Best and Worst from MLS Week 20: Thierry Henry, Portland's Game-Winner and More
After MLS Week 20, never say never again. The Portland Timbers and Peguy Luyindula can attest to that.
The Vancouver Whitecaps followed suit with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire, with Camilo Sanvezzo stealing the show at BC Place. MLS' hottest striker netted a brace and has scored a league-best nine goals since June 1.
But some tough competition kept Sanvezzo and Kansas City from making the list of best and worst from MLS Week 20.
Read on to find out why.
Best: A World-Class Gesture from Thierry Henry
But it was a world-class gesture from Thierry Henry that stole the show in Week 20.
The New York Red Bulls defeated the Montreal Impact 4-0 on Saturday. Dominant from the opening whistle, New York entered the 87th minute with a 3-0 lead. A foul on Lloyd Sam inside the 18-yard box drew a whistle from referee Ricardo Salazar.
Thierry Henry was headed toward the spot to secure his second brace of the season...or so we thought. Instead, when the moment came, it was Peguy Luyindula who lined up to take the penalty.
We could force you to sit through nine more of those if we felt so inclined.
Thirteen shots, zero goals. That was Luyindula’s productive output entering Week 20, but it’s zero goals no more.
Luyindula stepped up to the spot in the 88th minute and buried the shot in the bottom right corner. According to Dave Martinez of Empire Of Soccer, the French footballer admitted the goal felt "a little weird." He also added that he was waiting for that goal for "a long time."
You’re not alone in that sentiment, Peguy. Red Bulls fans have been right there with you.
By now, the overblown YSA saga has been covered ad nauseum by the media. Sports Illustrated's Brian Straus shares the story here. But the Garden State Ultras delivered an emphatic message to club's front office on Saturday: They are not for sale.
Worst: Referee Jorge Gonzalez's Judgement
In monsoon-type conditions, the Philadelphia Union defeated Chivas USA 3-1 on Friday. Goals from Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan and Conor Casey wiped out an early 1-0 deficit for Philadelphia.
But that’s what the scoreline wants you to believe.
Moments after the ejection of Union head coach John Hackworth for arguing, a dark cloud of controversy rolled in over PPL Park. Tied at 1-1 in the 79th minute, referee Jorge Gonzalez whistled Chivas midfielder Edgar Mejia for a back pass.
The pitch was soaked. It was a 50/50 ball, and Gonzalez still whistled Mejia for a back pass.
Things deteriorated for the Goats from there.
A petulant upheaval—from what appeared to be the entire Chivas roster—would follow. Josue Soto would eventually bump Gonzalez and earn a second yellow for dissent.
The Goats would be forced to finish the match with 10 men.
Farfan would bury the resulting indirect free kick and give the Union their first lead of the match. Casey would seal the deal in the 89th minute after finishing a cross from Fabinho.
The Goats are now 0-4-2 all-time against the Union, and they extended their winless streak to 14 games.
Fortunately for Gonzalez, Coach Hackworth wasn’t as critical of his performance this time around.
Say hello to Adam Moffat, the new most interesting man in the world. He doesn’t always score goals, but when he does, they are absolute stunners.
Just ask Kansas City.
His stunning exploits helped the Houston Dynamo advance past Sporting for a second consecutive postseason in 2012. A laser-guided missile in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals still haunts Kansas City to this day.
The New England Revolution received a similar treatment in Week 20.
In the 49th minute of Saturday’s 2-1 victory, Moffat delivered another improbable strike from distance. Not even a diving Bobby Shuttleworth could save the Scottish footballer’s volley. It was his first goal of 2013.
But the fun didn’t end there.
In a calamitous sequence, Moffat delivered another strike from distance in the 79th minute. After ringing off the post, the ball deflected off Shuttleworth’s back and into the net.
According to New England’s official website, even Shuttleworth agrees it was just that kind of night for the 27-year-old midfielder:
Yeah, I don’t think you are going to see two goals like that very often. That first one is probably most likely be up for goal of the year at the end of the season. Second one is coming off the post, hitting me in the back. That has never happened to me before. I think it is unlucky. Like you said, if those are the chances that we are giving up, there is something to be said for that. But obviously we still lost the game so it is not good enough, from everyone, myself included.
The result wasn’t good enough, and the Revolution now find themselves five points out of the playoff picture.
Worst: An Egregious Red Card on Osvaldo Alonso
Welcome back, Osvaldo Alonso. Now, here’s a red card.
And an egregious one at that.
After missing several weeks with a quadriceps tear, the Seattle Sounders welcomed back their captain. Unfortunately for Seattle, the welcomed return will be short-lived.
In the fifth minute of stoppage time, a tussle in the box between Alonso and Dan Gargan led to a controversial whistle from referee Sorin Stoica. Both men jostled for position; both men made contact. In the end, only Alonso received his marching orders.
According ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Stoica claims the red card was for violent conduct.
There was no violence.
There was no definitive contact.
Here is footage of the call in question. Obviously, the foul wasn’t nearly as brutish as Dimitry Imbongo Boele's clocking of the Dynamo's Eric Brunner, but it still wasn’t enough to avoid a precipitous red card.
Hopefully, the MLS Disciplinary Committee sees it differently.
Best: Andrew Jean-Baptiste Makes Timbers History
The Notorious B.I.G. freestyled it best in 1993: "Where Brooklyn at?" (Warning: explicit language)
After a stunning 2-1 victory for the Portland Timbers, "Brooklyn" was parading shirtless on the pitch in celebration.
Entering stoppage time, the Timbers and Los Angeles Galaxy seemed destined for another draw. But with one final gasp, it was Andrew Jean-Baptiste who headed home Diego Valeri’s corner kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Not a bad way to leave your mark.
It was the 15th goal Los Angeles conceded in the final 15 minutes of a match this season. That leads the league.
Thanks to Ives Galarcep, you can see that Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was visibly upset following the match. Arena would eventually share a warm embrace with Timbers head coach Caleb Porter.
But according to Galaxy insider Adam Serrano, Coach Arena did not speak with the media following the match.
After a crushing loss like that, it’s not hard to understand why.
Worst: Sound the Alarms in Frisco, Texas
FC Dallas didn’t just lose to Real Salt Lake on Saturday; they were throttled, 3-0, at home.
A nutmeg gem from Javier Morales preceded goals from Ned Grabavoy and Olmes Garcia. The win kept RSL atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with 37 points. The victory came despite the team being without Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Alvaro Saborio and Tony Beltran, as all four are away on Gold Cup duty.
Even goalkeeper Josh Saunders was unable to finish the match. The backup keeper left in the 51st minute with a sprained left knee LCL. Head coach Jason Kreis was forced to turn to his third goalkeeper, Jeff Attinella.
The 24-year-old rookie made three saves in his MLS debut.
He shared his thoughts on the club’s official website following the match:
I’m happy I could step in and help the team get a win. Our offense and our defense were the stars tonight...Obviously you don’t want to come in due to someone getting injured… Josh has been a mentor to me so I was sad to see him go down but happy to contribute.
Sorry, Attinella, but the real star is Coach Kreis. Despite all this turnover, RSL still sits atop the league.
As for Dallas, the home loss was the team’s first since 2012. It also extended the club’s winless streak to seven matches. Even worse, Saturday just so happened to be the first time RSL captured a victory on the road in Dallas.
Sound the alarms, Frisco, Texas.
It could go from bad to worse with a trip to Montreal next week.
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