Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Five Things We Learned From This Week's MLS Action

1. Philadelphia can score goals too- Before Saturday, May 28th the Philadelphia Union had scored a grand total of eight Major League Soccer goals. However, in a performance of perhaps more shock value than actual brilliance, the Union managed to put six past Toronto FC. Gabriel Farfan opened the scoring, before braces from Mapp and Mwanga as well as a lone Nakazawa goal, put Toronto the sword. That result, a 6-2 win, combined with New York's failure to claim victory at Vancouver, has put the Union in a strong position atop the Eastern Conference, somewhere they will stay if they keep on producing performances like Saturday's.

2. Portland are beatable on home turf- Timbers fans must have known that their home run would end eventually, but that won't have made them feel better after Sunday's galling loss to DC United. In a match highlighted by penalty controversy, Portland were just outplayed by a resurgent DC team. After a run of great defensive form, Portland simply fell apart at the weekend, as two quick fire goals from Wolff and Pontius breached the Jeld-Wen fortress. A brilliant result in itself, DC's win was made even more remarkable by the absence of injured American star Charlie Davies. Without one of the top scorers in the league, United were still able to find the net three times against a defense which has been watertight in recent games.

3. RSL are no longer a team to fear- If you weren't worrying for them after Concacaf Champions League disappointment, and you still weren't worrying after Javier Morales' injury you're certainly worrying for them now. Going into the game with only one win since that aforementioned injury, RSL's terrific undefeated run at Rio Tinto was ended by Zhiggi Schmidt's Seattle Sounders. Two nil to the good and a man up, Seattle did make things interesting for themselves with the concession of a late own goal, but managed to hang on for a precious three point haul.

4. Columbus' clean sheet days are well and truly over- Remember the days when Columbus were being lauded for boasting one of the best back fours in the league? After conceding only three goals in seven games, the Columbus Crew have conceded seven in their last three. The defense manned by veteran Chad Marshall and star goalkeeper Will Hesmer seems to have lost its touch, and the results have digressed too. From challenging for first in the East, Columbus' recent defensive woes have seen them drop to fifth, a lowly position which, if not built upon, could see them drop out of the play offs.

5. New York don't know how to defend inside the penalty area- Three penalties conceded in their last three games, straight after a disastrous series of set piece debacles... New York simply cannot defend inside their own area. First it was Justin Braun who was the beneficiary with three goals at Red Bull Arena, followed swiftly by Brad Davis, then Jeff Larentowicz and finally Eric Hassli. During that series of matches, the Red Bulls have lost one and drawn three; a run which has seen them slip behind the Philadelphia Union in the race for the East. Unfortunately for Backe's side, things are not likely to get better soon, Tim Ream and Rafa Marquez have already left for the Gold Cup, and their replacements... nothing particularly inspiring.

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