Heineken Rivalry Week wrapped up with a bang this weekend as 10 key games unfolded over three days. Here are your crib notes.
Houston weathers the storm
Nothing on any soccer field takes precedence over the deadly catastrophe that struck South Texas as Hurricane Harvey roared ashore, dropping simply unimaginable levels of rain and threatening millions of lives with severe flooding and storm damage. The Houston Dynamo and their NWSL sibling club the Dash both postponed their weekend matches, and are urging soccer fans around the world to chip in anything they can to help those affected:
Return of the King
New York City FC had to scratch and claw to escape Red Bull Arena with a draw in Friday night’s heated New York Derby, a hard-won result that nonetheless shrinks NYCFC’s already-faint hopes of catching Toronto in the Supporters’ Shield race. Perhaps their best news of the day arrived first thing in the morning, when David Villa received his first Spanish national team call-up since the 2014 World Cup – a dream come true for El Guaje, who remains the leading scorer in his country’s history.
Abu Danladi had to wear the goat’s horns last week after failing to convert several inviting scoring chances in Minnesota United’s gut-punch loss at Seattle last week. The talented rookie turned the tables at Chicago on Saturday, though, netting twice to spearhead a 2-1 upset of the flatlining Fire. It was not only the Loons’ first MLS road win, but their first victory away from home in 25 tries dating back to their final season in the NASL:
Speaking of redemption – one key, but easily-overlooked, element of Crew SC’s 2-1 defeat of spiraling FC Dallas? A solid outing from defender Jonathan Mensah, capped by a lovely diving header for the winning goal:
The Ghanaian center back, a Designated Player for Columbus, has struggled at times to show his top form since arriving in MLS last year, frustrating some Crew SC fans along the way. If he can find some rhythm down the stretch, it will make Columbus a much stronger contender.
RSL romp, again
The last edition of this column took a bit of stick from some Salt Lake supporters who felt that their team’s midweek thumping of San Jose did not get the praise it deserved. I responded that the Quakes’ major road woes – which ended with a bang on Sunday, by the way, as they picked apart the LA Galaxy – attached a bit of an asterisk to that 4-0 RSL win.
But by George, the Utahns did it again, and this time against their nemeses from Colorado. And yes, I’m more than ready to sing their praises. The Claret and Cobalt have become a blast to watch again lately, harking back to their glory days of diamond-midfield, tiki-taka dominance under Jason Kreis. RSL have scored three or more goals in five of their 10 victories – so whether they make this year’s playoffs or not, make time to watch them soon, especially when they play at their Rio Tinto Stadium home.