Best and Worst from MLS Week 15
Less was more in MLS Week 15. Especially in Seattle.
A total of nine teams were idle this weekend. Unfortunately, DC United and the New England Revolution weren't among them. They might as well have been. The two played to a scoreless draw at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
But how did the other active teams fare this week? Was it worthy of being mentioned in the best and worst from MLS Week 15?
Read on to find out.
Best: Seattle's Comeback
You sang for them, Seattle. Boy, oh boy, did they ever fight for you.
A fervent crowd of 53,679 packed CenturyLink Field Saturday night. The fifth-largest crowd in team history were on hand to witness an early favorite for MLS’ Match of the Year.
The electricity in the stands transferred onto the field early in the match. Andy Rose’s finish in the ninth minute ignited the crowd. The Emerald City party started.
And then, Camilo Sanvezzo showed up.
Seattle’s celebration was short-lived. It took Camilo all of 60 seconds to respond to Rose’s goal. Another header in the 26th minute gave the Vancouver Whitecaps an improbable 2-1 lead and silenced the 50,000-plus on hand.
But Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins would not be denied.
Martins wasn’t awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute. The Nigerian attacker was taken down close to the edge of the penalty area. Referee Hilario Grajeda determined that the foul took place outside of the area. The replays say otherwise. But Seattle’s constant pressure—the team finished with 58.9 percent of the possession—finally paid off in the 69th minute.
The Sounders were awarded a penalty, thanks to a poor tackle from Greg Klazura. Servando Carrasco calmly buried it into the top of the net.
It was his first career MLS goal.
The Martins-to-Neagle partnership completed the comeback in the 81st minute.
It took 53,679 fans, 16 attempts on goal and 439 total passes, but the Sounders are finally back in playoff position.
Next up for the Emerald City is Tuesday's World Cup qualifier between the United States and Panama.
Good luck trying to top this one, CONCACAF.
Worst: Portland Fails to Hold on
R&B vocalist Monica Brown could empathize with the Portland Timbers after Week 15. It really was “just one of dem days” for Portland at Toyota Park.
The Timbers dominated the Chicago Fire for a majority of Saturday’s match. Portland entered the second half with 60.7 percent possession and a 1-0 lead. Ben Zemanski doubled Chicago’s deficit in the 68th minute with a hammering shot from outside the box.
That 2-0 lead, however, was not insurmountable.
Mike Magee responded with his second MLS goal for the Fire in the 68th minute. Dan Paladini equalized with a stunning free-kick in the 82nd minute. The match would end in a 2-2 draw.
But the Man of the Match award belongs to the woodwork.
Three of Portland’s shots rattled off the frame. Two came within first 28 seconds of the match. The post denied captain Will Johnson just three minutes later.
Talk about a bad break.
But there is a bit of silver lining for the Timbers. The team earned a point on the road short-handed. International duty removed the services of Rodney Wallace, Futty Danso and Donovan Ricketts in Week 15. The draw also preserved Portland’s unblemished record on the road this season.
But even with all that silver lining, a victory was still there for the taking in Chicago.
Unfortunately for Portland, it was "just one of dem days" every team goes through.
Best: Olmes Garcia
Camilo wasn't the only one to net a brace this weekend.
Real Salt Lake defeated the shorthanded Los Angeles Galaxy 3-1 off the strength of Olmes Garcia’s brace. The 20-year-old Colombian forward netted his third and fourth goals of the season this weekend, albeit in an unorthodox fashion.
Don’t expect to see Garcia’s go-ahead goal in any training videos. An attempted header on Kyle Beckerman’s cross deflected off his back and trickled past goalkeeper Brian Rowe.
The goal wasn’t convincing, but that didn’t keep head coach Jason Kreis from delivering high praise following the match. The official MLS website reports Coach Kreis as saying:
I think if he continues to show that kind of hunger, that kind of desire, he has all the tools. He's an excellent dribbler, excellent striker of the ball, excellent finisher, excellent with his head, excellent pace, excellent size. He's got it all — he's got it all. For me, the only question mark is the desire, and he's showing that by the boatloads.
Real jettisoned the talents of Will Johnson, Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola in the offseason. But the team still manages to sit near the top of the Western Conference.
The ability to find and develop hidden gems like Garcia continues to be the reason.
Landon Donovan scored his third goal of the season in Saturday's loss. Midfielder Graham Zusi is suspended for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Panama. Too bad Jurgen Klinsmann didn't have the foresight to do the math before selecting his roster.
Worst: Columbus' Six Minutes of Death
Six minutes, that’s all it took for the Black and Gold to leave PPL Park black and blue in Week 15. The 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union dropped the Columbus Crew to a 4-5-5 record.
Philadelphia’s onslaught began in the 25th minute. A Brian Carroll shot from distance deflected off of defender Eric Gehrig and into the net. All 11 players for the Crew had a front-row seat for Sheanon Williams' volley four minutes later. The 23-year-old defender was unmarked inside the area, waiting to drive home Carroll’s flick. Conor Casey finished the burial in the 31st minute.
Despite having a lion’s share of the possession (55 percent), Columbus failed to threat the Union’s defense. The team only managed to muster four shots on target.
Head coach Robert Warzycha was none too pleased in his post-match press conference. According to the official club website, Coach Warzycha said:
That was a really lethargic performance, especially in the first half. I think the first goal was a joke and then we couldn't do anything more.
The Crew were without the services of Chad Marshall, Josh Williams, Jairo Arrieta, Danny O’Rourke and Agustin Viana in Wednesday’s loss. But Coach Warzycha refuses to use their absence as an excuse. In this report on the club website, Warzycha said:
You can't use that as an excuse when you don't have certain guys on the field because the next guy’s got to step up. Disappointment is the only way to describe it.
“Excluded” is the only way to describe Columbus’ current playoff standing. The team is once again on the outside looking in.
Follow Eduardo on Twitter for more insight on a variety of sports topics. Follow @Mendez_FC