8 Things We Learned from MLS Week 9: Sporting's Class, Houston Gains Momentum

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

8 Things We Learned from MLS Week 9: Sporting's Class, Houston Gains Momentum

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    Any time one weekend of soccer produces 30 goals, and a few games with late theatrics, you will learn plenty about the teams involved in those games. 

    That is exactly what happened with the ninth week of play in Major League Soccer, as a few of the league's elite showed their class, and a strong team from last season finally recorded its first win. 

    There were also a few negative lessons to be learned from Week 9, as teams such as Chicago and Chivas USA continued to struggle. 

    Continue reading for the eight biggest takeaways from Week 9 in MLS.

History Continues to Escape Landon Donovan

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    Landon Donovan's search to become the all-time leading scorer in MLS history continued on Saturday without his 135th regular-season strike. 

    Donovan did have a few chances in the 1-0 loss to Colorado, but he failed to capitalize, as he fired wide of the target in the 39th minute, and hit the post in the 79th minute. 

    In six games this season. Donovan has attempted 18 shots, five of which have been on target. 

    The next chance for Donovan to break free from his tie at the top with Jeff Cunningham will come on Sunday on the national stage against Portland.

Chivas USA Relies Too Much on Erick Torres

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    Entering the match against Houston, Chivas USA players not named Erick Torres had a scoreless streak of 632 minutes, per Opta. 

    After the match ended, the Goats had just one goal, and it came from Torres, who has seven goals in nine games. 

    With the streak now sitting at 722 minutes, Wilmer Cabrera has to do something with his team to find another source of goals, but until that happens, the reliance on Torres will become greater with each week.

Beating Chivas USA Was Just What the Doctor Ordered for Houston

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    Chivas USA proved to be the perfect slump-buster for the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night at the StubHub Center, as the visitors put four goals past the hosts. 

    The victory was the first since March 15 for Dominic Kinnear's side, and it came at a perfect time, with three home games on the docket in the next two weeks. 

    Now that the Dynamo have momentum back on their side, they will be able to take on Columbus, Real Salt Lake and LA with a full head of steam at BBVA Compass Stadium.

There Is a Hex on Past Coaches of the Year

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    Through the first nine weeks of the season, the previous three MLS coaches of the year have struggled mightily. 

    Per ESPN's Adrian Healey, Bruce Arena, Frank Yallop and Caleb Porter have won just three of 23 games in 2014. 

    While this may be just a coincidence, it is an alarming trend that must be noted. 

    However, things are looking up for two of the sides, as Porter and the Timbers won their first game of the season on Saturday, and LA has played well in just six games. 

    As for Chicago, its struggles may continue past Week 9 since it blew a two-goal lead in the final 18 minutes at home to Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.

It's All About Synergy in Portland

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    Fans in Portland had quite the weekend with the Trail Blazers and Timbers winning in the same weekend. 

    Before Saturday's win over D.C. United in stoppage time, the Timbers, in the NASL, USL and MLS, were 3-0 in a home game directly following a series-clinching win by the Blazers. 

    With the victory over D.C., the Timbers moved their record to 4-0 after a Blazers clinching win, which is a statistic that exudes Rose City synergy.

We're Still Not Exactly Sure What's Going on with Mauro Diaz

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    During the first two months of the season, few players were as dynamic in the midfield as Mauro Diaz. 

    For the entire week, the injury news about the FC Dallas playmaker was mixed, with no one sure of what exactly the Argentinian's status was. 

    Manager Oscar Pareja cleared that up in his press conference after the team's defeat to New York on Sunday, per Jon Arnold of Goal USA.

    With fans, and fantasy owners, eager to find out the real news about Diaz, there is no doubt that Monday, if Pareja is correct about an announcement, will be a day that shapes how the rest of the 2014 campaign will go for FC Dallas.

Sporting Kansas City Is Still the Class of the East

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    Sunday's match at Sporting Park between Sporting Kansas City and the Columbus Crew was billed as a clash of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. 

    The match may not have lived up to its billing, but it did show us that Sporting is still the class of the East. 

    Thanks to strong play in goal by Eric Kronberg, and an early goal from Jacob Peterson, manager Peter Vermes was able to let his team play their game and not give into Columbus' tactics. 

    By doing that, Sporting asserted its will on the game and only allowed four shots on target. 

    With the win, the defending MLS Cup champions moved to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with 14 points, and they have a game in hand on second-place New England and two in hand on New York. 

    New England and New York have 14 points as well, but they trail Sporting on goal differential. 

Seattle Likes to Leave It Late

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    Seattle came away with their sixth victory of the season on Saturday against Philadelphia, but it had to fight for the game-winning goal. 

    Once Chad Marshall knocked in the 84th-minute strike to win the game, the Sounders were relieved that their five-game unbeaten streak was extended. 

    The late goal marked the eighth time this season that the Sounders have scored past the 75th minute of a match. 

    Despite leaving it late on a few occasions, the Sounders are currently the best team in the league with 19 points. 


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.