MLS saved the best until last this weekend when the New York Red Bulls travelled to a Portland team that had lost their last three games. That trend looked set to continue when New York took an early lead but three swift second half goals seemed to have given the Timbers control of the match. Then things got a little bit crazy.
Thierry Henry pulled one back with a great pass and move goal but Portland were soon given the chance to extend their lead once again after the award of a very disputable penalty. The usually reliable Jack Jewsbury proved not to be in this case and placed his shot against the post keeping New York in the game.
In the fourth minute of stoppage time Henry earned himself a straight red card for an off the ball incident and that should really have been that. Not so. Portland inexplicably allowed themselves open to a long ball over the top of the defence and a poor clearance and a panicky handball gave Dwayne De Rosario the opportunity to snatch a point from the spot. The final act of a breathless game.
It’s an old adage that most teams would rather have the points in the bag than the games in hand and Real Salt Lake must be seeing the wisdom of that at the moment.
A few weeks ago they seemed within striking distance of the leaders of the Western Conference with enough make up games to even allow them the odd falter on the way, but they have succumbed to more than just the “odd” falter and one win in seven means that they would now have to win all five games in hand to overtake leaders the LA Galaxy, and even second placed Dallas look to be a tough catch.
None of this means that they won’t make the play offs of course but the injury to Javier Morales certainly seems to be blunting the cutting edge of their attack.
On Saturday they had to settle for a 1-1 tie with DC United in a game that featured two controversial penalty decisions, the second of which was the result of a blatant dive from Charlie Davies from which he converted the spot kick.
Salt Lake’s position in the standings wasn’t helped by the fact that all three teams above them won. The Galaxy cruised passed Colorado 3-1, thanks in part to a straight red card for Caleb Folan who committed the kind of tackle that David Beckham seems to produce on a regular basis without the same punishment and FC Dallas won 2-1 at Chivas USA courtesy of some dreadful late defending. Seattle survived their own red card to score a late free-kick against a Toronto side that can’t seem to buy a win.
The Vancouver Whitecaps seemed equally incapable of winning for much of the season but finally got there thanks to another goal of the week contender, this time from Alain Rochat.
That defeat allowed the Columbus Crew to close the gap on Philadelphia to just one point after they earned a 2-0 away win in a heated game (in a hot stadium) in Houston.
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