What We Learned: MLS Week 5

What We Learned: MLS Week 5

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On April 18, 2011
  • 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 5, What We Learned

Portland had one hell of a week with two straight wins. (Getty Images)

Did you get all of that? Seriously, week five was jam-packed with games, 11 to be exact. From Wednesday night games to last night games, this past week showed a lot. The big talk of course was the Portland Timbers but I’ll get to them in a moment.

As you’ll see in my power rankings tomorrow, there is still a whole lot of parity in this league. Too many teams stuck in the middle right now with only a couple at the top and only a couple at the very bottom. It is still very early though so making judgements for long-term seem silly at this point but in a matter of time if things don’t change for a couple clubs we could see plenty of moves to make up for it.

1. Timbers provide excitement. Two straight home games was exactly what John Spencer’s club needed after a rough start to their expansion campaign. Boy did they ever provide some fun too, between their rowdy fans, the rain, the fake turf and all the goals, it was quite a week in Portland. Just think for a moment the club scored seven goals on the week, nine if you count the two called off. They did also give up four goals, four late goals I might add which show their defense still isn’t up to snuff. Teams better than Dallas and Chicago will hammer this club, even at JELD-WEN Field.

2. Issues in the Windy City. After seeing the Chicago Fire at the start of the season I thought they weren’t nearly as bad as I was expecting them to be but fast forward to this week and they showed the exact traits I was saying they’d have at the start of the season. They can score with guys like Diego Chaves and Marco Pappa but their defending in the midfield continues to be crap, which leads to turnovers and goals on the other end. Plus, what is with Sean Johnson? Possibly the kid had too much hype going into the season but it looks as though he’ll be replaced for their next game by Jon Conway…a keeper you all know I find to be a bit overrated as well.

3. LA shows up in Chicago. After two straight draws on the road, Bruce Arena could finally be somewhat happy with a win on the road in Chicago yesterday. The Galaxy ended their three-game road trip with a win and two draws. Not a bad thing if you ask me even if those two draws came against clubs they should have beaten. LA showed their depth was better than the Fire’s yesterday. The Galaxy were missing Juninho, David Beckham and Landon Donovan.

4. Controversy in Houston. The Dynamo finally beat the New England Revolution at Robertson Stadium but it didn’t come without some issues in the process. After a scoreless half it looked as though the Dynamo broke through but a goal was waved off and ruled a save a shot crossed the line. Goal-line technology probably would have overturned that ruling on the field. But once the Dynamo finally did break though with Hunter Freeman’s goal, it came with some issues as well. It appeared the ball hit his arm to go into the goal.

5. More issues for Dallas. For a team that maintains loads of possession, FC Dallas does a terrible job at set pieces and defending the counter attack. The Portland Timbers did a great job of pressuring the Dallas defense into mistakes to force set pieces where they scored two of their three goals yesterday. The Dallas attack was finally able to come alive in the final minutes of the game yesterday thanks to David Ferreira and Brek Shea. But it was too little too late as the Timbers held on for the win. You can read more about my thoughts on this game here.

6. Davies adds to his lead. Say what you will but Charlie Davies is scoring goals left and right here. He finally scored one from outside the penalty spot against Toronto on Saturday, brining his total to five on the year. Against Toronto, the United attack looked solid. Maybe it was a tired TFC defense who were playing their second game in a matter of a few days at home but D.C. looked good for a change. Having both Davies and Chris Pontius lead the scoring has to put a smile on Ben Olsen’s face.

7. The Red Bulls make a stand. Talk about silencing your critics. Two early goals from Luke Rodgers and a late one from Thierry Henry has to sit well with Hans Backe after hearing so much about how his offense wasn’t doing them any good here so far this season. All three goals were scrappy ones from the Red Bulls as they poured it on early against the club that knocked them out of the playoffs a season ago. It is still a long way to go here this season but seeing the Red Bulls play how most people expected them to this season has to be a good sign for Backe.

8. Crew defensive dominance. Consider this, since week one when the Crew gave up three goals to D.C. United, they haven’t been scored on since. Yeah. No kidding. Their offense hasn’t been great in that time but they have been good enough to get two wins and two draws since that opening day loss. Maybe Robert Warzycha knew what he was doing here after all. I’m still reserving some judgement on that last comment for a couple more weeks but Crew fans have to be a bit happy with what they are seeing out of their club right now.

9. Whitecaps finally see shutout. In the end the shutout had to make Vancouver fans happy but also seeing their club shutout wasn’t the way they thought things would go against Chivas USA. But don’t think for a moment that this is a sign that Chivas is on the way up here, Vancouver dominated them from start to finish in this one but they just couldn’t buy a goal on the day. Chivas Dan Kennedy had one of his best days in his career.

10. Sounders pull out draw against Philly. Talk about leaving it late but Seattle needed the full 90 minutes plus on Saturday to get a big road point in Philadelphia. The rainy afternoon caused some interesting play between these two. Philly was unlucky not to come away with three points though in this one as they had the better of the play. Sounder fans have to be happy to see Fredy Montero back out on the field though, his chip to Alvaro Fernandez at the end for the game-tying goal was a thing of beauty.

11. Real also leave it late. Beating your rival doesn’t always have to be pretty. Case and point for Real Salt Lake who needed a late goal to beat the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday. The goal was definitely offsides but it didn’t matter in the end as the¬†Claret-and-Cobalt came away with their forth win of the season. RSL now has two weeks to bring a regional title home to MLS. This week attention will be turned back on them as they head to Mexico to start the opening leg of the CCL tournament against Monterrey, we’ll have more on that later though.

12. Weather a factor again for games. Both Columbus and Philadelphia saw real nasty weather on Saturday causing fewer fans to show up than both probably would have liked. Columbus saw only 7,695 for their 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. Philadelphia did better on a cold and rainy day as they drew a shade over 15k. The one interesting game on the radar though was seeing Toronto’s second home game of the week against D.C. United only draw 16k. I guess the chilly night in Toronto wasn’t good for business for a change.

  • Hugo

    Portland looked tired near the end of Dallas game. I suppose two big games in four days would do that. Also, Portland substitutions Zizzo and Nagbe failed to adequately track back on defense and that’s when Dallas got back in the game. Similar problem against Fire. More time from Alhassan and/or Hall with a week’s rest… or better substitutions in that situation… and score wouldn’t have been that close either game. Possession doesn’t mean anything if you can’t score. Timbers took it to Dallas from about the first goal through 60′. I don’t like the late goals either, but two of the four were fluke own goals and you’re assuming Timbers will never improve defensively. Not sure why you dislike Portland so much, but have a woody for Vancouver.

  • Vercon

    I’m excited about RSL v. Monterrey. This should be a good measuring stick. Wish ESPN had the rights and cajonnes to broadcast it though. I guess I’ll try to find some place online to watch it.