Galacticos on the Rise Over the Weekend
Whether you think of them as the Galácticos or the Galactic Empire, the Los Angeles Galaxy had a statement game this weekend and asserted their place in the table. Los Angeles now sits in first place with 20 points (although RSL has five games in hand) and was the only one of the pre-season favorites (in which I include RSL, New York, and Colorado) to win this weekend. Their resounding victory over Sporting KC was preceded by a good result in Philadelphia and, with at least Landon Donovan missing time for the Gold Cup and friendlies, LA is banking points that will help later in the season.
This weekend saw some wild results and a lot of goals: 24 goals in nine games, which doesn’t sound like much except for the absolute drought that has been occurring the past few weekends. Another bright spot was the lack of very serious injuries; it was a broken ankle-free weekend. The Western Conference flexed its muscle, especially on the road, and is beginning to look like the more dominant conference.
Now to the results:
Toronto FC 2, Chicago Fire 2: Where to start? Toronto had been showing signs of improvement over the past few games and surged to an early lead behind Joao Plata and Maicon. Even though Chicago exploited the Reds defense to grab a road point, there should still be optimism around this Toronto team. Orr Barouch made quite an impression with his first MLS goal, scored in the 76th minute. Don’t look now, but Chicago have four straight draws after a nasty losing streak.
New England Revolution 1, Vancouver Whitecaps 0: This was an odd match, as Vancouver rested some players ahead of their Canadian championship and New England scored their only goal off a penalty, earned by (guess who) Benny Feilhaber. Shalrie Joseph stepped up and gave the Revs three points. On a weekend where one USMNT hopeful may have seen his chance to rejoin the team slip away, it was another who showed he was ready to play. Jay DeMerit made his first start since the first weekend and played a good central defense with Mauloud Akloul.
DC United 1, Colorado Rapids 1: I summed up the frustration of both teams in my match review, but there were a couple of points I wanted to add. Conor Casey looked pretty good in his return, a little slow but his usual fiery self. While starters Akpan and Amarikwa showed a little skill, it is obvious how badly Colorado needs Casey, Folan, and Cummings healthy. For DC, again it was Chris Pontius picking up the scoring slack and serving as the main threat once Davies and Wolff came off. Andy Najar had an up and down game as well, making some very good plays followed by bonehead decisions; DC needs him to play well for their offense to click.
FC Dallas 2, Philadelphia Union 0: Don’t look now, but Dallas is in second place in the Western Conference and is undefeated in May. Fabian Castillo has been an incredible signing for this team, scoring a goal and assisting on Brek Shea’s goal. Now that Shea has found his comfort zone, this Dallas team has found its groove and Schellas Hyndman looks like a genius again. The loss was Philadelphia’s first by two goals, and Dallas’ speed showed a weakness in the Union backline. Jordan Harvey struggled on the first goal, as did Califf on the second.
Real Salt Lake 0, Houston Dynamo 0: Nothing to see here folks, just keep moving. There were thirty fouls in this match but only two yellow cards. Both teams had their chances but failed to convert. Is Real psychologically recovered from their run of bad luck, or has Houston given a roadmap to contain them? Or was it just that Fabian Espindola was not playing?
Los Angeles Galaxy 4, Sporting Kansas City 1: So who gets the game ball in this one? Landon Donovan, who now has a league-leading seven goals and passed Taylor Twellman for fourth on the all time MLS goals list? Juan Pablo Angel, who scored his long awaited first goal for the Galaxy? Or David Beckham, who gave MLS fans another OMG moment with this goal? Kansas City is just hemorrhaging right now and could be out of the playoff race very early this season.
San Jose Earthquakes 3, Columbus Crew 0: I mentioned in my coaches on the hot seat list that the Crew were walking a tightrope; their poor offense was being hidden by some spectacular defense that I had a hard time believing could hold up. The loss snaps the Crew’s seven game unbeaten streak and their defense allowed three goals in twelve minutes. Chris Wondolowski is making a case for his inclusion on the national team by scoring his third goal in four matches, and as Wondo goes so do the Quakes.
Seattle Sounders 1, Portland Timbers 1: A driving rain at Qwest Field could not keep the crowd from being absolutely jazzed for this one. Both teams played their part to make this a good kickoff to the Cascadia Cup 2011 edition. Darlington Nagbe looked very good for the visitors in the first half and showed why he was arguably the best player in this year’s draft. The goals in this one were scored by Alvaro Fernandez (52′) and Mamadou Danso (65′). And I couldn’t let this match pass without including the video shown below of the Seattle fans going all out for this one.
Chivas USA 3, New York Red Bulls 2: Sometimes sports can surprise you, and this result showed that Chivas will not go quietly this season. By the way, welcome to MLS Justin Braun. Daniel gives a full analysis of this one, so my only thought is this: a loss in a friendly to Montreal is no excuse for losing at home to Chivas. No excuse.