Toronto FC Rolls On Then Runs Out Of Gas
BMO Field seems to work wonders for expansion side Toronto FC as they defeated the reigning MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo on Wednesday evening 1-0. A first half header from Andy Welsh was all TFC needed to get their second straight win and lift them over DC United out of the cellar of the Eastern Conference. Next up for TFC was a matchup with United on Saturday at another sold out BMO Field. However this one didn't turn out in their favor as DC United came back from a late first half Alecko Eskandarian strike to win 2-1. Jaime Moreno scored from the spot in the 79th minute to give United the win and tie him with Jason Kreis for the all-time MLS goal scoring lead with 108 goals. Moreno joked afterwards that Ben Olsen said it was his 90th penalty of his career. As for the game itself, it was a lively affair that was strewn with yellow cards and many fouls per side. The biggest talking point of the match was the late penalty awarded to United. TFC head coach Mo Johnston felt the call was a bit dodgy but watching the replay Luciano Emilio clearly had his legs taken out by Marvell Wynne after his classy cut back move. Emilio didn't ingraciate himself with the TFC faithful with his theatrical flop, but the contact was definitely made and the right call made. United, after dropping their first three matches of the season, has won their second straight game and have gone three games unbeaten.
Some Things Never Change
While ESPN, HDNet and Telefutura have done much much better in the production department of viewing soccer matches this year, the regional networks are still lagging way behind. Take this past weekends DC United vs Toronto FC. Way too many closeups of players/coaches/fans during live action including one laughable sequence in which United's Troy Perkins clears a ball out of the box and hits Luciano Emilio in stride for a breakaway at goal. Inexplicably the camera switches to a momentary shot of Alecko Eskandarian jogging upfield and then it switches back just in time to see Emilio shoot wide of the goal. I don't get it. Fans everywhere have every right to be pissed off at the embarrassing level of "professionalism" being shown from various directors and their cameramen.
On another level of embarrassment that long has been an eye sore for soccer purists in this country is markings of other sports on MLS fields. We all know that in a few stadiums NFL and college football are the bread winners. But do we really have to see gridiron football lines in May? It's usually late August when we start whining about football lines. Who on Earth plays football games in Giants Stadium in May? In addition, gotta love the lacrosse lines on the field at Pizza Hut Park for Sunday's game between Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas. Am I crazy or didn't MLS establish some rules during pre-season that brings crap like this out of the picture? We still have a ways to go I'm afraid.
This weeks edition of MPT saw the first installment of the Brimstone Cup between Chicago Fire and FC Dallas. It was the visitors from Texas that took control of the match with Kenny Cooper and Juan Toja staking FCD to a 2-0 lead. Chicago, which had yet to register a shot on goal, finally got on the scoreboard through Calen Carr late in the second half and the ensuing onslaught brought a host of chances including two shots hitting the post but to no avail as Chicago went down to their third consecutive loss. FC Dallas vaulted to the top of the Western Conference lead with their second consecutive road win.
It's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of Tommy Smyth and his analytical work for ESPN. But I do have to concede that from time to time, he does get some things right and Thursday night he had a go at Eric Wynalda over the penalty kick call that eventually resulted in Cooper's goal and gave FCD a 1-0 first half lead. Cooper broke free into the box and was taken down by Matt Pickens. At the same time as the foul, it appeared that Cooper had a rather heavy touch that took the ball out of play as he was attempting to round Pickens. This is where Wynalda proclaimed that the penalty shouldn't have been given based on the fact that Cooper probably couldn't have gotten to the ball had Pickens not fouled him. Smyth immediately pointed out to Wynalda that it was a foul in the box and the fact that the ball was out of reach was irrelevant. The argument at this point isn't whether or not Cooper flopped, it's hard to tell either way, it's about what Wynalda claimed.
I'm tired of people stating that since the ball was unplayable (which can't possibly be proven unless the ball was rocketed out of bounds, which it most certainly wasn't) suddenly a foul isn't warranted. If a foul was commited by Pickens, then the right call was made, in spite of where the ball was or was going to end up.
Sigi Mails It In
Don't quite know what Sigi Schmid was doing by benching two of his normal starters in Eddie Gaven and Kai Kamara in favor of Stefan Migliorinzi and Brad Evans for their match against Red Bull. Not that Columbus has proven to be some sort of early season scoring juggernaut, it just seemed that Schmid had no vested interest in winning this match. Columbus did well enough to carve out a few dangerous chances, but it was all in vain as they got pounded by the suddenly injury riddled Red Bull 4-0. Juan Pablo Angel announced his arrival in MLS with a goal and two assists. His debut goal couldn't have come any easier as Crew defender Marcos Gonzales played a square ball across the back line to a wide open Angel who walked the ball into the net practically. Clint Mathis scored his fourth goal of the season and some schlep named Sal Caccavale scored in stoppage time to further bury the dagger into the Crew. Guillermo Barros Schelotto, or Guille as he is known, looked completely at sea with absolutely no help offensively. With Toronto FC not looking as hapless as most expansion teams seem to look, Columbus might be in for a very long season. They simply just don't have the talent.
Revs Rolling, Dynamo Dour
The scoreboard may show a 1-0 victory for the Revs, but they simply pulled an Eastern Conference Final on Houston. They scored early and held on for their lives. Houston poured forward and pounded Matt Reis' goal but could never get the equaliser. The Revs scored through a Shalrie Joseph bullet from 22 yards. New England is now set up for a DC United like run of 2006 as their next 4 matches are at home and they are the leaders in MLS with 17 points from 8 matches played. Houston is really struggling offensively as they only have 4 goals from 7 matches and have been shut out five times already this season. Next week they head to DC to take on United. United hasn't posted a shutout this season so Houston most likely will get on the scoresheet, but will it be enough?
Colorado Struggling at The Big Dick
Five home matches played, only one win in their opener. Not very good for the Rapids I'm afraid. A new stadium should be a fortress but as I stated in the opening match of The Big Dick, the atmosphere simply isn't there. Glenn Davis, working the game for HDNet, said it perfectly when he stated that the crowd at TBD was lifeless compared to what he witnessed 72 hours earlier in Toronto on a 42 degree rainy Wednesday night. The crowd at BMO Field stands and cheers for 90 minutes. The crowds at TBD sit on their hands and politely clap sporadically through the match. This "atmosphere" was only good enough for a 1-1 draw with Kansas City in a match that KC in all honesty should have won going away. Bouna Coundoul yet again came up with a number of saves to keep the honors even in Commerce City. Jovan Kirovski scored on a PK in the first half and Davy Arnaud equalized on a nice feed from Eddie Johnson who seems to have busted out of his nearly two year daze of sucktitude.
SuperClasico Not So Super
On a day when the weather was just right (as it always seems in Southern California) and the crowd was there in full force to see the Los Angeles Galaxy battle their neighbors just a locker room away Chivas USA, the game and the television network showing the game came up losers. The match ended in a 1-1 draw with Mykel Galindo and Landon Donovan scoring on either side of halftime but it was a dreadfully boring match that didn't match the atmosphere generated at the Home Depot Center. To top it all off, Telefutura ducked out of the last three minutes of the match. Is this what MLS' brass wants from exclusive televising rights? I don't think so. Either way, both Chivas USA and the Galaxy are struggling a bit in a relatively poor Western Conference so far this season. When is Becks coming again? Why would he want to subject himself to this? Oh, that's right, 250 million reasons why.
Real is Real Bad
Another week, another non win for Real Salt Lake. Seven matches without a win for RSL. Arturo Alvarez scored a great goal on an individual effort in the first half by splitting two disinterested RSL defenders and giving Nick Rimando no chance to save with a left footed rocket into the opposite side netting from 18 yards out. FC Dallas had complete control of the match into the second half when RSL was awarded a pretty soft penalty and 17 year old Freddy Adu stepped up and sent Dario Sala the wrong way to equalize the match. RSL was then undone by what will undoubtedly be the Goal of the Week in MLS with a 23 yard upper 90 blast off the post from defender Chris Gbandi for the game winner.
UnitedMania.com Player of the Week – Juan Pablo Angel
A goal and two assists garners the award for the Red Bull's Columbian striker. While his goal was virtually handed to him by one of the worst passes in MLS history, his work off the ball and playmaking was first rate and erased his very unremarkable debut last Sunday against Colorado.