The stars have aligned favorably at just the right time, as this weekend saw most of FCD's Western Conference rivals earn ties against "lesser" opponents. The result is a cushy six point lead padding the top of standings for the table leaders. You know the team, right?
The Seattle Sounders did everything right during their scoreless tie against the New England Revolution. Everything except score, that is. The home side completely strangled their opposition in the first half, passing the ball around almost at will against an utterly hapless Revs side. How do you describe Steve Zakuani's performance? Do you praise him for his work-rate and movement off the ball? Praise him for his deft turns and tricky fakes that allowed him to get around defenders? Or do you criticize him for flailing wildly in front of goal?
The truth is that if Zakuani had placed even one of his shots on target we would be talking about a completely dominant Seattle win. No one gets points for "almost" however, and the Sounders continue to be the only team in MLS that continues its season without a win.
Their struggles to score confound, as every other facet of their game is well above average. It's almost as if someone (my money is on the Timbers Army) placed a hex on all of their players that come within shooting range. They either dally on the ball, take two touches too many, or miss completely. Seattle needs to find their killer touch inside the box once again if they hope to climb out of the cellar. Voodoo hexes are hard to break.
This is all ignoring the Revs, who in the second half put up a much improved defensive performance. While the Sounders had plenty of chances to score, New England came close several times at the Clink as well. With just a bit of luck the Revs could have walked away with a shocking win.
The Vancouver Whitecaps pulled back a late goal from the penalty spot to salvage a point against Real Salt Lake. The 1-1 scoreline could have been closer to 3-1 in favor of the Whitecaps if Nick Rimando had not stood on his head to keep several great strikes out of his goal. I will only link one, because if I had to link all of his highlight stops this article would be called "Around MLS: The Nick Rimando Show".
The Caps penalty did not come without controversy (of course it didn't). While tracking back to stop a Vancouver attack, Nat Borchers fell to the ground and accidentally handled the ball while attempting to get on his feet. Technically it's a foul, but it seems awfully harsh to penalize the inevitable result of falling near the ball. Borchers did nothing but slip on the Whitecaps' turf, something not entirely uncommon for players used to playing on real grass. Controversial PK aside, the Caps did enough to earn a point and despite not winning at home, fans can feel okay with where this team currently stands.
The New York Red Bulls won 2-0 over D.C. United and did so in style, with Thierry Henry once again propelling his team to victory. There's not much to say about this performance because DC really never had a chance. Henry cut through the DC midfield like a hot knife through butter, and at no point did United really look like they had a prayer of getting back in the saddle. Dwayne De Rosario was subbed on at the half, finally playing meaningful minutes since his injury. His free kicks were dangerous, as usual, and DC did look better with him on the field.
It makes you consider whether DC would be a playoff team at all without De Rosario anchoring the side. DC isn't exactly one-dimensional, but without their talismanic Canuck on the field they look an entirely homely outfit with no creativity in the middle of the park.
The Montreal Impact and the Columbus Crew tied 1-1 at Stade Saputo, but any Impact fan will tell you they feel as though a win was stolen from them. The first half inspired nothing more than a few "....mehs", but in the second half the game sprung to life and two goals were scored in quick succession. The biggest point of controversy involved Marco Di Vaio being denied a goal despite being flagged offside. How offside was he? Look below and judge for yourself.
Also, Dominic Oduro scored a surefire Goal of the Week candidate.
Oscar Pareja did his old club a favor after having his Rapids beat Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center 1 - 0. This match was, for the most part, dreadfully boring but Colorado deserves credit for never allowing the Goats to get into a rythym. Chivas dropped points, Mr. Pareja got a win and Chelis called his team "crap" during the press conference.
The Portland Timbers beat the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 last night, but the big story is Alan Gordon using a homophobic slur during the match. He's in trouble for other reasons (elbows, ugly tackles and a red card, a Gordon specialty), but all of the attention is rightfully centered on his boneheaded move to use no-no words.
You would assume his survival instinct would kick in. You would think at some point his brain would say "Hey! Remember Marc Burch!". With Robbie Rogers' ballsy and admirable confession bringing such a positive spin to the way our league handles these things, it's such a shame to see players lose their cool and utter those sorts of words. What's wrong with the Litany of Standard Insults (2012 ed.)? There's no shortage of nasty, derogatory words to pick from Mr. Gordon. Settle on one and roll with it, and stay away from making yourself look more like a heel than necessary.
To focus on something positive for Portland fans though, they did shut out a would-be high scoring side. For a team that couldn't stop letting goals in last year, that's a very positive result. Portland practically run San Jose off the park, as they clearly wanted the win more and played like it. With Will Johnson continuing his scoring run and the defense shoring up, there is hope in Portland that Porterball might yet lead them to an appearance in the playoffs.
The Houston Dynamo's home unbeaten streak now sits at 35 and counting. It's a new MLS record and one that likely won't be broken for a very, very long time.
Food for Thought
- Is DC a one-trick pony? Without De Rosario, their form suffers dramatically. Is it coincidental timing, poor form lining up with an injury, or is it a symptom of a greater problem?
- Did Nat Borchers really deserve to get called for a penalty?
- How on/offside was Marco Di Vaio
- Are you a believer in Porterball?