Best and Worst from MLS Week 10
MLS Week 10 taught us that there is more to life than the final score. It’s a lesson by which Toronto FC will need to start living.
The New York Red Bulls continued streaking in Week 10. Saturday's 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew was the team's third consecutive victory. Tim Cahill's signature header in the 80th minute lifted New York to a four-way tie for first in the Eastern Conference.
Real Salt Lake also found the win column on Saturday. Joao Plata's assists propelled the Claret and Cobalt to a 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
But Cahill and Plata did not make the list of best and worst from MLS Week 10. Read on to find out who did.
Best: Atticus' Memorable Night
Not much can be said about the Portland Timbers’ scoreless draw with the New England Revolution Thursday night. But not enough can be said about the organization’s efforts to make one child a Timbers legend.
But the eight-year-old’s magical run didn’t end there. Here is the rundown of Atticus’ incredible night at JELD-WEN Field:
- He was the capo of all capos, leading the Timbers army as it fervently supported the team.
- Atticus took Will Johnson’s hand to walk around the field and recognize the crowd.
- Leading the team to the North End, Atticus presented the game log to Donovan Ricketts for his shutout.
- No night is complete without providing the fans an invaluable signature.
True, Portland is now riding a seven-game unbeaten streak. Everyone is aware that Caleb Porter’s team dominated the possession (67.4 percent) and tempo, posting 22 attempts on goal in the process. And yes, the Revolution managed to steal an improbable point on the road for only the second time this season.
But who cares?
There are certain moments in life that eclipse the scoreline. Thursday night was one of them.
A Not-so-Honorable Mention
Timbers defender Mikael Silvestre was forced to leave the match early after attempting to clear the ball. Word came out after the match that he suffered a torn ACL. Silvestre is expected to be out for at least six months.
Worst: Referee Jorge Gonzalez
Suffice it to say that the Philadelphia Union’s 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders was not referee Jorge Gonzalez’s finest hour.
The testier the play, the pettier the call.
A lengthy scuffle inside the box between Lamar Neagle and Sheanon Williams was enough to see them both sent off in the 84th minute. Words were exchanged. Contact was made. Red was shown. But it was shown for something that didn’t even happen. Williams explains (per MLSsoccer.com):
The referee said we both headbutted each other. I never headbutted him. He never headbutted me. When we were walking off, I talked to him and asked him if he thought I headbutted him and he said, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘You know, I didn’t headbutt you,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ And that was the end of it.
Rookie DeAndre Yedlin joined the red-card festivities six minutes later with a late tackle on Michael Farfan. At the referee’s discretion, we’ll say that was the correct call.
But a missed stoppage-time handball inside the box is inexcusable. Union head coach Jack Hackworth made that abundantly clear in his press conference following the match (per MLSsoccer.com):
Look, I’ll raise my hand and take the fine because it has to be said that we cannot be in this league and have this level of play and have officiating be as bad as that...That should not have been a draw in any way, shape or form...This can’t happen in this league. I’ll get what’s coming to me, but I’ll make a bold statement and say that is not allowed.
Hackworth claims the match "should not have been a draw." Even if the handball was called, there was no guarantee the Union would convert the penalty. That is easier to assume than execute. Just ask Federico Higuain.
That said, the handball must be called. Period.
An enthralling 90 minutes were played Saturday afternoon. But unfortunately, it will not be remembered.
That’s going to be the case whenever 22 players take the field and only 19 walk off.
Best: Justin Mapp's Double and a 30-Yard Blast
Danny Cruz was not the only player to record a brace in Week 10. Justin Mapp joined the party in the Montreal Impact’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Fortunately for the 28-year-old midfielder, his brace wasn’t overshadowed by controversy.
Mapp’s 30-yard blast in the 24th minute gave Montreal a 1-0 lead. He would follow that up with a tap-in near the far post in the 47th minute.
If you add his performance in the semifinal of the Canadian Championship, it was a sensational four-day span for Mapp. He contributed a goal and an assist in Montreal’s 6-0 destruction of Toronto FC.
Mapp will have the opportunity to end his seven-day run on a high note. The Impact have a quick turnaround scheduled for Wednesday night. The trip to Red Bull Arena will be a battle for Eastern Conference supremacy.
It’s called “Goonie time.” The Quakes have made a living off of stoppage-time goals. The team has 12 in the last two MLS seasons. No other team has more than five (per ESPN's Paul Carr).
Week 10 was no different. This time, it was Sam Cronin with the heroics in the first minute of stoppage time.
But while San Jose valiantly fought back to salvage another point at home, at what point is falling behind omitted from the game plan? The other 90 minutes are made readily available for teams to exert their will.
Except if you're the Quakes.
The team has increasingly found itself at the mercy of the fourth official. Championship football is not played from behind. You would think Frank Yallop and company learned that lesson last year.
Worst: Toronto FC's Inability to Close
The only silver lining in San Jose’s “goonish” behavior is Toronto FC.
Both teams are polar opposites in late-game situations. If the Quakes make a living off of their late-game execution, the Reds are going broke off theirs.
Toronto failed to hold a lead in Week 5’s draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Jose Villarreal scored the equalizer in the second minute of stoppage time. Jack McInerney followed suit for the Union in Week 7. Warren Creavalle completed the trifecta in Week 8 for the Houston Dynamo.
Just last week, the Red Bulls snatched a full three points at BMO Field with a game-winner in the 89th minute.
The trend continued in Week 10.
Logan Emory’s slip inside the box—while attempting to clear a cross—allowed Edson Buddle to net the game-winner in the 86th minute. As a result, Toronto fell, 1-0, to the Colorado Rapids. For the fourth consecutive week, the Reds were forced to walk off the pitch thinking “what if?”
What if Robert Earnshaw buried his chance in the 29th minute? What if MLS matches were only 85 minutes long?
These are the questions that will haunt the Reds as they find themselves just three points clear of the Eastern Conference basement.
Best: The Houston Dynamo Exact Revenge in Carson, Calif.
Driver propels the Dynamo past LA
I guess the eighth time’s the charm.
The Dynamo were 0-6-1 at The Home Depot Center before Sunday night (per ESPN Stats & Info). That included a pair of MLS Cup-final losses. But after a 1-0 victory Sunday night, Houston finally snapped a seven-game winless streak in Los Angeles.
The match failed to duplicate the tone of a MLS Cup final. The ridiculously late start time might have had something to do with that. Not having Robbie Keane and Brad Davis on the pitch didn’t help, either.
But that didn’t stop Andrew Driver’s first-time finish from finding the back of the net in the 56th minute.
It was enough for the Dynamo to walk away with their first road win of the season.
Tally Hall had no trouble making the save.
Houston’s win was two years too late. But for now, it’s good enough to see the team in a four-way tie for first place in the East.
Galaxy fans were unable to celebrate Star Wars Day at the stadium. But that did not stop them from creating the best tifo of the week. The "Houston, we are your father" graphic was the perfect touch and a must-see image (credit Adam Serrano for the photo).
Worst: Dan Kennedy
You have to feel sorry for Dan Kennedy at some point.
It’s been a trial by fire for the Chivas USA keeper this season. Kennedy leads the league with 38 saves on 53 shots faced. But there’s only so much he can do about his 1.40 goals-against average. If you keep facing that amount of heat on a weekly basis, goals will inevitably trickle in.
It didn’t get any easier for Kennedy Sunday afternoon.
It was bad enough Claudio Bieler’s clinical finish left Kennedy sliding foolishly behind him—the move was reminiscent of the AND1 mixtapes I grew up enjoying—but a desperation challenge on Paulo Nagamura sent Kennedy off in the 54th minute.
Bieler converted the penalty with ease, finishing the match with his first brace of the season.
By the time referee Baldomero Toledo mercifully blew the whistle, Chivas found itself with an embarrassing 4-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
The Goats are now winless in their last four and have not won an MLS match since March 30.
With the red-card suspension, Kennedy will be forced to miss next week’s match at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers lead the league with an average of 5.2 shots on goal per match.
Maybe it’s best that Kennedy will have to sit this one out.
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