Coming off the shocking performances of a few teams in MLS last week, what was a fan to expect for an encore? Would we see this week to get the blood flowing in a league that is supposed to be built on parity? I am sure the results came out in favor of a few sides, and my predictions improved a bit, but overall it was a good week for the MLS. Many sides were still out with exhibition matches and CONCACAF CL play, so there were only 6 matches taking place this week, with Houston playing in two of them. I also decided to add a nice video I found of Week 21’s Goals of the Week, which I will post after the recaps for you to enjoy before looking forward.
My predictions for this week: 3-3
MLS All-Time predictions: 7-12
FC Dallas 1 – 0 Houston Dynamo
Starting off the week was a match that I saw Houston taking from start to finish as they travelled to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas. After Dallas’ shocking performance last week, taking Kansas City 6-0, I did not expect one of the worst teams in the MLS to show an equally strong performance this week. Dallas would shock even its fans though as Jeff Cunningham continued to score, netting in the 20th minute and giving Dallas the only goal they would need on the night. Cunningham missed a penalty earlier in the half but it turned out the Hoops would not need it as Houston obviously did not show up to play on this night. Only odd thing that happened in the match aside from Houston’s lack of offense was when Houston winger Brad Davis earned a red card from the bench late in the match. Davis would miss Houston’s next match but as I did not see anything from the replays; I am still wondering what he did.
Colorado Rapids 4 – 0 Chivas USA
In one of the strangest matches of the weekend, Colorado waxed Chivas from the opening minute, literally. Pablo Mastreoni took a back pass from Omar Cummings and blasted it from about 25 yards out in the first minute of the match to give Colorado the 1-0 advantage. (First time Pablo has scored since 2005) Three minutes later Colorado would practically shut the door on Chivas when Conor Casey lofted a ball from just inside the 18 to beat the Chivas keeper, putting the rapids up 2-0 inside the first 5 minutes. After the quick start Colorado would settle into the match and wait until the 23rd before scoring their 3rd goal of the match, and again until the first minute of stoppage time to get their 4th, after a red card was given to Chivas defender Shavar Thomas for taking down Omar Cummings in the box. It was a light red card but Casey scored his hat trick in the first half and Cummings extended his assists total to 10 on the season with 3 coming from this match; I would give him 4 for drawing the penalty as well. Chivas looked dire in this match and without scoring and without a presence in the back, they could be looking at dropping farther to the depths of the Western Conference by the end of the season if something does not turn around quick.
Real Salt Lake 1 – 0 Seattle Sounders FC
A match that saw Seattle lose yet again! Could Seattle finally be feeling the freshman pressure of their maiden season in the MLS? I think so as their results continue to pile up in an unfavorable fashion of late. Seattle owned this match in every way but the final score. They dominated possession and had many chances to get in on goal but lack of finishing was yet again the Achilles Heel of Seattle. RSL keeper Nick Rimando played a ball long in the 62nd and caught Seattle sleeping, hooking up with Robbie Findley, who would shake his defender and put RSL in the lead just before the halfway point of the second half. Try as they might Seattle never answered and Findley’s goal would be the game winner for RSL. Seattle needs to wake up if they plan on staying on track for the playoffs. They have not dropped from their playoff position yet, but if they do not find the scoring touch pretty soon they could follow Chivas down the standings.
San Jose Earthquakes 0 – 3 Columbus Crew
Coming off a few strong performances, San Jose were feeling good and looking to try and take down another strong opponent this week. Seattle and DC had failed to defeat San Jose in the past two weeks but Columbus is a bird of a different color and would not be had so easily by the Earthquakes. San Jose would play the Crew tough throughout, but once the Columbus found the back of the net in the 69th it was all downhill. Moreno would net for the Crew in the 69th after coming off the bench to put the Crew ahead. Four minutes later in the 73rd, Robbie Rogers would find the net to increase the score line, and in the dying minutes (87th) of the match substitute Adam Moffat would finish off the Earthquakes with a goal of his own. The Crew is looking strong and will only become better as they see some of their top talent return to fitness. Could there be another MLS cup in their future this season?
New England Revolution 1 – 2 Los Angeles Galaxy
On the road in a place they have not won since 1999, LA would try to continue a run of good form with a win over the Revs. They would not be disappointed this round, as NE is a bit weaker than previous seasons and LA seem to have found their stride of late. What can only be described as the inevitable goal of the week happened for LA and Landon Donovan in the 21st minute, when a shot deflected from inside the box found Donovan just outside the right wing of the 18 and he smashed it with a volley into the side netting past Matt Reis, putting LA up 1-0 early. Kirovski would add to the lead in the 52nd after find the end of an Eddie Lewis cross that got Reis out of position and allowed Kirovski to turn and poke the ball into an uncontested net to pad the Galaxy’s lead. New England is not a team to quit though and a takedown in the box in the 82nd by Galaxy rookie Omar Gonzalez would grant the Revs a PK opportunity. Not one to miss a chance, veteran Steve Ralston would step up for NE and slam the PK home to give the Revs a chance in the final minutes of the match. Through some desperate defending that LA have not been too successful with in the past, they would hold on and finish out the match though, earning a big 3 points on the road in this one.
Houston Dynamo 3 – 2 Chicago Fire
Closing out the week on Sunday night, Dynamo players and fans were out looking for a win against the visiting Chicago Fire. After a disappointing performance Thursday, the Dynamo would come out firing, though their breakthrough would not come right away. In the 21st minute however, Houston would catch the Fire sleeping in their own end and Kei Kamara would receive the inbound pass and turn to find himself in on Fire keeper Busch without a defender in sight. Kamara would fire almost point blank on Busch and put it past him and into the far side of the net. In the 38th Houston would strike paydirt yet again as Brian Ching played a beautiful long ball into the left side of the box for a hustling Ricardo Clark, who would take a nice left-footed touch over an onrushing Jon Busch and into the net, putting Houston up 2-0 at the half.
The second half may have seen a totally different Houston side emerge as Chicago came out pressing to get back into the match. A Blanco ball found an open Patrick Nyarko in the 47th minute before Nyarko laid it off to Chris Rolfe; Rolfe took the pass and cleared some space before unleashing a rocket from 25 yards out to beat Houston’s Pat Onstad, bringing the scoreline to 2-1 and breathing life into the Fire. Minutes later a questionable decision would be made by Houston defender Julius James when ushering a ball to the touchline; Blanco would approach and looked to give James a nudge knocking him off the ball that would soon lead to the game tying goal. James in my opinion went down way too easy, but in the 48th Blanco took that ball and played a beautiful cross into the box that found Peter Lowry right before he volleyed it into the net to tie up the match. The decision to not call Blanco for the foul on James was questionable, but unless you have the Oscar’s that Blanco has in his trophy case you cannot go down that easy. The match looked to be a tie going into the end when Houston’s Corey Ashe was taken down late in the proceedings by Brandon Prideaux on what can only be called a very light penalty. Whether it was a makeup call for the Blanco no call earlier or the ref believed it was a penalty is beyond me, but there did not look to be enough contact to warrant a penalty in this case. In the end Stuart Holden would step up and put the game away for Houston from the penalty spot, giving Houston the win and me a win over Chicago in my predictions for the first time. It was a good match and one that Houston needed after the poor result earlier in the week.
Next weekend looks to be a very busy one on the MLS schedule. Most teams will be back on track with only New England, San Jose, and Colorado having the week off. After watching the USMNT travel to Mexico City this weekend the focus will be back on the MLS for a bit here in the US, so looking at next week here are a few matches to look out for.
- DC United v TFC – Which team gets back on track in MLS after recent poor league form.
- Chivas USA v NYRB – Can the Red Bulls steal one against a struggling Chivas side?
- FC Dallas v Columbus – Can Dallas continue their race towards the playoffs?
- Seattle v LA – Does Seattle find their form or do LA continue their ascent?