No quite one-third of the way through the season, yet with a busy summer of international competitions and callups on the horizon, these are a few of the impressions taken of what has transpired so
far in MLS: LJUNGBERG'S LAMENTS.
Notable by his absence from Seattle's 1-1 tie with FC Dallas was Freddie Ljungberg
, not only for his
contributions to the attack and overall team cohesion, but by his incessant complaining the week before in a 1-1 tie with Los Angeles.
Nearly every time he lost the ball and/or hit the
ground, he spread his arms wide in outraged indignation, and he and referee Tim Weyland
conversed so often you'd think they were discussing the governmental bailouts. This was the
same game in which Weyland waved off Seattle penalty claims when Dema Kovalenko
wiped out Nate Jaqua
as he was about to confront LA keeper Donovan
, and sent off James Riley for swatting Mike Magee
during a melee triggered when Riley wrestled Gregg Berhalter
to the ground trying to get the ball
away. Weyland issued eight cautions in addition to sending off Riley, which left Seattle a man down for final 33 minutes.
So no doubt Ljungberg and his teammates had cause to be upset
with Mr. Weyland, yet Ljungberg had begun his protests long before Kovalenko fouled Jaqua, also taunted Kovalenko during the match in a most unflattering manner, and didn't let up after Weyland
cautioned him in the 61 st minute.
The good news is that Ljungberg is adding a lot of class and savvy to the Seattle attack, and is looking like a pretty solid DP investment. If he can
mute his carping at the officials just a tad and not become (Cuauhtemoc
West, he'll augment Seattle's push for a playoff spot.
There's something missing at Toronto FC, which had a great chance to stamp itself as the real deal with a home game against a tough team, and completely squandered the
opportunity by losing to Chicago and the real Blanco, 2-0.
A few days earlier, Toronto had run rings around USL-1 foe Montreal while winning, 1-0, in the Canadian Nutrilite
Championship. But it came out flat against the Fire and after a truly turgid first half, didn't awaken until Chris Rolfe
breached the offside trap on a feed from Blanco and caught
goalie Stefan Frei
's in no-man's land to score in the 48 th minute.
TFC did conjure up a few opportunities and Amado Guevara
crossbar with a free kick before Frei pushed away a low shot that Mike Banner
corralled and crossed from Brian McBride
to bang into the empty net with nine minutes
By winning, Chicago (3-0-6) remains unbeaten and is tied with D.C. United atop the East. By losing, TFC's home record drops to 2-2-2. Yes, it had been on a six-game unbeaten
run prior to the Fire game, but despite the raucous support at BMO Field, TFC has yet to turn it into the fortress it should be. DALLAS DILEMMA.
After being run off
the (Pizza Hut) Park for most of the first half by Seattle last week, FC Dallas stole a 45th-minute equalizer from Andre Rocha
, and pressed hard in the second half for a winning goal.
It never came, and the game finished, 1-1. At first blush the team's switch to a 3-5-2 formation for the second half and insertion of holding midfielder Pablo Ricchetti
in central defense seemed to herald a new way forward. Well, maybe. Or maybe not.
Truth be told, Seattle came in shorthanded with Ljungberg not available and the suspended
Riley replaced by Pat Ianni
, and lost left back Zach Scott
to an injury early in the match. Still, FCD had to make changes, too; defenders George
and Steve Purdy
were replaced prior to the second-half kickoff, and teenager Brek Shea took over for Jeff Cunningham
midway through the first half.
Nine games (1-6-2) into the season, Coach Schellas Hyndman
is still looking for the right formula. Getting Shea, who was impressive by his touches and movement off the ball,
somewhere into the lineup is just one issue to be resolved. He twice failed to put away point-blank headers that could have won the match for his team. Dave van den
again supplied several dangerous crosses that weren't exploited, and Kenny Cooper
labored through another quiet match. Somehow, Cooper has to get on the end of van
den Bergh's service, either on balls played to the near post or loopers to the back stick that Cooper can attack. TOP TEAMS TIE.
Chivas USA got a valuable lesson
at relatively low cost Saturday night at Home Depot Center by letting a 2-0 lead devolve into a 2-2 tie with D.C. United.
The team's remarkable defensive record - now five goals
conceded in 10 games - has masked a failure to put games away and instead rely far too heavily on goalie Zach Thornton
. His string of remarkable saves this season is laudable but
really too much to expect over the long haul.
Last Saturday Chivas USA conceded goals in the 77th and 85 th minutes to get the tie it probably deserved, especially since Maykel
scored its first goal after being a good yard offside when the ball was played to him. And United demonstrated once again its remarkable powers of recovery to retain a share of first
place in the Eastern Conference. CRY OF THE WOLFF.
Speaking of statements, props to Kansas City for beating RSL, 2-0, with a pair of goals by Josh
He doesn't have the wheels he did a few years ago, yet at age 32, Wolff still has the speed to test MLS defenses, and is league co-leader, along with former U.S.
teammate Brian McBride
, with six goals. Wolff and Davy Arnaud and Claudio Lopez
are still sorting out their roles in the attacking slots while newcomer Santiago
Hirsig adjusts to MLS as the holding midfielder.
The Wizards attack lacks a true target striker, which is why it acquired Adam Cristman
from New England during the
offseason. Cristman has yet to play because of a foot injury suffered in preseason. If and when he comes back healthy, he'll add the final piece to a very potent offense.