They are words that few could have envisioned being uttered by New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry after an early-season match-up against the San Jose Earthquakes.
“You have to give credit to San Jose, we didn’t touch the ball in the second half,” the Frenchman said of Saturday's 2-2 draw against San Jose. “If any team deserved to win, it looked like San Jose was going to make it in the end. It might be harsh what I’m saying but San Jose gave us a lesson in football today.”
The Earthquakes came back twice to tie the Red Bulls in the match (watch the highlights here). And it was a San Jose team missing two target forwards and two of their most influential starters to injury in a bizarre sequence at the end of the first half. The one that will get the most publicity this week is the broken collarbone suffered by Shea Salinas on a tussle with NYRB’s Rafael Marquez. “It was a penalty kick by the way,” said Quakes manager Frank Yallop.
The match at Red Bull Arena left a three-way tie atop the MLS scoring charts. NY’s Kenny Cooper and San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski both scored, catching Henry in the Golden Boot standings. The question is whether USMNT Jurgen Klinsmann has taken notice. Wondo says yes: “I’ve heard from [USMNT officials] via emails and they’ve been very positive. I’ll get a phone call or a text here or there … It’s upbeat when you receive something like that and they are saying, ‘I’m watching you, keep up the great work.’ So it’s great.”
Sporting Kansas City kept up their great work on Saturday night, moving to a perfect 6-0-0 on the season. Real Salt Lake were the latest to fall short in a 1-0 defeat at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park (watch the highlights here). The goal scored by SKC’s Aurelien Collin on a set piece left a sour taste in the mouth of RSL manager Jason Kreis: “We don’t typically give up goals on dead balls either … Apparently, there was one player who falls asleep and was not with his mark, so we gave a free header in the six.”
Even after beating RSL, it was interesting to see SKC Jimmy Nielsen label the visitors as frontrunners for the title: “They should be one of the favorites to win the MLS Cup this year," the goalkeeper said.
Another match that was highly anticipated this weekend was Brian Mullan’s first trip to Seattle after the Steve Zakuani tackle. Despite the 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Sounders (watch the highlights here), the Rapids midfielder had high praise for the Sounders faithful: "I was very apprehensive," Mullan said about the lead-up to the match. “There are a lot of great fans in this city. A lot of nerves leading up to the game. I applaud the fans. They did a good job and conducted themselves professionally and consistent with their reputation of being very good."
Mullan also said that he made an attempt to reach Zakuani while in Seattle to give him a face-to-face apology: "I want him back on the field more than anybody," Mullan said. "He's a great player. For that to happen to him on my watch was something that I will never live down."
Seattle’s Zach Scott was relieved to get the game-winner for himself (he says his mom and wife were on his case about scoring) and for the team: “We wanted to basically honor Steve with a win," Scott said, "and that's what we did."
Sunday’s 1-1 tie between the Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park only went 65 minutes after officials decided to end the match due to lightning in the area (watch the highlights here). Fire World Cup veteran Arne Friedrich, who made his MLS debut in the match and had a part to play in Houston’s goal, wanted to play out the rest of the game: “In Europe it’s a little different. We would play the 90 minutes. The pitch was perfect, there was no problem, but we cannot do any decision here. It’s up to the referees.”
LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan called his team’s 3-1 win over the Portland Timbers “the best all-around performance of the season” (watch the highlights here). But he reserved specific praise for debutant central defender David Junior Lopes, acquired last week from Chivas USA: “For us, he was fantastic. It's hard to see why he hasn't been playing. I think he was great tonight, and he's only going to get better when he gets comfortable.”
That’s four straight losses for the Portland Timbers. But manager John Spencer is defiant, despite the fact that his team has regularly held a lead thus far this season: “I still believe we have the quality to…win games," Spencer said. "I still believe we have the quality to get ourselves on a good run."
For a team that hadn’t won a game in this 2012 MLS season and has struggled scoring goals, the penalty kick chip by Philadelphia’s Gabriel Gomez to beat the Columbus Crew 1-0 was risky (watch the highlights here). Some say it was brave: "You have to have courage to chip it that way," says Union manager Peter Nowak.
Not surprisingly, Columbus manager Robert Warzycha was not convinced of the hand ball call that led to the decisive PK. The Crew felt the 1-0 final score was not an accurate reflection of the match: “I thought we were the better team for the majority of the game,” said captain Chad Marshall.
An equally noteworthy penalty kick took place at FC Dallas Stadium in the home team’s 2-1 comeback win over the expansion Montreal Impact (watch the highlights here). The Impact were awarded a controversial PK, but it provided one of the most emotional moments of the MLS season: Impact forward Bernardo Corradi scoring and dedicating the goal to Pierpaolo Morosini, a friend and teammate at Udinese, who passed away after suffering from cardiac arrest in an Italian second division game: “It was a strange day for me because I lost one of my friends,” he said.
Meanwhile Impact manager Jesse Marsch, who Corradi credits with giving him the opportunity to play in honor of his friend, is being criticized in some places for his substitution decisions, including using two to insert fresh legs at forward.
But life for Marsch is still better than for his counterpart Aron Winter and Toronto FC. They have lost a club-record five straight to start the season after a 1-0 home defeat to Chivas USA (watch the highlights here): “We think we have bad luck,” Winter said about the missed opportunities against the Goats. “If you see all the games we are the better team.? Only difference is that (we) don't have points.”
Despite earning the win, the Goats weren’t completely satisfied with the way it came with constant pressure from Toronto FC in the second half: “We have to strive to be better,” said defender Heath Pearce. “Look at how we got the result -- it's not the principles of how we'd like to get results. We like to play good soccer.”
Another solid road win was registered by D.C. United with a late goal by forward Chris Pontius in a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution (watch the highlights here).
D.C. United manager Ben Olsen is being credited with making the sub of the weekend, bringing in Pontius, who decided the match minutes later: “I just felt we needed someone that could run, someone with real pace,” Olsen said. “As [the Revolution] got tired, their backs got a little leggy, and Chris took advantage of it.”
The final score left Revs manager Jay Heaps disappointed after his team had shown well on the road: “We’ve been on the road so much this season that we felt we were going to come out and fly.” It didn’t happen.
Today is the close of the primary international transfer window in MLS and a few transactions may be brewing. There’s a report out of Germany this morning that claims that the Philadelphia Union have arranged for a loan deal involving 27-year-old Hoffenheim forward Kai Herdling, which would run through June 30 with an option for a further extension through December. (GERMAN)
Another potential deadline day signing is Sporting Cristal’s Luis Advincula by the Houston Dynamo. This article from Peru says that the South American club is processing paperwork from the MLS club. (SPANISH)
And Chivas USA may have a move up their sleeve with the official site of the Colombian league reporting that José Erick Correa, who has six goals for Boyacá Chicó and has been called up to the Colombian national team, is LA-bound. (SPANISH)
Lastly, they are called the “first couple” of soccer in America: US Women’s World Cup star Alex Morgan and Sounders midfielder Servando Carrasco. They are together again in Seattle and the Seattle Times profiles their relationship here.
The MLS All-Star jersey is officially unveiled in Philadelphia (PHOTO)
Watch the goal everyone is talking about: David Beckham’s strike vs. Portland
VIDEO: The Rafael Marquez play on Shea Salinas that has fans fired up
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