- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On April 25, 2011
- 3 Comments
- 2011 MLS Season, 2011 Week 6, What We Learned
There is no easy way to put it, this was a rough weekend for Major League Soccer. The results were interesting as Chivas USA picked up their first win of the year, New York dominated D.C. and LA showed their offense hasn’t gone in hiding just yet.
But the ugly mark was on two nasty challenges that saw two stars break bones, leaving a terrible mark on the week. It is easy to say that both injuries will shake up the Western Conference race and probably in a good way.
1. Mullen’s challenge. I honestly don’t know how anyone could defend Brian Mullan right now. I know he isn’t a reckless player or a guy that is known for breaking other player’s legs but his tackle on Steve Zakuani was reckless and stupid. He knows it and the whole league knows it. That early tackle set the tone for a fairly dark weekend in MLS. Seeing one of the league’s brightest stars go down that quickly shows that maybe all of these red cards being dulled out so far this season aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Some of the reds were stupid but some were meant to protect the other player. In this case the instant red to Mullan was deserving and I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t receive a few games to go along with it. Five to seven sounds about right.
Furthermore, this tackle brought back a scary sight for myself when Kenny Cooper’s leg was broken a couple years ago. I recall watching the tackle happen and hearing it. That is the big thing, hearing it. DSG Park was not full, nor was Pizza Hut Park that night Cooper got hurt. It was too loud of a noise not to ignore.
2. Ferreira’s not as bad but…you do have to wonder why wasn’t at least a yellow given to Jonathan Leathers for the challenge? Ferreira knew instantly that something was wrong when he crashed to the ground. I know from watching the replay a couple times that part of the fall was the challenge from Leathers but also the rest of it was the way Ferreira’s leg hit the fake turf at Empire Field. I’d be willing to bet that turf did more of the damage than Leathers but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Leathers also receive at least a game or two for the challenge as the league will likely “send a message” to players with suspensions to these two players (Leathers and Mullan).
3. Red Bulls flex all their muscles. Talk about making a statement. The Red Bulls went into RFK Stadium looking to make some noise of their own in the Eastern Conference and boy did they ever come away with a big result. Thierry Henry provided a couple goals while Juan Agudelo provided the class many though would come from Henry. But has anyone taken note of their best newcomer Jan Gunner Solli yet? Good grief where does Hans Backe find these guys? Solli has easily become one of the hot newcomers in the league with his service to Henry and company up top.
4. Donovan ends drought. Just as New York was flexing their muscles on Thursday night, the last game of the week saw LA do just the same thanks to Landon Donovan finding the back of the net twice. But how sweet was Chad Barrett’s goal to get things started? It showed early on that Portland had zero chance to even be in this one.
5. Quietly making a case. Don’t look now but the Columbus Crew and the Houston Dynamo are undefeated in their last few games. Both are unbeaten in their last five games. Still, no one is giving either club respect just yet. It probably has a good bit to do with the fact that the Crew can’t score worth a damn (5 goals on the season, tied for second worst), and the Dynamo seem to be shaky at times all around. I do see the Dynamo as the better of the two so far but it’s hard to deny how the Crew have gotten this far with so little offense. Their defense continues to carry the club and it comes down to having guys like Chad Marshall in the back step up when the club need him to the most.
6. Are the Revs going to be for real now? All this talk about the Crew and Dynamo sneaking up on people, it may be time to also consider the Revs. I’ve been down on the quite a bit lately but watching their revamped offense with Benny Feilhaber and Rajko Lekic shows that this club will likely no go away easy now. Its hard to deny that Feilhaber and Shalrie Joseph are going to combine to become one of the better midfield duos in the league. The Eastern Conference just got a whole lot more interesting.
7. Goats earn first win. While it wasn’t that impressive it was good to see Robin Fraser’s club finally get off the mark and get their first win of the season here. I don’t see Chivas as a contender just yet so let’s not consider this mark a jump on their bandwagon. Offensively speaking the club still has a ways to go even though they got a pair of decent goals against a pretty good San Jose defense. You did have to wonder a few times on Saturday how the club would have looked with someone like Feilhaber in their midfield.
8. Rough times in KC. I knew the ten-game road trip would be tough but it may have hit a new low point this past weekend in New England. By all accounts Sporting can score. Kei Kamara proved that once again with his brace against the Revs’ defense. But what happens when you revamp your entire club? You tend to miss at least one important area in that process. It turns out that for Sporting that area is their defense. Time and time again we’ve seen them give up cheap and easy goals this year. I still think Peter Vermes has time to fix it but his club is digging themselves a fairly large hole right now. Five more road games won’t help it out either.
9. Even tougher times in Chicago. While Sporting may be struggling on defense, I’d be willing to put money on Carlos de los Cobos being the one coach in all of MLS that is firmly on the hot seat right now. The Fire haven’t looked nearly the same since their first couple of games this season and largely it comes down to ball possession and lack of decent tactics out of de los Cobos. Bringing on additional attacking support late in the game instead of defensive support was weird to see. With a one-goal lead late in the game you want defensive support to close out the win. I get going for a second goal to close things out but sometimes going defensive is the way to go. These moves will haunt de los Cobos.
10. Tchani’s red. Poor Toni Tchani. The kid played a great first half against the Columbus Crew but in the end it was his own fault in seeing red. The first yellow he picked up was for defending a teammate in a scuffle, but after he scored a brillent goal he jumped over the ad boards to celebrate with the fans and once again saw a yellow for it, and then a red. Its a tough call to make but a fair one considering the ref has every right to card someone for doing that in a celebration. It changed the outcome of the game too though. From hero to goat was Tchani but he’ll know better next time. I’m sure all the league will.