In this week’s Like/Don’t Like, we highlight an unexpected player breaking out in Portland, Dallas’ late comeback, and when team statistics are a perfect predictor of results.
Rodney Wallace’s emergence: Every season, an MLS player or two emerges out of the woodwork to become a star. Could Portland Timbers midfielder Rodney Wallace be the latest to tread that path? He has already surpassed previous season highs in goals and assists, and his three-assist performance against Colorado Sunday showed his ability to inspire the attack. Might he be following in the footsteps of his college teammate Graham Zusi and just need a little time to blossom as a professional? From his recent performances, it looks like a solid bet.
Chicago’s MLS transformation: Well, the international signings haven’t come through in recent times, but the Fire have succeeded recently in bringing MLS veterans to the club. Of course, Mike Magee and Bakary Soumare appear to be the catalysts for Chicago’s recent revival, but Dilly Duka, Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz are also playing big roles for the team. After sputtering badly to start the campaign, the Fire are edging closer to a playoff spot. Are you betting against them at this point?
Dallas saving the best for last: Coming off a loss to Portland last week, FC Dallas looked like they were entering a midseason slump Saturday through 87 minutes of their match against Sporting Kansas City. But a gutsy late rally (aided by C.J. Sapong’s red card) led to two very late goals by Andrew Jacobson and rookie Walker Zimmerman to give Dallas a dramatic 2-2 tie. The result means Dallas are only a point out of first place in the West, and the final minutes of the game itself were about as dramatic as any neutral could expect.
Red Bulls can’t escape slow starts: The Philadelphia Union’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls featured plenty of talking points – Lloyd Sam’s red card, Conor Casey’s brace and a plethora of missed chances on both sides.
But the key to the game was flashed onscreen just moments before kickoff. ESPN showed a graphic that said in the first 15 minutes of games this season, the Union had scored four goals, and the Red Bulls had conceded five. Make that five and six, respectively, as Casey’s opener came in the seventh minute. Credit to the Union, but the defensive trend in New York is clear, and it isn’t pretty.
Anatomy of a Goal: Casey's header
The weight of raised expectations: The Colorado Rapids entered the season with plenty of questions marks, and those increased with the mile-high injury report to start the year. And although they have performed admirably with many new faces, the reality of just how hard it is to truly succeed in MLS is setting in. Currently on a three-game losing streak, the Rapids are still within striking distance of a playoff spot, but can they continue to buck expectations and become the surprise team in 2013? The jury’s still out at this point.
San Jose’s road woes: Sure, it’s early in the Mark Watson era, but the San Jose Earthquakes have only managed one win in nine road games this season. The latest loss? Against D.C. United, who hadn’t won a game in their last 12 tries. Obviously United were due sooner or later, but San Jose’s season firmly looks to be a lost cause at this point, unless something even more drastic than a coaching change takes place.
What do you like? What do you, er, Don’t Like? Let us know in the comments below.