MLS update: Seattle gears up, Columbus, Toronto and Portland all draw, and Vancouver submits to Dallas
Obviously any true US soccer fan is still geeking out about the now-famous win at the Azteca, but there’s still MLS news to be had. Let’s get started.
Seattle Sounders (W10-L6-D7) 37 pts.
Squad report: It’s crunch time for Seattle, and on the surface, the team is in trouble. A few weeks ago the Sounders were in third place and closing in on San Jose and Real Salt Lake. Now they’re in a three-way tie for fifth with the red-hot LA Galaxy and Vancouver. But if you look closer, things aren’t as bad as they seem. It’ll be tough for the Seattle to miss the playoffs, since the team is eight points above sixth-place FC Dallas, so it doesn’t look like fans of the neon green and blue will have to worry about that. There’s 11 games left on the schedule for Seattle, and they have two games in hand against Vancouver and three against LA. And although the Sounders fell 2-1 to San Jose last weekend, they played well, (no to mention it was their first loss in seven games). Seattle is about to get a boost up front as well with Steve Zakuani inching ever closer to a return to the lineup.
Up next: Seattle has a huge game coming up on Saturday when Vancouver comes to town. Vancouver needs this game just as much as Seattle does. Expect a draw.
Vancouver Whitecaps (W9-L7-D7) 34 pts.
Squad report: Vancouver is a frustrating team to watch sometimes. After a comfortable 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, the Whitecaps meekly submitted to FC Dallas in a midweek match. It’s tough to gauge the Dallas game. Ask fans with a positive outlook and they’ll say that Dallas is a resurrected squad, and Vancouver was missing its captain, since Jay DeMerit went down with a concussion against RSL. On the other hand, coach Martin Rennie actually said before the Dallas game that he felt his squad was stronger, with former Leeds United centre-back Andy O’Brien and Scottish international striker Kenny Miller receiving their first starts. The loss also brings Dallas into the edge of the playoff picture, something Vancouver (and Seattle and LA) did not want to see.
Up next: Jay DeMerit’s status for the weekend is still up in the air, but this team is deep enough to go on without him. A result this Saturday against Seattle is hugely important. Let’s see which Vancouver shows up.
Columbus Crew (W8-L8-D5) 29 pts.
Squad report: The MLS had originally planned to go on with Saturday’s game with Toronto, but instead postponed the game to allow the players to attend the funeral of midfielder Kirk Urso. Players expressed their concerns on missing the funeral last Thursday in a team meeting, and both Major League Soccer and Toronto had no problem rescheduling. Like I said last week, there are more important things than soccer, and the respect that everyone has paid to Urso has been amazing. On Wednesday Columbus was back in action in what was understandably a very emotional game against the Galaxy. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, but the Crew forced LA into some frantic defending. It was a good showing for a team fighting for a playoff spot. Columbus also added 27-year old Argentinian striker Federico Higuain to the squad. Higuain is the Crew’s third designated player in team history.
Up next: The Toronto game is now scheduled for next Wednesday, but Sunday’s game against Houston will take center stage. The Crew is currently eight points out of a playoff spot. Every game counts.
Portland Timbers (W5-L12-D6) 21 pts.
Squad update: Against the official worst team in the league, the second-worst team in the league could only manage a 2-2 draw, and it took a late Darlington Nagbe goal to do that. After the game, Nagbe said that the draw was “huge for the team.” That may be true, but most other teams in the MLS would be very disappointed with a tie. There’s not a whole lot the Timbers can do this season. They’ve fired their coach, traded away their veteran goalkeeper and brought in several new players. It’s time for Portland to look toward next season.
Up next: A matchup of the two worst teams in the league awaits MLS fans on Wednesday, when Portland heads to Toronto. I’m not sure I want to predict this game, so I just won’t.
Toronto FC (W5-L13-D5) 20 pts.
Squad report: Toronto at least managed to put a pair of goals on the board against Portland, but Wednesday was a chance for Toronto to climb out of the basement. They didn’t do it. The goal by Eric Hassli was a welcome sight, with the forward only playing his second game for the Reds. But Toronto is in the same situation Portland is right now. A few months ago I said that if everything went right, the Reds could slowly start to make their way back up the table. Now, if they don’t finish dead last, I’ll be surprised.
Up next: A home matchup against Sporting Kansas City and an away game against Columbus await the Reds this week. I don’t really see Toronto winning either game, but if the result was set in stone, nobody would bother playing.