MLS, WPS, USL-1 Review
Another week of professional football in the US complete as this season begins to solidify itself.
The biggest storyline of the week were the late comebacks by two of MLS’ traditional best franchises, the Chicago Fire and DC United. The Fire stunned a national TV audience and a season high crowd at Crew Stadium with two late goals to salvage a 2-2 draw while United scored twice late at Giants Stadium to defeat rival New York.
Chicago’s veteran leadership kept this match alive and salvaged a critical road point. With DC, it was the young guns, in rookies Chris Pontius, and Rodney Wallace along with USL veteran Thabiso Khumalo who made the difference.
Elsewhere, RSL pounded New England 6-0 at Rio Tinto in front of another disappointing early season crowd. Rice Eccles was a disaster of a playing pitch but I wonder if the location at the University of Utah was better for crowd building. It is however too early to make a judgement on Sandy. For now we’ll hold off on calling it Frisco Northwest.
The Earthquakes performance in Seattle was disappointing as the Heritage Cup first leg was all Sounders. We knew coming into the season that the Sounders would be potent going forward with Freddy Monetro, Freddie Ljunberg and two of the best attacking players recently in USL-1 in Osvaldo Alonso and Sebastian LeToux. But it was the defense that concerned many and prevented me from picking the Sounders higher than 3rd in the West. But Seattle’s backline has yet to wilt in six matches and with Kasey Keller one of the top internationals ever produced by the US organizing the defense, I expect the Sounders backline to continue this strong play.
The Galaxy salvaged a point in Colorado which effectively reduces the sour taste of the loss to the Rapids three weeks ago in Carson. Kansas City split their games this weekend, and Toronto FC won twice but lost John Carver. More on Carver in another column.
Here is the current MLS Table:
In USL-1 Miami FC defeated Montreal in an entertaining FSC televised game. The downside of this match was the artificial turf at Florida International University which will also be the site of first round Gold Cup action this summer. With the grass pitch at Lockhart Stadium also being used by the Blues, it’s hard to justify the use of FIU other than simply to draw a Miami-Dade County crowd to matches. That’s a decent enough reason but American soccer and especially USL has enough teams on the plastic junk anyway and it’s not a good thing to have a team previously playing all its games on grass, playing some games on turf now.
Martin Rennie’s Carolina Railhawks continued their hot start with another win over the Minnesota Thunder, moving the team to the top of the table. The Austin Aztex won the first match in franchise history behind two goals from Eddie Johnson formerly of Manchester United and the Rochester Rhinos had a good weekend picking up four points on the road. The Rhinos looked solid in a win over Miami FC at Lockhart and Brent Sancho T&T World Cup veteran and former starter in the Football League and SPL looked solid in his new role as a player/coach in Darren Tilley’s setup. (Steve Guppy another veteran of the English and Scottish leagues filled the same role for Tilley last season)
Here is the USL Table:
Puerto Rico 4
Unfortunately, I missed FSC’s WPS match of the week because USL-1 scheduled the Miami-Rochester match at the same time. Here is the WPS table.