Monday Morning Free Kicks: Wild Weekend

Monday Morning Free Kicks: Wild Weekend

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 7, 2008

I must say after Thursday I really expected the unexpected this past weekend in the MLS and I think I got it. Two results were pretty expect but the rest were anything but by most means. After going the first eight games with only two road goals this weekend gave us seven alone. Oddly enough none of those goals helped in a winning effort, all were either losing or in a tie.

What I do know now is that right now this season is reminding me a lot of the last, expected winners aren’t winning and everything else is a bit upside down from what was originally thought. It doesn’t mean teams are proving me and most people wrong, but they are starting to do a damn good job of it.

Kansas City Wizards 3 – 2 Colorado Rapids:
I think I must start where I started this weekend off with and that is up in Kansas City. I dubbed it the game of the weekend and for the most part it didn’t let me down a bit in that. All goals coming in the second half, two by Jimmy Conrad. If you had him on your fantasy roster good job.

Obviously the Wizards are proving me right in the fact that they won’t lose in their new stadium. Finally, a club in the MLS is taking new digs to the right meaning and winning in them. Look at recent history in the league with clubs getting a new stadium (sure this isn’t exactly a permanent fix but its proving to be a good one), not a single one made it their own fortress in the first season of play. Not one, except for maybe the Galaxy but that’s another story for another day.

The Wizards extend their winning streak over the Rapids in KC thanks to the two from Conrad and a late winner by Scott “Ya’ll forgot about me in KC when we signed Lopez” Sealy. KC won the battle of the midfield late in the game and that proved to be the difference maker in this one.

Give credit to the Rapids for making this a game after quickly going down two to zip. I thought in the first half the Rapids had a few good chances that they just didn’t put away. Had they, they may have walked out of the CAB with three points. But soccer isn’t always like that as we’ve seen over the years. We may want to give more credit to the KC defense in that first half for sticking it out when the Rapids made the midfield look smaller than it actually was at times.

Here’s the thing KC fans, as good as the win is, you cannot be happy with the defensive effort in that second half. Letting the Rapids back in the game like that, at home nonetheless, is something this club cannot afford in games. The offense and midfield look good but the defense is shaky at best here. Something to watch out for in the future here.

Even after the game-winning goal I thought for a moment that the Rapids would sneak one by with Omar Cummings, but I think the Wizards should kiss that right post for saving those points and the win. No time to blink for KC, they have a midweek game with New England. As bad as the Revs played in Chicago last week I cannot see them making a habit of it this week.

DC United 4 – 1 Toronto FC:
This is one of two games that didn’t surprise me in the least bit on Saturday. DC never looked like they would lose this game and really made the most of their chances against Toronto. Getting goals from all it seemed like (Luciano Emilio, Santino Quaranta, Marcelo Gallardo, and Jamie Moreno) helped guide the Black-and-Red to a 4-1 hammering of the Reds.

On a quick side note, I must say it was nice to see Quaranta out there for United on Saturday. I really think this kid has turned his game around and that could be a big time thing for DC here if we see more of that in the coming weeks here. I think I saw what I use to see in this kid a few years ago when he was a teenager.

United came out with full attack and looked very dominate against a helpless Toronto side. For DC fans, seeing Emilio net his first of the season has to be a good thing as well. Knowing he’s on board for the season in the goal scoring department has to be a bit of a sigh of relief. I think all preseason he hadn’t looked good and even last week in KC I didn’t feel like he was ever really into that game.

Toronto did get a nice goal from Maurice Edu. Though it was far too little and too late but it was still a good sign that the Reds will actually score a goal this season. The chances were there for Toronto and newcomer Laurent Robert actually got in on a lot of the attack. Still, this club needs a playmaker and I do think that once they get Juilus James back in the defense, their backline will be better. So there is some hope for Toronto fans out there and still this season is far too early to even think about writing them off. Though I am starting to think of writing the Kevin Harmes trade off, he hasn’t looked good all year and getting sent off early in this one really didn’t help his cause.

New York Red Bulls 2 – 0 Columbus Crew:
Ah, the Crew still can’t win in New York. Good work by the Red Bulls, who looked pretty darn good in their season opener by the way. Dave van den Bergh probably made the biggest case for himself to not be traded or waived anytime soon by this club in the win. A nice goal from him as well to put the Red Bulls on top, though it was a shot that really should have been saved. The early goal proved to be just enough. Kevin Goldthwaite added the second not too long after that on a wild corner kick.

Credit though for Columbus keeper Will Hemser for saving another PK for the second consecutive week. This guy kept the Crew in the game time and time again.

We saw the Columbus offense that we expected to see to start the season against New York. I don’t think it had too much to do with the Red Bulls denying chances, it was more the fact that Columbus just couldn’t create enough attack like they had a week before. Guillermo Barros Schelotto was really ineffective in this one, thus meaning no solid offensive chances.

Good season opener for the Red Bulls, let’s just see if they can keep this up for the season though.

Chivas USA 3 – 1 Real Salt Lake:
Yup, if you guessed this as the other game that didn’t surprise me this weekend you win. I had high hopes for RSL in this one to finally show that they can compete with some of the league’s best on the road but that just didn’t happen. It was another trip to LA that came up with a load of nothing (Chivas is 6-0-1 at home against RSL all-time).

From the start, Chivas never looked like once they were going to let RSL get any points on their turf as they controlled the possession throughout the night. And just as I suspected based on what I had seen a week earlier in Dallas, Sasha Kljestan started the goal scoring for the Red-and-White. Kljestan added an assist on the second goal to Atiba Harris just minutes into the second half to give Chivas the 2-0 lead.

However RSL did show up to play at this point in the game, as newcomer Kenny “The Doctor is in the House” Deuchar scored his first MLS goal just minutes after the Harris goal. Chivas held on though and didn’t let RSL in with the equalizer as Brad Guzan showed us all why teams in the EPL and other European leagues are after his services.

Chivas looked solid throughout the night, while RSL had chances but never made the most of them. Not that RSL played bad or anything, they just don’t know how to win on the road here yet. Until they do that you cannot expect them to make headlines in the west.

Houston Dynamo 3 – 3 FC Dallas:
Probably one of the more frustrating matches of the weekend (at least for me being a Dallas fan and all) was this result. Just when you think Dallas is going to break away and win a big game on the road like this one they slip up and allow Houston to break even. This happened twice in the game, the most important one was late on a Geoff Cameron goal (congrats to Geoff, a WVH friend) in the 93rd minute.

The tail signs of this however is that Dallas can score and so can Houston. Both clubs had some issues with offense in week one and pretty much got rid of those concerns from me in this game. Both had solid chances in this one and both were able to make the most of some of those chances. Not every game we get six goals so obviously they made the most of those chances.

It was nice to see Kenny Cooper be Kenny Cooper yesterday. He looked a lot better with Arturo Alvarez than he did the week before with Abe Thompson. Not to mention having a healthier Juan Toja and Pablo Ricchetti in the midfield didn’t hurt either for Dallas and Cooper.

Houston still has some concerns but I think getting guys like Cameron and Franco Caraccio in the attack early and often will help in the long run. Caraccio got the game’s first goal fairly early and Houston played well with that small lead until Cooper started sticking his nose into the game. Both goals from Cooper were solid and something that Dallas fans should expect out of him. Great passes from Toja and company in the midfield in this one too that lead to those goals.

Shaky moment for Houston when Pat Onstad went down early. His back up Tony Caig was very iffy for me. He was caught out of position on a number of times and was sometimes bailed out by his own defense. He did however come up big late in the game just moments before Cameron pulled the Dynamo even with seconds left in stoppage time.

Not a bad tie for Houston considering the way Dallas played in the second half. However for Dallas letting the lead slip away with an own goal and a stoppage time goal cannot be sitting well with Steve Morrow. If dropping points at home to Chivas the way they did stung last week, I would say this kind of game will sting a bit harder.