Week Seven of the MLS Season won't go down as one of the prettier weeks the league has ever endured, but it had its share of memorable moments.
The New York-LA Galaxy match was entertaining, Charlie Davies put on another show at mid-week, and the Joao Plata coming out party for Toronto FC was promising, but three scoreless draws and Javier Morales' broken ankle put a damper on things.
It wasn't all bad. For Vancouver, the week meant a first point on the road. For Portland, it meant another home win. There was plenty to remember and with Week Eight kicking off tonight, here is a look back at Week Seven in MLS:
D.C. UNITED 2, SEATTLE SOUNDERS 1 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match – Andy Najar. In his first start since March 26, Najar delivered a quality performance on the right wing and was the catalyst for both of D.C.'s goal-scoring sequences. His confidence is returning, which could mean bad things for opposing defenses.
Honorable Mention – Charlie Davies. His pace gave Jhon Kennedy Hurtado fits, and his cross through the box to set up Josh Wolff's opening goal was pure class. Wolff returned the favor by setting up Davies for the eventual game-winner, one that Davies met with a perfectly timed run to the far post.
A Night to Forget – Tyson Wahl. D.C. attacked the left back's side of the field for both of their goals, and he had no chance going up against Najar 1-v-1. Leo Gonzalez curiously came on as a late substitute to play in front of Wahl in the midfield, but its a mystery why Gonzalez didn't get the start in lieu of Wahl to begin with.
Rookie Watch – Ethan White stepped into a starting role in central defense and did a solid job on keeping Fredy Montero quiet. United often double-teamed Montero when he possessed in the attacking third, but White and fellow rookie Perry Kitchen, who earned his first career start at right back, both did well to silence an attack that had overwhelmed Toronto FC in its previous game. Both White and Kitchen were also robbed of would-be first-career goals by a diving Kasey Keller.
Random Thoughts – Bill Hamid made two tremendous saves to preserve the result for D.C. He robbed Alvaro Fernandez of a point-blank header and got his fingertips to a Montero effort that seemed destined for the upper right-hand corner with a diving save. … Brad Evans converted a penalty kick for the second straight game after Montero was tripped up by Dejan Jakovic. … United's Daniel Woolard held his own at left back after being a late insertion in the starting lineup when Marc Burch was unable to go with a hamstring injury.
HOUSTON DYNAMO 1, COLORADO RAPIDS 2 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match- Jamie Smith. A 40-yard free kick goal isn't something you see every day, but that is what a capped a solid night for Smith. Smith was active throughout the Rapids' win, hitting teammates with accurate passes and showing tenacity on the defensive side. His goal jumpstarted the Rapids' comeback win.
Honorable Mention- Tyrone Marshall. The 36-year-old Marshall was a rock in the back for Colorado, snuffing out attacks on the ground and in the air. He also did well in the physical battles against the likes of Will Bruin and Brian Ching.
A Night to Forget- Cam Weaver. The Dynamo forward was given the start over Brian Ching, but he provided a fruitless 62 minutes. Weaver probably didn't see as much of the ball as he would have liked, but when he did he failed to link up with fellow forward Will Bruin, and struggled to create any real problems for the Rapids defense.
Rookie Watch- Will Bruin. It wasn't his best game, but Bruin still showed on occassion how much of a handful he can be for opposing defenders. The rookie out of Indiana was the better of the two starting Dynamo forwards, and he had a chance to score in the second half after luring Matt Pickens off his line.
Random Thoughts- Scott Palguta was having himself a bad night, but that was somewhat forgotten when he netted the game-winner in the 84th minute off a pass from Caleb Folan after Houston failed to clear a long throw-in by Marvell Wynne. … The 2-1 win ended the Rapids' four game winless streak, and also gave Colorado its second road victory of the season. … Omar Cummings was sidelined 2-4 weeks after picking up a sprained ankle towards the end of the first half.
PORTLAND 1, PHILADELPHIA 0 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match– Mamadou Danso. The big centerback known as "Futty" buried the game-winning goal and provided a strong presence in central defense to keep Portland perfect at home.
Honorable Mention– Jack Jewsbury. One of the more underrated set-piece takers in MLS, Jewsbury set up yet another goal, this time for Danso.
A Night to Forget– Justin Mapp. A forgettable night for the Union winger, but to be fair, the narrow field at Jeld-Wen Field made it tough for him.
Rookie Watch– Darlington Nagbe started for Portland but didn't make much of an impact on the night.
Random Thoughts– Diego Charra is settling in nicely and he's got the skills to wind up being an all-star caliber playmaker. … Sebastien LeToux followed up a great week with a disappointing one. He's been a shell of the player he was in 2010 early on this season. …Faryd Mondragon has been outstanding all year, but this may have been his worst game to date, though not exactly a terrible outing.
REAL SALT LAKE 1, CHIVAS USA 0 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match – Dan Kennedy. The Chivas keeper wasn't peppered with shots in the match, but he made all the saves he had to in order to keep his side in the match despite being outmatched numbers-wise and skill-wise by a strong Real Salt Lake squad. Only a defensive lapse toward the end of the match saw Chivas concede a goal, one that he couldn't do much about.
Honorable Mention – Will Johnson. Not only did the young Canadian midfielder net the game-winning goal, he made several incisive passes through the Chivas defense to create chances. He played captain Kyle Beckerman a beautiful through ball in the first half that should have been made into a better scoring chance, and is turning into a midfield lynchpin for Royals.
A Night to Forget – Andrew Boyens & Marcos Mondaini. Both for obvious reasons. Boyens made two very cynical fouls on Alvaro Saborio to put his team down a man after just 24 minutes, leaving Chivas with it all to do against Real Salt Lake. However dubious you think the second yellow was, you can't argue that anybody can be making that sort of contact already on a yellow. Mondaini obviously made a season-ending tackle on RSL's star playmaker Javier Morales. Though the tackle didn't appear to be malicious, it was reckless and unacceptable. All eyes are on the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
Rookie Watch – Zarek Valentin, the No. 4 overall pick in the MLS Superdraft, Valentin held Real surprisingly quiet until their late breakthrough, despite their two-man advantage on the field. Only 19, Valentin has played all across the back for Chivas, but his consistency and presence at the back will be key in building a team lacking confidence.
Random Thoughts – Credit to the Chivas back line and Dan Kennedy for holding firm throughout most of the match, however, Salt Lake's offensive abilities here have to called somewhat into question. Losing Morales is obviously a huge blow, but outshooting Chivas 23-3 and outpassing them 87%-50% with a two-man advantage should yield a larger scoreline than 1-0. Is this how efficient RSL's attack will be this season without Morales? Salt Lake will face tougher competition this season, and if they continue to not find that killer pass or goal, they could find themselves in hot water.
D.C. UNITED 0, FC DALLAS 0 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match- Kevin Hartman. The veteran Dallas goalkeeper came up with a stunning match-saving save on Fred's far-post header in the 89th minute and also denied a golden opportunity from Charlie Davies in the first half.
Honorable Mention- Andy Najar. With clever footwork and offensive ambition, Najar was the most dangerous player on the field for either side.
A Night to Forget- Milton Rodriguez. The Dallas striker who has been in and out of the starting 11 was a nonfactor before being replaced by Eric Alexander at halftime.
Rookie Watch- Making his second start at right back, Perry Kitchen helped hold Fabian Castillo in check and provided clean distribution forward.
Random Thoughts– Aside from an 8th-minute blunder that nearly gave United a goal, Dallas left back Brek Shea was solid at left back and dangerous going forward. … Making his first start of the season,
Stephen King was a dependable presence in central midfield, even though his finishing left something to be desired. … Matched up with Dax McCarty, the player he has replaced in Dallas' midfield, Andrew
Jacobson won numerous 50-50 balls and did well to join the Dallas attack, taking four shots.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 0, COLORADO RAPIDS 0 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match – Matt Pickens. Came up huge on a night when few players did for either team. Only made three saves, but stoned Shalrie Joseph on the best chance of the night.
Honorable Mention – Kenny Mansally. A last-minute addition to the line-up in place of Zak Boggs, the Gambian set the tempo for the Revs all game long and provided decent service from the wings.
A Night to Forget – Caleb Folan. Subbed out at the 30 minute mark with a groin injury. His replacement Andre Akpan was Colorado's most dangerous player all match long.
Rookie Watch – A.J. Soares started and played 90 solid minutes for the Revs. Stephen McCarthy was a non-factor in the first half and was subbed off at the start of the second.
Random Thoughts – Revolution forward Rajko Lekic was absolutely furious (and rightfully so) at teammate Sainey Nyassi for waiting to long to cross the ball when he got behind the defense in second-half stoppage time … The Revs are now winless in their last 7 against Colorado … Akpan had Colorado's only shot on goal, a wicked long-range blast that forced a good save from Matt Reis.
TORONTO FC 2, HOUSTON DYNAMO 1 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match– Joao Plata. The diminutive winger converted a penalty kick and delivered a laser pass to Maicon for the eventual game-winning goal.
Honorable Mention– Nick Soolsma. Very active all day for Toronto FC, earne the penalty and fed the ball to Plata on TFC's second goal.
A Night to Forget– Eddie Robinson. The veteran centerback had an absolute shocker, beaten badly for goal and looking shaky al match.
Rookie Watch– Will Bruin came off the bench for Houston and had little impact.
Random Thoughts– Julian DeGuzman looked sharp playing in a deeper central midfield role for TFC. … Maicon was relegated to the bench by Aron Winter, but responded well with a goal. That goal aside, the play of Nick Soolsma could keep Maicon on the bench. …Eddie Robinson looked completely overmatched against a less than dangerous TFC attack. Can Houston afford to play him agains stronger teams? Didn' look like it on Saturday.
COLUMBUS CREW 1, SEATTLE SOUNDERS 1 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match- Kasey Keller. The veteran goalkeeper kept the Sounders in the match with some quality saves.
Honorable Mention- Chad Marshall. The Crew's defensive rock was once again strong in the middle and helped keep the Sounders at bay.
A Night to Forget- Wil Hesmer. Should have done better on Seattle's goal.
Rookie Watch– Rich Balchan had a good game at fullback for the Crew, continuing to be one of the more underrated members of the 2011 MLS Rookie Class. Seattle's Servando Carraso was also very solid in the middle for the Sounders.
Random Thoughts– Crew offense continues to toil and rely on penalty kick bailouts. You can't ignore the unbeaten streak, but Columbus isn't exactly playing beautiful soccer. The schedule is about to get much tougher and the Crew doesn't look ready. … The Sounders weren't exactly stellar either, but the road point will have to do for now a Seattle adjusts to the injuries plaguing the team. …How much longer will Sigi Schmid rotate his centerbacks? At some point you need continuity in the back.
CHICAGO FIRE 0, VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 0 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match- Dominic Oduro. The Chicago Fire midfielder was a menace on the right flank, repeatedly using his speed and dribbling moves to get by Vancouvers defenders and into space. Oduro had a golden chance to give the Fire a first-half lead, but his shot from close range went over the crossbar. He did fade a bit in the final 10 minutes.
Honorable Mention- Davide Chiumiento. Vancouver sat back and looked to hit on the counter, and when it did it was a good bet that Chiumiento was involved. Chiumiento was partially responsible during the few moments Vancouver was able to keep possession, and he picked up a handful of fouls, too.
A Night to Forget- Alain Rochat. The Whitecaps defender had trouble containing Dominic Oduro nearly all night. He improved towards the end of the game (when Oduro changed positions), but overall he struggled.
Rookie Watch-Jalil Anibaba. Making his eighth start of the season, Anibaba put forth a solid effort as Chicago recorded its first shutout of the season.
Random Thoughts- Vancouver may not have won, but the 0-0 draw gave the Whitecaps its first ever road point in MLS. … Chicago dominated possession for much of the game, but after Carlos de los Cobos made his substitutions, Chicago appeared to shutdown as Vancouver took the game to the hosts in the final 10 minutes. … Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway wasn't tested often, but he did come up with a huge 1-on-1 save in the second half when Eric Hassli attempted to dribble by him after being played through on goal.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY 1, NEW YORK RED BULLS 1 (The Highlights)
Man of the Match- Dwayne DeRosario – In a game where passing was key, DeRosario was pivotal for New York by consistently leading runs up the field for attackers. The Canadian was dangerous throughout and forced Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena to make a midfield adjustment at the outset of the second half, pushing Juninho back to prevent DeRosario from causing havoc in the Galaxy midfield.
Honorable Mention- David Beckham – Pushed up in the second half, Beckham was influential as LA dominated the tempo in the second half, making it a far more drab affair than what took place in the first 45 minutes. Pushed up forward with Juninho as his cover from behind, Beckham was able to pressure Red Bulls' Mehdi Ballouchy and create Galaxy scoring opportunties.
A Night to Forget- Roy Miller – In this class game, there was really not a "night to forget" from anyone, but Miller will get the distinction for a lapse on the Donovan goal.
Random thoughts– Forward Adam Cristman returned to the Galaxy 18 for the first time since undergoing knee surgery…Juan Agudelo had two fine scoring chances after coming on as a late second half substitute…Galaxy will now travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union before returning to face Sporting KC this weekend while the Red Bulls host Chivas USA on Sunday
His attacking is above average, you’re right. However, his defensive positioning – when not going forward – is awful. It’s no wonder teams attack down that flank. Use your DVR: watch, repeat, and sigh. He leaves so many holes.
Somebody tell Altitude TV in Colorado to get the lineups right before the game. Their production is truly amateur, especially for a championship team. Dabo was in and they didn’t even know who he was.
Miller is a decent young Wingback, he will only get better
Hopefully not, they’ve been playing flat ever since the return leg of the final against MTY.
Wishing for the return of the scoring prowess of Carr really puts Oduro’s suckitude into perspective nicely.
RSL fan’s take:
The RSL players just didn’t have it in them after watching Javi go down. They didn’t have the same mojo. They were emotionally sapped.
I don’t think the game represents RSL without Javi, but only represents RSL in a game that they watch some no-name worlthess hack cheap-shot their best player.
They got it together around the 80th minute and got the win. I don’t see them sulking or playing with such anguish this weekend against the Dynamo.
God, that was painful comdey. I was in the stands and just thinking about all the Houston fans that endured Oduro. Promise, and real heartbreak with the failure to deliver.
I’m almost of the thinking that if he virtually never shoots, but runs at defenders, provides the through-balls and crosses, his abilities may be best served and our concerns of his horrible finishing will be partially alleviated.
Great format, let’s have this every week.
death to America
Also great piece. A great way to catch up on the games we missed.
Oduro still not finishing…Chicago is starting to feel Houston’s pain. Hope Carr can get healthy soon
Agree with those digging this feature. lots of meaty stuff on player performances, rookies, etc..
Agree this is a really nice feature
Appreciate this write up. Not sure if you have already been doing these, but this is the first time I’ve seen it and I really like the format. It is a good way to quickly catch up on all of the league action. Thanks!
No he isn’t. He has twice the technical ability as Dane Richards and hes a back. He gets caught up alot, but I think thats at Backe’s request to push up.
I’ve tried to be more constructive in this comment and have failed: Roy Miller is terrible.