2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 7
Dearly beloved of Bleacher Report, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Real Salt Lake at the top of the MLS Power Rankings.
It was a fine run, marked by success and consistency that ended too soon, and in too cruel a fashion.
Such is the game of association football, where being in form does not necessarily mean a team will stay on top of any ranking if one below has a little extra intangible to work with.
We are also gathered here to celebrate a new face at the top of the power rankings in the New York Energy Drinks-er, the New York Pink Cows-er, the New York Red Bulls.
By the way, is it New York Red Bulls or Red Bull New York? Blast it; that's akin to asking whether it's Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or Kraft Cheese and Macaroni. (Actually, it's Kraft Dinner, but it only applies if you're Canadian.)
The spiel is ended, go in peace...to this week's Power Rankings.
Cue the choir from Westminster Abbey.
18. Toronto FC
At the bottom of this week's Power Rankings are Aron Winter's Toronto FC.
In spite of their place at the cellar, they defeated FC Edmonton in the first leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinals 3-0 at Foote Field in Edmonton, Alberta.
Maicon Santos earned a brace for Toronto while Alan Gordon added a third.
"Today we gave some players a rest and it was an opportunity for players who didn't play the last month," Winter told Asif Hossain of TorontoFC.ca. "On the performance, I wasn't satisfied because we respect our opponent and we started well, but when you are a man up you have to see the game through and that's why I'm not satisfied the way we played, but about the result I'm satisfied."
"It was a good result for us, we were happy the way we played, we played together we played as a team, moved the ball and got a good result," Maicon said. "It's going to be a difficult (second leg) - like the coach said, they don't have anything to lose, we have lots to lose. It's going to be hard they are going to try to do what we did here."
"Obviously the game changed when they went down a man," added goalkeeper Stefan Frei. "We have to take better care with our chances. At halftime it (had) to be 3-0 if not more. The game has to be over and done with ... the second half we were a lot better, we kept the ball and made them run."
However, the European approach to the game did not pay off over the weekend, as Winter witnessed in the Reds' 3-0 shutout defeat to the Seattle Sounders in MLS play.
With the league winless streak up to six games, the pressure is now on Winter to get a badly-needed result.
Up next for TFC are a couple of contests. First is the second leg of the Nutrilife Canadian Championship semifinal with FC Edmonton, scheduled for Wednesday, May 4. Kickoff at BMO Field is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet.
Toronto will then host the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, May 7 at BMO Field. Kickoff is scheduld for 7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by GOLTV Canada.
17. San Jose Earthquakes
The discussions before the match between Frank Yallop's San Jose Earthquakes and the Philadelphia Union apparently backfired.
The Quakes's Jason Hernandez was called for a handball inside the penalty box, leading to a Union conversion...and another defeat for San Jose to the tune of 1-0.
“It’s just disappointing we are finding ways to seem to be able to lose games rather than going out and being able to win the game,” Yallop told MLSSoccer.com's Geoff Lepper. “Our confidence is not high, but we will just keep working.”
Adding insult to defeat, the Quakes failed to take advantage of a man advantage from the 41st minute onward.
“At times, it did feel like we weren’t a man up,” said Bobby Burling. “They were at home, and they were pushing guys forward, knowing they needed a result. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t find much of the ball.”
What makes this difficult is that next up on their list of opponents in all competitions are the Portland Timbers. That's right, the red-hot Portland Timbers in U.S. Open Cup action at the new Fortress, Jeld-Wen Field.
Kickoff for that contest is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET. The winner will take on the Chicago Fire for a spot in the U.S. Open Cup third round proper.
San Jose's next MLS contest is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11 against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.
16. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Teitur Thordarson's Vancouver Whitecaps, like Toronto FC, succeeded in Nutrilite Canadian Championship play but floundered in Major League Soccer action.
Terry Dunfield's header from promising young Canadian Russell Teibert gave Vancouver a 1-0 victory over future MLS side Montreal Impact in the first leg at Stade Saputo in Montreal, Quebec.
“I think one of the important things about this cup is to develop Canadian players,” said Dunfield to MLSSoccer.com's Brandon Timko.
“[Teibert] has been quite fantastic in games he’s played,” Thordarson said. “We’re careful with him, but now he’s back and he’s maturing as a player. Today, he was great.”
On Saturday, against the Columbus Crew, more flashes of youthful brilliance came from Omar Salgado, who earned his first start.
In spite of his first MLS goal, scored in the 69th minute, the Caps lost, 2-1.
“That [goal] means a lot, especially for him,” said Thordarson. “That’s his first MLS start and he scored a fantastic goal, but he also played very well.
“He did a lot of good things and maybe should have scored more goals. I think he did extremely well.”
“Coach talked to us before the game and told us that we weren’t going to have much possession in the first half,” said Salgado. “He said we’re going to have to defend and not get scored on and be patient.”
Whether or not Thordarsson will give Salgado another crack at it remains to be seen as Eric Hassli returns for this week's set of matches.
On Wednesday, May 4, the Caps take on the Impact at Empire Field for the second leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet One.
On Saturday, May 7, Vancouver travels to Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois for a glorified pillow fight against the Chicago Fire. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet Pacific.
15. Sporting Kansas City
Peter Vermes's Sporting Kansas City are not doing themselves any favors to contend for a spot in the MLS Eastern Conference playoffs. Their most recent setback: a 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls.
Sporting's inability to break through the Red Bull defense made it another night of frustration for the road warriors at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
“We felt like we were around their box, pushing the game and getting around them,” Vermes told MLSSoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe. “We were close. Even at the last second of the game with (Ryan) Smith’s run late putting them under major pressure.”
In spite of Ryan Smith's presence, Sporting were unable to finish their chances against the New York defense and must do a better job at capitalizing their opportunities.
There may be hope for Sporting, as their next opponent is a team they had success against last season: the Los Angeles Galaxy. Can they up their win streak on the road against LA?
Kickoff at the Home Depot Center is scheduled for Saturday, May 14 at 9:30 p.m. CT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by KSMO-TV.
14. Chicago Fire
Carlos De Los Cobos's Chicago Fire are making a nasty habit of squandering leads. Saturday's contest with the Colorado Rapids was no different, as they drew 1-1 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
In spite of squandering the lead this time, improvements could be seen in the Fire's attack.
“I think that we were able to move the ball around better tonight,” Fire defender Gonzalo Segares told MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal. “We were able to move the ball really well from side to side.”
Marco Pappa scored in the 43rd minute for the Fire, who utilized a 4-1-4-1 formation.
“Having [center midfielders Corben Bone and Gastón Puerari] drop back gave more space to [wingers] Marco Pappa and Dominic Oduro,” Segares added. “They didn’t have to drop in so much defensively so they could play a little bit wider and once we recovered the ball they could just go forward. I think it gave them a little bit more freedom.
“We were able to find Dominic behind Wallace and we were able to exploit that for the goal. I definitely think that the formation helped us move the ball around a little bit better and it gave them trouble. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Chicago will need to use this tactic a bit more, rather than on a whim, if they want to get a win on their record.
The Fire will host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 7 at Toyota Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.
13. New England Revolution
Steve Nicol's New England Revolution are sinking further and further in the MLS Eastern Conference. On Saturday at the Home Depot Center, Chivas USA ambushed the Revs and sent them back to Foxborough, Massachusetts packing, 3-0.
“There are always occasions in a season where you have just nightmare games," Nicol told RevolutionSoccer.net after the match. "That was certainly one. But hopefully we’ve got rid of it for the season. Forgetting tactics and all kind of things, as soon as the whistle goes, you have to win the battle against your opponent. We better be ready for that next Saturday.”
“You have to read the game, and you have to make good decisions. We didn’t do that. On the goals we made bad decisions, and we weren’t alert, we weren’t reading the plays well enough. It was all too obvious tonight.”
“I think we have to just come together as a team," said goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. "Obviously we got to work harder. I think we got outworked tonight a bit. I think we got to look ourselves in the mirror and decide if we want this season to go in a positive way.”
“It was just simple mistakes, lack of concentration, knowing what’s around you and communication from all over of the field," added midfielder Shalrie Joseph. "We didn’t have that tonight. We still have a young team, we still have an inexperienced team, we still have a lot of growing to do. We have to put our work in next week and come out for Colorado.”
Kickoff against the Rapids at Gilette Stadium is scheduled for Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.
12. D.C. United
Simply put, it was utter humiliation for Ben Olsen's D.C. United, who were spanked 4-1 by the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Marc Burch scored in the 39th minute for D.C.
“That’s three games in a row that, defensively, we have had a lot of trouble," a grim-faced Olsen told DCUnited.com. "We need to kind of assess where we stand with this team. Overall, today was just men vs. boys. It’s pretty simple.
"We talked all week about what it would take here, that it wasn’t really about tactics, it’s about who is the most manly, who are the most guys that are committed and ready to do the work that you need to get a result at Houston or away. But it was just unacceptable. We lost every matchup on the field. It was man 4-4-2 vs. 4-4-2, with man matchups all around. Not one went our way.”
“We didn’t play well enough today," said forward Charlie Davies. "We didn’t match their intensity, and they outplayed us. They won every 50/50 battle, and it showed it in the scoreline."
“It was embarrassing," added midfielder Dax McCarty. "Not good enough from everyone. The effort and desire wasn’t there. You know it’s not going to be pretty soccer in Houston. Tonight we got punished for it, and that was the one thing we had to bring. It’s embarrassing. We should all take a long hard look in the mirror. We should all realize this isn’t little kids stuff.
"If we don’t bring the effort and desire, we aren’t going to win in this league. That’s 75 percent of the game in this league is just out fighting the opponent. We didn’t do that tonight.”
A couple of matches are on tap for D.C. First, there is a contest on Wednesday, May 4, against the Seattle Sounders. Kickoff at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by MLS DirectKick.
D.C. United will then take on FC Dallas at RFK Stadium on Saturday, May 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by MLS DirectKick.
11. Colorado Rapids
Gary Smith's Colorado Rapids are in crisis mode. Brian Mullan was suspended 10 games and fined $5,000 for the tackle on Steve Zakuani. This goes on top of injuries to Pablo Mastroeni and Conor Casey.
As a result, they managed just a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday. Andre Akpan, who made his first MLS start in more than a year, equalized for the Rapids in the 49th minute.
“All in all, with a side that has struggled with health throughout, the guys that were out here I thought gave a terrific display," Smith told ColoradoRapids.com. "We had numerous opportunities to score and we got back in the game. At the moment we’re just not clinical enough in front of the goal to nudge ourselves in front. But it’s a step in the right direction. I thought the football was decent.
"The guys are a little disappointed not to win. But I think they’ll wake up in the morning and feel better about the way they’ve played, the spirit, the endeavor. We’ve got some guys coming back next week to strengthen the group. We’ve got some tough away games. But what you know about this group is that they’re capable of winning anywhere and we’ve got to pick up a couple of results away from home and we’re back on track.”
"I’ve been waiting for nearly a year and a half just to get the chance to start and really put my impact on the game," Akpan said. "Finally I got a start, unfortunately it’s because of injury, but I was called upon. I thought if I could just get in and contribute and maybe get a goal I could be in the mind of the coach for the next few games. I was able to do that (score) so hopefully I can continue that (playing)."
Colorado will have a couple of MLS matches to take care of this week.
On Wednesday, May 4, the Rapids face the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Altitude.
On Saturday, May 7, the Colorado Rapids travel to Gilette Stadium to take on the New England Revolution. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MT/7:30 p.m. ET and will also be televised by Altitude.
10. Chivas USA
Robin Fraser's Chivas USA are on the rise. They defeated the New England Revolution 3-0 at the Home Depot Center last weekend.
Nick LaBrocca opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, Marcos Mondaini added a second in the 45th minute and Alejandro Moreno benefitted from a mistake by New England's Shalrie Joseph in the 57th minute to make it 3-0.
"I’m very pleased about the result," Fraser told CDChivasUSA.com. "We’ve talked about not being aggressive enough, and not being aggressive in the attacking third and it’s something that we’ve worked tirelessly for the last couple of weeks and we have been improving and we’ve been creating more and more chances. To have it come together tonight with a lot of guys making good aggressive runs, getting some goals, getting some results, obviously I’m very excited about that. Still though, there are a lot of things that we need to clean up and get better at. The perfectionist in me will never relax in until it’s perfect, so more than likely I’ll never relax.
"It was definitely a game where I felt like a lot of things were coming together for us. It wasn’t just this game; it’s been the last series of games,. If you look at how we’ve played, we’ve actually played better than we did tonight. I felt like in terms of things in final third and this aggressive mindset and we’ve gotten better at that and as a result, we scored quite a few goals and overall we did a good job controlling most of the game."
So did this victory make a statement to MLS?
"More than anything, we want to make a statement to ourselves," Fraser said. "We feel like we’re a better team than maybe some of our results have shown and we’re a better team than maybe what has been said about us. At the end of the day, we’re much more concerned about the process and we feel like we’re taking steps in the right direction. It’s really important to us to come into a game like this and come out with a result like this. I mean, to score three goals and get another shutout against a good New England team, I think it’s great for us and it further enhances our belief in what we’re doing."
"Today, we were able to create good opportunities; we got numbers in the box and guys in from the midfield into the box, late runs into the box, and runs to the near post," Moreno said. "It was a through performance by us in the final third. Not only did we score three goals but created a few more chances after that. It’s one of those nights were you got to feel very good about and continue to build on things that we’re doing and we look forward to a big challenge ahead of us next week."
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy noted that this win could spark a surge of momentum in May.
"It’s going to be a big month," Kennedy admitted. "I think the important thing for us is that we take it one at a time, no reason to get overwhelmed with it. Next we’re off to Salt Lake- we’ll have a great week of preparation and if anyone knows Salt Lake, I think our coaching staff has a pretty good idea of how we’re going to get at them so that we’ll prepare for it and it’ll be a great game.
"You talk about momentum, you talk about character and these games can gain some momentum in this league. In just two weeks, in terms of where we are in the league, standings wise, how much it can help. We just got to keep going in the right direction."
Perhaps Chivas USA could follow the footsteps of certain club from Nuevo Leon, Mexico and defeat now-struggling Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Telefutura.
9. Los Angeles Galaxy
Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy saw their unbeaten streak end at the hands of FC Dallas in pouring rain and at their own inability to capitalize, 2-1, at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas on Sunday.
Landon Donovan scored for the Galaxy in the 51st minute. Donovan won't be able to do it alone, though. Other players will need to step up their production, especially with the New York Red Bulls coming to town. That's right, those guys.
Kickoff at the Home Depot Center is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 at 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.
8. Columbus Crew
Robert Warzycha's Columbus Crew were back at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio for action against the Vancouver Whitecaps. An Emilio Renteria brace in the 50th and 59th minute gave the Crew a 2-1 victory over Vancouver.
Midfielder Dilly Duka was irked by the tactics of the visitors in the first half.
“Halftime, I came into the locker room very upset because we were definitely possessing it,” Duka said. “At times we broke through on the left but we wanted to put them away in the first half. They barricaded in. It was really annoying.”
What made Renteria's brace unique is that he used his weaker foot to work his magic.
“Normally, I never score with the left,” Rentería told MLSSoccer.com's Craig Merz. “This is the first time I’ve scored with the left foot.”
With Renteria discovering his versatility, the Crew will look to make their move riding the feet of the No. 20.
Next up for Columbus is a home match with the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, May 7. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ONN-TV.
7. Real Salt Lake
Jason Kreis's Real Salt Lake may have gone through the worst week of their season.
On Wednesday, they fell to CF Monterrey in the second leg of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League Final 1-0 on a goal from Los Rayados's Humberto Suazo.
It's the price RSL pays for not having Kyle Beckerman on the pitch.
“Kyle’s an extremely important player, not only with how many defensive plays he makes for us but how active he is in our possession,” Kreis told MLSSoccer.com's Greg Lalas. “I felt like we were missing that little bit of energy probably when we had the ball.”
“We always thought we were going to come back,” Ned Grabavoy told MLSSoccer.com's Randy Davis. “We still felt we were going to get a goal. It just didn’t come.”
And for some reason, the Portland Timbers liked what they saw and dealt Real Salt Lake another 1-0 defeat at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon on Saturday.
"It’s difficult," Kreis admitted. "We’ve seen the end of what was a fantastic run in the CONCACAF Champions League, we see the end of a four-game winning streak, and we see the end of an 18-game unbeaten streak. But with the ending of everything comes the beginning of something new, so we need to get ready for what should be a fantastic May with a lot of home games.”
Defender Chris Wingert agreed.
“It has been a really tough week, but I guess that’s just part of being a professional athlete," Wingert said. "We’ve got to make sure the lows don’t get too low and keep plugging away.”
One thing's for sure: Chivas USA are not Monterrey or Portland. But with the possibility of RSL peaking too early, things are not as certain at Rio Tinto Stadium. Could the league home winning streak be coming to an end out in Sandy?
Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 at 2:00 p.m. MT/4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Telefutura.
6. FC Dallas
Schellas Hyndman's FC Dallas check in at No. 6 inthis week's Power Rankings. Who needs David Ferreira anyway when you have Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo?
Castillo opened the scoring in the 47th minute, and after a long rain delay, Shea scored the game winner in the 88th minute of play.
“It was big,” Hoops midfielder Daniel Hernandez told MLSSoccer.com's Kyle McCarthy. “It was one of those games where we just had to dig deep. It was the first game without our MVP. Guys had to step up. We didn't know what kind of performance we'd be able to give, but the most important thing was that we had to figure out a way to win.”
“I think we dealt with a few adversities today,” Hyndman remarked. “The first one, obviously, is playing without David Ferreira. The second one was dealing with the weather conditions. The third was the delay of the game. Our players responded quite well to all of those.
“We're playing a very good team. They're leading the league, they're a well coached team and a very talented group of players. For us to go in with the adversities that I mentioned earlier and come away with three points, I think it's huge. It will continue to build the confidence of our players. It feels really good.”
FC Dallas will need increased production from Shea and Castillo when they continue their season against D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by TXA21.
5. Houston Dynamo
Dominic Kinnear's Houston Dynamo scored a comprehensive 4-1 victory over D.C. United at Robertson Stadium on Friday. Will Bruin scored a hat trick, with goals in the fourth, 41st and 57th minutes. Cam Weaver added an insurance goal in the 62nd minute of play.
“The team played very well tonight," Kinneat told HoustonDynamo.com. "Offensively, we were very potent. It’s great to see Will [Bruin] score a hat trick. His goals came in all different fashions. He was a handful for D.C.”
“Against New England in the last home game," Bruin said, "I had some chances, and I didn’t put them away. Tonight I finished them. As a forward, you have to have a short memory. I really wasn’t thinking about the misses at New England. I just went out and took my first opportunity from today’s game, and it carried on.”
The victory temporarily placed the Dynamo in first in the Eastern Conference until the matches involving New York and Philadelphia were played.
“It’s kind of crazy," said goalkeeper Tally Hall of the 3-1-3 start. "You always say in the beginning of the season that I want the season to start well. You know it’s one thing wishing it, but the guys have been great. How many times did Andrew [Hainault] slide in for a blocked shot? Hunter [Freeman] did it, and all the guys slide in for a blocked shot.”
Hall tipped his hat off to Bruin for his hat trick.
“This is the performance the whole team knows that he is capable of," Hall said. "No question the guy has a nose for the net. Tonight he showed it. Great performance.”
Two games are on tap for the Dynamo. On Wednesday, May 4, Houston take on the Colorado Rapids at Robertson Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by KHOU 11.2 and Fox Sports Houston Plus.
On Saturday, May 7, Houston takes on Toronto FC at BMO Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by KHOU 11.2 and TV Azteca-51 on tape delay on Sunday, 8:30 a.m. CT/9:30 a.m. ET.
4. Portland Timbers
Move over, Rio Tinto Stadium. Jeld-Wen Field is the New Fortress.
John Spencer's Portland Timbers shook off a 3-0 shellacking by the Los Angeles Galaxy on the road to chalk up the biggest win of the season thus far, a 1-0 shutout of Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Kenny Cooper scored in the 22nd minute for Portland.
“I’d probably say it’s the toughest (win), that’s for sure," Spencer told PortlandTimbers.com "I think we showed after we scored — they pinned us back — and I felt we showed a lot of character after last week (a 3-0 loss to LA).
“I think when they started piling on the pressure we got behind the ball and hung on a little bit. I think tonight we did a really professional job, we got one-nil up and managed the game.”
Team defense was key, goalkeeper Troy Perkins noted.
“We were organized and we believed that no matter what we were going to fight until the end," Perkins said. "If a goal came, it came, but we weren’t going to give up. We’re going to fight and we’re not going to give in.”
“There’s going to be times in the game where you break down and lose the ball," added captain Jack Jewsbury. "but if we can get guys behind the ball and make it difficult on other teams — especially a great team like Real Salt Lake that is very dangerous on the attacking side of the ball — it’s going to be good and throughout the year it’s going to help us out.”
Up next for the Timbers are a couple of matches. On Tuesday, May 3, the Timbers take on the San Jose Earthquakes at Jeld-Wen Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET.
Afterwards, it's back to MLS play as they take on the Philadelphia Union on Friday, May 6 at Jeld-Wen Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
3. Seattle Sounders FC
Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders were fueled by the loss of Steve Zakuani and proceeded to rip apart Toronto FC 3-0 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington.
Alvaro Fernandez opened the scoring in the ninth minute before Brad Evans added a brace in the 52nd and 75th minutes.
“It was unbelievable,” said Seattle midfielder Servando Carrasco to Matt Gaschk of SoundersFC.com. “It goes to show how much the city of Seattle appreciates what Steve Zakuani has done in these last couple of years. We all wish him a speedy recovery and we know that he’s going to come back stronger than ever.”
“I sort of got myself caught looking around and almost forgetting about the game a little bit,” Schmid said. “I’ve been texting Steve back and forth and the one thing he kept reiterating is he didn’t want the focus to be on him, he wanted it to be on the team. That’s the kind of guy he is. I was thinking ‘Steve, don’t be angry right now.’ Because we are focused on this game and on the win.
“We’ve got a pretty good job. We’re able to get out there and play every day. And you’ve got to appreciate every day because you don’t know when that day’s going to come when you can’t play. You hate missing games and I think everybody went out there and said, ‘Let’s enjoy ourselves today’.”
Two matches are on the way for the Sounders this week.
On Wednesday, May 4, Seattle takes on D.C. United. Kickoff at RFK Stadium is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. and will be televised by KONG 6/16.
On Saturday, May 7, the Sounders clash with the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. and will be televised by KONG 6/16.
2. Philadelphia Union
The long layoff has been helping Peter Nowak's Philadelphia Union, who doop'd the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at PPL Park in Chester. Sebastien Le Toux converted a penalty in the 76th minute for Philadelphia.
The goal was Le Toux's first of the season.
“It feels good you know, I think everybody was waiting for that,” Le Toux told philadelphiaunion.com's Kevin Kinkead. “And the fact that we got the win [is even better]. It’s good, even if it’s a PK. We worked very hard today, 10 vs. 11. Even if I score, the whole team worked very well. Thanks to Amobi [Okugo] for his work on the PK. He created and did an amazing job. That’s what’s most important.”
Philadelphia had to play a man down after 41 minutes, when Jordan Harvey was sent off.
“We started believing that we can win this game,” Nowak told MLSSoccer.com's Dave Zeitlin. “It’s really important for this group to overcome the obstacles that we had with the red card.”
“[Harvey] was obviously upset at halftime,” Union defender Danny Califf said. “But when we came up with a win, he was the first one to congratulate everybody. I think he really felt relief and a little weight off his shoulders, even though he didn’t do anything to really deserve it.”
“Once we got the red card, everyone came in here and regrouped,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “We said that they weren’t going to get any easy points. They were going to have to work for everything they got. I thought we kept the pressure on, even playing a man down.”
“This win shows a lot about our character,” said midfielder Kyle Nakazawa to philadelphiaunion.com's Andy Jasner. “We’ve come a long way from last year to this year as a team. I think all of our players believe in each other. We were a man down and kept fighting for each other out there. It was a great win and I think the confidence is strong when you can win a match like this down a man.”
“The team showed character,” added goalkeeper/captain Faryd Mondragon. “Today, we showed everyone what we are made of. We have to continue like this.”
Up next for the Union is a trip to the always-daunting Jeld-Wen Field for a match with the Portland Timbers. Kickoff is scheduled for Friday, May 6 at 10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
1. Red Bull New York
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you...your new No. 1 team on the Power Rankings...Hans Backe's New York Red Bulls, who utlized consistent pressure defense and a goal from Luke Rodgers in the 22nd minute to give New York a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City.
“Top teams from across the world pressure all over the field, this is the modern game,” Dwayne De Rosaio told MLSSoccer.com's Kristian Dyer. “When we plays teams like this, like the one we played tonight, we have to have high pressure to kill the other team’s offense. I think we did that well tonight, and it created a few good chances for us.”
“The good sign is that when you are under pressure, you can defend the way we did throughout the whole second half and have a clean sheet,” Backe said on the win.
Rodgers's goal came off a long ball delivery from Thierry Henry.
“That’s something we do in training,” Rodgers said. “I think that is Thierry’s game as well. Not only is he a class player, he’s a hard worker as well.”
“It was a little bit complicated today but we’ve been maintaining our shape in the back,” centerback Rafa Márquez said.
And so, this sets the stage for a mouthwatering encounter between the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls on Saturday, May 7. Henry. Beckham. Donovan. Angel. Marquez. Agudelo. Rodgers. Somebody get Michael Buffer on the phone, please?
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2.