Winners and Losers from MLS Week 18: Chivas USA, Houston Back 4 and More
Thanks to a high-octane weekend of play across Major League Soccer, there were plenty of winners and losers to discuss after Week 18 closed up shop in Seattle Sunday night.
A total of 31 goals were scored in nine games over three days, which means plenty of players received a good amount of praise, and there were some guilty parties who made mistakes leading to those strikes.
Continue reading on to take a look at the full list of winners and losers from MLS Week 18.
Winners: Chivas USA
No one, not even the players and staff of Chivas USA, expected the Goats to reel off four wins in a row during the 2014 season.
After the 3-1 win in Vancouver over the Whitecaps, the much-maligned team has reached a goal that seemed impossible entering the current campaign.
Not only did Erick Torres score for the fifth game running, but Leandro Barrera and Agustin Pelletieri also contributed, which is a rarity given the heavy reliance on Torres that the club has had in 2014.
To extend their winning streak, Chivas USA will have to defeat D.C. at RFK Stadium Sunday night.
Loser: Amobi Okugo
After the final whistle blew on Philadelphia's 3-3 draw with Colorado, captain Amobi Okugo was shown a red card from referee Sorin Stoica.
In the final box score, the reason for the red card was "not visible," per soccer writer Dave Zeitlin, which is a strange description, but the situation got more complicated once the midfielder spoke after the match.
Okugo said that he was shown red with his back turned to the referee, an action he opted to call "cowardly," per Zeitlin.
One has to think an appeal will be sent into the league office by Philadelphia, if it hasn't already, to see if Okugo can be eligible for Wednesday's crucial clash with New York.
Winner: Adam Bedell
Columbus may have scored just one goal at Red Bull Arena Saturday night, but it was a very meaningful one for Adam Bedell.
The 6'7" rookie from the University of Detroit Mercy effortlessly knocked home his first-career goal in the 39th minute to equalize the match at a goal apiece.
Unfortunately for the Crew, that would be the only time the ball found the back of the net in their 4-1 loss to New York.
Loser: Every Member of the Houston Defense
Saturday was far from a banner day for the four members of the Houston Dynamo defense.
After just 59 minutes of play, all four players aligned in Dominic Kinnear's defensive setup were carrying yellow cards.
Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor and David Horst were all booked during a five-minute sequence starting in the 35th minute, while Warren Creavalle, who was starting in place of Corey Ashe, was booked in the 59th minute.
To add to the misery of the Dynamo defense, they also conceded four times.
Loser: Tally Hall
Sorry, Houston, but we're picking on you a lot this week—and rightfully so.
Tally Hall had a bad night in goal for the Dynamo, and it all started with his howler in the 39th minute, when the ball fell out of his hands and on to the head of Jonathan Osorio.
On Toronto's second goal, Hall let a rebound bounce right back to Dominic Oduro, and he saw Jermain Defoe's shot roll through his legs on the third goal in the 63rd minute.
All of the errors came after Hall made a terrific reaction save in the 29th minute on a Defoe free kick.
Winner: The Goalkeeping Future of the USMNT
If the competition for the No. 2 goalkeeping spot in 2018 wasn't open already, it was kicked up a notch this weekend thanks to Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid.
Johnson was a force in Chicago's 1-0 road win over New England with seven saves, one of which was a late penalty stop on Chris Tierney.
Hamid also delivered his version of last-minute heroics with a few saves on the Earthquakes in a match that was calling for yet another San Jose late goal.
If these two continue to push themselves and each other, the goalkeeping position will be in terrific shape for the United States.
Loser: Brandon Barklage
San Jose's full-backs did not put in a strong performance Friday night in front of the home crowd at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The man who was most responsible for that awful showing was Brandon Barklage, who conceded a penalty with a handball and was then taken off at the half in favor of Shaun Francis.
Despite conceding the penalty in the 11th minute, Barklage was not booked for his handball, which is the only positive he can pull from the 2-1 loss to D.C.
Winner: Marco Pappa
Marco Pappa has been one of the most underrated players in MLS this season, but he was finally recognized Sunday night in Seattle's 2-0 win over Portland.
The 26-year-old Guatemalan was once again terrific on the left wing for the Sounders, and he was able to score his second goal of the season to seal the victory over his team's Cascadia Cup rival.
If Pappa continues to play like he has in his first 16 games, he could easily go down as transaction of the year, but the jury is still out on that since Chris Rolfe has done a great job for D.C. since leaving Chicago in April.
Losers: Bottom Feeders
San Jose and Montreal did themselves no favors in an attempt to get out of the cellar in their respective conferences.
The Earthquakes failed to pack a punch in their 2-1 home loss to D.C., while the Impact lost by the same score against Sporting Kansas City at Stade Saputo.
In a combined 33 games this season, the two bottom feeders have won seven games and earned 30 points combined, which is eight less points than the Sounders have.
Winners: The English...Again
The English invasion of MLS continued this weekend, as five goals were scored by three of the top four scorers in the league.
Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his 15th goal of the season for New York, while Dom Dwyer netted a brace against Montreal to put his season total up to 14.
Since those three weren't enough goals for the English contingent in MLS, Jermain Defoe recorded a second-half brace for Toronto.
The three have combined for 39 goals in league play in 2014.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.