MLS Week 13: What I Learned from...

...watching Houston v. Dallas from start to finish (albeit with powers of attention in inverse proportion to the intake of cheap whiskey), watching both Columbus v. Red Bull and Chivas v. New England in episodes interspersed by warp drive (e.g. I fast-forwarded through chunks of each), and not watching any of the remaining games, but reading a thing or two.

Here goes:

FC Dallas 0 - 0 Houston Dynamo
- I’ll start with 3rd Degree’s fiesta del links. If you don’t like what you read here, you’ll find plenty of options may not like ‘em, but that’s OK.
- Unlike FCD’s Bobby Rhine, I didn’t find this game boring. Quite the contrary, it was one of those classic, tale-of-two-halves affairs, with Houston having the more menacing first half while FC Dallas (though not Carlos Ruiz) threatened more in the second.
- Turning to another talking point, I agree it was a physical game; to borrow from, and add to, another report, this was a "slow [kick-filled] chess match." Houston players throw in the charge (see link) that Dallas put disruption before play. There may be some truth to that; I can say that FC Dallas players quickly swarmed and commenced to kicking any Houston player attempting to hold or dribble the ball. And it looked like a violent version of the magnet ball of my youth.
- The more I see him, the more I like Arturo Alvarez. Great, slashing runs...too bad about the finishing.
- Ruiz is off this year. And, not to be uncharitable, but the “Extra Carlos” he’s bringing to the table isn’t helping his game.
- I keep reading this was Dallas’ third clean-sheet in the past four games. That’s good news - and the cobbled line-up they used to make this last one only adds to the feat.
- Dario Sala is one hell of a ‘keeper.
- Dwayne DeRosario still isn’t the player he was the last two years. The same goes for Brian Mullan.
- Zach Wells might be the best back-up ‘keeper in the league.
- Brad Davis did more for Houston’s offense than any other player; unfortunately, those came on set plays and the opportunities fell to defenders.
- All in all, the interesting piece to this game was Dallas’ new resilience on defense; that’s something to watch. They certainly out-muscled the reigning champs and, I’m guessing, had the better chance at winning. Maybe they do deserve first place?

Columbus Crew 1 - 0 Red Bull New York
- Did Columbus add fluoride to its water? Something changed.
- Ives Galarcep declared this a fizzle for Red Bull as opposed to something impressive for the Crew. I disagree. Columbus genuinely outplayed New York’s finest with better passing and movement and a robust defense. The Crew left deserved winners. The only thing missing was finishing and, oh, about half the final ball - in other words, the Crew played too many almost there final balls.
- People are talking a lot about Guillermo Baros Schelotto (as in this post from WVHooligan - which is worth reading on its own). Schelotto’s absence only makes this win the more remarkable.
- As noted by many, the Crew’s Kei Kamara was man of the match. He ate Hunter Freeman alive.
- Another report on the game did some good work on not only the Kamara/Freeman duel, but also Chad Marshall’s corralling of Juan Pablo Angel.
- And that last one left a few goals-in-consecutive-games streaks alive...which spared us all from another spate of “Angel” puns. (Yeah, knock off those puns, you assholes).
- Raves from me and decent notice from others acknowledged, I count Ned Grabavoy one of the most underrated midfield players in MLS.
- Let the record show that the presence of Rusty Pierce did not hurt the Crew this week. And Will Hesmer didn’t look so bad in goal...not that he had much to do.
- turned in a solid-drab match report...may as well link to it.

Chivas USA 2 - 0 New England Revolution
- New England seems determined to support my low opinion of them. The most aggravating thing I’ve read so far are comments from New England players talking about how a failure in their "passing game" doomed them. Let them down?! By my count, it has worked only once this season: the win over LA god-knows-how-long ago!
- Now this game was boring, especially in the first half. Some kind of invisible barrier kept the teams confined in the middle half of the field. The Revs never got through - never came close, in fact - but Chivas chucked in two purty-as-a-picture finishes...though, significantly, both came from outside the area (I think - Galindo’s goal-of-the-week strike certainly did).
- Seriously, stop the voting: Galindo’s goal wins or I’ll lose the little faith I have left in democratic processes.
- Chivas’ home record (impressive for the second year running no less...dang it; the remodel hasn't hit all the archived material yet) says something. Where the balance falls between them stifling teams and teams stinking up their joint I can’t say, but playing Chivas at home looks like one of the toughest draws of 2007. They ain’t much on the road, though...
- That stallion-esque home record certainly owes nothing to that morgue-like atmosphere. Dan Loney does a little dance on the reputation Chivas’ absent fans.
- Both teams fielded something less than their ideal first team, but, looking to the future, Chivas’ absences and suspensions are stacking up.

I’m took the rest of these last two under advisement....

Chicago Fire 0 - 0 Colorado Rapids
- Ah, my must-miss match of the I did.
- Reports speak of a pretty underwhelming evening. Neither hometown paper had anything good to say, but the Chicago Fire Offside and FC Rocky both turned in scathing reports.
- The only controversy I can find, I had to concoct: Windy City Soccer says Roberto Brown’s late near-winner bounced off him, then off the post; the Denver Post only mentions the opportunity without dubbing it a ricochet...gasp!
- Overall, it’s hard to think of two teams I’d rather not watch this year.

Kansas City Wizards 1 - 1 Toronto FC
- This was probably the most eye-catching result this week - for me, anyway. Though, given my impression of KC’s defense, perhaps it shouldn’t have been.
- You want remarkable: check out the imbalance on shots. Down the Byline does a good job of putting those shots in perspective.
- Judging from the Toronto Star’s brief report, unlike KC, TFC did well with the few chances they had then weathered the storm with 10 men. Baby steps...making the road equation work will require some baby steps for TFC.
- I saw Michael Harrington’s name on the score sheet again - Carlos Marinelli’s as well. Gets a body wondering about Rookie of the Year...

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