Thursday August 2nd, 2007

Eddie Johnson
Newman Lowrance/MLS/WireImage.com
The future of EJ
Freddy Adu's decision to leave MLS and go to Europe (for Benfica in Portugal) surprised no one. Eddie Johnson's choice to pass -- at least for now -- was an eye-opener. In the midst of a MVP-caliber season, Kansas City's star striker said his reasons not to move to promoted English Premiership side Derby County came down to timing and happiness. "A lot of people wonder why I didn't go to Derby," Johnson said Wednesday as the Wizards prepared to fly to New England. "But I still have a lot of things to prove in MLS. Once I accomplish what I want to in this league we'll see where things take me. You don't make decisions in your life you're not happy with. And I'm happy in K.C. right now. We'll see how the rest of the year goes." Certainly winning the Golden Boot and helping lead the Wizards to the MLS title would boost his market value. In 2005, MLS turned down a record $5 million transfer offer from, coincidentally, Benfica just prior to Johnson's 21st birthday. The two years that followed -- the end of his time at FC Dallas and the ugly start to his Wizards career -- were a nightmare, one from which he's still a little bruised. The arrival of head coach Curt Onalfo in Kansas City, though, changed everything. Onalfo's aggressive style has been a perfect fit for Johnson -- and EJ has responded by leading MLS with 12 goals. And, predictably, the rumors about a move to Europe have kicked up again. "We were very adamant that he takes risks, become hard to play against," Onalfo said. "A lot of times he made simple decisions that were good for team, like playing negative balls back. But I stressed to him not to worry about making mistakes. I told him go right for the jugular. He took that to heart. You see that in a lot of the goals he scores. In this business, you're going to end up losing players. I want what's best for him. He's playing the best soccer of his career." But for how much longer will it be in MLS?
First and last 15: Who's best, who's worst?
Kansas City beat Chivas USA 3-2 on Sunday on yet another late goal, this time by super-sub Yura Movsisyan. Which got me thinking: Which have been MLS' best and worst teams in the first 15 minutes and the final 15? Indeed, the Wizards have been the kings of the final 15, scoring nine of their 32 goals (28 percent). Individually, Luciano Emilio, Dominic Oduro and EJ have scored the most in crunch time (three goals), while Juan Pablo Ángel leads MLS (three) in goals in the opening quarter-hour.

FINAL 15 MINUTES
The best                             The worst
1. Kansas City, 9                 t1. Colorado, 2
t2. FC Dallas, 7                    t1. Real Salt Lake, 2
t2. New York, 7                    3. Chicago, 3

FIRST 15 MINUTES
The best                             The worst
1. New England, 7                1. FC Dallas, 0
2. New York, 6                    t2. Chicago, 1
3. D.C. United, 5                 t2. Toronto FC, 1

Other notes I found interesting: The Wizards have scored to tie the match or take the lead after the 75th minute four times this season. ... Teams are 18-5-8 when scoring the match's first goal in the first 15 minutes. ... The earliest FC Dallas has scored in a match this season has been in the 19th minute (twice by Kenny Cooper). ... Both of Real Salt Lake's goals this season in the final 15 came in the same game: vs. New York on May 5.
News and views from around the league
Thanks in large part to a 3-1-4 record vs. Mexican rivals in the round-robin portion of the inaugural SuperLiga, MLS will send three of its four teams to the semifinals. FC Dallas was the lone team eliminated. ... New England is a league-best 5-2-2 on the road despite outscoing its opponents only 11-9 in its nine road matches. ... How was Colorado's Mehdi Ballouchy only suspended two games for his intentional elbow to the head of Kansas City's Sasha Victorine? Earlier this season, Columbus' Andy Herron received a four-game ban for a similar flagrant elbow. ... The quest for an MLS expansion team in the Pacific Northwest is heating up with the Atletico Seattle group. ... Funny sign seen at Pizza Hut Park for the FC Dallas-L.A. Galaxy SuperLiga match: "Bench It Like Beckham."
RankLW Team
11
Houston Dynamo (10-5-4)
The Dynamo Express has not slowed down for SuperLiga
22
New England Revolution (8-3-6)
Can make a major statement in the East race this week
34
Kansas City Wizards (8-5-5)
No 'keeper in the world stops Zavagnin's strike vs. Goats
43
FC Dallas (9-6-3)
L.A.'s Donovan, Cannon didn't make many pals in Frisco
58
Chivas USA (8-5-4)
After solid two-game East trip, Goats now off 'til Aug. 18
66
D.C. United (7-6-3)
Moreno returned, played 27 minutes in Houston on Wed.
77
Columbus Crew (6-5-7)
August will be a telling month: four challenging matches
85
New York Red Bulls (8-7-3)
Could use a player like disgruntled FCD midfielder Nuñez
911
Chicago Fire (5-8-4)
Blanco definitely has rejuventated the Fire in record time
1010
Los Angeles Galaxy (3-5-4)
Trip to SuperLiga semis makes slate even more crowded
119
Toronto FC (5-9-4)
Monsalve, 18, became youngest 'keeper to start in MLS
1212
Colorado Rapids (4-8-6)
Nine games without a win -- and there's no end in sight
1313
Real Salt Lake (1-9-6)
4 of the 5 players pictured on '07 media guide are gone

1. Jeff Larentowicz
New England Revs

2. Cuauhtémoc Blanco
Chicago Fire

3. Calen Carr
Chicago Fire
Thursday, Aug. 2
Kansas City 2, New England 2 (ESPN2) -- Wizards haven't lost in Foxborough since 1999
Saturday, Aug. 4
Chicago 1, Columbus 1 (HDNet) -- Wanchope should make his Fire debut; Rolfe still ailing
FC Dallas 2, Colorado 0 (FSC) -- Rapids are a meager 4-15-2 all-time on road vs. Dallas
Houston 1, Real Salt Lake 0 -- Wouldn't be a shock if the Dynamo came out sluggish
Sunday, Aug. 5
New England 1, D.C. 0 (TeleFutura) -- Two Ws this week and Revs put D.C. in 12-pt. hole
Los Angeles 2, Toronto FC 1 (ESPN2) -- Mo says he has been told Becks will not play

Last Week: 2-2; This season: 42-51
In case you missed it, check out the highlights from Tuesday night's 6-5 SuperLiga thriller between Los Angeles and FC Dallas. Eleven goals -- and the best goal of the night was one that didn't count (from Carlos Ruiz).

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