Best and Worst from MLS Week 19: LA Galaxy Surge, a Botched Penalty and More
The usual suspects returned to form in MLS Week 19. Well, everyone except Federico Higuain.
The Colorado Rapids followed an impressive 2-0 victory on the Fourth of July with a scoreless draw against DC United. The Montreal Impact also failed to impress on Sunday, earning just a 1-1 draw at home against Chivas USA.
With the draws, neither team made the list of best and worst from MLS Week 19.
Read on to find out who did.
Best: Saer Sene's Searing Shot
It hasn’t been the best of times for striker Saer Sene in 2013.
A torn ACL suffered in September of last year has limited the 26-year-old French footballer's action. After starting 23 games in 2012, Sene has made just 12 appearances in 2013. Only five of those appearances were of the starting variety.
Sene made the most of his limited action in Week 19.
The New England Revolution secured their sixth victory of the season on Saturday. A 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes kept the Revolution just outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
It was Sene who opened the affair in the 13th minute.
With space just outside the area, the Frenchman curled a searing shot into the far corner. It was only his second goal of the season.
Sene still has a ways to go before reaching the 2012 form that saw him finish with 11 goals and three assists. But with performances like the one he had on Saturday, the Revolution should be optimistic moving forward.
Worst: Federico Higuain's Penalty Kick
Iraq continued its fantasied run into the semifinals of the Under-20 World Cup on Sunday. Five of six penalties scorched the net en route to an improbable victory over South Korea.
Maybe it's best if Federico Higuain picks up a copy of that game's film after Week 19.
The Portland Timbers' 15-game unbeaten streak has finally come to an end. The Columbus Crew captured a much-needed 1-0 victory over the Timbers on Sunday...no thanks to Higuain’s poorly taken penalty.
After Pa-Modou Kah denied Aaron Schoenfeld a clear goal-scoring opportunity in the 11th minute, Higuain stepped up to the spot. His penalty went left.
According to club beat writer Adam Jardy, the Argentine footballer is now 4-of-6 on penalty kicks this season.
Though the miss proved to be inconsequential, diving saves and shots off the post left the 15,051 in attendance gasping for air in the closing minutes of the match. Even down a man—and without their captain in Will Johnson—the Timbers proved to be dangerous with their 55.8 percent possession.
But like the equalizer never came. Like Higuain, the Timbers couldn’t make the most of the their opportunities.
Best: The Houston Dynamo Finally Score
This just in: The Houston Dynamo scored a goal.
I repeat: The Houston Dynamo have scored a goal.
It took 388 minutes, but Ricardo Clark’s header in the 59th minute ended Houston’s woeful scoring drought. It was the club’s first goal since June 1. Even better, it was enough to secure a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Dynamo’s seven-game winless streak is finally over.
According to the team’s official website, head coach Dominic Kinnear is more than satisfied with the win:
It was a great three points. We made it a little bit harder than we could have. We created a lot of chances. I thought we were good for a goal tonight. One was enough. First win for a while. The guys are happy and so am I. ... Any time you win whether it is a great win or the team's played poorly and you get a little lucky, you walk off the field with a little enjoyment out of it.
The Dynamo will look to carry that “little enjoyment” into Gillette Stadium next week.
Worst: Sporting Kansas City Extinguish the Fire on Fortunate Mishap
But even that wasn’t enough to extend the Chicago Fire’s six-game unbeaten streak.
The Fire fell to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. The 2-1 loss kept the team in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Benny Feilhaber opened the affair with an emphatic strike in the sixth minute. The volleyed shot ricocheted off the post and and tickled the net on the far side. It was Feilhaber’s first goal of the season.
Graham Zusi followed with an over-hit cross just two minutes later.
"It was a cross," admitted Zusi, per the team’s official website. But to be fair, the 26-year-old midfielder believes Feilhaber’s strike was a cross too.
All jokes aside, Kansas City now finds itself in second place the Eastern Conference. With the loss, the Fire find themselves 10 points behind that pace.
Best: The Galaxy's 6-Point Surge
Champions respond. The Los Angeles Galaxy are no different.
After an epic collapse at Stanford Stadium, L.A. rebounded with a six-point surge in Week 19. Home victories over the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas launched the Galaxy into a tie for third in the Western Conference.
According to the team’s official website, head coach Bruce Arena is cautiously optimistic moving forward:
Well, it’s close, not quite there. So, I think tonight was a real good win for our team and this week was obviously a good week, so hopefully we can continue to get better. We are starting to now have close to our first group together, which has been close to impossible the whole year. So, I think we are beginning to see signs of becoming a better team.
The signs are there.
In Sunday’s 2-0 victory over FC Dallas, the Galaxy owned 54.7 percent possession and made 23 attempts on goal. This after the team owned 59.2 percent possession and made 23 attempts on goal in Thursday’s wild, come-from-behind victory over the Crew.
But if statistical dominance like that is “close” and “not quite there,” you have to fear for the rest of the clubs in MLS.
Worst: The Whitecaps Crash Sigi Schmid's Party
Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid reached another milestone in Week 19.
The storied coach became the first ever to reach 400 career games in MLS and entered Saturday’s Cascadia showdown with a 179-123-97 record. But according to MLS’ official website, that level of longevity is irrelevant to Coach Schmid:
I always want to get the ‘W’, whether it’s win No. 180, whether it’s 182 or 183, it doesn’t matter what it is...I’d rather the next goal I get to is 200 wins and the next goal is another MLS Cup. Those are goals I like more. If 500 [games] comes that’s great, but it’s not as important as getting wins and getting trophies.
He won’t be any closer to win No. 200 after Week 19...not after the Vancouver Whitecaps crashed the party at BC Place.
Goals from Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks secured a 2-0 victory for Vancouver on Saturday. It was the club's first-ever Cascadia Cup victory in the MLS era. The Whitecaps entered Week 19's Cascadia contest winless in their 12 previous tries.
With the win, Vancouver extended its unbeaten streak to five games. The Sounders, on the other hand, dropped another match and still sit outside playoff position in the Western Conference.
It’ll take more than win No. 180 in Week 20 to rectify that.
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