A trite reference for what was anything but a trite weekend in Major League Soccer, eight matches that left us with reason to believe the regular season has just finished its first act:
The BRIDE looks from the reinforcements to O-Ren. O-REN smiles. O-REN (ENGLISH) (to the Bride) You didn't think it was going to be that easy, did you? THE BRIDE (ENGLISH) (to O-Ren) You know, for a second there, yeah I did. O-Ren smiles... O-REN (ENGLISH) Silly rabbit... Both O-Ren and the Bride finish the phrase together,... O-REN/THE BRIDE ...Trix Are for kids.
Perhaps the Los Angeles Galaxy are just Quentin Tarantino/Uma Thurman's Bride - so determined, so lethally efficient at the beginning of our story, so buried with a flashlight by the middle of our tale.
If Bruce Arena's team is Uma Thurman, then on Sunday, Chicago played Michael Madsen in a 3-2 win that, with two goals in the match's first five minutes, asked Landon Donovan to choose between mace and flashlight.
Already down 3-0 by the time Donovan scored the first of two penalty kick goals (the 100th MLS goal of his career), Galaxy suffered their second embarrassing home loss of the week. Although the final score was closer than their 4-1, Tuesday loss to Puerto Rico, the ease with which Chicago scored their first three goals left the Galaxy equally out-classed.
For second there, they may have thought the MLS season was going to be that easy, but with one win in six matches, Los Angeles is no longer looking like the season's Bride. After suffering their first home loss in league this season, Galaxy's just another of Bill's crew - still dangerous, but no longer distinct.
|Real Salt Lake||18||10||4||4||34|
Philadelphia 1, New England 1
Colorado 1, FC Dallas 1
Houston 2, New York 2
Kansas City 1, Toronto 0
Real Salt Lake 3, DC United 0
San Jose 0, Seattle 1
Chivas USA 3, Colorado 1
Los Angeles 2, Chicago 3
Crew Impersonate Galaxy, Real Salt Lake Undaunted
There must have been something in the water at Home Depot Center. Actually, those familiar with Southern California tap water know there's always something in the water, but whatever was there this weekend may have caused the league's two top teams, Los Angeles and Columbus, to be routed.
Columbus's 3-1 loss on Saturday to Chivas USA keeps the Crew six points behind Los Angeles, losing in an almost equally embarrassing manner. While Columbus waited until the second half to fall behind 3-0, the eventual match-winning goal was gifted to the Goats - a Dan Kennedy punt bouncing into the Crew area, with a chest pass from Shaun Francis to WIll Hesmer intercepted by Blair Gavin, the resulting goal a karmatic turnaround for Emilio Renteria's opener last week against Houston.
While the Crew and Galaxy were doing their best to undermine their seasons' first four months, Real Salt Lake reminded us what an elite team looks like, beating DC United 3-0 on Saturday at Rio Tinto. After Alvaro Saborio got on the scoresheet within fifteen minutes, Real Salt Lake spent the next hour running Robbie Findley through the United defense, with the U.S. international scoring the hosts' second in the 79th minute. Nelson González finished the scoring in stoppage time, moving RSL to within six points of Los Angeles.
Sounders Back In Playoff Position
Three Saturday matches pitted playoff hopefuls against each other, with Seattle the only team able to take three points.
A first half goal from Fredy Montero looked to be the first of many for the Sounders. Were it not for strong performance from goalkeeper Jon Busch, Seattle would have gotten more than their 1-0 victory from the Earthquakes. Regardless, the three points at Buck Shaw allowed Seattle to vault San Jose and claim fourth in the west, sixth overall.
Seattle also passed Colorado, with the Rapids being drawn by visiting FC Dallas, 1-1 on Saturday. An early Julien Baudet own goal was equalized four minutes later when Atiba Harris's outstretched arm met a Jamie Smith corner, with Mehdi Ballouchy's penalty kick the final score in a match seemingly stymied by the Commerce City heat.
But the most anticipated of this week's matches saw the New York Red Bulls visiting Houston, marking the Major League Soccer debut of Thierry Henry. The former France international made an immediate impact, setting up both Juan Pablo Ángel goals. While Henry missed an open chance of his own, the former Barcelona star performed as advertised - two steps ahead of everybody else.
As an introduction to Major League Soccer, Houston may have been an ideal opponent for Henry. Though Houston has struggled this season, Dom Kinnear's team is still feisty enough to challenge anybody. Foot-speed, however, is not the Dynamo's strength, with a fleet-footed Henry able to blow past defenders throughout the first half. As Houston started playing-off the Red Bull striker, Henry was able to drop deep uncontested to gain possession, a tactic which led to New York's second goal.
Despite a strong debut from Henry (aided by the harsh sending-off of Lovel Palmer), Houston stole a point at match's end when substitute Brian Mullen headed home an André Hainault cross, the final goal in a 2-2 draw.
Sebastien Le Toux's performance will be overlooked, having taken place in a match between two of the league's struggling teams, but the weekend's best goal - a curling ball into Matt Reis's upper-left hand corner - capped a performance that saw the Philadelphia attacker at the center of everything the Union tried to do. Though Philadelphia was only able to get a 1-1 draw from the visiting Revolution, the Union snapped New England's four match winning streak, with Le Toux showing his name deserves to be mentioned with Schelotto, Donovan, Ferreira, De Rosario and Montero when discussing which players are most important to their team's attacks.
And finally, with a mid-week CONCACAF Champions League match in Honduras on Toronto's schedule, Preki started Dwayne De Rosario and Chad Barrett on the bench against Kansas City. The result was a slow affair between TFC and the Wizards, with an Adrian Cann misplayed header gifting Teal Bunbury the match's only goal.