Best and Worst from MLS Week 7

Eduardo Mendez@@Mendez_FCCorrespondent IIApril 15, 2013

Best and Worst from MLS Week 7

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    Hold on to your beer bottles. Week 7 of MLS is in the books, and so is half the Toronto FC roster.

    Jack McInerney and Robert Earnshaw continued to stack the stat sheet this week. The two increased their regular-season totals to four and five goals, respectively. The Houston Dynamo set a new MLS record: The Orange Crush extended their home unbeaten streak to 35.

    The New England Revolution remain as disjointed as ever. The Revs have not scored since the season opener, yet managed to accumulate five points thus far.

    But neither made the list of best and worst from Week 7 in MLS. Read on to find out who did.

Best: Logic Prevails in Montreal

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    Forget Marco Di Vaio’s long-range strike. Forget Dominic Oduro’s sensational equalizer. The best part of the Montreal Impact’s 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew was MLS’ sound judgement. 

    A wintry blast threatened Saturday’s showdown between these two Eastern Conference foes. So rather than subject players to farcical conditions on the pitch, MLS opted to move Saturday’s match to Sunday afternoon.

    Sorry, American soccer fans, there’s nothing to romanticize here. Logic prevailed. The beautiful game was not meant to played amidst a flurry of snow and six to nine inches of accumulation.

    Even MLS was able to realize that. 

    But then again, this isn’t the first time the league exercised prudence. This isn’t the first time Jack Frost intervened.

    Last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal was postponed a day due to wintry conditions. The result: An instant classic on a clean pitch.

    Sunday was no different. Do you think Oduro is able to equalize in such a superb fashion amid snowy blades of grass?

    Common sense says no.

    True, an MLS regular-season match is easier to reschedule than a World Cup qualifier. Unless, of course, you’re Northern Ireland and Russia.

    It’s amazing what rational, sound judgement can achieve.

    Honorable Mention

    The match was not played, but at least there was an orange ball on hand. Bravo, Montreal.

Worst: The Woeful Seattle Sounders

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    Stagnant. Rudderless. Lethargic.

    Not much effort is needed to describe the Seattle Sounders’ slow start in 2013. Not much effort is needed from the opposition to walk out of CenturyLink Field with a positive result, either.

    Not yet, at least.

    Seattle played to another head-scratching result Saturday afternoon. Another scoreless draw—this time against the woeful New England Revolution—has left many questioning the resolve of this preseason MLS Cup favorite.

    To be fair, Rave Green were without the services of Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans. A grueling mid-week draw against Santos Laguna didn’t help ease an already tense situation.

    That still does not absolve the Sounders from any scrutiny. The team is off to the worst start in franchise history (0-3-2).  

    Seattle remains as the only winless team in MLS—a far cry from the 2012 version that reached both the Western Conference and U.S. Open Cup final. Expectations have not been met by Sigi Schmid and company. 

    It’s not time to press the panic button—not yet—but it might be time to start practicing.

    Honorable Mention

    The same comments can be made to describe DC United’s recent woes. The Black and Red have been able to earn a victory this season. But two goals and four points through six matches is hardly an ideal start.

Best: A Pair of Dynamic Keepers

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    In the late ‘90s, it was Michael Jordan vs. Mia Hamm. On Saturday afternoon, it was Nick Rimando vs. Joe Bendik.

    Anything Rimando did, Bendik did better. And vice versa.

    Both keepers put forth a remarkable effort to preserve much-needed draws on the road.

    Bendik made a statement in Toronto FC’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union: This is his job to keep. A whopping nine saves were made by the 23-year-old, each one more spectacular than the last.

    Bendik’s impressive performance included a double stop in the 27th minute, a tipped header in the 48th minute and a diving save in the 87th minute. Perhaps his biggest moment came in the seventh minute of stoppage time—denying Antoine Hoppenot of a late game-winner. 

    Not to be outdone, Rimando followed with six impressive saves of his own in Real Salt Lake’s 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps. The 33-year-old once again exhibited his acrobatic prowess, denying Nigel Reo-Coker’s searing shot in the 55th minute.

    A bit of misfortune allowed both to leak late equalizers. But without their performances in net, both matches would have been out of reach early on.

    A Not-so-Honorable Mention

    Not every goalkeeper had a stellar weekend. Bill Hamid misjudged the trajectory of the ball from Thierry Henry's strike. It was an impressive strike from distance, but it had more to do with Hamid's miscalculation. 

Worst: Danny Cruz's Challenge in a Yellow Card Extravaganza

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    Everyone remembers the eight rules of “Fight Club.” Danny Cruz just created the ninth: Everything is a 50/50 ball, even when it’s not.

    His reckless mid-air challenge on Ashtone Morgan set the tone for Saturday’s match. It was brutal enough to render Morgan and Cruz static for a few moments. Toronto wanted red. Cruz was shown yellow. It was only a preview of what was to come.

    To say the Union’s 1-1 draw with the Reds was “physical” would be putting it lightly. It felt more like a hockey game than anything else. In total, there were 10 yellow cards shown—two on Morgan that resulted in a red in the 88th minute. 

    That is the highest single-match total for yellow cards in MLS this year. 

    The previous high was seven and was set three different times this season. It should come as no surprise that two of those matches included Toronto.

    No one will mistake the Reds for playing the “beautiful” game. But it has been effective. With six points in six games, Toronto is well beyond last year’s pace.

Best: Olmes Garcia's Bender

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    There has been a recent pattern in MLS: This is your first MLS Goal. Make it count.

    Deshorn Brown kicked things off with an impressive strike from an acute angle in Week 3. Carlos Alvarez would not be outdone, scoring a late equalizer against the Los Angeles Galaxy the following day. Dillon Powers followed suit with a searing shot in Week 5.

    Olmes Garcia is the latest installment.

    The 20-year-old forward scored his first career MLS goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Whitecaps. His beautiful bender—which was struck from just outside the box—was enough for Real Salt Lake to walk out of BC Place with a valuable point.

    Garcia signed a five-year contract with Real this offseason. He spent the last two years in Colombia with Deportes Quindio, scoring seven goals in 47 appearances.

    The Claret and Cobalt have never been devoid of talent. The ability to find and develop hidden gems like Garcia is the reason why.

    Honorable Mention

    Garcia received a yellow following his goal for removing his shirt in celebration. It was worth it. The image depicted on his undergarment was that of a close friend who passed last year. 

    Garcia addressed the celebration following the match: 

    When I started playing, my friend who was close to my heart. We had a really good friendship and unfortunately she died on Dec. 1 and that's why when I scored my first goal here I dedicated it to her.

    Few yellow cards are dismissible. This is one of them. 

Worst: Alan Gordon's Forgettable Night

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    Alan Gordon took the “Bash Brother” bit a touch too far late Sunday night.

    It’s one thing to be awarded a yellow card for a studs-up challenge in the 41st minute. It’s another to receive a second for an errant elbow that left Mikael Silvestre bloodied at the mouth. 

    But a homophobic slur directed at Will Johnson to top things off?

    Even Chris Culliver—the outspoken San Francisco 49ers cornerback—thought that was a bit much.

    This isn’t the first time an MLS player partook in bigoted behavior. Sounders defender Marc Burch was suspended three games for directing a homophobic slur toward Johnson last season. 

    It’s safe to say a similar punishment awaits Gordon. If not more.

    Gordon was apologetic following the match:

    I sincerely apologize for what I said in our game tonight. Although I said it in the heat of the moment, that language has no place in our game. That is not my character, but there is still no excuse for saying what I said. I made a mistake and I accept full responsibility for my actions.

    Honorable Mention

    Actions speak louder than words. Johnson's response—a stunning free kick—gave the Portland Timbers a resounding three points at home.

    Even Better

    Rodney Wallace helped celebrate Johnson’s goal by lifting his uniform to reveal a #GetWellKA (Kevin Alston) message on his shirt. The Revolution defender was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia last week.

Best and Worst: Chaos Ensues in Frisco, Texas

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    It was a wild night in Frisco, Texas. The 1-0 scoreline does not tell the whole story. Enough events transpired to leave this match with a negative outlook. But FC Dallas' achievements should not be overlooked.

    Best

    You can’t argue with results. FC Dallas earned a man advantage after Leonardo was shown a red card for taking down Blas Perez. 

    Kenny Cooper would miss the ensuing penalty, leaving the Hoops scrambling for a late game-winner. George John found it in the 87th minute, heading home an Eric Hassli attempt that rattled off the crossbar.

    The Hoops remain atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with an impressive 16 points.

    Worst

    This isn’t the Landon Donovan we’ve grown accustomed to. 

    Donovan made his first MLS start Saturday night (he went the full 90 in Wednesday’s loss to Monterrey). It wasn’t the type of performance that befits an American icon. There’s no denying Donovan’s vision and soccer acumen. They remain as sharp as ever

    His penalty kicks, not so much.

    A poorly taken penalty in the 69th minute denied the Galaxy an opportunity to steal a point at FC Dallas Stadium.

    Even Worse

    There’s celebrating a goal, and then there’s pure stupidity. 

    After scoring the game-winner, John was struck in the back of the head by a belligerent fan with a beer bottle. He laid on the ground writhing in pain as blood gushed from the back of his head. 

    Valiantly, the 26-year-old defender would return to the field and took to Twitter in a dignified fashion following the match:

    5 staples to fix the gash and 3pts later, all is well. Love the support! Maybe next time buy me the beer instead of throwing it at me.

    Fortunately, the perpetrator was apprehended (per Ives Galarcep). It couldn't have been too difficult to find him considering his face was plastered all over national television. 

    Credit to NBC Sports Network for capturing the perpetrator's profile. There is no place for belligerence of that magnitude at a soccer match.

    Honorable Mention

    Dallas has not allowed a goal in the first half this season.

    Follow Eduardo on Twitter for more insight on a variety of sports topics.

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