Here are the ten things we learned from Week 17 of the 2017 MLS season.
1. Dempsey Saves Seattle in Portland
The continent’s best soccer rivalry didn’t disappoint – and on a scorching night in Portland, it was that rivalry’s greatest recent figure who stole all the headlines.
Clint Dempsey didn’t start for Seattle on Sunday night at Providence Park, but, when it was all said and done, it was his 94th minute header that rescued a point for the ten-man Sounders and left their southern rivals in a state of shock.
Dempsey has now scored nine goals in his career against Portland – despite missing the last three games played in the series at Providence Park through injury and suspension – and more than half of those goals have been result-changing.
Dempsey isn’t the player he once was – and credit to Brian Schmetzer for having the guts to start him on the bench in this game – but he’s still capable of great moments, and, just as importantly for Sounders fans, he still owns the Timbers.
2. Dom Kinnear Bites The Dust
The San Jose Earthquakes fired manager Dominic Kinnear on Sunday afternoon, unceremoniously ending the tenure of a decorated coach who never quite got his project in San Jose off the ground.
In the grand scheme of things, this is an understandable decision. Kinnear didn’t make the playoffs in his first two seasons at Avaya Stadium, and his teams never played particularly good soccer.
That said, the timing of the move is extremely curious – starting with the simple fact that the ‘Quakes won on Saturday, beating Real Salt Lake 2-1 to move into fifth place in the Western Conference.
San Jose hasn’t been great this year, but they are firmly in the playoff picture – which, considering the marginal talent that Kinnear had at his disposal, was just about all that could have been reasonably asked of him.
What makes this move even more curious is that Chris Leitch – the technical director – has been named the permanent manager.
Not only would there have been plenty of high-profile interest in the job from outside the organization, but within the organization, Steve Ralston – a Kinnear assistant who has long been tabbed as a future manager – was passed over for a man who has not a second of first-team coaching experience.
Kinnear was not new GM Jesse Fioranelli’s guy, and, with a new DP on his way in, this firing a lot like Sigi Schmid’s in Seattle last summer.
Short of a miracle, however, San Jose isn’t going the way of the Sounders in 2016. With Kinnear out, along with his longtime assistant John Spencer, the ‘Quakes’ performance is all on Fioranelli from here on in.
3. The Magic is Gone in Harrison
The New York Red Bulls were formidable in the last two years because they had a collection of big, fiery personalities all pulling in the same direction.