Best and Worst from MLS Week 14
Unstoppable forces took control in MLS Week 14. Some played well enough to break through a wall. Others tried to headbutt their way.
Jack McInerney delivered a bit of déjà vu in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Toronto FC. The young forward scored an equalizer against the Reds in stoppage time...again. An unstoppable penalty from Federico Higuain ensured the Columbus Crew earned the same result against the Houston Dynamo.
But all three stars didn’t make the list of best and worst from MLS Week 14.
Read on to find out who did.
Best: Perez vs. Harris
It took 56 minutes, but once Atiba Harris and Blas Perez got started, there was no stopping them.
The duo combined for four goals in the span of 10 minutes Saturday night. Each striker attempted to outshine their counterpart in the second half before the goal-fest culminated in a stalemate.
The match ended in a draw. But if you’re looking for a tiebreaker, it belongs to Perez.
The Panamanian international exhibited his world-class ability in each of his two goals. A clinical finish—which came on a half-volley from well outside the box—put a bow on what was an action-packed 10-minute span.
The draw maintained both teams’ standing in the Western Conference. But not by much.
FC Dallas’ lead in the Supporters’ Shield race has been cut to two. But the Impact have the advantage of owning a pair of games in hand. As for the Colorado Rapids, it’s the Sounders that are nipping away at their heels.
But for now, both teams can enjoy a 10-minute highlight reel courtesy of Harris and Perez.
Worst: Bieler vs. Nesta
It’ll be hard to defend Claudio Bieler after Week 14, even if you’re a Sporting Kansas City fan.
You’ll have to look beyond the stat sheet to come to that conclusion.
Some masterful diving allowed the Bieler to draw a penalty in Saturday’s loss. There was some contact made by defender Alessandro Nesta, but not enough to warrant a foul.
Clearly, Bieler’s been enjoying LeBron James’ performance in the Eastern Conference finals a bit too much.
The flop was bad. The decision to point to the spot by referee Armando Villarreal was worse.
Even if there was a foul, it was apparent that it took place outside of the area. A free-kick should’ve been awarded, not a penalty.
But the Bieler-Nesta battle didn't end there.
Nesta delivered an outrageous headbutt to Bieler in the 74th minute and was immediately shown a red card from the referee. But there’s a reason the 37-year-old defender reacted in such a petulant manner.
While Nesta was on the ground—finishing a well-executed challenge on Benny Feilhaber—Bieler decided to spice up an already tense situation. A subtle toe poke in Nesta’s direction ignited the Italian’s fiery response.
Nesta’s reaction is indefensible. But that does not absolve Bieler of any wrongdoing, either. The entire situation was instigated by the Argentine footballer.
But in the end, it was Nesta and the Impact who had the last laugh.
The 2-1 victory at Sporting Park propelled Montreal to first in the Eastern Conference.
Best: Robbie Findley's Scorcher
Don’t look now, but Real Salt Lake has quietly risen in the Western Conference standings.
Saturday’s 3-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes propelled the Claret and Cobalt to a confident seven wins and 24 points through 15 games.
But it was Robbie Findley who stole the show in the 38th minute.
The 37-year-old veteran fired an absolute cracker from an impossible angle in Saturday’s victory. No one—not even goalkeeper Jon Busch—could stop it from scorching the net on the far post.
It was Findley’s third goal of the season and could serve as a confidence booster moving forward.
With Alvaro Saborio away on international duty for the coming weeks, it couldn't have come at a better time.
Worst: The Red Bulls Fall Flat
That is the productive output the New York Red Bulls lost when the team decided to trade away Kenny Cooper in the offseason. That’s the number that popped into the head of every Red Bulls fan as Peguy Luyindula failed to net an equalizer in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Eleven shots. Zero goals.
His point-blank opportunity in the closing seconds of Saturday’s match would’ve been the perfect time to open his MLS account. Instead, Luyindula continued to disappoint.
But Luyindula’s 20 minutes as a substitute does not protect an entire roster of starters. Each player is equally responsible for an overall flat performance on Saturday.
The team didn't play well enough to win, and it didn't.
Even with a lion's share of the ball, the Red Bulls failed to create the chances that 65.7 percent possession warrants. Vancouver was able to muster one shot fewer with only 34.3 percent possession.
The loss ended New York’s reign as the Eastern Conference leaders. With the Impact carrying four games in hand, it’s likely the Red Bulls will not be able to reclaim the top spot this season.
You can’t win them all. But when you’re sitting atop the Eastern Conference—facing a team averaging 1.18 points per game—you should.
Especially before a miserably-faithful home crowd.
Best: The Revolution 'Got 5 on It'
Hip Hop duo Luniz famously informed us that they had "five on it" in their 1995 single. The New England Revolution took it a step further on Sunday.
It was a 5-0 demolition of the defending champions Sunday afternoon. Goals from Saer Sene, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, Chad Barrett and Kelyn Rowe ensured the Los Angeles Galaxy returned westward staggered and stupefied.
For the Revolution, the result placed an exclamation point on an already impressive three-game winning streak. If you couple Sunday’s victory with Tuesday’s 5-1 destruction of the Rochester Rhinos in the U.S. Open Cup, New England has outscored its opponents 10-1 in the span of five days.
The team scored just 10 goals all season entering Week 14.
The brightest star at Gillette Stadium belonged to 18-year-old Diego Fagundez. The Uruguayan wunderkind continued his ascendancy over MLS competition on Sunday. A goal and an assist put things out of reach for the Galaxy.
This is the fourth consecutive week Fagundez impacted the scoreboard.
But forget the mind-boggling scoreline. Sunday’s victory lifted the upstart Revs into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
For a franchise that has not seen a playoff run since 2009, that’s all that matters.
Message received, New England. You are for real.
Worst: Mario De Luna's Own Goal
Oh, Chivas USA. Where does one begin at this point?
It’s been a rough week for MLS’ most deplorable franchise.
First, a discrimination law suit was filed by former youth team coaches earlier in the week. Then, it was the exit of head coach Jose Luis “El Chelis” Sanchez Sola that grabbed the headlines Wednesday night.
A 2-0 loss and the own-goal of the century completed the trifecta on Saturday.
Chivas defender Mario de Luna didn’t just connect on a Mauro Rosales cross, he headed it past his own keeper with a forceful grace.
Congratulations, Seattle. You have a new 12th Man.
The Sounders didn’t need the assistance, though. Even down a man—thanks to a soft red card on striker Obafemi Martins—Seattle continued to exert its will on the Goats.
Saturday’s embarrassing display extended Chivas’ winless streak to eight, with the last five ending in the loss column.
The Goats will have two full weeks to recover before their trip to Vancouver.
But it’s in everyone’s best interest if they decide to take the rest of the season off instead.
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