Best and Worst from MLS Week 35: The Red Bulls, Goal-Line Technology and More
The best action in MLS Week 35 was highlighted by the New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution and Ramiro Corrales, but what about the worst?
Chivas USA failed to meet the criteria after a 5-0 loss at the StubHub Center on Saturday. The club's 20th loss of the season is considered old news at this point. The Philadelphia Union also failed to capture a victory this past weekend. A 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City eliminated them from postseason play.
They won't be featured, either.
Some tough competition also kept Camilo Sanvezzo—the 2013 Golden Boot winner—from making the list of best and worst from MLS Week 35.
Read on to find out why.
Best: The End of an Era
...and then there were none.
For 18 years, defender Ramiro Corrales donned the colors of MLS franchises. His illustrious career—one with successful stints at San Jose and New York—finally concluded Saturday afternoon. A 2-1 victory over FC Dallas signified the end of an era.
There are no more MLS originals left on the field from 1996.
Corrales shared some emotional words following the match. Rick Eymer offers the transcription on MLS' official website:
It was very emotional before the game with my family there and friends were there. It's been fantastic for 18 years. I've felt comfortable here the last few years. This has been one of the best locker rooms I've experienced in my career.
The two-time MLS Cup winner walks from the league with 277 career starts and more than 24,000 minutes played. His achievements extend from the hard turf of Giants Stadium to the soccer-specific cathedrals built to house the new era of American soccer.
An original. A pioneer. A legend.
We bid you farewell.
Week 35 also signified the end of Y.P. Lee's illustrious footballing career. The 36-year-old retired following Sunday's 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids. The South Korean international played just two seasons with Vancouver Whitecaps.
Worst: Montreal Backs Its Way in
This is not how you want to clinch your first-ever playoff berth.
The Montreal Impact entered Week 35 with just one scenario in mind: Win.
Three points was enough to secure postseason play for the Canadian side. On paper, the task was far from a daunting one. Toronto FC entered the final week of the season with just five victories to their name. Talk about a cupcake for a club preparing to make an MLS Cup run.
More on that story later.
With the Chicago Fire failing to capture a victory the following day, Montreal backed its way into the playoffs. A mid-week trip to Houston now awaits the club. The Impact have dwindled away to a middle-of-the-road club forced to participate in the knockout round.
And they won’t be doing so with much confidence, either.
Since Week 29, Montreal boasts just one victory and four out of a possible 24 points. During that eight match stretch, only three playoff clubs served as the opposition. All three of those matches resulted in a 1-0 loss.
If recent form is any indication, the end is near for the Montreal Impact.
Best: They're Back
Welcome back, New England Revolution.
You've been missed.
For the first time since 2009, the Revolution have successfully clinched a playoff berth. A 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew satisfied the points requirement in the Eastern Conference. A postseason date with Sporting Kansas City awaits.
According to the club's official website, head coach Jay Heaps is optimistically aware of the resolve his young side has shown in recent weeks:
Obviously you play for the playoffs. I think that we had our ups and downs this season, but I really think that we are coming together as a group. We are getting our young guys big minutes, big games, and they are winning games. They are finding results. I think that is really important for the development of players. You can talk about developing players and put them in tough situations and I think when you put them in tough situations they do well that learning curve is expedited.
Sorry, coach, but the situation only gets "tougher" from here.
The results will have to improve if New England hopes to avoid being a one-hit wonder.
Worst: The Robbery of Omar Gonzalez
Quick—Ref, check your watch!
Oh, nevermind. MLS doesn't boast that kind of technology.
The Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles Galaxy played to a 1-1 draw on Sunday night. As ESPN's Paul Carr points out, a goal from Clint Dempsey ended a personal scoring drought that lasted 590 minutes. Meanwhile, a half-volley from Robbie Keane only solidified his case for MLS MVP.
However, the story here is the goal that wasn't scored...technically.
A header from defender Omar Gonzalez clearly crossed the goal line. The Galaxy clearly equalized in the 42nd minute. The assistant referee Greg Barkley clearly botched the call.
The goal wasn't awarded.
It's no wonder Keane was livid in the moment. Scott French posted the Irishman's fiery comments on MLS' official website following the match:
I mean, it was so obvious, wasn't it. I was standing right there. That's why I went a bit crazy at the referee, because I was right beside [the play] and I knew the ball was over the line. When something like that happens, it's very frustrating...I don't know whether [Barkey] was in line or not, I'm not too sure, but if he wasn't, it's a big problem.
Yes, Keane. MLS officiating has been a "big problem" in 2013.
Fotis Bazakos' poor handling of a match in Week 32. Geoff Gamble's decision to award a non-penalty in Week 13. Jorge Gonzalez's terrible afternoon in Week 10. The list goes on and on and only serves as a black eye for the league.
But at this point, is anyone really surprised anymore?
Best: The Shield Comes to New York
How do you find the words to describe 18 years of pain?
Finding the words to describe one night of joy, of glory, of elated and rapturous bliss is something entirely different, though. Metro legend and head coach Mike Petke proved just how easy it was in his post-match address to the Red Bulls faithful. Those fortunate enough to be in attendance to witness a 5-2 victory and the club's first-ever title were treated to a genuine speech from the rookie head coach.
MSG's coverage of the event was posted on the club's official website following the match:
When I was lucky enough to get this job, I wanted one thing only: To give guys [the fans] a team you could be proud of. I think we accomplished that. I want you to enjoy this tonight. Enjoy this moment. Enjoy it tonight. Tomorrow we focus on our next goal. But enjoy it tonight, guys.
There wasn't much enjoyment early on, though.
An opening strike from Mike Magee returned the same uneasy feeling that plagued the franchise for 17 dreary seasons. Just the thought of the "Curse of Caricola" turned the stomachs of every New Yorker for the first 25 minutes.
Then, Thierry Henry struck.
A goal worthy of its own flipbook treatment rattled the stands. The 25,219 in attendance let out a deafening roar. The pressure was on.
The floodgates opened.
An onslaught of strikes from Ibrahim Sekagya, Lloyd Sam, Eric Alexander and Johnny Steele devoured the Fire. Nothing was left of the Chicago club when the final whistle was blown, including a chance to participate in the postseason.
The Supporters' Shield belongs to the New York Red Bulls.
Enjoy it now. Enjoy it forever.
This title lasts a lifetime.
Worst: For the Umpteenth Time, D.C. United
Congratulations, D.C. United. You've made history.
You are officially the worst club in the 18 years of MLS' existence.
A 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo ensured the Black and Red would finish 2013 with a pitiful three victories.
Three. Whole. Victories.
That total is the fewest ever recorded in 18 years of league play.
It only gets worse.
With just 22 goals scored this season, D.C. scored an average of 0.65 goals per game.
Congratulations, you've made even more history. That is the lowest scoring average the league has ever recorded, besting the pitiful mark set in 2010 (0.70) by—you guessed it—D.C. United.
According to MLS' official website, goalkeeper Bill Hamid had a few choice words following the club's 24th loss:
That record, man, I'm sorry, but it [expletive] sucks. This season has now been forgotten in my brain, to be honest with you. I'm sure every single one of us are in the same boat because thinking about this is depressing. 2014, that's where the thoughts are right now.
Don't worry, Hamid. This season won't be forgotten in our brains.
Ineptitude like this only echoes and lasts forever in the pantheon of dreadful football.
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