Major League Soccer Week In Review: Round 30
The weekend’s top individual performances
Steven Lenhart can be an effective player when he behaves. Just ask Real Salt Lake; the mop-topped Earthquakes striker put two past RSL on Saturday and the men from Utah could never close the gap.
In Portland, Diego Valeri was a one-man midfield army in a 1-0 win over Colorado. His finish on a Rapids defensive mistake was classy stuff, too.
Tony Tchani was similarly large and in charge in the Columbus midfield as the Crew kept its post-season hopes alive. Just barely … but alive nonetheless.
C.J. Sapong, something of a forgotten man around Sporting Kansas City this year, made everyone remember who he is with two goals in a 2-1 road win at Toronto. Speaking of that one …
The blown calls – more blown calls
Let’s add Los Angeles to the list of recent teams with seemingly legitimate goals disallowed. (Last week it was New England and Philadelphia with the killer “wavings off.”)
But the worst of the refereeing blunder was in Toronto, where three significant calls made by Allen Chapman all went against the Reds in a 2-1 loss to Kansas City. While it would be easy to say “At least Toronto can’t make the playoffs,” let’s ask New York, Montreal and possibly even Houston, the teams in contention at the top of the Eastern Conference.
The Golden Boot chase
What a crazy day for Vancouver’s Brazilian forward Camilo, who was surely disappointed not to start in his teams match at Montreal. Never mind that! He got off the bench in the second half to hit two in the weekend’s biggest upset, and now he sits tied with Mike Magee for second in the MLS goal-scoring race, just two off Marco Di Vaio’s leadership.
Trouble at Real Salt Lake?
Last week’s loss at Seattle is nothing to be ashamed of, considering how well the Sounders are playing. But a 2-1loss in Utah to a San Jose side that will struggle just to be make the playoffs? Conceding early goals (both of San Jose’s came before the 21st minute) bit RSL once again.
Even bigger trouble at Real Salt Lake
The week’s major off-field news also broke out of Utah, as SI.com reported that manager Jason Kreis, out of contract at year’s end, is apparently a frontrunner to take over the league’s 20th franchise.
The weekend’s big upset
Wasn’t Montreal mentioned in this space last week? The Vancouver Whitecaps were quickly fading from playoff view as they crossed Canadian time zones in a visit to Montreal (a club still thinking Supporters Shield). So the Whitecaps’ 3-0 win in Quebec qualifies as a real shocker. Camilo did hit two late goals to make the game look more lopsided than it was, but still …
Oh, and there was controversy in this one. And yet another Marco Schallibaum twist-off.
Houston Dynamo rising
Dominic Kinnear did not get to four of the last seven MLS Cup finals without knowing how to steady a listing ship. Sure enough, it looks like the Houston Dynamo manager has righted his team from South Texas. Last week’s win at Philadelphia looked like the start of something, and a huge 5-1 win at home Saturday over Chivas USA solidified the theory.
Houston finally landing on its best XI, following last week’s trade, which helped get Warren Creavalle into a midfield starting role, looks like the potential game-changer.
Those super-tight playoff races
Round 30 did little to unravel the playoff jostle being fought out fiercely in both conferences. Eight teams remain eligible for five spots in the East, and eight teams remain eligible for five spots in the West. The last four rounds should be epic. Here are the current standings – complete with that telling red line: