The MLS XI, Week 12: Golazos galore, Almiron stars, FC Dallas finally falls

Miguel Almiron's hat trick paced Atlanta United, and he was joined by a number of goal-scoring stars to headline the action in MLS Week 12.
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The league has seen some high-scoring weeks recently, but nothing this season matches what we saw in Week 12. The weekend featured 29 goals scored across the league’s 11 games, but the real story wasn’t just quantity–it was quality, some of which carried with it large significance.

Of course, there were some real bonehead moments, too, and we’ll cover it all on this week’s edition of the MLS XI. 

Let’s get to it: 

I: Good luck choosing a goal of the week

It’s hard to remember the last time the league had so many high-quality strikes in a single slate of games. No matter what your flavor, chances are there was an MLS goal for you in Week 12. 

There were flicks: 

This nifty one from Jahmir Hykka sent FC Dallas to its first loss of the season, meaning all teams in the league have now been beaten at least once. Not a bad way to break down that barrier: 

Giovani Dos Santos seems specialize in loopy, flicked goals, and he added another superb one to his collection in the LA Galaxy’s 2–1 win at Minnesota United: 

This one really deserves a slow-motion look: 

There were rockets: 

Ola Kamara shocked just about everyone at Gillette Stadium with this stupendous strike on the volley (though Columbus would lose 2–1 thanks to a Diego Fagundez double): 

Caleb Calvert had a very interesting match for the Colorado Rapids, and it started with this brilliant strike from outside the box that left Andre Blake bamboozled (more on the less-good part of Calvert’s day later) 

There were volleys: 

Cristian Techera is one of Vancouver’s most exciting players, and he showed a glimpse of why when he finished off this beautiful sequence in the Whitecaps’ 2–0 win over Sporting Kansas City: 

This goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips isn’t just extremely good–it also doubles as a discussion point. Was this a bicycle kick...or something else?

Regardless, it opened the scoring in the Red Bulls’ 1–1 draw vs. Toronto. 

There was David Villa: 

NYCFC won 3–0 at Orlando on Sunday, an impressive result that was capped off by this bit of brilliance from Villa. It’s not just the finish, either–check out the way he slips the initial ball into Maxi Moralez, continues his run, and finds a way to take everyone out of the picture before slotting the ball home: 

There was Carlos Rivas (O.K. not quite...):

That’s seven worthy candidates for goal of the week, and we haven’t even gotten to...

II: Miguel Almiron, take a bow

Atlanta United hasn’t been showing its best form in recent weeks, but the club broke out of that slump in a big way on Sunday with a 4–1 win over the Houston Dynamo. At the center of it all, naturally, was Miguel Almiron, who scored the first goal of a hat trick with this world-class strike after a world-class first touch: 

Then followed that up with a bit of magic, weaving (or hopping) through defenders to score his second: 

He finished his hat trick with a PK, but we won’t show that to you because we have already justifiably saturated this column with goals. Some other stuff happened in the league too, y’know. 

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III: Things get heated in Red Bulls-Toronto

With the score tied at 1–1 on Friday, Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles made a fine save on a Jozy Altidore penalty kick. The save is nice to watch, but look at what Robles does right afterward:

It’s hard to say for certain, but it sure looked like Robles was gesturing in the direction of Altidore there. Far from the worst thing in the world, but something a teammate of Altidore’s might take exception to. 

With that in mind, check out how Toronto’s Victor Vazquez reacts to Tosaint Ricketts’ supposed match-winner: 

All that fuss...about zero goals! Ricketts’ was called back for offside, a call that the linesman looks to have gotten very wrong in retrospect. 

IV: An excellent national anthem

The start of Atlanta United’s win over Houston was delayed a bit due to lightning in the area, and when it was finally time to play technical difficulties prevented the national anthem singer from being heard. 

Atlanta United fans took it from there. 

Free idea: Have the fans do the national anthem every game from now on. 

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V: Caleb Calvert’s silly red card

Remember that excellent goal from Calvert above? Well, things got a whole lot worse for him after that. The Rapids striker was sent off under bizarre circumstances against Philadelphia, receiving his first yellow card for dissent after falling to the ground and not getting a foul call. 

Then, against the wishes of the assistant referee, Calvert ran right back on to the field after meeting briefly with Colorado’s athletic trainer. That’s a no-no–referees always need to approve players re-entering the field, and they usually only let them do so from the sideline. That’s a heck of a way to get your second yellow card in under a minute: 

VI: Diego Chara’s silly red card

To set the scene, this clip should give you an idea of the mood early in the first half of the Timbers' visit to Montreal: 

Just a couple minutes later, and in basically the same place, Diego Chara delivered a hand to the face of Ignacio Piatti away from the play–clearly borne of frustration: 

Of all the silly red cards I’ve seen...that’s certainly one of them.  

VII: Tifo of the week

Montreal is in the middle of celebrating its 375th anniversary as a city, and Impact supporters put together a nice, historically-themed tifo to celebrate the occasion. Each two-pole banner represented a notable location or famous character from the city’s rich history:

VIII: Schweini skill

Bastian Schweinsteiger’s acquisition has been playing dividends all over the field for the Chicago Fire, but as good as he is, the club probably wasn’t expecting dribble moves like this when it got him. 

Nemanja Nikolic should be prosecuted for missing that chance. 

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IX: Nick Rimando can still save PKs

And unfortunately it’s just about the only thing going RSL’s way at the moment. 

That save wasn’t enough to give RSL the win vs. Seattle (it lost 1–0), but Rimando does have a league-record 22 PK saves to his name now, in addition to a few other landmarks.

X: Two unrelated but funny celebrations 

When you can’t do “The Worm” but want to celebrate by impersonating one anyway: 

When your friend is supportive but not quite as into the celebration as you are: 

XI: Gyasi the graduate 

It’s graduation time around the nation, including for one of MLS’s brightest homegrown stars: 

That’s right, Gyasi Zardes graduated from college on the same spot where he won MLS Cup. He’s had a pretty decent time there, huh? 

Congratulations to Zardes, and to all the grads out there.