We start with another ESPN game and another opportunity for Major League Soccer to make a very special announcement. This time, it's the 2012 All-Star Game roster, not to be confused with last week's fan voting results for the starting eleven.GK: Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA), Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)
DEF: Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes), Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Ramiro Corrales (San Jose Earthquakes), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Heath Pearce (New York Red Bulls), Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia Union)
MID: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FOR: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
As for the game that bookended the All-Star reveal, New York and Seattle drew 2-2 at Red Bull Arena. Seattle's Alvaro Fernandez opened the scoring on the road in the 16th minute, but newest Red Bull Sebastien Le Toux had the home side equal eight minutes later. Joel Lindpere made it 2-1 New York in the 61st, but the lead only held for five minutes when Fredy Montero leveled the score. Was this the game of the weekend in MLS? No, it was not.
That particular honor goes to a lopsided result from the day before when San Jose beat Real Salt Lake 5-0. Yes, 5-0. Trust us, we checked. We also checked for red cards, and sure enough there was one. With San Jose leading 1-0 from an 18th-minute Chris Wondolowski goal, Kyle Beckerman was shown a straight red card for arguing in the 57th minute. Alan Gordon made it 2-0 Quakes five minutes later. Wondolowski added another goal in the 72nd and Simon Dawkins scored in the 79th. That left Wondolowski to finish off his hat-trick in the 80th minute.
“If you look at the tape of this match, you will see that all I had to do was finish and that is a credit to my teammates," Wondolowski said. "All year long they have put me, Alan (Gordon) and Steven (Lenhart) in prime positions to score."
Another five goal performance, this time from the Los Angeles Galaxy who beat Portland 5-3. The Timbers actually lead in this one, with Kris Boyd opening the scoring in the 3rd minute. David Beckham had LA level in the 19th minute and ahead in the 24th. Landon Donovan made it 3-1 LA four minutes later. It took Robbie Keane another minute to make it 4-1 with Donovan picking up the assist. Portland answered back with a 34th-minute Kosuke Kimura goal. The two teams traded goals in the second-half with Keane scoring his second in the 64th minute and Boyd doing the same in the 70th.
“It was a good three points on the road, a little hectic, a little sloppy, but a good three points," LA coach Bruce Arena said. "We played very well in spurts. Showed a lot of resolve coming back after giving up a goal in the first minutes of the game, but on the whole it was a good performance by our team.”
In Philadelphia, the Union held up at home 2-1 over Montreal. They were even nice enough to score all three goals. Lionard Pajoy got the late opener in the 82nd minute, and Philadelphia put the ball into the back of their own net in the 89th. That setup the dramatic Carlos Valdes winner a minute into stoppage time, one that would've been decidedly less dramatic had Philadelphia managed to keep the ball out of the back of their own net two minutes earlier. By the way, for those wondering we follow the hockey convention of not naming he who scored said own goal. He knows, trust us.
Toronto got a 1-0 win on the road over New England, and yes that would count as an unlikely result. Luis Silva was the difference for Toronto, scoring in the 8th minute. In Columbus, the Crew was shutout by Sporting KC 2-0. Jacob Peterson had Kansas City in the lead by the 6th minute and Teal Bunbury doubled the score in the 82nd. Chicago, and Pavel Pardo was the hero in the 1-0 win over Vancouver. Yes, that means he scored the 10th minute goal. Arne Friedrich was sent off for the Fire in the 69th minute. Colorado was on the wrong side of a 2-1 score line against Dallas at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Omar Cummings got a goal for the Rapids in the 50th minute, but Carlos Rodriguez had Dallas level ten minutes later. Fabian Castillo scored the winner in the 81st minute.
In the late game on Sunday, we got another red card and another pile on of goals. This time, it was DC United going down a man in the 17th minute. Making matters worse, the red card in question went to goalkeeper Bill Hamid for a foul in the box. As video games used to like to flash across the screen... PENALTY! Enter backup keeper Joe Willis who was down a goal almost immediately when Brad Davis converted for Houston. Will Bruin made it 2-0 in the 37th minute. Oscar Boniek Garcia scored in the 62nd minute and Brian Ching finished off the scoring in the 89th.
What Did We Learn?
1. Real Salt Lake's communications department called it like it was. Normally, the crafters of subject lines for match reports from disappointing games try to find some glimmer of hope. Ok, usually they resort to borderline invention to try to tease out some glimmer of upside. Not RSL. "SHORTHANDED RSL LOSES 5-0 AT SAN JOSE IN BATTLE FOR MLS SUPREMACY" it read. The sub-heading was equally reliable: "Claret-and-Cobalt Concede Four after Beckerman Ejected in 57th; Suffer 2nd-Worst Defeat in Team History" Cause, you know, it's tough to play down a 5-0 score. Good for them.
2. There's an old soccer cliché - sorry, received footballing wisdom - in England that would have us believe a coaching change brings with it the kind of instant renewal that doesn't wind up with a 5-3 loss... at home. Hello Portland, with interim coach Gavin Wilkinson sounding philosophical with his post-game comments. "I suppose every game presents a new learning opportunity. I didn’t learn anything about the club as such. It was about just individuals and moments within the game … And there’s no way that we should be walking out of here having given up five goals at home. It’s just not right."
3. If you've read enough MLS columns over the years, there's a trend of playing up game-by-game results that rarely holds up through the next match day. It stops no one from doing it since there would be very little to write about otherwise, but it remains very rare for someone to see an impressive display coming in advance. San Jose was that impressive display, and it wasn't enough to simply say you thought they'd beat RSL. It needed to include the part about taking full advantage and piling on the goals.
1. Kansas City: Top of the East with a shutout of Columbus. It's like their dry spell never happened. Well, except their lead is slight.
2. San Jose: Full credit for the Quakes for staying on Real Salt Lake. Play the advantage.
3. Seattle: Are we giving the Sounders too much credit for a draw? It feels like we're giving the Sounders too much credit for a draw.
4. Chicago: Regrouped nicely with a shutout of Vancouver.
5. DC: Ok, we're not going to pretend an early red card to your goalkeeper means dropping out of the top five entirely. Still, there wasn't even a consolation goal? That's a lot of time to be picking the ball out of your own net and trudging back up the field. Three shots on goal when you lose by four goals. All we're saying.