Kick Off: New York Red Bulls take control of Eastern Conference, Supporters' Shield races...for now
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today...
1. NEW YORK END THE WEEKEND ON TOP
They made have needed an own goal to break the deadlock and secure a 1-0 win against FC Dallas (watch highlights here), but the New York Red Bulls took advantage of other teams slip ups to move into first place in both the Eastern Conference and the race for the Supporters' Shield. For Dallas though, the result leaves them no more room for error as they drop to eighth in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the game on Sunday night was followed by a special event as the bravest took on the finest.
2. IMPORTANT POINTS IN THE WEST
A Seattle Sounders side without Clint Dempsey came away from the StubHub Center the happier of the two teams following a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy (watch highlights here). Given the Sounders recent results away to LA, a point was a step in the right direction, but it was a game that Galaxy star Robbie Keane felt his side “deserved to win,” and perhaps needed to, given that Portland beat Colorado 1-0 on Friday night (watch highlights here). A combination of a Diego Valeri goal and some veterans at the back helped lift the Timbers above the Rapids into third place.
3. CHASING PACK PULL OFF RESULTS
Neither the Vancouver Whitecaps nor the San Jose Earthquakes are giving up on the playoffs just yet. If that means they have to beat some of the best teams in MLS, so be it. The Whitecaps managed a 3-0 win over Canadian rivals the Montreal Impact (watch highlights here) thanks to goals from Kenny Miller and Camilo Sanvezzo and a reversed penalty decision Impact coach Marco Schällibaum labelled a scandal. San Jose, meanwhile, secured a 2-1 win vs. Real Salt Lake (watch highlights here) thanks to a brace from Steven Lenhart, which left RSL feeling the pressure that comes with the final stretch.
4. CREW MAKING A COMEBACK
The Chicago Fire were dealt a playoff blow of their own on Saturday following a 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew (watch highlights here). Can the Crew pull off one of the most impressive comebacks in recent memory and secure a place in the playoffs? They just might be able to if they can keep knocking off the teams above and around them. The loss dumps Chicago back beneath the red line and leaves them contemplating their playoff chances once again.
5. HOUSTON TAKE ADVANTAGE
With the teams above and below slipping, the Houston Dynamo did what needed to be done by destroying Chivas USA, 5-1 (watch highlights here). After 50 minutes of Dynamo domination, Chivas managed to find an equalizer and it looked like the Dynamo would waste another golden opportunity, but they dug deep and found four more goals in a display that showed a change in the Houston mentality. As striker Will Bruin said, “A few weeks ago, maybe we put our heads down and feel sorry for ourselves.” Chivas coach José Luis Real felt the game was the worst of his time in charge of the Goats, saying “we didn’t come in here expecting it to be like this.”
6. TORONTO UNHAPPY WITH CALLS
On a wet and wild Saturday evening at BMO Field, Toronto FC fell 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City (watch highlights here). Despite conceding two soft goals at home, in the middle of a monsoon, Ryan Nelsen felt that the real culprits for the defeat were the officials. “The referee has to make these judgement calls and Toronto was on the wrong end of every one,” said Nelson, and he may have a point after Aurélien Collin somehow seemed to get away with striking Álvaro Rey in the face. For SKC coach Peter Vermes, though, the result amounted to “three huge road points” thanks to two goals from C.J. Sapong.
7. NEW ENGLAND ABOVE THE RED
Despite conceding an early goal to the worst team in MLS, New England came from behind to defeat D.C. United 2-1 on Saturday night (watch highlights here). The result moved New England into the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and saw the Revolution experience both good and bad luck. An own goal and a missed penalty seemed to set the scene for the Revs, but an equalizer for Diego Fagundez, which may have been offside, and a second penalty helped secure the three points. For D.C. United, the result combined with some questionable calls, including a shot that may have crossed the line, were too much for manager Ben Olsen to take: “We were going up against too much today. Take that for what it’s worth.”
8. WE HAVE A WINNER, 24 UNDER 24
On Friday MLSsoccer.com revealed the top five of the 24 Under 24 list, including overall winner Darlington Nagbe. Want to hangout with Nagbe? Here’s what you need to do. So, with the list complete, what about those who didn’t make it?
9. CAN THE US WIN THE WORLD CUP?
A healthy dose of reality can be a good thing, and that is exactly what Jurgen Klinsmann delivered when asked if the US could win the 2014 World Cup. His exact reply: “No, you have to be realistic,” was the blunt reply that a lot of other nations could perhaps do with (we're looking at you England). However, Klinsmann did explain how his team could possibly go further than ever before and why he isn’t afraid to bring in MLS players.
10. TORONTO CONFIRM NEW GM
On Friday, Toronto FC confirmed the hiring of their new general manager, unveiling Tim Bezbatchenko, former MLS senior director of player relations and competition. At just 31 years old, Bezbatchenko becomes the second youngest GM in league history in what TFC president Tim Leiweike refers to as the club's “Theo Epstein hire.” It seems one of Bezbatchenko’s first jobs will be to sort out some of the team's salary cap issues.
11. D.C. UNITED, INSPIRED BY AJAX?
While it’s definitely not been a good year for D.C. United, one of the few promising highlights, apart from the US Open Cup run, has been the number of young talents coming into the team. What role did a former Ajax youth coach play in this development? Meanwhile, another young D.C. United player plans to stay in school while he tries to make his mark.
12. BREAKTHROUGH IN CORRUPTION CASES
Just two days after Singapore Police announced they had arrested alleged match-fixing ring leader Dan Tan, El Salvador’s football federation handed down lifetime bans to 14 players, past and present, in relation to match fixing allegations. The list included several former MLS players and one of the results in question was a 2-1 friendly loss to the US back in 2010
13. UNION PLAYERS SPLIT TIME PLAYING AND TEACHING
A number of players make the move into soccer coaching when they retire but, in the case of the Philadelphia Union, some of their players aren’t waiting that long. It’s an interesting sideline with a Philly trio providing their services to whoever can afford to pay.
14. MONEY MATTERS FOR WORLD CUP PLACE
If reports out of Costa Rica are correct, then the United States Soccer Federation could be in line for a huge windfall after qualifying for the World Cup. How much? Possibly $13 million. Don’t get too excited imagining all the useful ways the USSF could spend that money, though, as it seems most of that money is already spoken for.
15. AMERICAN EXPORTS
Brad Guzan saves a penalty, something he’s developing a knack for, Geoff Cameron scores for Stoke, Jermaine Jones feels the full force of Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, Jozy Altidore may well be happy to have a new manager after spending most of the weekend warming the bench and Herculez Gomez sees a little playing time for Tijuana’s U-20s as well as throwing out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game. That's your American Exports wrap in a nutshell.