Here’s the naked truth about Week 12: With more than 30 players away on international duty, six ties in 10 matches (three of them scoreless) and no more than two goals per game, it will not go down as one of the great weeks of the 2011 MLS season.
But this round did involve the extension of a remarkable number of streaks: Every game and almost every team on the schedule kept alive a run of some kind.
Some sides, such as Vancouver and New York, would have preferred to see their particular run come to an end, while others, such as FC Dallas, wouldn’t mind if theirs continued through November.
But no matter their current run of fortune, all but one of the league’s 18 teams saw it extended in this round of action. We haven’t checked with Elias on that yet, but it’s got to be some kind of statistical oddity.
Of course, streaks weren’t the only noteworthy feature of Week 12. We also saw some classy goals, a gut-punch equalizer at Red Bull Arena, and the debuts of two new coaches.
Let’s play it all back.
Red Bulls Lose to Columbus 1-1
In the bad old days of the franchise, New York were notorious for surrendering late goals, either last-gasp equalizers or stoppage-time game-winners — and sometimes both. (See: New York vs. D.C. United, Sunday, April 26, 2009.)
Diehard fans got an unwelcome déjà vu of those times on Saturday night, as the Red Bulls conceded a 93rd-minute goal to Columbus rookie Rich Balchan and saw a 1-0 win transformed — just like that — into a 1-1 tie that felt like a loss.
The Red Bulls were missing six regulars due to international call-ups, but still, it was a game they should have salted away.
As for Columbus, the draw left them winless in five straight, but they were no doubt ecstatic to snatch the point.
The late collapse cost New York a chance to catch Philadelphia at the top of the Eastern Conference as the Union battled back for a 1-1 draw at Colorado on Saturday.
Second-year striker Danny Mwanga answered Conor Casey’s 63rd-minute penalty with a blast from the top of the box just three minutes later to hand the Rapids an MLS-record sixth consecutive tie. The result also pushed Philly’s unbeaten streak to three games.
Meet the New Bosses
Before the Rapids and Union traded goals in quick succession on Saturday, Chivas USA and Vancouver opened the week in similar fashion last Wednesday, scoring goals two minutes apart to split the points.
Nick LaBrocca hit the net for Chivas in the 46th minute, while Camilo replied with a gorgeous curling strike in the 48th to lift the Whitecaps to a 1-1 draw. It was the coaching debut of Tom Soehn, the club’s director of soccer operations, who took over as manager after Teitur Thordarson was let go on Monday.
Soehn’s second game in charge also took place this week, as the Whitecaps were blanked 2-0 at Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
The two results extended Vancouver’s winless streak to 13 games.
Another team with a new coach — and, not coincidentally, a double-digit winless streak — is Chicago, who named former Fire attacker and US international Frank Klopas as interim coach after dismissing Carlos de los Cobos last week.
Klopas didn’t make wholesale changes, and he got a familiar result, as the Fire tied Seattle 0-0 to stretch their winless streak to 10 games.
LA Miss LD
The Galaxy are now undefeated in seven straight games — but they reached that mark with what coach Bruce Arena termed a “poor” effort in a 0-0 draw with visiting D.C. United.
Arena said the performance had little to do with Landon Donovan’s US call-up, but there was no doubt that LA missed LD’s spark in a game whose most exciting feature was probably DC’s new red third kit.
Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City completed the trifecta of scoreless draws by going scoreless at BMO Field on Saturday night. The game left the Reds winless in five straight, and Kansas City — who were missing five regulars due to international call-ups — without a win in eight straight..
Sporting, however, did finally see their brutal 10-game, season-opening road trip come to an end. And not a day too early, as they finished with a tattered and torn record of 1-6-3. Hopefully, there will be some JELD-WEN kind of magic at Livestrong Sporting Park, which open on Thursday (10 pm ET, ESPN2).
While the Galaxy remained comfortably atop the Western Conference, every team trailing LA in the standings has games in hand on the leaders (including RSL, who have a whopping six in hand), and several of those clubs are on the rise. Indeed, every team in the West except expansion Vancouver is .500 or better and looks like a playoff contender at this point.
Leading the way is the side that eliminated LA from last year’s playoffs: FC Dallas.
Despite losing playmaker and 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira for the season, the Hoops have not been defeated in nine straight games, and on Saturday, they sent New England to their third consecutive loss, a 1-0 defeat on a brilliant run and goal by winger Marvin Chávez.
They may not be a threat to the top spot yet, but both San Jose and Chivas USA produced big wins this weekend and are on the upswing.
Steven Lenhart scored his first goal of the season for the Quakes, redirecting Steven Beitashour’s long ball with a diving header past Houston 'keeper Tally Hall.
Simon Dawkins, who underwent calf surgery on May 5, returned to the San Jose lineup and sealed the 2-0 victory with a breakaway goal in stoppage time. It was San Jose’s third straight win at home, and their fifth game without a loss. (Houston, meanwhile, ran their winless streak to seven.)
Chivas USA began the week with a 1-1 draw against Vancouver and ended it with a 1-0 win over Portland, creating a three-game unbeaten streak for themselves, and — in their second match — sending the Timbers to their seventh consecutive road game without a win.
The Goats welcomed back Argentine Marcos Mondaini from suspension, and Brazilian Paulo Nagamura from injury, and the South Americans hooked up on the lone goal against Portland.
Finally, don’t sleep on Real Salt Lake (6-2-2), who were missing Álvaro Saborío and Arturo Alvarez to Gold Cup duty, but got excellent goals from Jean Alexandre and Fabián Espíndola to send Vancouver to a 13th consecutive game without a win. For RSL, the result re-started their unbeaten run at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the last such undefeated streak lasted a DiMaggio-esque 29 games.