Like/Don't Like: Cubo Torres clicking, Sounders on the upswing and hot potatoes back East
In this week’s Like/Don’t Like, we highlight a couple of players making a mark with their new teams, the hot potato that is the Eastern Conference race, and more.
Cubo’s on fire: Chivas USA should have never traded Juan Agudelo away this season, as his departure from the club led to a sustained team scoring slump. But the team eventually found a good replacement, in Erick “Cubo” Torres. The 20-year-old has scored four goals in six matches, including the game winners in Chivas’ last two victories. That also includes a brace against the New York Red Bulls in a good 3-2 win on Sunday. The Goats are well outside the playoff picture this season, but "Cubo" is quickly becoming a must-watch player in MLS.
WATCH: Penedo makes SOTW shortlist
Penedo causes nightmares: In another case of “better late than never,” the LA Galaxy have already gotten immediate returns in signing goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. Although one could mistakenly believe that the job of a goalkeeper on a team as talented as the Galaxy isn’t particularly hard, Penedo’s efforts in his first two MLS starts indicate an immediate upgrade over Carlo Cudicini. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bruce Arena gives Cudicini another start or two, to keep his ‘keepers hungry. But after his phenomenal save on Jordan Harvey last weekend, which surely caused nightmares throughout Vancouver Saturday night and was part of a larger display of assured play between the pipes, Penedo has to be the main man going forward.
Sounders rounding the bend? Seattle have been the talk of MLS of late, between Clint Dempsey’s signing and the rivalry win over the weekend against Portland. But that result finally put the Sounders back in the playoff picture, something that – on paper – appeared to be a given all season.
Seattle’s injury woes and numerous international call-ups have contributed to the rough season, but consider the fact that they have a minimum of two games in hand on every other team in their conference, and their next three games are against teams currently outside of the playoff picture. If they can pick up nine points in those games, they should vault up the standings, and claim not only a playoff berth but also much-needed momentum for the home stretch and playoffs.
Who wants to win the East, anyway? Every week, I take a hard look at the games and the standings, and it seems like every week clear contenders and pretenders emerge. The problem? There’s no consistency, as teams move from one status to the other on an almost-weekly basis. Heading into the season, it appeared the Supporters' Shield winner would most likely come from the East as, the theory went, Western Conference teams would beat up on each other and there were more weak teams east of Houston.
But while there is a slightly larger gap in points between playoff contenders in the Western Conference, currently only seven points separate first from seventh in the East, with Montreal sitting atop the pack this week. But don’t worry, there’s likely to be more jockeying yet, as these teams seem disinclined to lead the pack at this stage in the season.
Instant Replay on Casey disallowed goal
Casey’s goal wiped off: Watching the New England Revolution run riot on Philadelphia by a 5-1 score was fun, but it was pretty misleading, as the Union took a 1-1 match into the 58th minute before the floodgates opened. But even more than that was the momentum-killing moment in the 55th minute, when Conor Casey’s goal was mistakenly disallowed due to an incorrect foul call. Yes, the match could have ultimately ended with a Revs victory regardless, but it’s a shame for the visitors that they had a valid goal called off. It really could make all the difference for these teams come season’s end.
CCL TV availability: Raise your hand if you subscribe to Fox Soccer Plus. Yeah, I don’t either. While Fox Sports 1 has given soccer the time of day so far, which is a good thing, relegating the majority of the MLS CONCACAF Champions League matches to Fox Soccer Plus is really not helping the cause of spreading the reach of the competition to a wider and engaged audience. An MLS team will win the CCL one day – it would be a shame if most people weren't able to watch the games along the way.
What do you like? What do you, er, Don’t Like? Let us know in the comments below.