Four match days, 16 games, 42 goals: Week 12 was the busiest stretch of the 2017 MLS season to date. Here’s a few items worth talking about.
The streak is dead; long live the streak
With FC Dallas’ home loss to San Jose on Saturday, every team in MLS has now tasted defeat in league play. It was a good run for FCD, considering they went unbeaten in their first nine even as they juggled a deep run in CONCACAF Champions League.
Down in Orlando City, the Lions’ invictus streak at their sparkling new home came to an end on Sunday, as New York City FC became the first road team to taste victory at the purple palace, avoiding a season sweep by OCSC in the process.
On Friday night in Harrison, New Jersey, Toronto FC’s impressive six-game winning run died with a 1-1 draw vs. the New York Red Bulls, Jozy Altidore failing to convert what would’ve been the game-winner against his former club.
Direct can be beautiful
“Long ball” has become something of an insult, a shorthand term for ugly, uncultured styles of play. But lately the game seems to be evolving towards a greater use of – and respect for – quick, precise transitions into attack, and that mindset gave us some of the prettiest goals of the year this week.
Witness the devastating directness of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who moved from the center stripe to paydirt in nine seconds and four total touches of the ball from four players on Saturday, Cristian Techera applying a glorious capper:
That Kamara wonderstrike put the New England Revolution in an early hole at Gillette Stadium. But they would dig themselves out to earn an important 2-1 win, and no one did more shovel work for the cause than Diego Fagundez.
The Revs’ Homegrown conjured up two fine finishes when his team badly needed them, leaving him with three goals and an assist in New England’s last two games, both wins. The kid – OK, so he’s now 22 years of age, but still – is playing the best soccer of his career.
Three-goal outings are no everyday occasion at any level, so let’s all doff our caps for Gerso Fernandes and Miguel Almiron, this week’s hat-trick heroes. Gerso bagged his for Sporting KC against Seattle at midweek…
No ordinary finishes
By now you’ve probably seen Bastian Schweinsteiger’s dazzling display of footwork and trickery in the Fire’s 1-0 win at D.C. United (and if not, please take some time to do so immediately). It was only the most viral moment of his two imperious outings in Chicago’s twin wins this week. But he’s not the only one who represented Deutschland to the fullest.
Florian Jungwirth was a key defensive cog in San Jose’s upset of Dallas. And rookie Julian Gressel – who’s been one of Atlanta’s most pleasant surprises in their inaugural campaign – marked another step forward with a well-taken strike vs. Houston, his second goal in as many weeks:
High highs, low lows
Spare a thought for Caleb Calvert. Once a teen phenom in Chivas USA’s academy system who turned pro with the Goats at the tender age of 16, the Californian – now with Colorado – finally scored his first MLS goal on Saturday, and it was a peach.
Alas, his big day would be cut short by a second yellow card from referee Jose Carlos Rivero, for the offense of re-entering the field of play without the ref’s permission after he’d left the pitch to get treatment for an injury.