Best and Worst from MLS Week 18: CaliClasico, a Botched National Anthem and More
Only one word could describe the MLS Week 18 action: “Epic.”
Epic finishes. Epic fights. Epic breakdowns. Anything else was barely noteworthy in this weekend’s MLS action.
Chivas USA and the New England Revolution played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday. The Goats extended their 11-game winless streak. The New York Red Bulls had no problems in that department. A 2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo ended New York’s three-game losing streak across all competitions.
But neither team was able to make the list of best and worst from MLS Week 18.
Read on to find out who did.
Best: An Epic Clasico at Stanford Stadium
The San Jose Earthquakes will be moving to new grounds in 2014. Unfortunately, it won’t be Stanford Stadium.
History does in fact repeat itself.
Down a man and down a goal, the Earthquakes resuscitated their season the only way they know how to: “Goonie time.”
Shea Salinas buried the equalizer in the second minute of stoppage time. Alan Gordon headed home the winner just two minutes later. The 50,000-plus at Stanford Stadium erupted. According to the Los Angeles Galaxy’s official website, head coach Bruce Arena followed suit after the match:
If you have an IQ of 50, you can figure that out. That game, we should win that going away at the end of the game. It's embarrassing, our performance at the end of the game. That's all on me. That's my responsibility with this team.
If you have an IQ of 50, you can figure out that the Galaxy will be forced to return to Stanford Stadium next season.
Worst: An Epic Fail at PPL Park
Don’t worry, Philadelphia. We can see—”by the dawn’s early light”—that you shouldn’t be allowed to sing the National Anthem ever again.
The Timbers Army wrote the book on how to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" in unison. The 18,212 at PPL Park failed to pick up a copy. Philadelphia Union fans were supposed to wait for the soundtrack to start before singing the National Anthem.
After a lengthy delay, half the stadium took it upon themselves to start. Then the music came. Half the stadium went along with it. The other half decided to stay at their premature pace.
The epic failure made for some entertaining awkwardness. The Union followed suit with their performance on the pitch.
Je-Vaughn Watson—the valedictorian at this year’s “LeBron James School of Diving”—earned a second yellow for simulation in the 68th minute. Up a goal with a man advantage, Philadelphia seemed poised for its eighth win of the season.
The victory was destined after Blas Perez’s shot was cleared off the line...even though it clearly crossed it. Cries for goal-line technology permeated throughout the state of Texas after the assistant referee failed to make the correct call.
But Perez would not be denied on the day.
The Panamanian footballer netted an improbable equalizer in the seventh minute of stoppage time.
Best: Kei Kamara's Epic Night
Oodles of Chipotle will be eaten following Kei Kamara’s performance in Week 18.
The Sierra Leone footballer opened a wild affair at Sporting Park with a clinical finish in the 34th minute. Jairo Arrieta responded for the Columbus Crew in the 48th minute. Claudio Bieler gave Sporting Kansas City their second lead just two minutes later. Dominic Oduro ended a wacky, five-minute sequence with another equalizer in the 53rd minute.
The stage was set for another epic finish in Week 18.
Kamara didn’t disappoint.
Bieler flicked on a failed clearance from the Crew. Kamara buried it low in the 80th minute. Even Chipotle was impressed.
Kamara's fourth goal of the season was a much-needed game-winner for Kansas City. The team entered Week 18 with a four-game winless streak. With the victory, Sporting is now tied for third in the Eastern Conference.
Worst: An Epic Skirmish at BMO Field
If you’re ever in a bar fight, you want to make sure Doneil Henry is on your side.
Both teams went down to 10 men in the 79th minute after a fracas broke out between Tony Beltran and Luis Silva. Silva kicks at Beltran from the ground. Beltran retaliates by foolishly pushing Silva back down to the ground.
Henry responded like any good teammate would: By pushing Silva into next week.
Referee Chris Penso had no choice but to send both men back to the locker rooms prematurely.
It got worse for Toronto.
Stellar saves from goalkeeper Nick Rimando in stoppage time prevented Toronto from finishing June unblemished. The loss ended the team’s three-game unbeaten streak.
But the story here is the fisticuffs both teams decided to partake in.
Henry’s intentions were good. You want to protect your teammates. But this is football...not NFL football.
Best: An Epic Finish from Hassoun Camara
The story here should be the Colorado Rapids.
After all, the Rapids pulled off a remarkable upset on the road Saturday night. Late-game heroics from Tony Cascio snapped a three-game losing streak and Colorado became the first team to beat the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium this season.
But that’s how epic Hassoun Camara’s finish was in the 38th minute.
A scramble left Camara on his backside and sitting in the box. Amid chaos, the ball somehow found its way to his feet. The French footballer cleverly decided to chip it up and flick it into the bottom right corner for the most spectacular finish of the night.
Unfortunately, Gus Johnson was not available to call the match.
Forget about Johnson's flaws. Even he would have realized that something special had just transpired. Richard Fleming didn’t. The uninspired announcer failed to deliver the poetic justice Camara’s goal deserved.
But it was all for naught.
The Impact failed to hold on to two leads Saturday night, and it was Colorado who walked away with a much-needed three points.
Worst: An Epic Breakdown from Ben Olsen
DC United head coach Ben Olsen will have to explain more than a loss to his owners after Week 18. He lost more than a match Saturday night.
It’s a joke. We get the same clown show every weekend. 'They all even out, they all even out.' [Expletive]. They don’t even out. Not this year they haven’t. Again, nobody wants to hear the coach in last place complaining about the referees. Nobody wants to hear that. But I’ve got a group of men in there that have fought their tails off today. And they’re gutted, because I asked them to give me everything this week...I pushed guys to the limit with three games and the [US Open Cup], and they gave it to me today. They gave me everything they had. And the joker in the middle did not do a good job. He failed those guys. He failed the guys in the locker room, my guys that put their heart out there...Explanation? They don’t have to explain I do. To my owners, why I lost another game.
There are a pair of calls responsible for Olsen's outburst.
A challenge from goalkeeper Bill Hamid forced referee Mathew Foerster to point to the spot in the 47th minute. Coach Olsen was looking for a karmic response in the third minute of stoppage time.
A ball headed toward goal grazed the left arm of defender Brad Rusin. But there was no intent from Rusin and no call was made.
As a result, United dropped to 2-7-1 at home this season.
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