New England Revolution v New York Red Bulls - FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

A disquieting contract kerfuffle playing out with New England defensive centerpiece Jose Goncalves

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There was so very much for New England Revolution fans to be excited about this year. Finally!

Youngsters like Kelyn Rowe and Scott Caldwell have quietly become two solid MLS starters. (Well, Rowe made some noise here and there, but Caldwell’s development really has come on the down-low.)

Right back Andrew Farrell seemed set for a nice sophomore season under manager Jay Heaps, a young manager now into his third year on the job, surely learning new ways to improve himself and the team every single day.

Lee Nguyen remains a dependable attacker, although he still needs a front-line striker to feed. And it’s all built around defensive centerpiece Jose Goncalves, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, among the top league revelations of 2013, someone coming back to police the back line at Gillette once again.

Wait! What?

Uh-oh. Seems that Goncalves isn’t quite ready to commit to a second year for the Revs. And that is some terribly disquieting news for Revolution fans.

Goncalves seems to feel less than fully loved around Gillette. The Revs say they love him dearly – while reminding us that he’s under contract. This is either a negotiating kerfuffle that will be stitched up quickly … or it’s a big ol’ mess.

A few things seem clear:

  • There is some talking out to be done between these parties.
  • This conversation will evolve into the next pressure point as MLS supporters boo-hoo the salary cap and its restrictive implications. The counterweight is, as it always has been: without a salary cap, the league probably would already have died. That’s always the larger context for these conversations, although fans hate to hear that.
  • If this is just negotiating tactic for Goncalves, it’s hard not to connect some dots here and think that Major League Soccer made a major mistake in not playing hardball with Vancouver striker Camilo, who forced a move with his recent gambit.
  • All of this is complicated by the fact that Goncalves’ was originally a loan player (from Swiss side FC Sion) who played so well that the loaner turned into a purchase.  See Kyle McCarthy’s good work via Twitter for more on that.
  • Fairly or not in this case, this will be filed in plenty of minds alongside other evidence that the Kraft family doesn’t like to spend money on its MLS team.

Oh, and there’s this: The New England Revolution is a playoff contender with Goncalves in the lineup, especially if they secure that striker. Without him … probably not.

MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-1 Los Angeles Galaxy

Robbie Keane
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Los Angeles Galaxy became the second team in the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the playoffs following a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders. A terrible mistake from Seattle defender Zach Scott led to an easy goal for Robbie Keane, and it looked like that would be the winner until deep into stoppage time. In the 93rd minute, Chad Barrett got his knee on a corner kick to save a draw for Seattle, although the point was enough for LA. The Galaxy join FC Dallas as the two Western Conference teams headed to the postseason.

[ RELATED: Who will take over as Liverpool manager? ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Robbie Keane capitalizes on Seattle’s mistake — Zach Scott misplayed a ball across the Sounders’ back line, as Robbie Keane intercepted the pass and finished one of the easiest goals he’s going to score. A true striker’s goal, Keane doesn’t miss ones like this.

64′ — Steven Gerrard denied by the woodwork — Los Angeles nearly made it 2-0 right after the hour mark, but Steven Gerrard was just inches off. Gerrard rose up to meet a corner kick from Juninho, but his header took a deflection and hit the crossbar before being cleared out of the box by Seattle.

90’+3′ — Chad Barrett finds a late, late equalizer — Just when it looked like LA was going to leave Seattle with a win, Chad Barrett stole a point for the Sounders. Marco Pappa whipped in a corner kick to the near post, which was flicked on by Brad Evans. Barrett surged into the box and got a knee on the ball as the match ended in a draw.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Steven Gerrard

Goalscorers: Keane (36′), Barrett (90’+3′)

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)