Best and Worst from MLS Week 13
MLS Week 13 featured the comeback. The most important one didn’t even take place on the scoreboard.
The Chicago Fire turned a 1-0 deficit into a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake thanks to the heroics of Quincy Amarikwa. The 25-year-old forward connected on a Austin Berry flick in the 84th minute to secure Chicago’s eighth point of the season.
Alvaro Saborio made a comeback of his own Saturday night. The Costa Rican international returned from a quad injury and delivered a sensational header in the 78th minute.
But Amarikwa and Saborio didn’t make the list of best and worst from MLS Week 13. Read on to find out who did.
Best: Robbie Rogers Returns
Robbie Keane netted a hat trick in the Los Angeles Galaxy’s 4-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders.
But the only thing that will be remembered was the return of a jovial Robbie Rogers.
Congratulations, America. You officially have your first openly gay male athlete in team sports.
The spirited crowd of 24,811 gave Rogers a rousing ovation when he subbed on for Juninho in the 77th minute of Sunday’s victory. A few touches and a completed pass will not make an impression on the stat sheet, but this moment extended way beyond the numbers.
After an arduous journey, it was about more than production for Rogers in Week 13.
An entire community anxiously awaited the day in which they could openly root for one of their own. They’ll have to wait no longer.
But as inspiring as Rogers’ return was, head coach Bruce Arena reminded Galaxy fans that the toughest challenges are yet to come:
He just has to start training on a daily basis and being involved as much as he can in games. We have an Open Cup game Wednesday that he can be involved and continue to move forward with league matches and training. In a lot of ways the easy part is over, now the difficult part remains and that’s getting him positioned to play and that’s going to take some time. Our expectations for Robbie are not anything big in the near future, it’s just going to take time. The plan is just to move him along and see how he progresses and hopefully he can get back to where we think he can be as a player.
It may “take time” for Rogers to make the impact Arena anticipates. But the impact of a lifetime has already been made.
Worst: The Holy Trinity of Failure
Looking for three points?
Take a look at your schedule. Circle the dates that feature Chivas USA, DC United and Toronto FC as the opponent.
The holy trinity of failure were held to form in Week 13.
Chivas extended its winless streak to seven games after a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids Saturday night. The Goats have scored just one goal in the month of May. Their opponents managed to score 13 in the process.
Not to be outdone, Toronto extended a 10-game winless streak of its own with a 2-0 loss to the upstart New England Revolution. A fifth consecutive loss has all but erased the positive momentum that once surrounded rookie head coach Ryan Nelsen.
But even fans in Los Angeles and Toronto sympathize with the cataclysmic disaster that is DC United.
Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Portland Timbers extended the team’s winless streak to 10 games—matching a franchise-worst record. Another poor showing prompted head coach Ben Olsen to question the resolve of his own men following the match:
It’s embarrassing how soft we are, everywhere around the field. The lack of anger that a few of our guys play with, the lack of a chip on some of our guys’ shoulders is mind-boggling to me. Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon? Any day of the week. Carlos Ruiz? Any day of the week. But I’ll tell you what: we have a long way to go.
All three teams are averaging less than one point per game. Only the Chicago Fire have the dubious honor of carrying that distinction. But even the Fire have the one thing Chivas, Chicago and DC do not: a recent win in April.
Unfortunately for the holy trinity of failure, they’ll have a “long way to go” before the 2014 season starts.
Best: Marco Di Vaio
Jack McInerney entered Week 13 with a two-goal lead in the MLS Golden Boot race, and then Marco Di Vaio showed him how it’s done.
A staggering eight goals were scored in the Montreal Impact’s 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Union Saturday night.
Three came off the boots of Di Vaio in the first half alone. A fourth nearly came, but Di Vaio upsettingly volleyed his best chance over the crossbar in the 38th minute.
The Italian international would have to settle with his ninth goal of the season—which was enough for him to exit Saputo Stadium with a share of the MLS Golden Boot lead.
The Montreal Impact still trail the New York Red Bulls in the standings, but a two-point deficit with four games in hand is hardly insurmountable. Especially with a talent like Di Vaio.
The late, great Aaliyah Dana Haughton enlightened us that “age ain’t nothing but a number” in 1994. The 36-year-old Italian striker reminded us on Saturday night.
Worst: Kenny Cooper's Injury
And they say soccer isn’t a “contact” sport.
FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper was forced to exit Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes with concussion-like symptoms in the 68th minute.
A barreling challenge from defender Victor Bernardez led to an inadvertent strike to Cooper’s head as the two slid out of bounds. A swinging leg tagged Cooper a second time, rendering the 6’3” striker motionless for several minutes.
Cooper would be assisted off the field by the Dallas medical staff. Bernardez received a yellow for his bruising efforts and will be forced to miss San Jose’s next match due to yellow card accumulation.
There’s a chance Cooper will be forced to miss the same.
Steve Hunt shared head coach Schellas Hyndman's uncertainty following the match:
There was some contact made on the side of the field that probably didn’t have to be made, and when you least expect contact is when you’re most vulnerable. If you expect contact, you can tense your body up, you can prepare. But I don’t think he ever expected to be hit off the field. I think he was knocked out a little bit. That’s the information I have, and now we’re getting information from our head specialist.
An immediate turnaround awaits the first-place Hoops. A third-round match in the U.S. Open Cup against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers is scheduled for Tuesday night.
With the injury and quality of opponent, don’t expect to see Cooper in action at Lockhart Stadium.
Best: Jamison Olave Nets the Equalizer
The Red Bulls extend their unbeaten streak to seven after a 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew on Sunday.
But it was Jamison Olave’s emphatic equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time that extended New York’s unbeaten run.
A frantic finish saw the Red Bulls push forward, desperately seeking a deserving result.
Midfielder Johnny Steele created the opportunity with a superb flick into the area for Jamison Olave. The stout defender placed a graceful touch onto the ball before burying it into the back of the net.
Andy Gruenebaum and his crew weren’t stopping this one.
A scramble inside the area nearly secured a remarkable victory for New York, but the Crew were able to clear the ball to safety before Gruenebaum would be tested with a shot on frame.
But it was too little, too late for Columbus. New York snatched a point from the jaws of defeat.
The draw retained New York’s first-place status in the Eastern Conference. But a share of the Supporters’ Shield lead evaporated in Week 13 for Mike Petke's squad.
Worst: Blown Calls Inside the Box
Speaking of Mike Petke, the rookie head coach should expect a hefty fine this week. But don’t expect him to care.
The Crew were awarded a penalty in the 73rd minute after Justin Meram was fouled by Kosuke Kimura inside the area. Meram shanked an Eddie Gaven cross before masterfully drawing contact from Kimura.
The shot was missed. No goal-scoring opportunity was denied. But a penalty was awarded.
An outspoken Petke pulled no punches following the match:
I will say this, while I say that perhaps we didn’t deserve to win today I have my check book out and I am ready for MLS to fine me because it’s not good enough from the referees, it’s not good enough. I watched the replay of the penalty of what I already knew to be not a penalty and it backed it up. He (Justin Meram) misses the ball, the player misses it, and then there is contact from the side. That’s a guy in my estimation who's probably getting ready for the Memorial Day weekend who wants to be a part of the show. That’s what it is to me and I could care less what the league fines me, or what they say. Those decisions, those types of things cost jobs...I’m pissed off. Like I said, I’m not blaming the refs for us not winning. I don’t think we did enough to win, but we are going to have games like that and to give them that PK call, shocking.
Referee Geoff Gamble defended his decision. But Kimura told reporters following the match that Gamble admitted to not having the perfect viewpoint:
I even talked to the referee after the game and he said “hey Kosuke, It was a tough one to call, I couldn’t really have a good sight.”
New York wasn't the only team potentially denied a result on Sunday.
The Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City played to a 1-1 draw before a crowd of 20,876. But more people than that could clearly see Ike Opara’s extended arm knock down an Eric Brunner header inside the box in the 89th minute.
Whether the ball was heading toward the goal is irrelevant. Opara made himself bigger inside the area by extending his arm in an unnatural position.
But unlike the situation in New York, no penalty was awarded.
Games are not decided by one call. That type of logic nullifies every touch, pass, shot and moment that transpired in the minutes leading up to a bad decision.
But there’ll be no telling fans in New York and Houston that today.
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