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MLS finally delivers goalfests
by Ridge Mahoney, June 19th, 2007 7AM

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[VIDEO] Concerns about goalscoring in MLS were allayed somewhat in a high-scoring weekend (27 goals in six games), as excellent finishes punished errors, some large, some small. All goals, many say, stem from errors, but mistakes this season seem to be more costly, and forwards last weekend were especially efficient on breakaways. Are teams punishing defensive errors more ruthlessly?

"I think on us, they are. I really feel that," said Frank Yallop before the Galaxy's 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake Sunday. "This season, every goal we've scored seems to be a good'un. We're giving goals away, which is unusual.

"We're a little bit unsettled at the back, we've had a lot of changes, new guys in there, different positions, which doesn't help. We work on it during the week but it's not the same as a game."

Yallop unveiled yet another back four Saturday, with newcomer Abel Xavier joining Kyle Veris in the middle, Quevas Kirk at right back, and Ty Harden - who had been playing in the middle - at left back. Xavier let Chris Brown skip through him to score his first goal, and Harden couldn't prevent Brown from heading in another goal on a corner kick.

And Brown, while a solid MLS veteran of nine seasons, is hardly a lethal finisher in the mold of Carlos Ruiz, Jeff Cunningham, or Taylor Twellman, or newcomers Juan Pablo Angel, Maykel Galindo, and Luciano Emilio. Eddie Johnson is off the charts with nine goals in as many games. This season Clint Mathis and Chris Rolfe are also scoring a goal every two games, and Danny Dichio isn't far off that pace.

Chicago has signed Cuauhtemoc Blanco and has discussed a deal with former Chilean international striker Marcelo Salas. The Galaxy traded defender Tyrone Marshall for striker Edson Buddle, who scored one goal - on a nice long ball from Xavier -- and drilled a header off the crossbar in his debut for the team.

"I think with the Designated Player option some teams, like New York in the case of Angel, are being more aggressive going after players who can either make goals or score them," says Fire president John Guppy. "Now, not all of them will be Designated Players. We think Blanco can create goals as well as score them, [David] Beckham is certainly not a goalscorer, but those are the kind of players who can force mistakes as well as take advantage of them."

A pair of errors by Crew defender Marcos Gonzalez added up to a Revs goal last weekend on the simplest of situations. As a long kick upfield by Revs goalie Matt Reis dropped toward rookie Adam Cristman and he braced himself to head it, Gonzalez could have put Pat Noonan offside simply by stepping forward and shouting at Rusty Pierce to do the same. The ball was in the air several seconds, so Gonzalez had time to trap Noonan. But he didn't.

After Cristman headed the ball and Noonan ran onto it while being marked by Pierce, Gonzalez could still have prevented a goal by stepping toward the only dangerous passing lane available to Noonan: a square ball back to Cristman. No other Revs player was in the attacking third. But Gonzalez reacted too slowly, and Cristman first-timed a shot into the top corner.

Coach Sigi Schmid has been praising Gonzalez since signing him and he was named the team's defensive MVP last year. The Crew had three players back - defender Chad Marshall had been marking Cristman as he headed the ball and was a step behind him when he scored - but it surrendered a goal with a man advantage.

Both New England and Columbus conceded breakaway goals on balls played over the top. Ned Grabavoy set up Robbie Rogers, who rolled a nice shot past Reis just inside the post, and Andy Dorman stripped Duncan Oughton in midfield and hit a great first-time pass that Noonan controlled and chipped neatly over keeper Will Hesmer.

And to speak of mistakes, Reis let Guillermo Barros Schelotto tuck a shot between him and the near post in first-half stoppage time. Reis was moving in that direction to track a Alejandro Moreno pass that Schelotto simply drove low first-time and really had no excuse not to get down in time.

Jesse Marsch's long ball found Maykel Galindo racing up the right flank and when Colorado defender Brandon Prideaux foolishly came too close, the Chivas USA striker simply knocked the ball past him and broke in alone to tuck a shot past Rapids keeper Bouna Coundoul for the clincher in a 2-0 victory.

A nice-cut back move by Wizard Yuri Movsisyan on Jeff Parke created enough space for Movsisyan to chip his second goal and Kansas City's third against New York. Sasha Victorine started the play with a long ball out of the back, yet Parke took such a terrible angle chasing back that he couldn't have reached Movsisyan with a fishing net when he changed direction. Parke, yards away, stumbled as the forward easily chipped goalie Ronald Wattereus.

Speaking of Wattereus, whether it's his age (36) or that he's playing so far off his line, teams are looking to chip him at every opportunity. When Kerry Zavagnin scored the first Kansas City goal from about 25 yards out, instead of hammering it, he just guided the ball over Wattereus, who was stationed on the edge of the goal area and had no chance to reach it. Had he been a few yards off his line he might still not have reached it, but he'd have been in position to give it a try.

Toronto FC tore up a tired FC Dallas defense that had just posted its first shutout of the season Thursday against Real Salt Lake by scoring four goals. No defender could clear either of two Dario Salas saves and Maurice Edu scored, Dichio and Carl Robinson put away headers, and Cunningham connected in stoppage time as the FCD statues looked on.

Fatigue is forgivable, but flubs aren't, and more MLS forwards are exploiting them.



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