Kick Off: New York Red Bulls end lengthy trophy drought with historic Supporters' Shield victory
Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today. Now that we know the final standings, be sure to check when all 10 playoff teams will be back in postseason action.
1. A LONG TIME COMING
It’s been a long wait but, following a resounding 5-2 win against the Chicago Fire (watch highlights here), the New York Red Bulls have finally won their first-ever trophy, picking up the 2013 Supporters' Shield. It officially ends the Curse of Caricola, and Dax McCarty knows who’ll appreciate it most: “The fans deserve it and [the media] knows how much they’ve suffered.” Unfortunately one team's success meant another’s misery, and the defeat cost the Fire a place in the playoffs. Mike Magee was unhappy about the way it all went down: “I feel … we lacked a little bit of heart.”
2. SECOND SON
Sporting Kansas City did everything within their power to win the Supporters' Shield, defeating the Philadelphia Union 2-1 (watch highlights here) on Saturday night with Lawrence Olum scoring his dream first goal. Sadly for them, it was then out of their hands and the result in New York on Sunday meant that SKC will have to settle for second place. Much like the New York result, Sporting’s victory cost the Philadelphia Union a place in the playoffs and the Union were left to lament a “waste” of a season with manager John Hackworth calling it a “season of what-ifs."
3. PORTLAND SECURE WESTERN CONFERENCE
While Sporting Kansas City’s win meant the Timbers could no longer win the Supporters' Shield, first place in the Western Conference was still on the line and Caleb Porter’s men signaled their intent for the playoffs with a 5-0 mauling of Chivas USA (watch highlights here). Porter’s decision to start Diego Valeri proved to be more than justified, with the Argentine scoring two and providing another in just 45 minutes of action. Despite the defeat, which in many ways perfectly summarized Chivas USA’s season, coach José Luis Real sees plenty to look forward to next year.
4. DYNAMO DO IT AGAIN
Never ones to make it easy on themselves, the Houston Dynamo’s late-season wobble kept them on edge but, following a 2-1 win over D.C. United (watch highlights here), they have, once again, made it into the playoffs. While the players didn’t know at the time who they would be playing or where they would finish, they knew they were in the playoffs and that alone took a lot of pressure off. What more is there to say about D.C.? They set the league record for fewest wins in a season and perhaps Dwayne De Rosario sums it up best when he says, “A lot of things definitely need to change.”
5. REVOLUTION LEAD THE CHARGE
It might not have been the goal-fest like their previous meeting just one week ago, but the outcome was the same, with the New England Revolution securing a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew (watch highlights here) to book their place in the playoffs. It ended the Revolution's long absence from the postseason but, while results meant that New England finished third and avoided the Knockout Round, the players are not celebrating just yet. For the Columbus Crew, Brian Bliss feels he’s done enough to merit the role himself, but Bob Bradley's also the latest name to be linked with the manager’s job. However, Bliss is not the only one facing an uncertain future.
6. STAND YOUR GROUND
The Seattle Sounders may not have won in front of a crowd of 66,216, but at least they didn’t lose either, securing a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy (watch highlights here). It means that the Galaxy finish third while the Sounders finish fourth and will have to go through the play-in round against Colorado if they wish to reach MLS Cup. The game was also of note as it marked Clint Dempsey’s long-awaited first goal for the Sounders, although the story may turn out to be the goal that wasn’t given for Omar Gonzalez. Could it be time for goal-line technology? According to Landon Donovan, “that one didn’t even need goal-line technology. It was real obvious.”
7. SURPRISE RESULT IN CANADIAN DERBY
Toronto FC may not have had the best season, to put it nicely, but they at least finished on a high, beating the Montreal Impact, 1-0 (watch highlights here), and doing their best to ensure that their rival could still back out on a playoff spot. Luckily for Montreal, other results went their way, though they do now face the play-in game against the Dynamo in Houston. It still made for a nervy wait, though. Toronto, on the other hand, nearly ensured that there would be no Canadian teams in the playoffs at all and, according to Ryan Nelsen, it was his team that “looked like they were going to the playoffs today.” That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of offseason work for Toronto FC to do and there have been a handful of big names linked closely to the club, including a couple from Italy and one from England.
8. CAMILO PURE GOLD
It’s just as well that the Colorado Rapids were already assured of their place in the playoffs, as they fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps, 3-0, on Sunday night (watch highlights here). According to Drew Moor, the Rapids “played liked a team that was just satisfied to be in the playoffs, and that’s unacceptable at this point.” The result also topped off a pretty miserable evening for Mike Magee, as Camilo Sanvezzo’s hat trick meant he finished with 22 goals, one more than Magee, to win the Budweiser Golden Boot. According to Whitecaps captain Jay De Merit, “it’s well deserved … He was the only All-Star we had.” The Rapids did at least get some potentially good news, as it looks likely that Martín Rivero will be back in burgundy next season.
9. SAYING FAREWELL IN SAN JOSE
Playing for nothing more than pride, the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas took part in an entertaining match at Buck Shaw, which finished 2-1 to the Quakes (watch highlights here) and provided the perfect sendoff for Ramiro Corrales. Chris Wondolowski scored the winner for San Jose, giving him 13 goals on the year, a figure that’s not as impressive as last season until you consider Saturday’s revelation that Wondo has been playing most of the season with a broken foot. Saturday’s game also marked the final match in charge for FC Dallas’ Schellas Hyndman, who sees lots for fans to look forward to. On the other side, it looks like San Jose’s interim manager Mark Watson may be about to lose the interim tag.
10. IT’S AN AGE THING
“If you’re 40 or above, you don’t get this. If you’re below 40, you get it.” Those are the words of Orlando City president Phil Rawlins, who believes that soccer is “the sport of the next generation,” and Rawlins knows if Orlando City are to succeed, he will need those fans to help make it happen. Just as well then, according to this story from the Orlando Sentinel, that those fans are ready for MLS.
11. CAREY AND THE SOUNDERS
Many may have wondered just how comedian and TV star Drew Carey came to be involved with the Seattle Sounders. Well, now we have the answer, as SI.com has this extract from Mike Gastineau’s new book, Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpiece.
12. MAKE A HOUSE A HOME
An interesting bit of stadium news came out on Friday, although it didn’t actually concern an existing MLS team. The Atlanta Falcons released a string of computer-generated images of their new stadium, including one showing what their stadium would look like configured for MLS or international soccer, adding to speculation about a future franchise.
13. PART OF THE SQUAD
According to Harry Redknapp, Oguchi Onyewu is a big part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans for next summer’s World Cup. The QPR boss says he had a conversation with the US coach before signing the defender and was told exactly that. Whether or not that’s true, part of a sales pitch to find Onyewu a club or just Redknapp trying to talk up his new signing, well, that’s up to you to decide. Meanwhile, Michael Bradley scored on his return to the Roma squad, and Jozy Altidore played a big part in helping Sunderland beat their archrivals. Also, could another German-American be looking to make his mark with the USMNT?
14. STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
Seriously, who would be a referee? In an interview with World Soccer Talk’s Voices of Soccer podcast, former Premier League referee Mark Halsey provides an insight into what it’s like to be a ref and why inefficiencies in the FA and Premier League are damaging ref standards and leaving many referee’s afraid. Interestingly, Halsey singles out MLS as a league leading the way in setting new referee standards.
15. FLIP IT
Thierry Henry scored another stunning goal on Sunday to get his side back into the game against the Chicago Fire. It was his 41st goal for the Red Bulls and tied him with Giovanni Savarese for second on the club's all-time goalscorer list. Just another one to add to his amazing flip book.