Best and Worst from MLS Week 22: Twerking, Dax McCarty's Game-Winner and More
Elite footballers put in the work in MLS Week 22. Unfortunately, Steven Lenhart decided to add the "twerk."
The Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire ended 90 minutes of play in a deadlock. A 1-1 draw kept both teams separated by five points in the standings. The New England Revolution played their way into the playoff picture with a 2-1 victory over DC United at RFK Stadium.
The Seattle Sounders followed suit with a 2-1 victory of their own.
But some tough competition kept all six clubs from making the list of best and worst from MLS Week 22.
Read on to find out why.
Best: Blake Smith's Game-Winner
It was deja vu for Sporting Kansas City.
This time, the club was on the wrong side of it.
It took nearly every second of the seven minutes of stoppage time for the Montreal Impact to capture a 1-0 victory over SKC on Saturday. A strike from Blake Smith in the 96th minute ended the club's five-game winless streak.
SKC saw a six-game unbeaten run of their own come to an end as well.
Smith—who was drafted in the first round by the Impact—is yet to make a start in his first MLS season. The former New Mexico Lobo has 12 appearances and two goals—none bigger than his stoppage-time winner that sent the fervent faithful at Saputo Stadium into a frenzy.
Even his celebration carried an extra bit of flair.
For the Eastern Conference, the result carries serious implications. The top four teams in the conference are now separated by just two points.
Worst: Columbus' Toronto FC Impression
No one concedes late goals like...the Columbus Crew?
It was opposite day at BMO Field on Saturday. After trailing 1-0 in the 87th minute, Toronto FC captured a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Crew. Amidst a torrential downpour, it was Toronto who reigned supreme.
Jonathan Osorio equalized the affair in the 87th minute after connecting on a perfectly placed ball into the area by midfielder Bobby Convey.
Convey worked his magic once more in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Another perfect ball found a sliding Andrew Wiedeman on a dime. A clever touch from Wiedeman was enough to beat goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
According to Convey’s heat map—powered by Opta—the 30-year-old was a man possessed for 90 minutes. At the start, he deployed on the left. But a move to the right proved to be the defining adjustment of the match.
Both of his assists came from that side of the formation.
All season long, the miserable faithful in Toronto were subjected to heartbreaking results. Late goals trickled in week after week...after week...after week. More than a third of the 29 goals Toronto has conceded this season have come in the final 15 minutes of play (10 in total).
For the first time this season, the club finally knows how it feels to be on the joyous side of a collapse.
The victory—the third of the season—was the first for Toronto since Week 16.
Best: The Rapids Keep Surging
Don't look now, but the Colorado Rapids are surging.
A 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday propelled the club to second in the Western Conference. The Rapids are now unbeaten in their last six.
In Pablo Mastroeni's return to Colorado, it was goals from Hendry Thomas and rookie Dillon Powers that spoiled the affair.
A sharp header from Thomas opened the scoring in the 41st minute. It took all of 76 seconds for the Rapids to double their lead in the second half. A brilliant feed from Edson Buddle into space allowed Powers to calmly finish his fourth goal of the season.
Much like his celebration, the Galaxy were dead in the water.
According to Colorado's official website, head coach Oscar Pareja believes it's a team dynamic that has sprung the success of the Rapids this season:
I think the hard work that the players have put in in training and they believe enough about what we're doing. Most importantly, I think it's a group that's convinced and committed with the club. They understand that no one is bigger than the club and they're playing as a team, that's huge.
The victory was huge, Coach Pareja.
With 34 points, the Rapids now sit just three points behind Real Salt Lake for the Supporters' Shield.
Worst: Davidson's Headbutt
Thou shall not headbutt, Jun Marques Davidson.
Even if a defender is hacking away while you lay vulnerably on the ground.
A peevish outburst from the 30-year-old midfielder left the Vancouver Whitecaps down a man for the remaining 82 minutes of the match. The Philadelphia Union would ultimately capitalize with a late goal from Antoine Hoppenot. The 1-0 win allowed the Union to keep pace with the rest of the Eastern Conference.
But the victory didn't come easy.
A bunkered Vancouver defense conceded 60.4 percent of the ball. With a lion's share of the possession, the Union delivered a total of 460 passes with 82 percent accuracy. But the Opta chalkboards show that a majority of Philadelphia's distribution was congested in the center of the pitch.
The Union attack was stagnant.
Despite the possession and man advantage, the team only mustered five shots on target.
It was Hoppenot who delivered the spark as a second-half substitute.
Perfect triangulation between Aaron Wheeler and Hoppenot delivered the game-winner in the 85th minute. Not even a desperate challenge from Carlyle Mitchell could prevent Wheeler's clever, back-heel assist.
With the win, Philadelphia became the first club to defeat Vancouver at BC Place this season.
Best: Dax McCarty's Game-Winner
Sorry, Alvaro Saborio, but your spectacular performance just wasn't enough.
Real Salt Lake suffered another heartbreaking loss in stoppage time on Saturday. This time, it was the New York Red Bulls who delivered the crushing blow in a 4-3 loss.
After a dream finish from Saborio—easily the MLS Goal of the Week—RSL entered the 88th minute with a 3-2 lead.
Then, it all came crashing down.
A foul by Aaron Maund forced referee Silviu Petrescu to point to the spot...for a questionable third time. Fabian Espindola would bury his second penalty of the match to equalize the affair at 3-3. A persistent Red Bulls attack paid off in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
It was Dax McCarty who made the free run into the area. The 26-year-old midfielder used every bit of his slender frame to finish the run and deliver a diving header past goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
The fans at Red Bull Arena erupted with a fervent roar.
According to Dave Martinez, even McCarty admits he's never heard the stadium that loud before.
When dissecting the replay, you can see Thierry Henry, Peguy Luyindula and Marius Obekop all perfectly marked by their defender. McCarty, not so much. The zonal approach Ned Grabavoy and Khari Stephenson seemingly opted for backfired.
Five yards of space—in the middle of a frantic and desperate push—is enough to punish you each time.
Remember that, Real Salt Lake.
Worst: Twerk It, Twerk It, Twerk It, Twerk It
Is there an award for worst goal celebration?
If there wasn't, there is now...and it belongs to Steven Lenhart.
It's called "twerking." The dance move requires that a person shakes their upper and lower hips in a bouncing motion. You shake. You wobble. You jiggle.
Ultimately, you embarrass yourself if it's not performed in the proper setting.
Lenhart delivered his own rendition after finishing a perfect ball from Shea Salinas. The strike proved to be the game-winner for the San Jose Earthquakes. The club polished off the Portland Timbers with a 2-1 victory.
But it was Lenhart's celebration that took Twitter by storm.
Perhaps of more importance, the victory was San Jose's second in a row. It's not a winning streak yet, but it is the first time the club's won consecutive matches this season. Very quietly, last year's Supporters' Shield winners are just five points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
With Chivas USA visiting Buck Shaw Stadium next week, a potential surge is in the works.
Hopefully, Lenhart's moves don't come along for the ride.
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