Another weekend in MLS in the books. Another barrel of talking points, flashpoints, and, yes, dropped points. Let's get to the point.
INSTANT CASCADIA CLASSIC: Heading into the weekend, there was lots of talk about how the Cascadia rivalry between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders has been around for 40 years now. Well, it's hard to imagine many of the Pacific Northwest grudge matches have been as exciting, intense, and goal-filled as Saturday's 4-4 draw in front of a national TV audience. Seattle's Clint Dempsey was the hero on the afternoon, putting up a hat trick that included an 85th-minute scrambler and an 87th-minute penalty equalizer.
Before that, Timbers hard man Diego Chara, of all people, was set up for immortality in PDX, after hitting not one, but two glorious long-range goals to seemingly give Portland the win.
In the end, everyone involved seemed both astounded and at a loss for words.
Are you not entertained???!!!!— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) April 5, 2014
Wow.— DeAndre Yedlin (@yedlinny) April 5, 2014
But beyond the players, it was the crowd at Providence Park, the Timbers Army, who deserved three points as much as anyone on the field. Even people who aren't involved in MLS were amazed by the atmosphere.
As someone who is highly interested in fan culture I just have to get out to Portland sometime. Better than most, if not all, English clubs.— Lucas Swain (@BundesligaLucas) April 5, 2014
PACIFIC NORTHWEST FALL-OUT: So what does it all mean? For one, the record books need to be rewritten. For another, the Timbers, everyone's favorites to win everything from the Supporters' Shield to the next US presidential election, have some questions to answer if they are to get out of ninth place in the Western Conference with just three points from five matches? They've given up a league-high 10 goals and already conceded four penalties, which has the players saying, after the fact, that they need to cut out the "stupid mistakes." Don't we all? For Seattle, this headline just about sums up what came out of the match: "Clint Dempsey finally plays like a superstar." In fact, the trey put Deuce at the top of the Budweiser Golden Boot race.
WHO NEEDS JERMAIN DEFOE? Not Toronto FC, obviously. With Defoe back home nursing an injury, the Reds traveled to the unbeaten, untied Columbus Crew -- a team this writer has tabbed to win the MLS Cup -- and thumped them, 2-0. Michael Bradley picked up where he left off from the US national team's midweek draw with Mexico, scoring his first goal for Toronto from an impossible angle. Despite Columbus's USMNT-related love of Bradley, that only goes so far: He was roundly booed after scoring. As he should be. After all, he PLAYS. FOR. THE. OTHER. TEAM. Bradley gets it, too: "Between Salt Lake last week and now here, hopefully, it means you're doing something right."
US INTERNATIONALS ON THE SCORESHEET...: Bradley and Dempsey weren't the only American stars to strike for goals over the weekend. Midfielder Maurice Edu opened his Philadelphia Union account, and World Cup longshot Mike Magee got of the schneid with his first goal of the season for the Chicago Fire.
...BUT NOT LANDON DONOVAN (AGAIN): Despite the LA Galaxy's romping 3-0 over SuperClasico rivals Chivas USA, the US national team star is still searching for goal No. 135, which would set the all-time MLS scoring record. For those of you counting at home, he's now gone five league games without a goal, dating back to last season.
NORTH AMERICA, PLEASE MEET JOSE MARI: Spanish Colorado Rapdis midfielder Jose Mari stole the show -- and the points -- in Vancouver with two jaw-dropping goals that pulled off an unlikely 2-1 comeback victory for the Rapids. If you don't like these goals, you simply don't like soccer. And you probably don't like puppies.
Amazingly, on the second one, the announcers didn't seem to realize it went in at first. It was just that good.
ABOUT THOSE DROPPED POINTS: The main flashpoint probably comes out of the 2-2 draw between Philadelphia and Chicago. At one point, Philly had three points in the bag. Then they gave up an ugly equalizer to Juan Anangono in the 86th minute. Then the Fire looked on the verge of earning three points, but Magee's stoppage-time penalty was saved by Zac MacMath. So, we'll say two points dropped on both sides.
They're not the only ones with late collapses. The Timbers were up two goals with six minutes to play before finishing with a draw. And the Whitecaps were cruising until Jose Mari unleashed his armada in the 79th and 81st minutes.
JE-VAUGHN WATSON: GOAL MACHINE: Usually, those words are in the "said no one" file. But on Saturday in FC Dallas's 4-1 shellacking of cross-state rivals Houston Dynamo, Watson was on the mark twice, bringing his season tally to three. That has doubled the Jamaican international's career output in MLS. Dallas remain unbeaten and on top of the Supporters' Shield standings. Are they really the best team in MLS right now?
GOT PENALTIES? Yes. Yes, we do. Quite a few of them this weekend, in fact. There was one for Dallas against Houston that Michel put away. There was one for Houston against Dallas that Chris Seitz saved. The New York Red Bulls got one, but Peguy Luyindula missed it. The Fire's was saved by Philly's MacMath, as mentioned earlier. And finally, there was Dempsey's equalizer, which was set up when DeAndre Yedlin was dragged down in the box. It seems Yedlin knew exactly what he was doing.
DeAndre Yedlin admitted he was looking for contact on the PK: "I'm glad he touched me, because I was trying to draw a penalty either way."— Joshua Mayers (@joshuamayers) April 5, 2014
MEANWHILE, UP IN MONTREAL: The Red Bulls were missing four starters against the Montreal Impact, but they held their own and had the lead in the second half, even. But they couldn't hold on, as the Impact came back to earn a 2-2 draw at home. The aforementioned Luyindula seems to have become the attacking catalyst for RBNY, as he snagged his second goal in as many games. But it wasn't anything as pretty as Felipe's 59th-minute equalizer for Montreal.
Still, the Impact are without a win on the season, which might mean it's time for a change. "Victories aren’t coming because we don’t do things the right way. We have to think about that. It’s time to change a little bit,” center back Matteo Ferrari said. But, hey, the Red Bulls don't have a win, either, though they seem to be OK with the single point on the road "at the end of the day."
NOT SO SUPERCLASICO: If Sunday's LA derby with the Galaxy was supposed to be THE test for surprising Chivas USA, they got an F. The 3-0 loss showed the Goats' limitations, as the Galaxy rolled thanks to goals from Robbie Keane, Stefan Ishizaki, and Baggio Husidic. That last one was the result of some lovely build-up play. "There are no excuses: They were superior to us," Chivas USA midfielder Mauro Rosales said.
D.C. WIN ... FINALLY!: Guess all D.C. United needed to break their 15-match winless streak was Chris Rolfe in their ranks. The former US international, who was acquired on Wednesday in a trade with Chicago, donned his headband, subbed on in the second half, and notched a pretty stoppage-time icer in a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution. Still no goals from US forward Eddie Johnson, though, and some peopel are beginning to get worried about his World Cup prospects.
WHAT? NO GOALS? Finally, there was the big MLS Cup rematch between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake, which didn't quite live up to the hype, in terms of goals. A 0-0 draw at Sporting Park made this one the only match of the weekend to finish scoreless. But there was some fireworks afterward on twitter between Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer and RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who didn't play on the day.
@NickRimando "I hate them very much" really running my mouth huh, you really are behind the times! We missed you tho, would have been 3-0!— Dom Dwyer (@Ddwyer14) April 6, 2014