Around MLS: Wild Western Losses

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

MLS saw a glut of last gasp action. How many goals were scored in the last 5 minutes of games? So many.

Things could not have gone much better for FC Dallas this past weekend. I guess they could have, but I don't think Ferreira is going to evolve into Fire-Ferreira and shoot meteors from his boots anytime soon.

It's great to think about though.

The Colorado Rapids beat the LA Galaxy 2-0. It's a surprising result, but not because Colorado won. It's surprising because not only did they win in solid fashion, but also because the Galaxy didn't look capable of mounting a comeback. I have an issue with the Rapids' victory against the Galaxy. It's a small issue, but it's one that had a snowball effect.

Hendry Thomas was all over the field early on, tackling LA players with reckless abandon. An early 4th minute foul on a player I can't remeber could have easily seen him sent off. We have seen early red cards in MLS before, so why not here? It was at least a bookable offense, and Thomas got off with a warning and not much else. Later, his equally ugly tackle on another Galaxy player earns him a yellow. It should have been his second yellow and earned him a an early trip to the showers. Instead, he hung around to score a pretty good goal shortly before the halftime break.

While the Rapids played well enough to earn the win, how different is this game if Hendry Thomas was sent off? He would have certainly deserved it. While Colorado can celebrate knowing they beat the Galaxy, there's no telling if LA would have played differently knowing they were a man up. LA didn't look great, but that red card could have changed things enough to where perhaps they could have at least eked out a draw.

Either way, fair play to the Rapids and Oscar Pareja. Dillon Powers was excellent and without him I'm not sure the Rapids wins this game. Edson Buddle played well also, and Clint Irwin made a few nice saves to stave off concerns about his quality.

If the disciplinary committee doesn't suspend Thomas, I will be shocked.

The New York Red Bulls beat Real Salt Lake in the dying minutes of a back and forth match that had seven goals, including an Alvaro Saborio hat trick.

If the scoreline isn't enough to give you a hint as to how crazy this one was, how about this? There were three penalties awarded, a man scoring against his former team, and four goals in the last ten minutes. Four.

What's more impressive is that, despite the RSL loss, they haven't yet lost any esteem in my eyes. They will lose some games, and have lost a couple in their past few now, but that isn't enough to convince me that they aren't the best team. Or at least one of the best. The Red Bulls have improved, and are not the pushovers in midfield they appeared to be earlier in the season. Thierry Henry pretty much dictated the pace of the game for NY, and it's actually a testament to Real Salt Lake's midfield that he couldn't do more damage against them. It's sounds silly to say that RSL contained Henry after they allowed four goals from other players, but it's true. It could have been worse.

Which, ironically for me, is why I think RSL still came out with their reputation intact. A lesser team could have easily given up two more goals given the way NY was playing. A few of the goals RSL gave up were of the soft variety, including the shady PK granted to Espindola.

Even if Fabian Espindola embbellished the call that led to one of NY's spot kicks, he still showed RSL why they miss him. He isn't world class, but by MLS standards the man is a dangerous beast in the box.

There were also seven yellow cards handed out. Cagey.

The Montreal Impact beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0 to snap their winless streak, and in the process gain valuable ground against Sporting.

Kansas City finds itself at 36 points after 22 games played, but Montreal stands at 35 after only 20 games played. The positive start by the Impact was made for situations like this, and now despite sitting in third and having not played particularly well during their downturn, they are still in position to take the eastern crown. It will require more disciplined efforts like the one shown against SKC, but it's entirely possible.

Montreal looked a lot more like the defensively stout machine they were earlier in the season, and not the sinking ship of the past few weeks. Sporting's high pressure system, which some believe is the greatest thing since sliced bread, showed its weakness in the second half. Specifically, SKC players looked quite tired in the second half. That's what happens when you around around the pitch incessantly. When applied properly, the tactic is a suffocating monster, capable of snuffing out passes and making possession for the other team hell. The downside is it takes an insane level of fitness to effectively implement for an entire game.

There are downsides to any tactic. No strategy is flawless.

The Houston Dynamo couldn't top the Chicago Fire and could only manage a 1-1 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium. Bobby Boswell's would-be opening goal was incorrectly ruled offside in the 18th minute, and had that goal been allowed, perhaps the Dynamo would be looking at a win. Some fans claim that at least.

The league and the game's inpredictability come into play here though. Who's to say Chicago would not have played differently had the 18th minute goal stood? Perhaps they could have tied the game, and even won it. It's all supposition. While Boswell's goal was incorrectly disallowed, Houston can find some solace in the fact that for the first half, they were the superior team. Chicago was under fire (hah) for most of the first half. If dangerous possession counted as goals, Houston could have won by a lot.

The game itself was testy and a bit ugly, with fouls and tackles flying around like an action movie. Andrew Driver had to be subbed out very early on in the 14th minute, further fueling speculation that Houston could have/should have won the game. That there wasn't an ejection was impressive. MLS referees eject for silly things and leave players in for incredible fouls that should be straight reds. This game was another fine example of inconsistent refereeing.

For Fire fans, it's a time to thank the heavens that Mike Magee is on your team. I'm not sure where this team would be at the moment without him.

A penalty kick that played a part in the Portland Timbers losing 2-1 to the hated San Jose Earthquakes, which will surely crash the MLS website in a fiery wreck today after Timbers fans run to complain about the decision. The Timbers losing gives FCD and the rest of the western conference a chance to catch up. Portland has finally slowed down a bit. It's possible that their run of dominance can begin to normalize itself, as they're one of the few teams in MLS to yet go through a slump of any sort.

And to be fair to Timbers fans, it was a pretty sketchy penalty call.

Marvin Chavez got himself ejected as well. It's a bit sad to see the San Jose Way rub off on him, as I don't recall him being a particularly poor sport while he was wearing hoops.

Food For Thought:

  1. Right now: Who is the best team as of Overreaction Monday?
  2. Did you see Toronto beating Columbus? That's another last minute loss for the Crew.
  3. Seattle beat Chivas. Should they have scored more than one goal? Is Chivas looking better to you now than before?
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