The MLS XI, Week 23: Dempsey, Meram Set Milestones; StubHub Center's New Tenant

StubHub Center's change into a football venue, a fantastic goal from David Villa, and monumental strikes from Clint Dempsey and Justin Meram highlighted the Week 23 action in MLS.
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Times are changing in the 2017 MLS season. VAR is now in full effect, The European seasons have started. Teams that were once all but buried (like Real Salt Lake) are all of a sudden in the thick of the playoff race. It's no wonder that with all these changes afoot, some highlight plays and major milestones should happen as the league goes about its business for the 23rd week. 

Let's run down 11 of the better moments from the weekend: 

​I: That's a whole lot of rain

Washington, D.C., was bombarded with plenty of rain over the weekend, and unfortunately for MLS a whole lot of it just so happened to strike right as D.C. United at Real Salt Lake were playing at RFK Stadium. The teams lasted just 28 minutes before going inside for a rain delay that became a rain postponement. Given the venerable venue's age, the storm seemed to effect just about every aspect of the experience. 

From the field... the player entrance.

Even the concourse wasn't safe! 

The game was eventually suspended and resumed on Sunday, where Real Salt Lake ran out 1–0 winners of a goal from former D.C. United midfielder Luis Silva. The fantastic volley was worth the wait, at least from the RSL point of view. 

II: This is a great duo of goals

Not that it'll make the LA Galaxy feel any better, but their 2–0 loss at home to NYCFC came via two of the prettiest strikes you'll see in MLS all year. The opener came from highly-touted rookie Jonathan Lewis: 

And the second came from serial good goal artist David Villa, who almost looks like he's trying to mimic Lewis' strike with this beauty: 

III: This is so weird

It will never not be tremendously strange to see an NFL team look a little awkward and out of place at an MLS team's stadium. In the history of the league, it's only ever been the opposite. 

IV: VAR strikes again

VAR is still new enough in MLS that the occasions where it is used for big decisions is still notable enough to merit its own item in this column. This week, we saw Kaka get a red card in the dying moments against the New York Red Bulls. By the letter of the law, it's probably the right call. 

But look at the face of Kaka. Look at the face of Aurelien Collin, his former Orlando teammate. This is clearly not a red card offense. The VAR got this one right, but also very, very wrong. 

Elsewhere, Dallas and Colorado finished scoreless, but it nearly didn't end that way. Maximiliano Urriti's goal was ruled out (correctly) by the VAR because of a foul from Atiba Harris that began the attacking phase of play that led to the goal.

That has to be frustrating for Dallas, which has now been on the unfavorable end of VAR decisions for both of the two weeks it has been active in the league. 

V: Dempsey 50

Clint Dempsey scored his 50th goal for the Sounders in Seattle's 1–0 win over Sporting KC, and the Sounders made a very nice (and very long) video tribute to Deuce's time in the Northwest. If you want to become a connoisseur of Dempsey goals, here's a good place to start.

VI: Meram 1,000

This goal may just be the latest in a career year for Justin Meram, but it goes a bit deeper than that. This is also the 1,000th goal in the history of the Columbus Crew. Not a half-bad one, either! 

The club is the fifth in MLS to reach that milestone. 

VII: What's in a name?  

Defender Drew Moor was given Saturday off for Toronto FC as his wife was expected to give birth to the couples' second child. But that doesn't mean he lost sight of his team's game against the Portland Timbers: 

As it turned out, Victor Vazquez netted the winner in what would become a dominant 4–1 win for TFC, but defender Justin Morrow scoring a brace in that game clearly also vaulted him into baby-naming consideration:

Congratulations to the Moors!

VIII: Brothers

Sean Davis scored one heck of a goal in the New York Red Bulls' 3–1 win over Orlando City: 

But even better than that might be the post-game interview he gave to his brother, in which he compliments their mom's pregame meal and the unconditional love and support from their dog, before being dragged away to take a picture.

Also, here's that picture: 

I think it's safe to say the Red Bulls are having a good time. 

IX: Tifos of the Week

Belonging to a supporters' group is about much more than banging drums, signing, clapping your hands, and occasional pyrotechnics. It is also often times about being part of a family, and two tifos unveiled this week show how deep that connection runs. Both Philadelphia and New York Red Bulls supporters lost diehards this week, and both honored their memory in front of many many thousands.

Before a 3–0 loss to the Montreal Impact, the Union's Sons of Ben were remembering former president Kenny Hanson, who passed away unexpectedly after an accident: 

While the Red Bulls were mourning the loss of longtime supporter Glenn Stamp: 

X: Right off the goal kick

Teal Bunbury scored off thanks to a nice left-footed volley, but what's most striking about this goal might be the fact that it comes right off a goal kick. No Vancouver player touches the ball after goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic kicks it, which doesn't say a whole lot about either Marinovic's kick of the Whitecaps' setup for it. 

That was the only goal of the game in a 1–0 win for the Revs. 

XI: Vicente Sanchez is 37

And he just barely pulled off the front-flip goal celebration: 

Sanchez can be forgiven for his recklessness; that was his first goal for Houston, and it was part of a 3–0 win for the Dynamo over San Jose.