Kick Off: "Nervy" Whitecaps miss their chance vs. Seattle
Was this the moment the Vancouver Whitecaps will see in their nightmares in November?
It you believe the Vancouver press, it certainly appears so. One of the biggest plays of a wild weekend unfolded at BC Place on Saturday night, when the Whitecaps narrowly missed a chance to steal three points from the visiting Seattle Sounders and make a major move towards the first postseason berth in franchise history.
Writes the Vancouver Sun’s Ian McIntyre: “The playoffs appeared, time froze, angels sang.”
And, well, Whitecaps fans know the rest. The once-reliable Camilo Sanvezzo missed a golden chance in the waning seconds of the match, and the 'Caps settled for one point instead of three, and a another week of biting their nails as the postseason looms just weeks away.
“Camilo buried his head, lost the flow of oxygen to his brain and hammered the ball wide of the post like an angst-ridden teenager trying to make his high school junior varsity team,” McIntyre writes. “And that, in two seconds, is the state of the Whitecaps. Eager and nervy, determined and well-intentioned — but unsuccessful.”
The Sounders, on the other hand, seemed just fine taking the crucial road point and, more importantly, locking down a fourth consecutive playoff berth. Next up for Sigi Schmid’s team is a showdown against the Portland Timbers next weekend, with the Cascadia Cup hanging in the balance.
"We have to win. No excuses. We all know this,” said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. “The whole week we will be focused on this game on Sunday."
The Sounders are hot on the heels of the LA Galaxy, who wrapped up a full weekend of MLS games in Denver against a Colorado Rapids team flirting with postseason elimination. The teams finished deadlocked in a 1-1 draw, but perhaps the biggest story that came out of this game is the potential long-term loss of LA Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who suffered what’s being reported as a sprained knee and had to be carried off the field.
“Injuries are a part of sports,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “A.J. for years now has been as important a player as any. If he's out for any significant time, it will hurt.”
The Galaxy’s draw meant they missed any chance to somehow catch up to the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes, who played in one of the most exciting matches of the season on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Supporters’ Shield favorites went blow for blow with visiting FC Dallas and eventually walked out with a 3-3 draw, thanks to a late goal from (who else?) Steven Lenhart.
The draw was a bit of a sucker punch to FC Dallas, who were looking to gain ground on Vancouver and vault into the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But instead they were left fuming about the referees and a missed opportunity by the Bay.
“Look at the foul sheets, they were called for zero fouls in the first half against eight or nine,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “That's the game. That's the game. And we get three yellow cards for trying to protect ourselves.”
And more from Hyndman: “To be up twice and to give up goals of that nature, it’s [expletive]. The ball is up in the air, coming down, people are physically knocking you over. What are you going to do? We don’t have the size to match.”
The Quakes, meanwhile, missed a chance to wrap up the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs, and may have given goalkeeper Jon Busch a few more gray hairs than he needs with their latest stoppage-time shenanigans.
“When we get three goals at home, we should be winning those games,” Busch said. “Not to put a negative into it – we’ll definitely take the point – but I don’t know how many more times we can go to the well.”
The talk in the Eastern Conference on Monday is undoubtedly about one of the best individual performances we’ve seen in a while from Thierry Henry, who notched three assists and a brilliant goal in New York’s emphatic 4-1 win over Toronto FC. Yes, the win kept RBNY on pace with their foes out East from Kansas City and Chicago, but the talk of the town is Henry.
“This was the type of night MLS Commissioner Don Garber dreamed about when Henry decided to trade fame and fortune in Barcelona for relative anonymity and fortune in Manhattan,” writes Goal.com’s Frank Isola. “Red Bull Arena was sold out on a mild September night in Harrison, N.J., and Henry was at the top of his game. This is precisely what the league needed and exactly what Henry can do.”
Here’a a look at Henry’s goal to cap off the game. A Goal of the Week candidate, no doubt.
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe, meanwhile, wasn’t in such a celebratory mood about the state of the pitch at RBA. With a huge nationally televised game against the Chicago Fire looming next Saturday, Backe took an unprompted swipe at his own sod, telling the media that “we probably have the worst pitch in the league. That is more concerning for the future for the next upcoming game that our pitch is absolutely terrible.”
The loss was just the latest in a dismal season for Toronto FC, who are left to ponder the moves made by head coach Paul Mariner as the Reds reach the final month of the season. Sportsnet’s Duncan Fletcher gives it a try here.
The Columbus Crew inched closer to the postseason with arguably the most controversial result of the weekend. Their 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union included two goals from striker Jairo Arrieta and, most importantly, the late game-winner from Milovan Mirosevic that appeared to a be a clearly blown offside call.
Check out the Mirosevic goal here and decide for yourself.
Crew head coach Robert Warzycha played coy on Mirosevic’s goal, telling the media after the match that “I’m not an official, but I’ll take it.”
The loss eliminated the Philadelphia Union from postseason contention, and left head coach John Hackworth pondering the final blow of a season gone wrong.
“I just watched it a couple of times and I’m amazed,” Hackworth said. “I don’t even know what to say. It’s not even close.”
The Houston Dynamo remained one point ahead of the Crew for the fifth and final playoff spot with a rain-soaked 2-0 win over the visiting New England Revolution at BBVA Compass Stadium, thanks to the first goal this season from Ricardo Clark.
The key to victory for the Dynamo? Wide play saves the day.
D.C. United also stayed afloat in the Eastern Conference with a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field, but the biggest discussion topic to come from this one was (you guessed it) another questionable call from the refs.
Here’s a look at the play in question: defender David Horst is whistled for a handball in the box, which led to a successful PK from D.C. forward Chris Pontius. You make the call.
The story doesn’t end there. Timbers owner Merritt Paulson apparently confronted the referees as they walked off the field following the game, and the entire group was nearly hit with a bottle thrown from the stands while politely discussing their opinions on the play in question.
There wasn’t much debate at The Home Depot Center, where visiting Real Salt Lake coolly dispatched Chivas USA 4-0 behind a hat trick from striker Álvaro Saborío. Here’s a look at the final goal, which is a thing of beauty.
The loss just about summed up the season for Chivas USA, who might have a different look on the bench next season. Head coach Robin Fraser didn’t shy away from that notion when he took to the podium at the HDC after the game.
“Without a doubt, you don't have a season like this and go without changes, no question,” Fraser said. “Certainly, you evaluate everything and you determine where you make your changes. Given all the restrictions with rules there are in the league it’s not as easy as going out [and] making changes but certainly, coming off a season like this changes have to be made.”
The weekend was a busy and successful one for Americans abroad, perhaps none bigger than Clint Dempsey. The US striker scored his first goal with new club Tottenham Hotspur in a 3-2 win over Manchester United, giving Spurs their first win at Old Trafford since 1989.
And Jozy Altidore continued his torrid play in the Netherlands, but he’s got to work on this goal celebration. Here’s a look at the amazing finish and, well, a rumbling, bumbling, fumbling kind of streak to the corner flag.
Let’s take a quick look at expansion news, beginning in Orlando. Evidently the folks in Florida are still plugging away at work on a stadium, and here’s proof: Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs is headed to PPL Park in Philadelphia next weekend to take a peek, less than a month after Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer visited Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City.
Out in Queens, N.Y., meanwhile, there’s concern that a potential new soccer stadium could infringe on the parkland in Flushing Meadows Park. The Jackson Heights Green Alliance is holding an emergency town hall meeting on Monday to mobilize the community against the proposed stadiums in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
And last but not least, some new fall reading hits the shelves on Tuesday. It’s the biography of MLS patriarch Lamar Hunt, who was one of the league’s founding investors and an owner of franchises in Columbus, Kansas City and Dallas.
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