Monday Postgame: Streak busters, Cascadia's California dominance and a cadre of MLS young guns
Last week produced so many late thrills it could have been hosted by Elvira. Twelve of the round’s 15 games featured goals in the last 15 minutes, and in nine of those matches, there were game-tying or game-winning strikes in the last quarter of an hour.
There was also a game-winner (in Houston) that came with 17 minutes to play, giving us 10 late winners or equalizers in 15 games this week. Not too shabby.
The week produced some other notable numbers, too: There were 41 goals, for a healthy 2.73 goals-per-game average. Home teams went just 7-6-2 this week, while the Eastern Conference was 1-5-0 against Western competition, falling off the pace again just a week after nearly leveling the season series between the two conferences.
There were also several impressive feats in Week 11, and each came with its own number. Here are the top five:
36: Sporting KC Halt Houston’s Historic Run
Heading into Sunday’s nightcap against Sporting Kansas City, the Houston Dynamo had not lost at home since June 18, 2011. They had not lost at BBVA Compass Stadium, period. Their run had encompassed 30 league games, 36 across all competitions, and set a new MLS record, surpassing Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten streak of 34 games that stretched from 2009 to 2011.
How impressive was the Dynamo’s string? After Real Salt Lake’s benchmark, the next closest home unbeaten run was the Columbus Crew’s 22-game streak from 2008 to ’09. After that are a pair of 18-game streaks – half of Houston’s total – by the LA Galaxy (2010-11) and San Jose Earthquakes (2004-05).
When a team sets the bar that high, you have to tip your cap – and SKC coach Peter Vermes did just that after his team snapped the streak with a 1-0 win, telling MLSsoccer.com that Houston’s run was “a tremendous feat … that should be admired by everyone in the league.”
10-1: Cascadia vs. California
It may not go in the record books, but it’s got to be a first: the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, and Portland Timbers all matched up with teams from California this week, and they all produced Cascadia goalapaloozas, as the Whitecaps blitzed LA 3-1, the Sounders routed San Jose 4-0, and the Timbers romped past Chivas USA 3-0.
It was a West Coast smackdown, delivered from the North to the South, and it kept the two US-based Cascadia clubs riding high: Portland are sailing along on a club-record nine-game unbeaten streak, while Seattle have rebounded from an 0-3-1 start to go 3-0-2 and level their record at 3-3-3.
Don’t be surprised if there’s a lot more than regional bragging rights at stake when Portland and Seattle meet on August 25.
For their part, Vancouver snapped a seven-game winless skid with their solid victory over the defending champs.
Six for FC Dallas, Seven for D.C. United (and TFC)
While the Cascadia sides enjoyed a banner weekend, all three are still off the pace being set by FC Dallas, the formidable Western Conference leaders who won on Saturday despite starting the match without David Ferreira, Kenny Cooper, George John, Andrew Jacobson, and Raúl Fernández.
Schellas Hyndman’s men have scored six goals in the last 15 minutes of games this season, their sixth coming against D.C. United on Saturday night when Je-Vaughn Watson (right) chested in (or torsoed-in) a corner kick from Michel in the 77th minute for a 2-1 victory.
Even more impressive than their late-game heroics has been FCD’s early-game defensive prowess. Before Saturday, when United’s Dwayne De Rosario punched in a 44th-minute goal against them, Dallas had not conceded a goal before the 68th minute in any of their first 10 games. No wonder they’re on a nine-game unbeaten run.
D.C. United, on the other hand, are headed in the opposite direction. They’ve developed a habit of giving up early goals, and have now lost a franchise-record seven straight games.
(While D.C. have conceded early, their fellow Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers Toronto FC have folded late, surrendering seven goals in the last 15 minutes of games. Not coincidentally, TFC are winless in their past eight games.)
Montreal: 2.0 ppg
They began the week on Wednesday with a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls (a game they nearly tied in stoppage time), but the Montreal Impact rebounded solidly with a 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
The Impact rallied twice in the game, and got an electric 93rd-minute winner from Matteo Ferrari, a player who’d netted an own goal to put his team in an early 1-0 hole.
It was only their second win in their past six games, and when the rest of the week’s results came in, the Impact sat fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, trailing New York, Houston, and SKC. But Montreal have played fewer games than those three, and if you tally the standings by points-per-game average, the Impact (6-2-2) are in first place.
The second-year club looks like a team that could be there come October.
11 Young Guns
No one need have any concerns about the rising young talent in MLS, because the kids are all right: There were 11 goalscorers this week aged 22 or younger.
On Wednesday, Real Salt Lake’s 20-year-old forward Olmes García struck an 89th-minute winner against the New England Revolution. On Saturday, 20-year-old Canadian midfielder Russell Teibert scored twice – his first two career goals – to lead Vancouver over the Galaxy.
New England’s 18-year-old attacker Diego Fagundez hit the net in a 1-1 draw with New York on Saturday, the same day 20-year-old Jack McInerney of the Philadelphia Union took over the MLS scoring lead, bagging his seventh goal of the season to deliver the Union a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire.