The angry reaction by Chivas USA players and Coach Preki to the antics and purported dives by Fire attacker Cuauhtemoc Blanco is, in the eyes of some opponents, a case of the stripes getting a hefty dose of their own medicine.
"They have good players, but it's funny how some of them can't seem to stay on their feet very much," said a player from a rival team earlier in the season.
"They spend a lot of time lying on the ground," said another.
Chivas USA hasn't disregarded the salary cap as blatantly as it did last season, when the high salaries paid to Francisco Palencia ($1.36 million) and Juan Pablo Garcia ($624,260) sparked rueful comments around the league. "Yeah, they're doing better, and they're only $4 million over the salary cap," said an opposing player, who was joking and exaggerating, somewhat.
Chivas USA preserved its home unbeaten mark (10-0-3) when Claudio Suarez matched a Blanco free kick by converting a penalty kick called when C.J. Brown dragged down Maykel Galindo.
Blanco's presence drew a boisterous crowd to Home Depot Center and the club's first sellout excluding derbies against the Galaxy. Fans sporting jerseys of Club America, by far the most prominent of Blanco's former clubs, cheered as Chivas USA fans jeered and booed him. He played to the crowd, a bit extensively perhaps, and picked up his third caution of the season; his free kick notched a fourth goal to go along with six assists.
So far, he's proved to be expensive and quite possibly worth it.
NO CLEAR VIEW.Fire head coach Juan Carlos Osorio went berserk in stoppage time when Alex Zotinca tackled Blanco in the penalty area and referee Tim Weyland signaled not for a penalty kick, but a corner kick.
Blanco dribbled into the left side of the penalty area with the ball on his inside (right) foot, and Zotinca's lunge from that side appeared to get a piece of the ball as well as Blanco's foot to send the ball squirting over the goal line. Multiple TV replays of the tackle were shown but the sideline angles were inconclusive. So the ruling on the field should stand, even if this isn't the NFL.
As is usually the case, unfortunately, in MLS telecasts, the TV crew didn't show a camera angle from behind the goal. In some stadiums used by the league, no such camera location is readily available, and despite the league supposedly planning its stadium configurations with TV in mind, in many telecasts there is no camera behind the goal. A goal-line camera could have also provided a much better look.
Though Zotinca was chasing Blanco, he didn't tackle from behind, i.e, he didn't slide into the ball from the rear. His lunge came from the side. Osorio, standing on the sideline, had the same angle as the TV audience, and neither he nor the viewing audience got a better look from the replays.
NEXT DATE. If D.C. United advances to the Copa Sudamericana quarterfinals, it would probably play the second leg of its quarterfinal series against Argentine club Arsenal at home.
United plays at Guadalajara Tuesday night, holding a 2-1 advantage from the first leg at RFK. United spokesman Doug Hicks says Arsenal would host the home leg next week and United would host two weeks later, probably Oct. 23 or 24.
That would necessitate United playing a midweek Copa Sudamericana game at RFK and traveling for its playoff opener, but the alternative would be a long plane flight to Buenos Aires - Arsenal is located in the Sarandi neighborhood - and a trip back to the United States.
The quarterfinals must be completed by Oct. 31, so one or both legs could be shifted. That's assuming D.C. gets past Guadalajara, which fired head coach Manuel de la Torre two days after United's first-leg victory.