Around MLS: Red Bulls Rising

Mike Stobe

The Red Bulls won, and Toronto FC have won two in a row.

"What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and New York is the sun!"

Things around here have a vaguely sulfurous, rotten-egg smell. It's unpleasant. It smells like potpurri and incense over in Harrison, New Jersey though.

That would be because the Red Bulls beat Sporting Kansas City, at Sporting Park, 3-2 on national TV. New York put on a clinic on how to beat SKC, and they could have had another goal or two to go with it. Their counterattacking strategy baited Sporting into pushing high up the field, and NY would counter to make up space. They also took advantage of SKC's overaggression on the ball. I saw more feints and spins than I ever have out of NY. I saw enough of them that it made me wonder it Mike Petke had instructed his team to wait until KC players closed in, then spin past them or feint to take advantage of the momentum carrying them the other way, allowing free passage. Either way, KC was consistently baited into aggressive tackles that more often than not saw them over commit and ended up in them chasing their man down.

Dax McCarty was again excellent, helping cover up for the absence of Tim Cahill. He was a major part of New York's attack, setting up Northern Irishman Johnny Steele for the opening goal. Thierry Henry was not one to be left out, and provided enough of a threat to draw defenders and allow space for McCarty, Steele and Lloyd Sam to operate.

Kei Kamara was a standout for Sporting, though you have to wonder how many more goals he could nab if he didn't always overdo his attempts on goal. His goal was more or less of the "right place, right time" variety, but you don't get those without smart movement. He could have had another good crack at goal, but he chose to go for the spectacular rather the the efficient, and ended up whiffing on his shot.

Aurelien Collin again picked up a yellow (surprise!). He might be a good defender, but a lot of his game relies on thuggery. He has the skill to be good on his own, without the excessive physicality. With MLS refusing the enforce persistent infringement with any kind of regularity, Collin will keep getting away with his style.

THE BEST TEAM IN MLS OMG has now dropped two in a row, one of them against currently woeful Montreal. Meanwhile, New York is looking very solid, even with Tim Cahill out.

The Colorado Rapids won the Rocky Mountain Cup from Real Salt Lake after playing to a 2-2 draw at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Dallas fans know the kind of contempt and irrational hatred a geographical rivalry can breed, and it was on full display Saturday night. With Rapids fans and players alike happily posting pictures of them holding or kissing the cup, a few RSL fans took to twitter to try and soothe their wounded pride by hurling obscenities and sore-loser epithets in the general direction of the Rapids.

We've seen it from Houston (and have been guilty of it ourselves at times), so it isn't unusual. Though it does seem that the fans who took to twitter to denigrate the Rapids were a bit crazier than usual.

As much as I bag on Deshorn Brown for being completely inept in front of the net, he has earned praise for his well-timed goal. Seven minutes after giving up a horrid goal to RSL, Brown used a long ball to get in behind the defense and kill whatever momentum Salt Lake had built up. Then there was the storm, which infuriated some fans.

RSL had earned a PK due to a badly timed tackle by Drew Moor, and Robbie Findley took up to step the kick. Just then, CRACK! Lightning! Stop the game!

The teams went to their locker rooms and reemerged 62 minutes later, to actually take the penalty kick. It was scored of course. It's a penalty kick. Those are kind of hard to miss. Either way, the game ended in a 2-2 draw, but with Colorado holding a win and a draw in the series, the Rapids and their fans took off with the Rocky Mountain Cup.

The Mike Magee Fire took down the Philadelphia Union 2-1. The Chicago Fire must be in awe of what they got for Robbie Rogers, a man who has not made a quarter of the impact Magee has for his new team. Though it would be unfair to the Fire to pin it all down to Magic Mike.

Sean Johnson made a few great saves, with one particularly well timed against Amobi Okugo. With the Fire hanging on and trying to stay in the game with the score at 1-1, Johnson tipped a header over the bar to keep the score at bay and give Chicago a fighting chance. The chances came, and Magee scored the game winner. The Fire attack hung two goals on a team that was riding a 265 minute shutout streak. Not bad, eh?

The Portland Timbers could not best the Vancouver Whitecaps, instead settling for a turgid 1-1 draw at Jeld-Wen Field.

Again, the Timbers are still a very good team. But you know what? Just like the rest of MLS, they cannot maintain the same level of dominance without their one or two MVPs. Diego Chara goes down with an injury, and all of a sudden Portland are incapable of really holding their midfield together. Chara is their David Ferreira. Even Darlington Nagbe has look pedestrian lately.

The Timbers are a perfect example of the argument really nurples me to no end. "But they have to be able to fix things without player X!"

No, not really. MLS lacks depth, and the replacements are usually about 65-70% of the player they're replacing.

At any rate, Vancouver will be thrilled with the result, but the match was a hackfest that could have seen more than one red handed out. Diego Kobayashi is not fooling anyone into thinking he's anything beyond average, and he could have easily been one of the players sent off. Camilo Sanvezzo was again his stellar self, and David Ousted continues to entrench the spot he took away from Joe Canon.

Toronto FC beat the stumbling New England Revolution 2-1 and DC United beat the not-quite-as-bad-as-FCD Montreal Impact 3-1. TFC and DCU are getting wins that FCD are not. DC scored more goals than Dallas had shots against Seattle. It's a cruel world.

The San Jose Earthquakes beat Chivas USA. At least no one is accusing our team of discriminating based on race and/or nationality.

Food For Thought: The "No-Schellas-or-FCD-Talk Zone" Edition

  1. Do you see Portland regaining their earlier form? Notes from practice state they had a team meeting, though no words on what kind it was or if it was anything beyond tactical discussions. They were a little late to practice. Probably discussing ways to kidnap Dempsey and take him to Portland.
  2. Seattle has Clint Dempsey: Would you rather Seattle gets him and he comes to MLS, or would you rather he stay out of Seattle and MLS entirely?
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