Darren Mattocks, Nigel Reo-Coker, Russell Teibert, Jun Marques Davidson

Quick review of a busy Round 11 in Major League Soccer


Busy, busy week: The usual MLS week comes and goes with 8-10 matches. But Round 11 was a lulu, with 15 matches. We’ll need to put in for overtime trying to sort out that Team of the Week.

Weirdest incident: Mario de Luna pushing a ball boy? Yep … that’s got to be it. And by the way, there seems to be some social media sentiment about it being a “little shove” or how the Chivas USA defender “barely touched the kid” or whatever. That’s a bunch of hooey. Professional athletes can never put their hands in an aggressive manner on any staff member, official or, most certainly, a kid.

Best win:We’re going to have to call this one a draw. Because Seattle’s 4-0 thumping of San Jose was a grand day around CenturyLink Field, where things are bright and right again after that disastrous opening month. But Sporting Kansas City did something no team has done in almost two years: invade Houston and walk away with all the points. SKC’s 1-0 win snapped the league’s longest home unbeaten streak over all 18 years; the Dynamo had gone 36 matches across all competitions without a loss in South Texas.

Most significant breakthrough: Vancouver checked a couple of big boxes with its well-earned 3-1 win over the two-time defending MLS champion Galaxy. First, this was the Whitecaps’ first win since March 9. Two months is a long, long time to go without lifting a celebratory pint. And it was the club’s first win ever over the Galaxy; the ‘Caps were winless in seven previously against Bruce Arena’s club.

Best goal: You can’t top a bicycle kick game-winner. Thierry Henry put a real flourish on his game winner over Montreal. Watch it from all angles at the bottom of this post. As Red Bulls analyst Shep Messing said, “That is a thing of beauty.”

Best week for a club: Sorry, you members of the Timbers Army, but we’ve got to go with Seattle on this one.

Yes, the Timbers had a fantastic week, walking out of FC Dallas Stadium with a draw (and perhaps deserving more against the league leaders) and then clobbering Chivas USA at home. But Sigi Schmid’s Sounders did one better, winning at Sporting Kansas City and then doing some clobbering of their own in a 4-0 win over San Jose.

Lots of character, apparently: Everyone seems to be beating the drum for “character.” Montreal Impact manager Marco Schallibaum referenced it after his team rebounded from a midweek setback, rallying from a goal-down late Saturday to nick Real Salt Lake at Stade Saputo.

And in Texas, manager Schellas Hyndman talked about his team’s character in a 2-1 win over D.C. United. His team was missing five starters, including its top two men, center back George John and former league MVP playmaker David Ferreira.

Dismissal watch: Unfortunately, the league’s youngest manager remains on the hottest of managerial hot seats. This was a very bad week for Ben Olsen at D.C. United. That loss in Dallas won’t have anyone too upset. But being the seventh loss in a row (a club record) multiplies the misery, especially coming of a 4-0 loss at home three nights earlier.

Here’s Henry’s magnificent goal, as promised:


Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.