It's been all smiles in Columbus lately.
The best action in MLS Week 30 was highlighted by the Houston Dynamo, Lee Nguyen and Dominic Oduro, but what about the worst?
The Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy failed to meet the criteria after a 1-1 draw at the StubHub Center. Real Salt Lake also failed to capture a victory at home this past weekend. The club inexplicably fell 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
They won't be featured, either.
Some tough competition also kept the Portland Timbers from making the list of best and worst from MLS Week 30.
Read on to find out why.
"If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again."
It wasn't a fair start for Nguyen and company. For starters, the club was subjected to the 1998 version of MLS. New England Patriots paraphernalia toxically dominated the field. Scott Caldwell's own goal in the 11th minute didn't help matters, either.
But after Nguyen drew a foul inside the area, the opportunity was there for the Revolution to find the equalizer.
Nguyen miserably failed with his attempt. It landed safely into the abdomen of goalkeeper Bill Hamid. Fortunately for the American, Saer Sene and Diego Fagundez would connect just seconds later to equalize.
Nguyen would have his shot at redemption later in the second half.
The 26-year-old would draw another foul inside the area. This time, it was Lewis Neal who had his hands caught in the cookie jar. Nguyen had his opportunity to give New England the victory and propel his club back into playoff position.
Chipping the ball into the net, Nguyen prevailed...and so too did the Revolution.
The club now holds the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 40 points.
He leads the league in cautions (11). He'd lead the league in frustrating play if it was a statistical category too.
He is Aurelien Collin.
Let's set the stage.
Up 1-0, Collin was already carrying a yellow card entering the 36th minute. Try not to act surprised. A dribble just outside the area from Alvaro Rey was met by a tender elbow. The Frenchman delivered it with pristine precession. He even took the time to look over his shoulder to size the opposition just right.
Surely, a second yellow was imminent.
Though a red was warranted, referee Allen Chapman decided not to give the SKC defender his marching orders.
The soccer gods would rectify the issue just minutes later.
With Halloween still over a month away, Collin carried out his best Jonjo Shelvey impression at BMO Field. Unable to handle a simple pass from his goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, the Frenchman gifted the ball back to Toronto. His shoddy defending in the subsequent seconds didn't help, either.
The Reds found their equalizer.
Collin would put a bow on his day with a body-check challenge inside the area. But with martial law no longer in place, Toronto shouldn't have expected a whistle. He would go unpunished yet again.
With a 2-1 victory, Collin and his teammates escaped BMO Field with a much-needed three points.
Entering Week 30, the Houston Dynamo had scored just three goals in their last five matches.
They surpassed that total in 30 minutes on Saturday.
A 5-1 destruction of Chivas USA breathed playoff life back into the Dynamo. A pair of braces from Giles Barnes and Oscar Boniek Garcia helped secure the all-important victory. The club now holds a three-point cushion in the Eastern Conference. The dreaded red line is now further from sight.
After conceding an equalizer in the 50th minute, the Dynamo didn't sulk. They feasted. An onslaught of goals would commence just four minutes later and finish with Garcia's brace in stoppage time.
According to the club's official website, head coach Dominic Kinnear isn't underselling the importance of that second goal:
We made a little bit of a boo-boo for them to get their goal. But the guys kept on pressing and were relieved to get a goal back right away. I think to get that goal it gave them a lift and maybe [Barnes' second] knocks them down a little bit. That goal right after they scored was huge for us.
The victory was huge for the Houston.
With a visit to Gillette Stadium in Week 31, the Dynamo can further solidify their position in the Eastern Conference standings.
There's a new king in MLS...and it's all thanks to one man with one name.
The New York Red Bulls narrowly defeated FC Dallas on Sunday. The 1-0 victory propelled the club to the top of the Supporters' Shield standings. With 51 points and four matches remaining, the Red Bulls are in a prime position to bring home their first significant piece of hardware in club history.
But as beautiful as that sounds, the 1-0 victory on Sunday was far from aesthetically pleasing. New York and Dallas entered the 76th minute scoreless. With a combined three shots on target, neither club did much to secure the three points.
Then, Erick happened.
In an attempt to clear a Johnny Steele cross, the Brazilian netted the game-winner. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, it was for the wrong team. A calamitous strike off his foot secured New York's 15th win of the season.
To make matters worse for Erick, the loss dropped his club to eighth in the Western Conference.
If you don't have enough to share with everyone, then you can't indulge.
Those are the rules, Dominic Oduro.
Well, those are the rules in youth soccer. The 26-year-old Ghanaian doesn't quite meet that criteria anymore. He took the time to celebrate a goal against his former club in the most gluttonous fashion imaginable.
After slotting home a Jairo Arrieta pass, Oduro made his way to the opposite side of the pitch. Awaiting the Ghanaian was a fresh slice of Papa John's goodness.
One goal. One bite. One slice of heaven.
But the story remains Oduro's impassioned relationship with Papa John's.
The two created a marketing blitz in the summer months. Oduro offered to deliver a Papa John's pizza in the surrounding Columbus area back in early July. Two months later, the Ghanaian received some VIP treatment of his own pitch side.
Just don't be so sure they'll deliver all the way to Frisco, Texas in Week 31.
Montrealers will fell wronged following Week 30.
They'll be wrong in doing so.
Their club—the Montreal Impact—fell 3-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Saputo Stadium on Saturday. But don't let the final scoreline fool you. As resolute as it was, the match was not devoid of some controversy.
A pair of correct calls from referee Jorge Gonzalez ultimately sealed the Impact's fate in the first half.
In the sixth minute, Hassoun Camara attempted to gather himself amid a vigorous Vancouver attack. A slip inside the area would soon bring a chaotic end to his calamitous sequence. The shot from Matt Watson triggered the Frenchman's childhood instincts. The ball would clearly strike his hand en route to goal. Gonzalez had no choice but to point but the spot.
Kenny Miller had no choice but to bury Camara's gift.
Thirty-one minutes later, the Whitecaps would return the favor. A shot from Patrice Bernier deflected off Jun Marques Davidson's arm. Once more, Gonzalez pointed to the spot. Montreal's equalizer was imminent.
Or so we thought.
After communicating with his assistants, the referee opted to reverse his initial decision. The replays show the ball striking the upper area of the chest adjacent to Davidson's shoulder. The defender did indeed make a concerted effort to deflect Bernier's shot.
He just didn't do it with his arm.
Camilo Sanvezzo wouldn't leave it to chance in the closing minutes of the match. The Brazilian netted a brace in a two minute span to seal the 3-0 victory. His final of the two was powerful enough to shake the MLS standings.
The loss was Montreal's second consecutive at home.
This recent run of form doesn't bode well for a club which had hopes of finishing atop the Eastern Conference.
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