Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 19:
Start with this: Does anyone remember when
The stage: a nationally televised date at a jam-packed Toyota Park. This is what everybody dreamed about, what they wanted MLS to be for all those early years. Big stars, young bucks, passionate crowds and national TV, all on the boil inside a proper soccer ground. The only thing better would have been some goals, as the teams fought to a 0-0 draw. Still, it certainly wasn't a bad contest.
Marquez and Co. made sure the quality was high, as the visitors outplayed and outpassed Chicago. New York will be even better once the rest of the roster understands this: The faster it gets the ball to Angel, Henry and Marquez, the more that trio can do with it before defenses are organized.
As for the actual DP delivery: Marquez was a bit stationary as a holding midfielder, something likely to improve with additional fitness. But the Mexican captain's passing was exquisite. His ability to supply early balls out of midfield -- something so often lacking in MLS -- will be especially helpful. And the central pairing with rookie Tchani is useful, as the younger man can provide the bulk of the running. Henry was classy in spots but left with a minor groin strain just before half. Angel drove himself to distraction with a litany of misses (his own and Kandji's), but his ability to find the gaps was impressive nonetheless.
On the other side, Ljungberg needs to do more. Period. His night looked like most of his outings with Seattle, more sizzle than steak. As for Castillo, he hasn't played in so long that it wouldn't be fair to judge based on this one. That said, he had a quiet night after his 56th-minute introduction.
But the answer to that question could change this season.
United is done. The side would probably need to win 10 of 11 remaining matches even for a chance. So it's all about U.S. Open Cup and planning for next year around RFK, where
On the other hand, United outplayed New England on Saturday at Gillette, which doesn't say a lot for the Revs.
By the way, Nicol has taken the Revolution to the playoffs in each of his eight seasons. That streak is on the line.
So, too, is
But there's another side to it all: In a league in which most players aren't getting rich, to say the least, you might think there would be a little more mutual respect, just a little more of an instinct to protect one another. You know, go hard but do no unnecessary harm.
And yet every week we see potentially injurious actions that are 100 percent unnecessary. These aren't collisions around the ball, although MLS has more than its share of those, too. Rather, too often these are cheap shots off the ball or bone-jarring hits just after someone has released the ball.
Then again, maybe these things even out. Cruz is same guy who hacked down New York's
The Designated Players gobble up a disproportionate share of press, but the clock punchers make up the backbone of MLS. Some toil more anonymously than others. Here, then, are the most underrated men of MLS: