Winners and Losers from MLS Week 14: Nigerian Forwards, Penalty Takers and More
With the level of excitement rising across the soccer-viewing population of the United States for the World Cup, the final week of play in Major League Soccer before the world's biggest tournament delivered us with plenty of talking points to hold us over until Thursday.
Just like every week, we saw our fair share of winners and losers, which included a pair of Nigerian forwards, the turf monster and a healthy obsession.
Continue reading on to see the full list of winners and losers from MLS Week 14.
Winners: Decision-Makers in Portland
On May 13, Portland made a late move to sign forward Fanendo Adi on loan from FC Copenhagen.
Less than a month later, the Timbers front office is watching the Nigerian star up front and score plenty of goals.
In his last two games, Adi has scored on four occasions with two of the four coming against Real Salt Lake Saturday.
Loser: Federico Higuain
To say Wednesday was not Federico Higuain's night would be putting it nicely.
In the Crew's 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake at home, Higuain missed a 12th-minute penalty, as he soared the ball over the goal guarded by Jeff Attinella.
To make matters worse, Higuain exited the match 32 minutes later due to a hamstring injury.
The good news for Crew fans is that he is expected to return to full strength before the World Cup break ends.
Loser: Fabian Espindola
Higuain's penalty may have been bad, but compared to Fabian Espindola's spot kick Saturday, it looked like a spectacular work of art.
Espindola handed Columbus keeper Steve Clark with the easiest save he's made all season, as the attempted chip by the forward fell right into the arms of Clark.
While trying to be fancy, and beat the keeper with a chip, is nice, most penalties should be taken with power—just ask Jermain Defoe.
In the most lopsided contest in league history, turf once again took Thierry Henry out of the New York starting 11.
To be fair, Henry does deserve to pick and choose what surface he plays on because of his aging body, but the game against New England was a crucial Eastern Conference game for the Red Bulls.
Without the Frenchman, New York won 2-0, a result that was better than the 4-1 whooping they took on Vancouver's turf in Week 1, a game that Henry sat out as well.
Winner/Loser: Obafemi Martins
Obafemi Martins was only on the pitch for 42 minutes against Chicago, but he made quite an impact for the Sounders in their 3-2 win.
Martins scored in the 31st and 38th minutes to hand the Sounders a two-goal lead at Toyota Park, but four minutes after his second goal, he was sent off.
The straight red was earned by the Nigerian for an apparent elbow on Chicago's Benji Joya.
Loser: Two-Footed Tackles
In the same game where Martins was sent off for an elbow, Chicago defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Martins in the 37th minute.
Believe it or not, Hurtado wasn't the only idiot to see red for going to ground with both feet in the air in Week 14, as Tony Beltran received the same treatment in RSL's loss to Portland.
Beltran was actually sent off for his second yellow card in a minute, but his challenge was worthy of a straight red, if referee Ismail Elfath wanted to punish him in that manner.
Loser: Eric Brunner
Eric Brunner must have wished that David Horst never went down with an injury Friday in the Dynamo's 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
Brunner came on for Horst at center back in the ninth minute and left in the 57th minute lucky not to have picked up a red card.
The howler of a day that Brunner had saw him pick up a yellow for a tackle on Benny Feilhaber that forced the Sporting midfielder out of the game with a shoulder injury.
Winners: Luis Robles and the Post
New York's Luis Robles turned in a spectacular performance for the Red Bulls Sunday at Gillette Stadium, but the biggest save of the game came from the left post.
As Diego Fagundez sped past a bevy of New York defenders, Robles was left as the last line of defense, but the 19-year-old beat him as well. Luckily for the league leader in saves, the shot hit the post.
While he may not have been credited with a save on that play, Robles did make 10 saves in the 2-0 win.
Winner: Gyasi Zardes
For most of last season, observers of the league had an ongoing discussion about the potential of LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes.
Zardes was lost in the lineup puzzle thanks to inconsistency and depth, but Sunday he showed why he could lead the line by himself one day.
In the 35th minute of the SuperClasico against Chivas USA, Zardes rose above everyone else in the box to power home a header past Dan Kennedy.
With the goal, Zardes showed us all once again that he does have the potential to score goals like that, but now he has to do it on a more consistent basis.
Winners: Papa John's Franchises in Toronto
The league's top pizza enthusiast, Dominic Oduro, was traded from Columbus to Toronto Friday, and thanks to the wonderful people on Twitter, we were handed plenty of Papa John's references.
Oduro, who earlier this season had a slice of pizza carved into his hair, is a known lover of Papa John's pizza, and he even starred in advertisement for the company.
The good news for Oduro is that there are 14 franchises in Ontario, one of which is located in Toronto, so he should have no problem adjusting to his new city.
Oduro made his Toronto debut as a substitute in the 65th minute Saturday against San Jose, an appearance we can only presume was followed by a postgame slice.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.