Monday, October 16, 2006

MLS Week 29 recap or goals gone wild

The MLS regular season came to the end with teams finding the net is explosive fashion. In total 26 goals were scored in the six matches, giving an average of 4.3 goals per match. Before this weekend, the average number of goals per MLS match was just 2.56. In fact, this was the highest goals per match average (be it a weekend or Wednesday) for the entire season. The next highest was opening weekend when the ball found the net 24 times or 4 goals per match.

In a league were attendance numbers might not always be what the number says they are, these high goal numbers are good to see.

So how did the games go?

New York Red Bulls 3-2 Kansas City Wizards
All the Wizards needed was a tie and the final playoff spot in the East was theirs. Well fate can be cruel, but penalty kicks can be even crueler. Red Bull PKs were so nice that they got them not once but twice. The first pk was a good call as Chris Henderson was clearly taken down in the box by Ryan Raybould. Raybould was about to get beat so he threw an arm around him. However, the second pk was a bad decision. It was, at best, a 50/50 call for a ref. Marvell Wynne and Jose Burciaga Jr. were fighting for the ball and neither seemed to be in complete control. They were pushing on each other and Wynne went down. However, ref Ricardo Salazar thought differently and pointed to the spot.

Amado Guevara made both PKs plus a third goal off a nice curving shot into the low corner, to give New York all their scores. Scott Sealy tried to rally his Wizards late, but KC could not apply enough pressure late to make up for the kicks.

With the win, New York will face DC in the first round of the playoffs.

Houston Dynamo 3-3 Colorado Rapids
This was a great back and forth game. Houston was running the show in the first, but the Rapids, knowing that a defeat would open the door for Real Salt Lake to slip into the final Western playoff spot, stepped it up in the second. Defender Craig Waibel was the hero of the match for Houston as he got 2 goals on the night, lifting his season total to 5. However, the big fun came in the 88th minute with Houston up 3-2. Jovan Kirovski put a little flick in front of the box that Jacob Peterson headed home for the tie and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.

Houston will face Chivas in the first round while Colorado will get FC Dallas.

New England Revolution 1-0 Columbus Crew
It took 88 minutes for a goal to happen, but sure enough, the Revs were able to break he Crew down. The score line really doesn't tell the story in this one as the Crew only had a couple of real chances, while New England just failed to finish theirs. It's very fitting that the goal came off a smart play by Jose Cancela who, sent a quick free kick to Steve Ralston who put it over to Clint Dempsey just inside the top of the box. Dempsey might have been going to goal, but it ended up finding Khano Smith who redirected into goal for his first of the season.

The Crew showed why they are the worse team in the MLS while the Revs proved that they can find wins.

New England plays Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

Los Angeles Galaxy 5-2 FC Dallas
A week after being tossed from the playoffs, LA showed up in force to close out their season with a huge win. Sure, the game did not matter at all for FCD, but that's not the type of outing you want right before the post season. Dallas came out strong in the first 20-minutes and even went up a goal thanks to a Abe Thompson strike in the 14th, but the next 60-minutes watched like a LA highlight reel.

Landon Donovan was making runs and passes, Cobi Jones didn't look old, Herculez Gomez suddenly looked like the Herculez of 2005 and Chris Albright just wowed in the back. It really was a fantastic team effort, but it made me wonder, where was this team all season? Did they play that way because they were suddenly not worried about winning or were they all scared of being fired in the off season? Either way, if they played like that just two more times during the year, their season would not be over.

Dallas needs to be worried. Not just because they fell apart in the middle (how many balls can you just give away and still win the West?), but because Shaka Hislop did not look good in goal. Time and time again, he seemed to be out of position. I'd be very surprised to see Hislop manning the nets in the playoff, even if regular keeper Dario Sala hasn't played in weeks due to injury.

FC Dallas plays Colorado in the first round.

DC United 2-3 Chicago Fire
I said it last week and I'll say it again this week, DC United fans should be concerned. Their team has been sliding and limping by for two months and enters the playoffs with a backline that bleeds. Where has the midfield magic and surgical strikes gone? Okay, I'm being a little over dramatic, but it seems that the quick passing and ball control during the first half of the season is just a distant memory, while their defensive line, which only surrendered 10 goals during the first two months of the season (10 games), has given up 9 in their last 4 outings, is weak.

Meanwhile, the Fire is turning it on. The passing alone makes them a threat. They know how to keep a ball and force other team's to play their game. By the way, note to defenders, if Andy Herron gets the ball within 30 yards of the goal, close on him fast. If you give him space, you will pay. Actually, when I think about it, the Fire are starting to look like United did in May. If United fans should be happy about one thing, its that they don't have to play the Fire or the Revs in the first round.

DC plays New York while Chicago gets New England in the first round.

Chivas USA 1-1 Real Salt Lake
By the time this game took place, everything had been decided, but Real was looking to make a final mark on their second season. They made a lot of opportunities, but nothing went their way. Chivas's Brent Whitfield got the first goal of the game off a rebound and it looked like this would be all that was needed. Yet somehow Real got a late equalizer. The play of the match was not very interesting, but it was not bad.

Chivas faces Houston in the first round.



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