5 Things We Learned from MLS Week of August 22-24
It was another wild week of action in Major League Soccer with a series of surprising results, including FC Dallas’ win over Real Salt Lake, D.C. United’s thrashing of Sporting KC and the Seattle Sounders taking it to the Timbers in Portland.
There was plenty of action off the field as well with the Jermaine Jones signing topping the news, as well as some key injuries for the Colorado Rapids.
Check out all that and more in this week’s MLS wrap.
The Rapids Lost Even Though They Didn't Play
After going down in last week’s match, it was announced on Tuesday that Colorado Rapids’ center-back Drew Moor will miss the remainder of the 2014 season with a torn ACL.
On the same day, Rapids’ coach Pablo Mastroeni said that he also expected Moor’s center-back partner, Shane O’Neill, to miss the rest of the season with knee issues of his own.
The Rapids are only three points out of a playoff spot, but with the LA Galaxy seeming to pull away from the pack, it appears there is only one spot left up for grabs in the Western Conference with the Rapids, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Timbers all in the mix.
Without Moor and O’Neill, who have a combined 39 starts between them this season in Colorado’s defense, it seems very unlikely the Rapids will be able to mount a late-season run.
FC Dallas Is for Real
Last year, FC Dallas got off to a hot start before fading down the stretch. In 2014, they’ve quietly worked their way into the discussion as one of the league’s best teams—a trend that continued on Friday night.
Taking on Real Salt Lake at home, FC Dallas went into the half tied 0-0 and down a man after they lost forward Blas Perez to a second yellow card. Perez received his second caution for diving after being taken down from behind by Salt Lake defender Chris Schuler. On the play, it appeared Perez was indeed fouled.
For his part, Schuler shoved Perez as the two got up from the challenge, but only received a yellow.
In the second half, Dallas scored twice with 10 men and held off a late charge by RSL to win 2-1. Dallas is now only three points off the pace in the Supporters' Shield race and in second place in the West.
Can Thierry Henry and New York Finally Get It Done?
On Saturday, the New York Red Bulls defeated Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers the Montreal Impact 4-2 on two beautiful goals by Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips’ 19th and 20th goals of the season.
No one can doubt that Henry is still an outstanding player—just watch his two goals from Saturday—but since joining the Red Bulls in 2010, the Red Bulls have not won the MLS Cup, or even made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
And despite all of his individual brilliance, Henry’s MLS legacy will be incomplete without a title, especially if he retires at the end of the 2014 season—as many expect.
A Blind Draw for Jermaine Jones?
During Sunday’s matchup between the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders, it was announced that, after weeks of speculation, the league had finally signed United States men’s national team midfielder Jermaine Jones.
But the most bizarre part of the news was that he was going to the New England Revolution as the result of a blind draw.
MLS’ byzantine allocation rules are impossible to understand—something the league actually seems to prefer—but Jones’ assignment to the Revs over the Chicago Fire (the other team that wanted Jones) was confounding even to MLS experts.
Either way, the Revolution won the draw and will have to find a way to work Jones into an already-stacked midfield. For their part, the Fire—who tied again this weekend—will go into the final stretch of the season trying to make up a five-point gap between themselves and the last playoff spot in the East with no help on the way.
What Does Any of It Really Mean?
Trying to pick up any enduring conclusions from a week of MLS action is a fools’ errand. This weekend, the Portland Timbers were beaten 4-2 at home by arch-rival the Seattle Sounders. But despite their up-and-down season, the Timbers remain only two points out of a playoff spot in the West.
In the East, things are even more confusing. After a series of recent wins, it looked like Toronto FC was ready to break away from the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but after a series of disappointing results—including conceding an equalizer to the Fire in the 90th minute on Saturday night—they only have a three-point lead on the Revolution and the Philadelphia Union.
The Columbus Crew beat the Houston Dynamo 3-0 at home this weekend, but Columbus is still barely above the fray in the Eastern Conference playoff race and Houston, who has seven wins and 13 losses, is, remarkably, only six points away from playoff contention.
Finally, D.C. United, who was dreadful in 2013, defeated defending champions Sporting Kansas City 3-0 on Saturday night and currently leads the Eastern Conference in a remarkable turnaround.
At the very least, the end of the season won’t be boring.
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