- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On September 2, 2008
- 2 Comments
- MLS Weekend Recaps, Week 23
What can we really say about how things are going this season in Major League Soccer. From week to week we find a new club to move up the charts or a move down the charts. All it takes is a victory to do so with the jam packed standings these days. After 23 weeks you’d think we would know more about every club but in fact most of the clubs we are still figuring out here.
Week 23 was one of those weeks that saw a couple big wins and a couple late goals. From this we got to see a couple clubs that are looking more like true MLS Cup contenders and a couple that look to have little or no hope at reaching the playoffs this season. The eastern conference is beginning to spread out a bit, but the west is still packed full of a mess.
However the west did go 3-1-1 in head-to-head matchups with the east this weekend. Tide turning or just a random thing? Eh, probably just a random thing.
So how did we get where we are at from this past weekend’s set of games? Let’s just find out shall we.
Real Salt Lake 2 – 0 Colorado Rapids:
Fabian Espindola: Easily the player of the game, maybe even player of the week with the two goal effort to lift the home-side to another dominating victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Nice to see him return from injury in that kind of fashion.
Much needed points: Definitely can say that RSL needed the three points after finding the road very tough over the past couple weeks. Also good to see their defense post a shutout yet again. Now they are an impressive 7-0-5 at home this season. I still think those five draws could come back to haunt them down the road if they don’t pick any more points on the road.
Still no Christian Gomez in the starting XI: Here is a reason why Colorado is not in the playoff hunt anymore. Their best player starts on the bench. Why? I’m still not entirely sure but all I know is the more this happens is the more we will see Gomez get traded after this season. I don’t care what issues are going on (unless its injury related) you have to use your best player if you want to win. Simply put Colorado isn’t winning and may not win too many more from here out.
Ugly defense: 4th shutout in five games for the Rapids. Just don’t see any way of this club reaching the playoffs this year. They are now in last place in the league too…ouch. Also they move to 1-8-2 on the road this season.
Javier Morales: You may have to put him on that short list of MVP candidates, if and only if RSL can find some magic on the road thanks to this guy. He’s got a few goals on the year and 10 assists now. As he goes, so does RSL.
New England Revolution 2 - 2 LA Galaxy:
Landon Donovan: Another two goal effort out of LandyCakes, now his league leading 16th. Good to see him producing again, he’s been rather quiet in my book for a little while now. LA needs him to continue to produce here for them to have any playoff hopes. His combination with David Beckham are still better than anything else in this league.
Taylor Twellman: Really nice to see this guy back and going here. Dangerous though for everyone else in this league.
Still ugly on defense: As good as the offense was looking for LA, the defense hasn’t improved all that much under Bruce Arena. But saying that, having a veteran like Eddie Lewis did help. Still, the Galaxy move to a 10 game winless streak here (0-5-5). Definitely not playoff worthy at the moment.
Draw for New England: With Columbus’s win and Chicago’s loss the draw really didn’t hurt the Revs, though didn’t help them either since they fell out of first. Still, they are in excellent position at the moment to stay with Columbus and Chicago for that Supporter’s Shield trophy.
No football lines: Thank God for a Beckham game in Foxborough. Great crowd of almost 40k and no football lines on the field. Looked good too.
Shalrie for MVP: This guy pretty much made sure the Revs would at least get a draw though he definitely helped them push for a win late in the match. Great strike on his first goal of the year. He may not have the sexy stats but a game like this should show his value for those out there that don’t know what to do with their MVP vote.
LA still in contention: The draw (along with some other results) did move LA within striking distance of that third automatic bid in the east. They still have a lot of work to do on the road though and must find some wins in order to have any hope.
DC United 0 – 0 New York Red Bulls:
No goals: Wow, I fully expected this rubber match to be a goal fest but it was just the opposite. New York easily got it’s best result EVER in RFK Stadium. I believe it is their first shutout against DC in RFK. Very evenly played.
Big stops: Some great stops by DC keeper Louis Crayton in this one. Probably a few that Zach Wells would have let in earlier in the year. This guy makes them a bit of player in the east right now. A very dangerous club really if all things are working right, especially in RFK Stadium.
Jamie Moreno misses a PK?: What?! I didn’t believe it when I saw it. Usually he is absolute money on these but this time he pushed it wide and did not look like the MVP we expect him to be at the PK spot.
Angel continues to shine: Nearly produced a game-winner here. This man is easily giving Red Bull fans hope going into these final few games. Still they must find a way to get three points on the road. That hasn’t come often enough. Thankfully their schedule is incredibly easy to finish the year.
Return of the DP: Nice to see Designated Player Marcello Gallardo return to action for DC. If they get this guy healthy here before the final few games it makes this club all the better going into the playoffs.
Columbus Crew 2 – 1 FC Dallas:
Schelotto with two assists: For the third time in three games, Guillermo Barros Schelotto helps set up two Columbus goals for the win. His service was totally on the mark and really he could have had two more assists in this game.
Jeff Cunningham: He must like being in Dallas. Two goals in three games, both against Columbus. Still he looks very comfortable in a Dallas uniform, something he probably hasn’t been able to see in years. That’s good too because Dallas needs all the offense they can get out of him to help free up Kenny Cooper.
Mix and match line up: As much as I hate seeing too many changes to a lineup during a season, I do think what Schellas Hyndman is doing will work over time. He is trying to get the most out of each and every player. By changing the line up from week he is getting players who work harder in practice. Bruno Guarda is a prime example of that as he gets his first start and first assist of his young career.
No on in the stands: Yeah the stands were pathetically empty in Dallas this weekend. Its a shame too because even though its a holiday weekend there should have been at least 15k or so there. But just right at 10k is sad for a club in the playoff hunt going against one of the league’s best.
First to 40: I need to go back and look at stats but I believe the first club to 40 usually wins the Supporter’s Shield trophy or at least comes very close to it. Columbus does just that this season. Damn who would have thunk it.
San Jose Earthquakes 2 – 1 Kansas City Wizards:
Darren Huckerby: What else can you say about this guy. Probably the best pick up of any club in the midseason. Think Toronto hates themselves for not pushing harder to sign this guy? He has honestly helped turn this club into a playoff club.
Ronnie O: How good has Ronnie O’Brien been for this club this season? Five assists on the year right now. The simple cross to Arturo Alvarez set up the first Quakes goal.
Unbeaten run: That Quakes unbeaten run now extends to seven (3-0-4). Now the Quakes are two points away from a playoff spot. Impressive for this expansion club. Will they be the next Chicago or another non-playoff club like all the rest of the expansion clubs from year’s past?
Wizard’s playoff hopes: As tight as everything is in the eastern conference, I feel just like I felt months ago when I said they should be looking at next year rather than at this year. Its a young team, that I know but their offense still hasn’t clicked and their defense is still getting torn to shreds by sides that don’t even have quality offense.
Kevin Hartman: He’s still a beast though. He still makes up for a lot here, and I can say the Wizards would be completely hopeless without him this season.
Will they or won’t they: Its only a matter of how San Jose can negociate their own schedule here for making the playoffs. Defensively they can do it but I am still a little worried about their offense hanging with some clubs in this league. The chance is there though.
Chivas USA 2 – 1 Toronto FC:
Desperation breads goals: For Chivas it did at least. A last second gasp by Atiba Harris gave Chivas the three points in this one. I think Harris willed the ball into the goal because Greg Sutton should have had it but he just lost sight of it or something.
No love for TFC: This was probably as good of a chance as ever to get a vidal three points on the road but even with all the new additions this offense still isn’t clicking. Too bad most of that offense will be gone next week due to international calls up.
5 shots: Yeah that’s the number Toronto posted in shots on Saturday night. Just five. No wonder the Reds are just 2-8 this year on the road.
Playoff hopes: For Toronto those playoff hopes are fading away ever so quickly these days. Right now I just don’t see them as a playoff club. Mainly because they aren’t clicking as a team, sometimes too many moves in the midseason can harm a team. Then again they were already fading away by mid-June to begin with.
Come from behind: Just the second time ever for Chivas to come from behind and win. Good to see them finally figuring out that sort of thing. Probably a good time to do it too.
Sneaking in the backdoor: Did you all notice that Chivas is now in third place out west, meaning they are currently in the playoff picture? Seriously how quietly did they do such a thing. Just comes to show how poor the west is this season. Good at the top but after that its a bunch of junk.
Houston Dynamo 2 – 1 Chicago Fire:
DeRo the hero: Another guy that is starting to get some MVP love is Dwayne De Rosario. His game-winner was put in just seconds after Chicago leveled things at 1-1. That’s MVP form right there folks. As for Houston they certainly are back on their championship form with a stellar home result like this one.
Blanco to McBride: Get use to it folks. I liked it, so should you.
Packed house: Another thing we should get use to here for the rest of the year down in Houston. They sure know how to pack it in there at Robertson Stadium. It may have been a bit of the Blanco-effect but it sure came across good on TV. With that kind of home field advantage the Dynamo move to 7-1-3 at home this year. That lone loss was to New England…not bad…not bad.
Breaking away out west: The Dynamo clearly look like the favor to win the west this season. Maybe they are just five points ahead of RSL but I see them as miles apart in regards to how they’ve each been playing recently. Oh yeah and that Supporter’s Shield isn’t too far away for Houston to get either.
Holding down the east: You win some and lose some in the east. Chicago is finding out that. Even with the league’s best road record (6-3-3) and the best defense, Chicago still came up short in this one. Though getting McBride on the score sheet looks great for this club. I think they still have one of the best shots at the Supporter’s Shield right now but they have to fend off DC and New York for that third automatic bid into the big dance later on.