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Quickie review of Week 8 in Major League Soccer

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Low goal trend continue: Week 8 looked a lot like Week 7 in the trickle of goals. Eight of ten matches came and went with two goals or fewer. (But no scoreless draws!) Those were all 1-0 wins or 1-1 draws.

Landon Donovan rising: The league’s former poster boy isn’t done yet. Clearly. Donovan continues to work into playing shape, and his increasingly ability to help the champs along the way deserves further, closer monitoring. Donovan had a goal and an assist in the Galaxy’s meaningful, dominant 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.

That was the weekend’s most significant result. And it’s also significant because of what it means for Donovan – and potentially for the United States national team.

trangely, even though there weren’t a ton of goals, the center backs were providing their share of them. Jamison Olave recorded his second goal this year for the Red Bulls (helping to heap some of that above-mentioned misery on D.C. United. And Dallas’ George John supplied the important, late game-winner as FC Dallas took down the champs in Texas.

More penalty kick blues: This is getting to be an epidemic around MLS lately. Something in the Gatorade? Seven of the first eight PKs this year in MLS were successful. That more or less mirrors historical averages. Since then, however … yuk!

Since then, just two of eight have been successful. Over the weekend, Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando one saved off of Chivas USA’s Edgar Mejia; that was Round 8’s only spot shot.

As our guy Richard Farley told you about in piece linked above, Rimando increased his MLS penalty save rate to a remarkable 30.5 percent; opposing kickers are just 41-for-59 all-time against RSL’s veteran shot-stopper.

Coach in most trouble… : On last week’s Panic Quotient, I put three coaches ahead of D.C. United’s Ben Olsen on the ranking of coaches in trouble. That was based on a hunch that a focused bunch from United, playing at home, could get past a young Philadelphia Union squad. Well, wrong and wrong. Olsen’s team lost its third consecutive match at home. As we talked about yesterday, few MLS manager survive losing at home over any extended period.

… and trio of coaches with reprieves: We would be naïve to say that Seattle’s Sigi Schmid, Chicago’s Frank Klopas and New York’s Mike Petke are out of the woods. But they did all guide teams to Week 8 wins. So … big exhale. For now, at least.

Leading scorer, young scorer: This may not last all year, but for today Major League Soccer has a 20-year-old leading goal scorer. Jack McInerney hit Nos. 5 and 6 on the young season. (They were big goals as Philly won on the road, 3-2 at D.C. United.) The talk will now begin that young “Jack Mac” should be scooped up for Gold Cup duty

Attendance dragging: MLS attendance is down measurably from 2012, averaging just 17,508. That’s down about 7 percent from the record high of 18,807.

One reason is the attendance drag in Toronto, previously one of the more reliable, weekly sellouts in MLS. But the organization’s perennially bedraggled state has worn on fans. We saw it start last year, and Saturday’s crowd at BMO was reported at 15,973. It didn’t even look that strong – and the Reds late goal allowed in a 1-1 draw with Houston won’t help.

Weekend’s best goal: You know what makes Thierry Henry’s latest goal for New York so satisfying to watch – besides another highly technical finish from the fabulous French striker, that is? All the right choices are made as New York goes back to front in about 12 seconds. The clearance from Jamison Olave is perfect, not just “clearance” but  a well-distributed one, right to Dax McCarty. McCarty makes the right choice in moving the ball quickly along to Fabian Espindola, who does the same when he sees Jonny Steele’s aggressive movement along the left.

Steele picks out the right moment to fee Henry’s precision run behind the defense. Every choice and every touch are well-designed. Here ‘tis:

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Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.

Bilic: Cup win “will go into the history of West Ham’s greatest games”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Slaven Bilic manager of West Ham United signals during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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It’s safe to say Slaven Bilic loved West Ham United’s dramatic 2-1 win over Liverpool in Tuesday’s FA Cup fourth round replay.

Angelo Ogbonna headed home a winner in the 121st minute, and Bilic celebrated wildly before giving a postmatch briefing that can only be described as emotional.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

If you’re a supporter who wants your manager to respect the Cup competitions, you’re going to love these words from Bilic.

From the BBC:

“I can explain my feelings, and I can’t at the same time. It is great, for me a really great game of football. It was a classic FA Cup tie. It will go into the history of West Ham’s greatest games. Liverpool, last season at Upton Park, night kick-off, goal in the last minute. And we deserved it, I am very proud of the guys. They left their heart on the pitch.”

While Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said the Reds were the better team in the loss, Bilic said his side produced a match capable of beating any team in England.

He’s mostly right. There were big chances for Liverpool, but West Ham deserved a PK amongst several calls that went against them. Blackburn’s next.

West Ham United 2-1 Liverpool: Ogbonna strikes after 120 minutes

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Jordon Ibe of Liverpool takes on Pedro Mba Obiang of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Angelo Ogbonna is now an FA Cup hero.

Two sides willing to move the ball and attack produced a fine FA Cup tie on Tuesday at the Boleyn Ground, with Ogbonna heading home the match-winner in the 121st minute of play for a 2-1 win.

Michail Antonio scored a first-half goal for West Ham before Philippe Coutinho equalized for the visiting Reds.

[ WATCH: Coutinho’s cheeky free kick ties the score ]

All told, West Ham heads to Ewood Park for a fifth-round date with Blackburn Rovers. Peterborough United hosts West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday to sort out the fourth round’s other replay.

Liverpool played a more second-string set than the home side.

Brilliance met brilliance in the 38th minute, as Dimitri Payet struck a gorgeous dipping free kick over the wall only to see Mignolet get the slightest touch to help the ball crank off the goal post. Cheikhou Kouyate failed to scissor kick the rebound, and Mignolet flew back into the picture to parry Antonio’s header.

Antonio would get his glory next, as Enner Valencia took Payet’s pass and dribbled through the left side of the 18 and toward the end line before crossing the ball. Antonio let the ball sink to hip height before volleying home. 1-0, 45′.

There were three goal posts struck in the first half.

[ MORE: American takeover at Everton update

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

Coutinho scored on a clever free kick from the edge of the 18, betting on the wall jumping and cheekily rolling his shot under it and past Hammers keeper Darren Randolph.

Christian Benteke started and nearly finished a 56th minute chance inside the box, but his shot was blocked.

West Ham should’ve been awarded a penalty when Tiago Ilori pulled down Valencia in the box. Roger East didn’t see it that way.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s Courtois says FA Cup or UEFA Champions League final a must ]

The match went to extra time after eight minutes of second-half stoppage time.

Mignolet made a solid flying stop on Mark Noble in the first frame of extra time. At the other end, Benteke struck a low chance wide of the right post. Moments later, Randolph came out to thwart Benteke on a breakaway.

If anyone needed a reminder of Daniel Sturridge‘s skill, the late sub let fly with a 108th minute bullet that missed the goal by inches.

Then Lucas Leiva gave up a free kick just as two minutes of extra time stoppage began, and Ogbonna struck.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Randolph, O’Brien (Moses, 83′), Reid (Collins, 64′), Ogbonna, Cresswell, Kouyate (Carroll, 76′), Noble, Obiang, Antonio, Valencia, Payet.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Flanagan, Stewart, Tiago Ilori, Smith, Teixeira (Origi, 60′), Lucas, Chirivella (Milner, 102′), Ibe, Benteke, Coutinho (Sturridge, 60′).

WATCH: Liverpool’s Coutinho bewitches West Ham with cheeky free kick

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores from a free-kick during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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Philippe Coutinho has some gumption.

Liverpool’s Brazilian wizard tied things up with West Ham United in Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at the Boleyn Ground, and did it in style.

[ MORE: Courtois says FA Cup or Champions League final a must ]

With a free kick from just outside the 18, Coutinho thought West Ham would expect he’d hit a ball that would get up quick before dipping after the wall.

They’d jump, he figured, and he’d roll it under the wall. He was correct (video courtesy Fox Soccer):