As the MLS week started on Friday night it looked to be a promising and exciting weekend of matches. What we would find though is a few sides falling short of expectations and a few teams who really miss their players who are away for International duty with the USMNT in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. I managed to watch most of every match this weekend between MLSnet.com’s Match Center, ESPN, ESPN2, and FSC. I have to say that the $19.95 I spent on Match Center has to be one of the best investments I have made this season, allowing me to catch anything I may have missed by reviewing the match On Demand after it has been played. So, although there was some controversy and poor officiating it would prove to be a satisfying weekend of soccer here in the U.S.
Friday would see the weekend kickoff with Real Salt Lake taking on a struggling FC Dallas side at the Rio Tinto stadium. Dallas started off quick by getting 2 goals by the middle of the second half and would not allow RSL back in before halftime, this giving FCD fans some hope. This would not last though as RSL, through tactical and personnel decisions, would get a goal back early in the second half and be tied by the time it was halfway through. RSL’s Coach Kreis would find himself sent off for abusive language towards the referee later in the half, only to find his team pull ahead off of a FCD own goal off Daniel Torres. Coach Hyndman for FCD would again not adjust tactics or make the needed substitutions to get FCD back in the match. Drew Moor for FCD would be sent off for a brutal tackle in the 90th minute and moment’s later RSL midfielder Yura Movsisyan would put the match away by beating FCD keeper Ray Burse to take the score line to 4-2 in favor of RSL. This match kicked off the week and disappointed many FCD fans, leading to questions from the fans about Coach Hyndman’s decision making this season.
The first match of Saturday would see a Chicago Fire side, which has been plagued with some injuries; go to Qwest Field to take on the MLS’ newest expansion side, Seattle Sounders FC. The match would see many opportunities for both sides, but none would manage to find the net, resulting in a 0-0 finish at the final whistle. The Fire’s John Thorrington would be given his second caution for a challenge from behind in the 54th while moments later Seattle’s Freddie Ljundberg would receive his first caution for simulation outside the box and immediately be given his walking orders when he received his second caution for dissent towards the referee, completely losing his cool. Both sides would have many chances throughout the rest of the match, with Seattle owning most of the match, but nothing would come before the final whistle.
After watching a goalless draw in the first match of the day, we were witness to a match that would go to the final minutes to decide a winner in Columbus. Toronto FC was the visitors, but Columbus had a team missing many of its key offensive pieces. Columbus would strike first after some back and forth play from both sides in the 32nd; When Columbus midfielder Eddie Gaven beat the young TFC keeper Frei to put Columbus up 1-0. Not to be outdone, TFC would strike back quick on the breakout with De Rosario getting one past Columbus keeper Will Hesmer to tie the score up at 1-1. With both sides going in at the half tied, the second half could only be more exciting with both sides fighting to get in front. This would not take long as newcomer to TFC, Ali Gerba, scored his first goal for TFC in the 49th to give TFC the lead. Columbus would fight back for the majority of the second half, finally finding the equalizer in the 76th through Steven Lenhart, leaving the fans with an exciting finish. The nail would be put in the coffin for TFC in the 92nd when Crew’s Frankie Hejduk set up Jason Garey, who finished the match and TFC with the game winning goal. Great match and win for the Crew, who overcame injury and international to get the win against TFC.
The day got interesting here as I was juggling matches between the TV and PC, but I have to say I could not have missed much by missing the New England Revolutions trip to Robertson Stadium to face the Houston Dynamo. NE has not lost in Houston in awhile, and while one would suspect this rivalry match to be good from start to finish, it was anything but. New England having one of its more undesirable seasons of the last few years have played strong but not gotten the results they have wanted of late. Houston, who started slow this season, has seen a good run of form push them right to the top of the Western Conference, a place where they are more than comfortable. The match would be a lot of back and forth with neither side ever taking charge, but in the 76th minute, after some nice passing, New England’s Kheli Dube would put the ball in the Houston net, guaranteeing the Revolution win. One of the more uninteresting matchups of the weekend in my opinion, and one that I am sure Houston would love to forget going forward.
And it was time for the newest installment of the Beckham Saga. Would there be any backlash from the previous week’s altercation, or would the Galaxy come together and put their efforts into taking out the Kansas City Wizards, only time would tell. With a depleted roster for the Wizards and LA’s form of late, one would have thought the Galaxy would have no problem with the Wizards on this night. This would not be the case though, as while LA had the majority of the possession throughout the entire match, they just could not find the touch to finish tonight. Kansas City would actually start the scoring off on the night, when LA lost the ball around midfield and Wizards forward Claudio Lopez took the ball and launched a shot from beyond the halfway line that would beat Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts, injuring him in the process as he crashed into the post with his back. While this was completely against the run of play, LA just kept plugging away, trying to find the equalizer. The equalizer would come through Landon Donovan in the 33rd minute after receiving a ball from David Beckham that he would rocket into the net past Hartman. The rest of the match would see LA with the majority of the possession, but lack of creative chances on goal. Hartman would save KC on many occasions, but LA never got through and finished the match tied 1-1. Only bit of news on the Beckham Saga is a fan who actually got to shake Beckham’s hand (he learned and stuck the hand out before the guy was snagged by security), and his interview with Rob Stone after the match, during which he stated his distaste for the treatment he has been receiving from the Galaxy fans he thinks should love him, though he left them and plans to do so again at the end of the season. Get over it Beckham, finish your season, pack your bags, opt out of the last 2 years of your contract, and take yourself back to Europe so you can sit the bench for England in the World Cup.
The two late games of the evening would see another disappointment for one side and an unexpected finish for another. The first would be the train wreck known as the New York Red Bulls, who would be travelling to Colorado to take on the Rapids. Now the Rapids are tough at home, but NYRB have been disappointing all season, going from MLS Cup to the last place in the league. Colorado would put up 4 goals on NYRB from 4 different players, while not conceding a single goal. Colorado would start in the 5th minute through Jacob Peterson, start the second half with Pat Noonan in the 46th, and finish the Red Bulls off through Nick Labrocca and Mehdi Ballouchy in the 61st and 67th. The Red Bulls were never in this match and do not look to show signs of life anytime soon. Does this spell the end for Coach Osorio or are NYRB going to let him finish out the season? I am sure we will see soon enough as NYRB have not accepted disappointment like this well in the past.
Closing out the evening would be D.C. United playing the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw stadium in Santa Clara, California. D.C. has had a poor road record this season, not looking good for the postseason with this record, and today would not reward them on the road either. D.C.’s Emilio was taken down in the box early, and Christian Gomez would step up and put the penalty past Joe Cannon to give D.C. a 1-0 lead 3 minutes into the match. Gomez would score again in the 21st, on a goal that will for sure be questioned about an offside call by Earthquake supporters. San Jose would snatch a goal beck before the half though, after pressuring the D.C. goal when a ball flicked on by Zayer that Ryan Johnson would put past D.C. keeper Josh Wicks in the 36th minute. Moments later Johnson would leave with a shoulder injury, but the comeback was on as San Jose went in at the break only one goal behind. D.C. struggled to gain back complete control of the match, and in the 62nd minute as San Jose took a free kick from about 25 yards out, D.C.’s Rodney Wallace would stick a hand in the air and connect with the ball. This would earn him a yellow card and San Jose and important penalty kick that could tie the match up. T&T International, Cornell Glen would step up and put the PK in the back of the net, scoring his second goal of the season and equalizing for the Earthquakes. Neither team would find the net the rest of the match, although there were many opportunities for each side to take the lead, ending the match 1-1 and giving San Jose a point they needed and deserved while disappointing a D.C. United side who was picked to win this match by many.
So as I close out the day I look back, I had a disappointing week in picking my MLS matches, finishing 2-5. Never would have predicted the 0-0 draw in Seattle, the 2-2 tie in San Jose, the loss by the Dynamo, or the 1-1 draw by LA, but then again that’s what soccer is all about. We will start gearing up for next week and hope the predictions and results go much better. Now it is time to prepare for the CONCACAF Final tomorrow between the USMNT and Mexico. While this rivalry is old and heated at times, the faces are a bit different this time around. A friend has told me to quit picking against the sides I support so I will pick the USMNT in this match to take out the Mexicans, and win the CCGC yet again this season. The overabundance of MLS players in the squad this year is good, as it shows there is strength in U.S. soccer, but while we field our 3rd string team we all question their strength. Is the side strong enough? I think so, and hope to celebrate all afternoon tomorrow.
So: Prediction is USMNT win v Mexico
Also I will try to get interested in the final two matches of the World Football Joke and report on the Club America v Chelsea FC match (winner is champion) and the Milan Derby on American soil between Inter and AC Milan. Truth is much of the play in this tournament has been uninteresting as these sides are still in preseason, but it is one of the few times we get large clubs here in the states and so I will try my best to have some interest tomorrow evening.