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Russell Berrisford

Russell Berrisford

Russell’s support of Derby County eventually led him to leave the country. He has lived in Canada since 2007 and currently writes about soccer for The Vancouver Sun.


TANGENTS

MLS Gets a Place in the Sun

Written by on May 30, 2011 | 9 Comments »
Posted in MLS

With the European club season drawing to a close Major League Soccer has the opportunity to occupy the attention of the North American fan more than at any other time of the year, and the good news is that this particular round of games produced some great matches with plenty of goals and incident.

It gives some idea of the value of a win in MLS when you realise that in the Eastern Conference only Philadelphia has managed to take three points in more than one of their last five games, and that they now sit atop the standings.

Their latest win came via an astonishing 6-2 win at BMO Field in Toronto; astonishing because the Union had only scored eight goals in their previous ten games but were able to tear apart a Toronto team that seems to be increasingly perplexed by coach Aron Winter’s tactics.

The other outstanding performance of the weekend came from Seattle who became the first team to win at Rio Tinto Stadium in 29 games when they beat Real Salt Lake 2-1. Their cause was helped by the sending off of Jamison Olave for preventing a goal scoring opportunity in the 58th minute and strikes by Ianni and Neagle helped the Sounders to continue to recover from their slow start to the season.

Game of the day was probably the 3-3 tie between Columbus Crew and Chivas USA in Ohio. The visitors led three times but were eventually happy to settle for a point after seeing Jorge Flores sent off for a second yellow card in the 69th minute. Chivas are another side who started slowly but are gradually moving their way up in the standings.

No doubt about who the form team is at the moment though. The LA Galaxy have won their last four games and a 1-0 win in New England confirmed their new-found resilience when a Beckham cross was met by the head of Miguel Lopez.

The Galaxy survived an amazing number of close calls at the end of the game with Landon Donovan’s late goal line clearance being the highlight, but another win leaves them with a seven point cushion at the top of the Western Conference.

For a time it looked as though the New York Red Bulls would dominate the East in the same way that LA is dominating the West, but a series of draws and losses has led to their lead being whittled away, and they only managed to pick up a point on Saturday against a Whitecaps side that hasn’t won since opening day. Eric Hassli gave Vancouver the lead from the spot but Luke Rodgers scored yet another goal in an entertaining match that left both sides wondering about what might have been.

The all Texan affair finished all square at 2-2 with Houston scoring a late equaliser against Dallas despite being down to ten men for much of the second half, and both sides will be happy that they still sit in the top three of their respective Conferences.

The game on Sunday was another that produced a flurry of goals with DC United winning 3-2 at Portland. Two penalties were at the heart of the match (both given for handball) and both were scored, but it was Josh Wolff’s goal in the 85th minute that sealed a win for a DC side that is now four games unbeaten. For the Timbers it was their first defeat at home but once again they showed the spirit that has served them well thus far.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this latest round of games was that attacking football seemed to be on the rise. Maybe teams, and more specifically coaches, are starting to realise that as few as two consecutive wins can do wonders for a teams position in the standings and are setting out to win games rather than not lose them.

It bodes well for the rest of the season and the imminent start of the Gold Cup means that even more of the beautiful game will be on our TV screens in the coming weeks. Maybe this will turn out to be the “Summer of Soccer” for North America?


9 responses to “MLS Gets a Place in the Sun”

  1. Erik says:

    Portland-DC saw not one but TWO Goalie Violations on the same PK. They were both good calls with Hamid very visibly coming off his line by a good 3-feet or more on each kick – but how often does that happen as opposed to how rarely it is called?

    NO WAY I would have let Cooper go for the Hat Trick of misses, though – and you had to send someone else to the spot

    One comment on something else: As great as Saturday’s CL Final was – if Monday’s Reading/Swansea game had been played Saturday @ Wembley people would have raved about what a great game it was. Verrrrrrrrry entertaining and when it was 3-2 with 30 minutes to go and then Reading hits the post – WOW! I am stunned none of the players on the field got sent off with a Red Card – or 2 Yellows

  2. Russell Berrisford says:

    Erik- that playoff game almost never disappoints.

  3. Erik says:

    Russell – last year with Blackpool winning was also awesome. One would think with as much at stake as there is it would be a tightly played very low scoring game but the past 2 games have been wiiiiiiiiildly entertaining

  4. Gillian says:

    *bounces*

    I’ve already been enjoying MLS, but now I am relishing the fact that I”ll get to focus mostly on that. As you said, Russell, the season is heating up. I’m also getting excited for Gold Cup!

  5. Roberto Manita says:

    Another vote for a brilliantly entertaining match from Swansea and Reading. Great game.

    Two things I found odd about it however. First, Swansea was awarded a trophy at the end of it and walked up the 100 plus steps of Wembley to receive it. This was a match to determine the third team that gets promoted to the EPL next season. That is reward enough. Swansea did not win the 2nd tier and therefore does not deserve a trophy. Give them bronze medals instead. Trophies are meant for teams that win their league or cup competitions. It was the most contrived trophy presentation I’ve ever seen.

    Second, with Swansea gaining promotion, we will be seeing a Welsh team in the English Premier League next year. Lady Geography has been given another slap in the face yet again. All the nations in the UK have their own respective national sides (Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England). And all of them have their own top flight leagues except Wales, I suppose, who are allowed to have clubs compete to gain promotion into the EPL while clubs in Northern Ireland and Scotland are not. I find that rather odd and the laws of geography have been broken yet again. Lady Geography is not amused.

  6. Russell Berrisford says:

    RM- I seem to remember that the idea of giving a trophy was to provide a focal point to the celebrations, but I agree that it’s a pretty dumb idea.

    Why not do the same thing with semi final winners if that is the thinking?

  7. Gillian says:

    Re: MLS, what next for the Chicago Fire now that they’ve fired De los Cobos? Sadly, I have a feeling things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better.

  8. John Bladen says:

    Russel;

    I think it was always going to be a struggle for career MLS (or lower level) players to adapt to the system Winter brings. I would expect only a handful of players to survive to the ‘other side’ of this rebuild. Of course, given that this is Toronto we are talking about, it’s always possible that Winter will be tossed over the side before he has a chance to fully implement his style of play.

    Let’s hope not.

  9. Russell Berrisford says:

    Gillian-well Vancouver have just fired their coach too. Maybe Thordarson to Chicago?

    John- There are an awful lot of issues with Winter but as you say it woul d be foolish to get rid of him too soon, but of course just because something is foolish doesn’t mean that TFC won’t do it!

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