Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 9:
We're sure to see a lot of that now in MLS, with summer schedules tightening and rosters thinning. Week 9 taught us that some clubs are better at it than others, as a few teams missed important players but hardly missed a beat.
In Toronto, an afternoon without A-listers
Columbus was without three of its best on Thursday against New York: center back
The Red Bulls were also a little light in the lineup, most notably missing midfield linchpin
For L.A., no
Houston played without
Finally, Real Salt Lake was already missing workhorse midfielder
The weak weekend output: 13 goals in seven matches, for an average of less than two per match. Of course, that's a Saturday night shootout compared to a week earlier, when seven contests on May 15 reaped a modest nine-goal drip.
You can start with Seattle -- although the Sounders' mystery malaise clearly deserves its own sub-head. Stay tuned.
The Red Bull attack is on the skids. You can tell me about a whole bunch of shots and an 11-4 edge in corner kicks Thursday against Columbus. But I'll tell you that production matters, and that Red Bull has produced just once during a three-game losing streak. And where have you gone
Kansas City, without a win since April 10, has scored three goals during a current six-game winless streak. (On the other hand, I'd love to see a little more of
Dallas has just four goals in five matches as the
Expansion Philadelphia gets a pass. But what about poor ol' D.C. United, limping along with four goals in nine matches? Ahem. On the bright side, beleaguered goalkeeper
The frustration is building in all corners of Qwest, where Seattle seems especially tame. Sure evidence of an offensive capacity in ruins: four goals in six home matches this year. That hardly seems possible, and even the fabulous Sounders fans sound a bit muted at the moment.
The Sounders' lame launch in 2010 really is a head-scratcher, because Seattle doesn't seem like a bad team. Kasey Keller is fine in goal, that stinker against L.A. a couple weeks back not withstanding. The defense is OK, although
Seattle did create some good chances Saturday against San Jose. (FYI, I'm about ready to say San Jose is playing the best soccer in the league right now. Keep watching
One problem surely is management's inability to find Ljungberg's best spot. Last year when all was swell, this was just a debate to be hashed out over a strong Seattle coffee. Now it's a real humdinger that deserves more scrutiny. Is he a wide midfielder? A second forward? An attacking midfielder? An outright winger?
No matter where the former Swedish international lines up, he simply must keep his cool. MLS officiating can indeed be maddening. But when his team is withering away, Ljungberg simply cannot waste a drop of energy barking at the man in the middle. Saturday you could scarcely see a shot of referee
"I think we all need to look inside ourselves and ask ourselves why it takes 10-15 minutes before we start playing," Schmid said. "We have to look at ourselves as to why we spend game time to argue insistently with referees. We've got ask ourselves, if a guy hits a bad pass, why we throw up our hands and stop playing for a second? I think we need to ask ourselves why sometimes if we lose a ball, we don't react right away and make a second effort and third effort ... Just all of us, that includes staff, that includes players, we need to ask ourselves why we can't do it better?"
Joseph, freshly back from personal leave, must be the best longstanding MLS player to never win a league MVP. He probably means more to his side than any singular figure, and his appearance Saturday in Toronto made New England instantly, just-add-water better.
Joseph was hardly at his best and yet he's still far superior to anything else New England has in the middle. The passing and possession improved just like that. Having Joseph around means
And that's not even mentioning Joseph's ball-winning and leadership. Eight points through a third of the season is not where
Who has the best situation in the net ...and who needs to get better:
1. Los Angeles --
2. Kansas City --
3. Seattle -- If
4. Houston --
5. Real Salt Lake:
6. Toronto --
7. New England -- Things would be worse this year around Gillette Stadium if
8. Chivas USA --
9. Columbus --
10. San Jose --
11. Colorado --
12. Dallas -- The goalkeeping situation at Pizza Hut Park would be dire if
13. Chicago -- Young
14. Red Bull New York -- You just never know what you'll get with
15. D.C. United -- It's bad when your pricey No. 1,
16. Philadelphia -- We heard so much about