Clint Dempsey’s return: Obviously, Deuce’s return to MLS has been the talk of the league, in both ways jubilant and angry. Regardless, the move shows not only how much the league has improved in quality that an American star in his prime would willingly return, but also will presumably elevate the level of play on the field that much more. Will Dempsey singlehandedly win MLS Cup for the Seattle Sounders in 2013? Probably not. But he adds to the league’s profile on and off the field, and the move looks like a net positive for player, team and yes, even the league.
Gold Cup bounce: What a difference a month and an international trophy makes. Riding high from the US national team’s Gold Cup triumph, Chris Wondolowski and Will Bruin both notched game-winners for their respective club sides last weekend. Although Bruin didn’t feature in the tournament, his time with the national team helped him get a little time away from his slump while still training at a high level, while Wondo’s US scoring tear through July remained intact against Chivas USA last weekend. Add to that strong play from goalkeepers Nick Rimando and Sean Johnson for their teams on Saturday, and it looks like clubs are being rewarded for allowing players to leave MLS for international duty.
Highlights: COL 2, RSL 2
Rapids’ Rocky Mountain triumph: For a team locked in a fierce regional rivalry, losing the annual series against the hated rivals rankles, especially if the years of futility pile on. For the Colorado Rapids, those years of futility washed away with the pounding rain on Saturday, as they claimed their first Rocky Mountain Cup against Real Salt Lake in seven years.
Dealing with an early goal, a penalty kick conceded and a long weather delay, the young Rapids stuck to the plan and earned the necessary point to grab the Cup. Congrats to Colorado for injecting new life in the rivalry.
All-Star letdown? Sporting Kansas City, their stadium and the local community put on quite the show last week for the MLS All-Star Game. Although the All-Stars couldn’t defeat Roma, perhaps the bigger insult to the festivities was the big 3-2 loss SKC suffered at home against the New York Red Bulls this past Saturday. It got me thinking: Maybe All-Star Game hosts should have a bye the weekend after the big game?
In looking back at the record of teams hosting the All-Star Game in the first league game following the big event, the mark has been a weak 1-6-2 stretching back to 2005. However, the mostly poor showings came both when the teams got a week off and just a few days before the next match. Maybe the lesson is that if a city wants to host the ASG, they’re going to have to take the hit of a hangover on the field for the next match.
Crew’s drag: They may have new owners, who could lead them to new heights soon, but 2013 is not going according to plan for the Columbus Crew. Although it has to be acknowledged injuries have certainly taken a toll on the season’s prospects, big names like Federico Higuain and Jairo Arrieta have disappointed this year, while Dominic Oduro looks to be the main bright spot in his first season in Ohio. Based on recent form, look for Columbus to beat New York this weekend, then go on yet another three-game losing streak. Needless to say, nabbing wins a quarter of the time in the season’s homestretch won’t do it for the Crew this season.
Romero's tackle makes Instant Replay
Romero’s rake: I could single out Carlos Bocanegra’s mindless tackle last weekend here, but he got a red card, so at least that mistake was recognized on the field. But Andres Romero had a nasty tackle on Perry Kitchen in Montreal’s 3-1 loss to D.C. United, and it only provoked a yellow card. Putting his studs fully into Kitchen’s calf, he slides down the length of the midfielder’s leg, then steps on his foot for good measure. I don’t think Romero intended to hurt Kitchen, and the United man continued to play, but all parties were fortunate to get out of that incident without damage. It was also a microcosm of the Impact’s recent woes, all in one very poor tackle.
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