Best and Worst from MLS Week 29: Jay DeMerit, the Montreal Impact and More
The best action in MLS Week 29 was highlighted by the Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire and Jay DeMerit, but what about the worst?
The Portland Timbers and Chivas USA failed to meet the criteria after a 1-1 draw at the StubHub Center. The Los Angeles Galaxy and DC United followed suit with a 2-2 draw of their own. They won't be featured, either.
Some tough competition also kept the Colorado Rapids from making the list of best and worst from MLS Week 29.
Read on to find out why.
Best: Jay DeMerit Returns
Welcome back, Jay DeMerit.
The original word suggested that the 33-year-old might not return for the 2013 season. He ruptured his Achilles tendon in the opening minutes of Week 1. But after Brad Rusin was forced to leave the match in the 31st minute with an undisclosed injury, DeMerit made his triumphant return to the pitch.
Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, the club didn't make its triumphant return to the win column.
The match against the San Jose Earthquakes finished in a scoreless draw.
DeMerit left his comments on the club's official website following the final whistle:
Sometimes you just have to go out there and play. Thankfully I was able to do that tonight. A bit of a baptism of fire but I'm on the bench for a reason...I knew that if I was called upon I'd go out there and try to do my job. Thankfully the guys around me did theirs as well and we were able to get a good away point.
Both San Jose and Vancouver walked away with a "point," but it wasn't a good one. Both clubs remain outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference. But all that aside, it only took DeMerit six months to recover from a ruptured Achilles.
The Whitecaps finally have their captain back.
Worst: The Union Are Still Shooting Blanks
Someone remind the Philadelphia Union that the ball goes in the net.
Especially if you want to remain in the playoff picture.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, that wasn't the case in Week 29...again.
The Union fell 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. For the fourth time in five matches, the club failed to impact the scoreboard and finished scoreless on the evening. Sorry, Union fans. An offside position—which negated what would've been the opening strike—doesn't count, either.
To make matters worse, Philadelphia has been outscored 7-1 in the last five matches.
With the result, the Dynamo now sit one point clear of the dreaded red line in the Eastern Conference. The Union have now dropped one point below with five matches remaining.
According to Houston's official website, goalkeeper Tally Hall attributes his club's victory to team effort:
It was one of those nights where the game, wasn't perfect, but you have 10 other guys watching your back and that's what a team effort is. We definitely took a couple of punches the last couple of weeks. It's about how you respond, and I think we responded very well to the situation when we needed to.
The Union didn't respond well in Week 29.
If the club fails to do so once more in Week 30, remaining in the playoff picture will descend into an impossible task.
Best: The Fire Crack the Top 5
They've been chipping away all season, but the Chicago Fire have finally returned to the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
A 3-2 victory over the New England Revolution propelled the Fire to the fifth and final playoff spot. Goals from Juan Luis Anangono, Mike Magee and Alex helped secure an all-important three points at Toyota Park.
According to the club's official website, Magee is pleased with the direction he and his teammates are going in:
This is probably our third chance at trying to get a win and move into that top five. I'm not sure if we're in the top five. We might be tied on points, but to get that weight off our back after all the work we put in, just to put ourselves into a spot to get into a top five spot, was amazing. To get over the hump now is a big step.
The Fire are currently tied on points with the Union for a spot in the top five, but have the benefit of a game in hand.
They'll look to take advantage of that with a trip to Columbus next Saturday.
Worst: Montreal Drops Points at Home
And you lose.
You’re doing it wrong.
The Montreal Impact fell 2-1 to the Crew at Saputo Stadium on Saturday. After taking an early lead—thanks to Marco Di Vaio’s league-leading 18th goal—Montreal failed to hold on. The club hemorrhaged in a pair of late goals from Chad Marshall and Dominic Oduro in the second half.
Both were assisted by Federico Higuain.
The result dropped Montreal from the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The club now trails the New York Red Bulls by three points. The Impact can take solace in the fact that they still carry a pair of games in hand, but it’s naive to assume both will finish with positive results.
Montreal is amidst a terribly congested schedule. The 2-1 loss to Columbus was the first of five matches to be played in the span of 14 days. CONCACAF Champions League obligations will test the depth and age of the Canadian side.
The opportunity was there to kick-start the stretch with a win at home.
Unfortunately for the Impact, they failed...miserably.
Best: Seattle Sits on Top
There's a new head honcho in MLS.
The Seattle Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Friday. A capacity crowd of 55,107 were on hand to witness a comprehensive performance from the emerald club. An early strike in the third minute from Obafemi Martins set the tone for the evening. Lamar Neagle closed the casket in the 38th minute with his eighth goal of the season.
With the victory, the Sounders now sit atop the Supporters' Shield standings with 49 points.
According to Seattle's official website, captain Mauro Rosales believes the club will remain focused despite recent success:
It means a lot to be in the first position now, but our goal is to finish in the best position that we can. We have games in hand and we have many difficult games ahead, so we have to keep the same mentality and play the same way. It's not enough what we've done, we have to push the guys even more because we need more points and we'd like to stay in the same position we're in now.
In order to remain in that position, the Sounders will have to take this show on the road.
Two of their next three matches will be away from CenturyLink Field and against current playoff contenders (Colorado and Los Angeles). The club is a staggering 10-1-3 at home, but are far less impressive as visitors (5-7-1).
But with eight victories in their last nine matches, don't expect that to be a concern for the Sounders.
Worst: Osario Goes Unpunished
Even he thought the unpunished foul on Kosuke Kimura was a bit much.
The New York Red Bulls did indeed drop Toronto FC 2-0 on Saturday. Goals from Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola helped propel the club to its 48th point. New York now boasts sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
But the worst moment of the match came in the 77th minute.
After suffering a clear foul, Kimura laid stagnant on the pitch for the briefest of seconds. The whistle from referee Edvin Jurisevic was clearly blown. The play was clearly dead...for everyone except Toronto midfielder Jonathan Osario.
Seventy-seven minutes of frustration were delivered into the match ball and rattled off of Kimura's head.
Even the tip of Osario's cleat managed to clip part of his forehead.
It was Dax McCarty who immediately came to his teammate's defense. A brief scuffle broke. The 5'9" midfielder—accompanied by a fiery temper—looked more prepared to put up a fight than Canelo could ever dream of.
In the end, both sides were separated. No justified punishment was handed.
No red card. No yellow card. Nothing.
Unless, of course, you think a stern talking to is enough to police a viscous blow to the head. Especially on a player who recently recovered from a concussion and perforated ear drum.
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