Best and Worst from MLS Week 9
MLS offenses were on fire in Week 9, and so was the Columbus Crew’s scoreboard.
A total of 27 goals were scored across nine matches this past weekend—by far the most tallies in a single week this season. League matches were averaging an all-time low of 2.24 goals per match entering Week 9. That number is sure to go up before Week 10.
Chivas USA and the San Jose Earthquakes contributed four goals to that total with a 2-2 draw Saturday night. The Houston Dynamo and Colorado Rapids added two more after a 1-1 draw. Giles Barnes' contribution was the most emphatic of Week 9.
The Philadelphia Union contributed none, as they were blanked in a disappointing 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution.
But neither team made the list of best and worst from MLS Week 9. Read on to find out who did.
Best: Tim Cahill's Response
With a $3.5 million salary, Tim Cahill has earned his fair share of criticism since joining the New York Red Bulls. Entering Saturday’s match, he had just one goal in 1,700-plus minutes. That lack of statistical production led to some disparaging, on-air comments from Taylor Twellman.
Cahill took to Twitter to respond, calling Twellman a “muppet.”
But talk is cheap. Cahill responded with more than 140 characters in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Toronto FC.
Two goals will temporarily silence his critics. Cahill finally has the “production” that warrants his base salary. He finally has the “numbers.”
But while numbers never lie, they are misleading.
Cahill means more to New York than just goals. That has been apparent since day one. It’s a sentiment Mike Petke has echoed time and time again:
I trust him to fill in pretty much any spot that is needed on this field. That’s why he’s, like I used the word time and time again, invaluable You know, I've been asked questions about his lack of goal scoring this and that and it makes me laugh...He brings so much to this team.
Whether it’s a game-winner in the 89th minute, or even a defensive header in the 88th minute, it doesn’t matter. Cahill’s contribution for New York extends beyond the stat sheet. He proved it with his handling of Kenny Cooper following a heartbreaking loss to DC United. He proved it again on Saturday afternoon.
And as Ives Galarcep pointed out on Twitter, forget the numbers. Anyone would be fortunate to have Cahill on their team. MLS coaches agree.
Even if he comes with a $3.5 million price tag.
Roy Miller has made the most of his second chance with the Red Bulls. After intense scrutiny, the Costa Rican international deserves some acknowledgement. His superb touch and service led to Cahill’s first goal.
Worst: 'The Roof, the Roof, the Roof Is on Fire'
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Well, it’s not like DC United were going to light up the scoreboard anyway.
Moments before DC United were shellacked 3-0 by the Columbus Crew, flames erupted on the Crew’s scoreboard above the south stands. Fortunately, there were no injuries or deaths. The Columbus fire department extinguished the fire while the section was being cleared.
Players from both sides returned to the locker rooms before again taking the field at 7:53 p.m. ET—a full 20 minutes after the match was scheduled to start. Kickoff was delayed until 8:23 ET.
Unfortunately for United, the match wasn’t canceled altogether.
Fans saw the game with no sound system or replays. Just over 14,000 fans promptly sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” in unison during the pregame ceremony—giving Dominic Oduro “goosebumps” in the process.
Crew president Mark McCullers expects there to be “some form of audio and video” for Week 10’s showdown with the Red Bulls.
McCullers spoke about the possibility of a new stadium in Columbus last month. The once-crowned jewel of MLS turned 15 this year and lacks the parking, locker room space, media facilities, concession areas and suites other soccer-specific stadiums in MLS possess.
You can now add a "fireproof scoreboard" to that list.
United have plummeted to the bottom of the standings. How much longer before Ben Olsen is on the hot seat?
Best: Kekuta Manneh
The 2013 NFL draft dominated the headlines this weekend, but there was a star who was widely talked about coming out of the MLS SuperDraft: Gambian native Kekuta Manneh.
The 18-year-old opened his MLS account in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with FC Dallas. After a sensational save by Raul Fernandez, Manneh emphatically drove home a follow-up attempt.
Fernandez had no chance of denying it.
But the Gambian international wasn’t finished there. A determined run inside the box set up Camilo Sanvezzo’s equalizer just three minutes later.
The lucky ball bounced no more when Manneh entered as a 23rd- substitute.
Vancouver has not found the win column since Week 2, but Manneh’s performance left the team with a bit more optimism moving forward.
The Southsiders were armed with judges’ scorecards Saturday. Scores of “6.5,” “8.0” and “9.5” were flashed every time a Dallas player fell to the ground. As if that wasn’t enough, an “And the Oscar goes to...David Ferreira” sign circulated around the supporters section.
Vancouver coach Martin Rennie addressed the message being sent by the Southsiders following the match:
I'd like to tell you what I think, but I've been in soccer in North America for seven years, and one of things I like about it most is the fair play and the honesty and the integrity and the lack of diving and you'll have to judge yourself.
After Saturday's draw, the jury is still out on FC Dallas.
Worst: Jeff Larentowicz Is Seeing Red
Once again, MLS officiating was at its “best” in Week 9. This time, it was referee Fotis Bazakos with the questionable call.
The word “perception” is increasingly absent from a referee’s vocabulary these days. Last week, referee Drew Fischer sent Jermaine Taylor off with a questionable decision. Chicago Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz was the victim in Week 9.
According to Bazakos' decision, Larentowicz’s foul denied a clear goalscoring opportunity for Andrea Pisanu.
It did not.
Logan Pause, Gonzalo Segares and Sean Johnson were all in close proximity and able to challenge Pisanu. Larentowicz even attempted to avoid any contact before innocently landing on Pisanu’s heel. Whatever contact was made was purely incidental.
Chicago coach Frank Kiopas shared his disgust for the red card following the match, calling it “a terrible call” (per the team’s official website).
Larentowicz never even attempted to challenge. To make matters worse, Bazakos pointed to the spot before communicating with his assistants. A free kick from just outside the box was rewarded instead.
The Fire found themselves down a man, but at least it wasn’t an additional goal. The team is considering an appeal, and justifiably so.
If you haven't seen Andres Romero's goal, do so immediately. A beautiful bender to the far post gave the Montreal Impact an insurmountable 1-0 lead. But it was his celebration that stole the spotlight.
Romero tucked the ball under his shirt—paying homage to his wife, who is pregnant with twins (per Impact beat writer Pablo Ortiz).
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
That age-old question was answered Saturday night.
“Porterball” prevailed. The Portland Timbers defeated Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, at Sporting Park. It was Sporting’s first home loss of the season. Not only that, but Kansas City had not conceded a goal on its home turf before Saturday’s loss (per SKC Gameday). Portland walked away with three.
The Timbers finished the 2012 season with a pathetic 1-12-4 record on the road. After four matches this season, Porterball remains unbeaten away from JELD-WEN Field (1-0-3). The team has been able to avoid the loss column since Week 2.
Saturday's match started at a frenetic pace, with four goals in the first 33 minutes. Portland responded each time Kansas City went up before taking a lead of its own. Rodney Wallace’s cool finish in the 58th minute proved to be the game-winner for the Timbers.
It was the Costa Rican’s second goal of the season and the biggest of his career.
It was more than just a win for coach Caleb Porter. It was a statement: These aren’t your daddy’s Timbers.
With a franchise-best six-game unbeaten streak, this team is for real.
It didn’t take long for Chance Myers to score his first MLS goal Saturday night. The defender scored the third-quickest goal in team history after heading home a throw-in 40 seconds into the match. Meyers was able to complete his brace in the 29th minute.
Worst: Young Guns Go Down
They’re young, but they’re not indestructible.
Los Angeles Galaxy forward Jack McBean and New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell were forced to exit their matches early Saturday night.
A collision with Nat Borchers in the 53rd minute sent McBean to the ground and off the pitch with a broken left clavicle. No timeline is set in stone for his return. But it will be some time before the home-grown talent sees the field.
McBean did not miss a match for the Galaxy this season—starting in five matches and contributing one goal and two assists.
On the opposite coast, Farrell was helped off the field in New England’s first home win of the season. No foul was called on a hard challenge from Gabriel Farfan. Watch the tape and try to figure that one out. Farrell tweeted after the match that he was “feeling good.” There has been no official word on the extent of his injury yet.
Both challenges were hard to watch. Don't be surprised if Farrell is also absent during the first bit of MLS action in Week 10.
In the 30th minute, Revolution fans showed their support for defender Kevin Alston. “K.A. 30” signs were lifted in honor of the 24-year-old, who was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia earlier this month.
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