Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 23:
At D.C. United, 19-year-old
At some point, Nowak must decide if Seitz's struggles can still be filed under "young man learning his craft." At some point, Seitz is what he is. Perhaps we're not there just yet. Still, Nowak does have a big offseason choice to make in regard to the future protector of the PPL Park goal.
Of course, not every young goalkeeper is as wobbly as the economy.
But it would be hard to call RSL's 1-0 win in the league's marquee Round 23 match too much of a statement, considering it was Hans Backe's
Meanwhile, FC Dallas and Columbus demonstrated they could grind out a win in less-than-favorable circumstances. Columbus had to beat the same team in the same stadium twice over four days, a tall order regardless of disparity in quality.
The Crew had downed D.C. United in a midweek U.S. Open Cup semifinal at RFK. Referee controversy filled the night -- these losses never seem to be United's fault, you know -- so the home team even had extra motivation heading into the "rematch." But Hamid's blunder gave Columbus the lead and the Crew held bravely from there, surely taxed by the travel and stretched by matches in three separate competitions. United just doesn't have the speed right now to punish a tired team (beyond the continued, exceptional rookie season from
We've seen the Crew grind out wins before. Not so with FC Dallas.
At Pizza Hut Park, the home team began without five injured or suspended starters. When a hamstring pull yanked
Luckily for Dallas, TFC was without its top two performers,
But are the Rapids suddenly making noise, or benefiting from an easier slate in the schedule?
Two consecutive 3-0 wins might seem to say a lot. But one was against the weakest Houston Dynamo team we've seen yet, and one playing almost 80 minutes a man down.
This weekend's 3-0 whacking was against Chivas USA, the worst team in the West. Before that, the Rapids had tied the Philadelphia Union, another team that won't make the playoffs.
"What you see now is a group of players that are confident with each other with the way that they are playing," Smith said. "They found the back of the net last week and found out that they liked it."
On the other hand, over the current stretch the best test for Colorado was a flop, a 3-1 loss to Columbus. So, which one is it?
We should know more this week when Smith's Rapids travel to Red Bull Arena. They do have four hot feet in Casey and Cummings, who has three goals over his last two matches.
(And by the way, Cummings should have had an assist in Saturday's win over Chivas USA. Seriously, MLS should review its criteria for assists. Cummings makes a great move to fire a fierce shot at Thornton, which Casey cleans up for the goal. No assist. Meanwhile, guys might make a pass in midfield that eventually turns into a goal and someone gets an assist for that? MLS should sort that out.)
Presumably, so do the referees. Or do they?
Things are going to be hotly contested. They certainly were at Gillette Stadium, where referee
Anyway, Petrescu seemed to have the right idea when he marched with a purpose toward Ianni while reaching into his back pocket. "Ah, here we go! He's got this under control." But as Ianni lay in, ahem, agony, Petrescu lost his nerve. He didn't so much as caution either player.
Of course, at that point, players are frustrated and fans are frustrated and, well, it's the Wild West out there because there's no authority figure in charge. Sure enough, Seattle's
In Dallas, some of the things
There are seven rounds left. With all but perhaps one team still holding out playoff hope -- unrealistic as it may be in some cases -- referees simply have to be on top of things better than some were in Round 23.