Aggressiveness Makes for a Great MLS Weekend

Eric Hassli - Man of the Match
Photo by Matt Boulton

When I was thinking about a term or phrase that could categorize the MLS weekend, the word that came to mind was aggressiveness.  The Eric Hassli goal was an aggressive one, and it helped the Whitecaps get a draw in Seattle.  The Red Bull came out aggressively against New England and won three valuable points.  Steven Lenhart made some aggressive shots on his way to a hat trick (but Josh Wolff also in that match made an aggressive pass on the Najar goal).  Teams were rewarded for their aggressive play all weekend, and the results were surprising scorelines and some great soccer.

As a note, we are fortunate to have some great writers on this site and there are some very good post-game analyses on the site currently.  I will link to them in this post if you want more details, and will be doing a 10,000 feet analysis for each match this weekend.

New York Red Bull 2, New England Revolution 1: This was an incredible entertaining match for all involved.  Luke Rodgers and New York had the early momentum until New England was awarded a penalty in the 35th minute.  When Greg Sutton saved the Shalrie Joseph PK, New York grabbed the momentum and rode it to a win.  Daniel breaks down the match, but New York even missing so many players, may be ready to play some of their best soccer of the year.

Philadelphia Union 1, Real Salt Lake 1: This was an intense match – afterwards the two coaches didn’t shake hands due to anger over controversial no-calls.  Keon Daniels got the first goal of the match in the 24th minute but Fabian Espindola got the equalizer on a quick counter early in the second half.  The controversy was Jack McInerney being tripped in the box but no penalty being given.  The draw moved Philadelphia into a first-place tie with New York in the Eastern Conference and continues their good momentum.  But RSL got a great result considering who it was missing and the distance traveled; they are now tied for third on points in the West.

San Jose Earthquakes 4, DC United 2: Steven Lenhart notched a hat trick for the visiting ‘Quakes who abused the young DC backline on their way to a convincing win.  This game was back-and-forth in the first half that ended 2-2 but could easily have been more.  The second half saw Simon Dawkins score the go-ahead in the 49th minutes before Lenhart put the game away in the 60th on a pass misplayed by Bill Hamid.  San Jose is continuing to play well despite missing Chris Wondolowski, which is the opposite of how they were playing earlier in the season.  For DC this match was part of the maturation process: their young backline and keeper will have nights like this as they gain experience.

Houston Dynamo 2, Chivas USA 1: Like many of the matches this weekend, this was an interesting game for a variety of reasons.  The game winning goal was an own-goal scored by Heath Pearce off a Brad Davis corner in the 55th minute.  Sadly for Chivas, they looked like the team that would take three points at multiple times during the match but could not grab the equalizer late or additional goals early.  Marcos Mondaini had a right plce/right time goal in the 7th minute when he intercepted a Hunter Freeman back pass and beat Tally Hall.  Geoff Cameron scored the Dynamo’s first goal on an assist by Brad Davis, his league-leading ninth.

Colorado Rapids 1, Portland Timbers 0: Colorado finally grabbed a win after being seconds away from becoming the first MLS team to record seven straight draws.  Drew Moor collected a loose ball in the box and scored the only goal of the match.  The Rapids desperately needed three points from this match: even with players returning from injury and the team playing a few games at home they still could not get a win.  The result for Portland is a gut-punch; they’ve now lost two at home after winning five straight and have New York coming to town next week.

Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Toronto FC 2: Every time Los Angeles rang the bell, Toronto answered.  After praising the Galaxy defense the past two weekends, the result of this one had to sting.  Again the Galaxy struck early with a Chris Birchall goal two minutes into the game, but Alan Gordon equalized in the 68th minute.  Juan Pablo Angel had what looked to be the game-winner in the 91st minute, but Gordon struck again in the 94th to give Toronto the point.  Talk about luck for the Reds: Gordon came off the bench late in the first half due to an injury to Jacob Peterson.

Seattle Sounders 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 2: This match will be known as the Eric Hassli game, but there were of course other good moments throughout.  That was the second goal from Hassli, he actually scored on a penalty in the 29th minute.  Seattle had a late flurry of goals that gave them a late and brief lead before the wonder goal.  This match has a lot of history: anyone who watched the match knew that it was the 123rd meeting between the two clubs in a rivalry that has spanned decades.

Chicago Fire 1, Columbus Crew 0: Columbus will want a re-do of this one at the end of the year, especially if they miss the playoffs by mere points.  Sub Christian Nazrit scored the Fire’s only goal (and first in three games) in second half stoppage time to again give a visiting team points.  This result continued the odd season of the Crew.  They did not give up an early goal in this one and were actually very aggressive early on, but the Fire ended up with more shots than the home team and had many of the late chances.

Sporting Kansas City 4, FC Dallas 1: Maybe KC should have played in Pizza Hut Park this year.  The visitors were led by Graham Zusi who had two goals and an assist.  After Brek Shea scored his fifth goal in the 32nd minute to equalize, it was all Sporting KC.  The loss ends Dallas’ nine game unbeaten streak and gives Kansas City their second win of the year.

24 thoughts on “Aggressiveness Makes for a Great MLS Weekend”

  1. I hate Vancouver. From Tino Lateri and his parrot, all the way until today.

    Sigi needs to go in Seattle. How many years can Seattle fans go without watching even one counter attack and guys not being able to finish ? He is constantly outcoached in my opinion. His lover affair with Jaqua is taking a back seat it is so bad. ( Brad Davis, my man crush is stronger than ever )

    ps. This place is starting to feel like a soccer website…and magically The Trolls are gone when the soccer talk starts. Big surprise there.

    1. MLS will never be a proper football league until it abandons single entity and gets rid of playoffs. jk

      Ha ha. Seriously though, great matches this week! That Hassli goal was a screamer! And the biggest story of all… FIRE GET THEIR FIRST WIN SINCE MARCH!!!

      1. I agree with your first statement anyways. Even if you were joking. This is probably the best weekend so far for mls. Despite the presence of too much parity, games this weekend were not that bad my favorite being the “derby” between ssfc and vwfc. I think Rosales for ssfc was the most valiant player in the game. and at least skc finally got a big W in a big way

        1. Your Whitecaps stink. Seattle can’t beat a bad team, but what else is new.

          I can’t believe no one talking about this game has mentioned Fucito being knocked down in the box. It changed the game when it wasn’t called.

          MLS has a chance to ref a game the way it should be, but they seem to be satisfied with doing it the way the rest of the world does it.

          – Don’t call anything in the box
          – Call way too much outside of the box
          – IF a foul occurs, let the defense get completely set before you let the fouled team try to score. Even if it takes 2-3 minutes of making the fouled team wait.
          – If the fouled team tries to take a kick quickly, call it back because it 3 feet from where the foul occured at midfield.

          1. What is especially frustrating is it was not called because fucito refused to flop down when hit hard. What message do you think that sends to players? If you want a call… flop at the slightest touch and give up all oppurtunities to actual score like a man!

          2. Charles, I usually disagree with 90% of what you say, and I still don’t think there’s any chance of MLS refereeing games “differently” than the rest of the world, but I agree with you 100% about allowing defences to set up for free kicks. I’ve never understood how this seems to be the only point in the game at which the defence is allowed to “get ready” before the play can proceed. Why should we treat free-kicks any differently to throw-ins, corners etc? Can you imagine if a referee delayed a corner kick in order to check that the defence had ensured they were marking up correctly?

          3. You can’t respond to a response I guess.

            did you see what Keller said ?
            EXACTLY what I have been calling for.

            review all the games and divers are booted. I want permanent, he said two months and a fine.

            In spite of my being the great soccer blog commenter of all time, Keller will still have more sway than me…..I hope he pushes for it.

          4. Not sure exactly what you’re talking about…but if you think Kasey Keller is going to get any rules of football changed, good luck. And if the US “goes it alone”, it will be detrimental to the US national team for sure.

            I don’t think reviewing games for diving is feasible anyway. Lots of things look like dives when played in slow-mo, and likewise, many things that are dives may not be identifiable as such from slow-mo.

            Besides, eliminating diving would only exacerbate the fact that refs don’t have the guts to call a foul unless someone actually goes to ground. If players stop “embellishing” genuine but slight contact, it will just encourage rougher play.

  2. Looking forward to the playoffs. It seems like much ado about nothing.
    Sort of.
    Although, let me be clear, I do NOT like 10 teams out of 18 making it.

    The Net of it all:
    – All four WCard teams from the West
    – A drop on the bubble teams from 1.5 PPG to 1.3 PPG.
    – The only team without 5 wins is Columbus in the weak East. The top PPG team, LA has 8 wins, but they have played more games than the other teams. aka MLS has parity, big shock

    1. I agree. 8 teams is plenty. Another thing of note. I don’t know if anyone has noticed but the top 4 teams in a single table would be LA, Colorado, Dallas, and Seattle. They also happen to be the teams that qualified for Champions League this time around. Remember, its all random like the trolls say, right?

  3. One issue I had the last few weeks was commentators refering to teams being happy with ties on the road. They keep saying that. If that is the case, it is not good for the league. I wonder if that is a product of the expanded play-offs. My own team, the Rapids, were guilty of taking the ball to the corner flag during a tied game on the road a few weeks ago. While I don’t worry about the survival of the league anymore, I still think MLS teams need to strive to entertain, especially as the share so many revenue sources. Happy to see that this weekend they did entertain.

    Interesting side note- Com. Selig is proposing that Major League Baseball eliminates the small regional divisions, and just has two 15 team leagues with 5 teams from each making the play-offs. Makes me wonder if next year, with 19 teams, we can go with one table, slightly unbalanced schedules, and play-offs.

    1. Yah, saw that same article a few days ago. Baseball has been seeing falling attendance figures and quite frankly the sport has grown stale. I always hated divisions in baseball and nfl. I think it would be awesome to have a random shuffle every year for “division” placement. Kinda like a world cup draw. But of course Bud Selig is continuing to suck the life out of baseball.

      1. >>>I agree Tom, that is why I have NEVER been for ties in sports.
        It just isn’t as entertaining. Not saying I didn’t have fun at the Sounder’s game on Saturday, I did. But a heartbreaking goal or a jubliation goal was just what was needed.
        When teams are playing for ties, it is less entertaining for sure.

        >>>I don’t believe baseball attendance is falling. NY and Philly are already over 1.6 million fans. It is becoming more disperse because of lack of percieved parity. No one in Seattle believes the Mariners will win it all. They go to Sounder’s games while the Mariners had their lowest attendance ever at Safeco Field.
        It is not even close to Euro Soccer….yet. But it is not good either.

        I haven’t watched a “national TV game” in years. I used to watch ALL the time. Boston v NY every Sunday night does nothing for me.

        >>>Gerber will never get rid of divisions, he is too smart for that. He sees a league a lot larger than it is and doesn’t want to fight a dumb pro/rel battle with fans that don’t care about the owners money.

        >>>You should worry about the survival of the league. It is the reason for MLS to take a stand on many of the issues that get argued to death on sites like this. The TV attendance is a .2 and average game attendance is 17k or 500,000 per season. Those pathetic numbers can go to belly up numbers in a heartbeat. Don’t forget the early 80s in the US.

        1. I don’t mind ties, I just don’t like to see teams aiming for them; especially if it has not been enteretaining to that point. The Seattle game looked like a good one, I switched over to it during the Rapids game.

          Point taken about league survival.

          I don’t mind two divisions, but I don’t want more than that (I get that with 19 teams you can’t play everyone twice).

          1. Hmmm…arguably. I suppose when you add on the play-offs (assuming you’re not advocating scrapping them), it could come out to a lot of games for some teams. But it’s not really any more than EPL teams do (38 games, plus a varying number of FA Cup, League Cup and European games for some teams). Or do you just mean it’s too many games from a marketing/logistics point of view, rather than an issue of physical possibility?

          2. Actually I forgot the EPL has 20 teams and 38 games, I was thinking they had 18 teams. I retract the comment.

            My point was that if want to play less games, don’t go to some divisional schedule where you play half the teams 3 times and half the teams one- just knock of the second game against a couple of teams. Because we have play-offs, I’m not against the MLS sticking at 34 games and not playing everyone twice if that is better for business.

  4. I watched the San Jose game and the Seattle/Vancouver game this past weekend. Both were entertaining. San Jose is really starting to come alive, which is great for me. Seattle and Vancouver make for good rivals and its fun to watch. The fans were great as usual. I don’t really mind ties, but its not good if teams are playing for them. You should always play to win. Anything less is disrespecting the sport IMHO.

    1. Good stat. League should watch this. Good games this weekend, but I though many of the games during Colorado’s 7 game tie streak were poor.

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