Like/Don't Like: Real Salt Lake-Sporting KC intensity, Jose Goncalves' redemption, Mike Magee's PK
In this week’s Like/Don’t Like, we highlight redemption for a couple of MLS players, a bogus penalty approach, and more!
WATCH: Goncalves heads one in for Revs
Immediate redemption for Gonçalves: New England Revolution defender José Gonçalves has been one of the best new additions to MLS this season, and has arguably been the catalyst in that team’s defensive transformation. He laid an egg, however, midweek against the Colorado Rapids, with the capper coming on his own goal that won the game for Colorado. Still, he got right back on the horse last weekend against the Columbus Crew, helping the Revs to a clean sheet, and scoring again – this time in his team’s benefit in a dramatic 2-0 win. They say athletes have short memories, and Gonçalves seemed to follow that old adage in the Columbus match.
Speaking of redemption: When the Portland Timbers and Montreal Impact swapped Troy Perkins and Donovan Ricketts last season, were you one of the many who said Montreal won that trade in a walk? I was. Perkins was younger and had been in better form than Ricketts for quite some time. It seemed the best days of the Jamaican ‘keeper were behind him, but he’s come storming back this season to prove the doubters (like me) wrong. Goalkeeping in MLS is typically a strength on most teams, but Ricketts has shown this season that he’s playing well and eager to win another MLS Cup.
HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 1, SKC 2
RSL-SKC was a playoff game: The Real Salt Lake-Sporting Kansas City match was touted as an MLS Cup preview, something we usually say about a dozen times a season in matches between various clubs. While these two teams can’t meet in the playoffs until the final, this was as close as you’ll see to a prototypical playoff match during the summer. Physical, featuring plenty of controversy, scoreless into the second half, followed by goals traded, a red card, and a very, very late winner, this time courtesy of Ike Opara for SKC. Playoff games aren’t often goal bonanzas, but games like this show the quality on both sides and the tiny margin for error any given match.
Seattle’s stuck: The Seattle Sounders have had a very difficult season so far, with the result that they remain outside of the playoff places at this point in the season. “But the playoffs don’t start this month!” you may remark, and in that respect, you are right. We’ve seen the LA Galaxy wait until after the All-Star Game to get fully on track and win an MLS Cup last year, so hope is not entirely gone for the Sounders.
But the injuries, call-ups, and lack of rhythm has certainly messed with Seattle’s regular winning formula, and it is unclear if this may be the year when the upward trajectory that has marked the club’s progress since entering MLS may end. There is still time, and plenty of games to go, but the Sounders need to find consistency soon.
WATCH: Magee converts from the spot
Magee’s PK approach: I’ve loved the story of Mike Magee’s season, going from a valuable role player for the LA Galaxy to the focal point of his hometown Chicago Fire team, leading the Fire to a revival midseason. But when he scored the penalty in Chicago’s 4-1 rout of D.C. United last week, I couldn’t get behind the way he took the PK. He completely stops after beginning his approach, meaning D.C. goalkeeper Joe Willis had essentially no chance to fairly stop the penalty. Hey, if 'keepers have to stay on their line, referees also need to ensure that penalty takers are keeping up their end of the bargain, and prevent complete pauses on stutter-step approaches.
Montreal pretenders? The Impact are winless in their last five games, and have a big match against Sporting Kansas City looming this weekend. In the first months of the season, the question was whether they or FC Dallas were the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup front runners. Now? Both teams are sputtering at the halfway point, and plenty of competition has lined up behind them (and sometimes surpassing them in the standings). Montreal arguably should have the smoother road to the playoffs and possibly even the Supporters’ Shield, with the East looking weaker overall. But unless they can make up their games in hand with wins, they may not be ready for primetime in 2013.
What do you like? What do you, er, Don’t Like? Let us know in the comments below.