2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy

The moment that turned MLS Cup 2012

Leave a comment

CARSON, Calif. – You could feel it coming in the moments after the kickoff. LA Galaxy had just scored their 60th minute equalizer, and with the energy from an ignited Angel City Brigade at their back, the defending MLS champions poured through Houston’s formation after the scream of Silviu Petrescu’s whistle.

A ball played left, Beckham closed. Tapped forward, there’s Juninho and Omar Gonzalez. It happened in second. Swarming, piercing through Houston’s attack, LA mobbed the Dynamo, winning back possession moments after the rulebook charitably gave it away. There was no way Houston was keeping the ball.

MORE: What we learned from LA’s Sunday victory

For four minutes the Galaxy pushed their opponent to within a standing eight count, their pressure rewarded when Houston conceded a foul 30-yards from goal.

It’s was the edge of David Beckham territory – the area in which the set piece legend had made his career. On a night that was the Galaxy superstar’s Major League Soccer farewell, his storybook’s latest chapter would have gotten a fairytale ending had another long distance shot spun inside the opposition’s goal.

Instead, Beckham demurred, chipping to the edge of the six. There, Omar Gonzalez had an unchecked run toward Tally Hall.

The resulting chaos turned the match for good:

Throughout the night Tally Hall had been slow off his line, one of the few faults in the skillset of one of the league’s emerging talents. On Beckham’s restart, that hesitation cost him, though not as much as his defense forgetting to pick up LA’s most dangerous aerial threat cost their team on the scoreboard.

Bobby Boswell had been marking Gonzalez throughout the night, but in the chaos that followed the foul, the Dynamo center half failed to pick up his man. The mistake was understandable. At the end of an anarchic four minutes that left Houston begging for a reprieve, the dead ball seemed a moment to collect themselves. Surely Beckham would have his crack on goal, so all the team needed to do is erect Hall’s wall and be prepared.

Beckham defied them, and Gonzalez did his job, his header forcing Clark to try a desperation flick clearance. The ball was popped up to Tommy Meyer in the middle of the area, with his header put toward goal by an overhead kick from Mike Magee. Clark made another block, the ball dropping for Robbie Keane as Petrescu blew his whistle, pointing to the spot.

MORE: On Omar Gonzalez’s dominant night in Carson.

The moment Magee’s shot makes contact with Clark’s arm, Los Angeles is en route to their title. Donovan almost assuredly will make his kick, and without the lead, momentum, or any solutions for Gonzalez at in defense, Houston are long shots to derail the Galaxy’s title defense.

What if Beckham takes the kick and puts it out of play? Houston has their reprieve. If Hall catches the cross? Or Petrescu swallows his whistle on the handball? Houston likely survives the Galaxy’s rush in the same way LA weathered the Dynamo’s opening match surge.

But they didn’t, leaving that one, turbulent sequence to give the Galaxy the final push they needed.

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
1 Comment

Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

Follow @NicholasMendola

Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

meninblazers
twitter.com/MenInBlazers
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]

Follow @NicholasMendola

Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Leave a comment

On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

Follow @NicholasMendola