackworth has a point. When MLS website writers call the refereeing decisions "bizarre", you know things have not gone well.
The Montreal Impact tied 2-2 against the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium, though the Impact will feel as though they let three points slip through their fingers. Justin Mapp went wild and scored two goals, while Troy Perkins already has a lock for a nomination for Save of the Week (Or would it be Arrèt de la Semaine?).
Impressive reflexes and composure up close.
San Jose of course missed Alan Gordon and Steve Lenhart, but that is no excuse for Wondolowski's inability to put away gilt-laced chances. It's not as if his strike ratio is bad, because it isn't, but the Wondo MLS fans know puts away shots when he's clear in on goal, at least half the time. This year it seems as if he is reacting slowly or overthinking in front of goal.
The Quakes have been thoroughly mediocre through ten games so far. Are these the real Quakes?
There's no question as to whether this is the real Chivas USA, who were properly trampled by Sporting Kansas City. The scoreline of 4-0 in Sporting's favor is the rare lopsided score that actually conveys how little influence Chivas had in this game. While three of those goals were put away after Dan Kennedy was sent off (incorrectly it must be said), the fact remains that all Sporting's attack had to do was politely ask to close in on Chivas' net.
The Goats' defense has been abysmal and no amount of "real talk" that Chelis dishes out can make an entire defensive unit instantly smarter and more cohesive. The whole of the CUSA back four looks as if they're stuck in preseason mode: they get caught ball-watching, they're slow to react, they come in second for almost every contested ball, and they are lax in making decisions while possessing the ball in defense. It must also be noted they had zero shots on goal. Zero.
There isn't much to read into Sporting's victory. Credit is due to them for a job well done, but beating Chivas is no sign of greatness, especially with the Goats down a man. Three goals from the run of play is still a nice marker, even against Chivas, so Kansas City fans might use this victory to rub away some of the sting of losing to Portland.
Remember when the Vancouver Whitecaps' epic comeback against an injured FC Dallas was supposed to be the start of something great? How such a gutsy comeback really showed their inner fire? Yeah, about that... no. Let me look again and check--- nope.
The Whitecaps were completely outplayed by Real Salt Lake, losing 2-0 and never looking as though they had a prayer in this game. Nigel Reo-Coker again had several awful tackles he got away with (how does he keep doing that?), while Vancouver's defense tried their absolute best to give RSL more than two goals. We can say many nice things about RSL, and Real did a very good job in taking care of business in front of home, but what stood out to me was how ineffective the Vancouver midfield was. They effectively did nothing.
Seriously. Nothing at all (that could be considered a real, legitimate threat) over the course of 90 minutes. If they wanted to play as if they were uninterested in attacking, perhaps they could have called Chivas over to play for them. It sure would have saved Vancouver's legs, tired as they are from the Canadian Championship.
Perhaps I am being a bit cruel, as they almost did score on a play from Corey Hertzog, but all of the attention will be rightfully aimed at Nat Borchers, who had a heroic, Matt Hedges-esque sliding save off the line. It was a brilliant moment with an even better call to boot. It follows below.
I do love the irony of Vancouver's closest chance being overshadowed by a brilliant save by Borchers.
It was a high-tempo and fairly interesting affair and Houston will be talked about for a bit for being able to break out of their road game funk. That awful monkey on their back has followed them around for years, and will likely continue to do so for a while, but for a week at least they will earn a reprieve from the jokes about their road form. As impressive as LA has been in recent games, they cannot continue to do without Robbie Keane. While Landon Donovan's in-game form is acceptable and slowly coming back, his penalty kicks are something different altogether.
A few weeks after missing his penalty kick at at FC Dallas, Donovan shot the same weak, slow attempt at Tally Hall, who would have had to stand still to be scored on. Donovan is visibly lacking in confidence at the moment from the spot, and he even has Bruce Arena considering picking someone else for penalty kick duty. With Landon's insane conversion rate from the spot being what it is, Arena has to be quite concerned to even think about change kick takers.
Food For Thought:
- Which result do you think was the most important for FC Dallas?
- Does John Hackworth deserve to get fined (as he surely will) for his rant at the referees?
- Are you scared of the Timbers this Wednesday?
- Is this the real Chivas USA?