Covering what happened in Major League Soccer’s final round, Week 35 — then it’s time to turn our attention to the “Second season.”
The final round playoff clinchers
Big props to New England and Houston, which needed wins on the final day of regular season action to clinch playoff spots, and stamped “Mission Accomplished” on the thing.
Also wearing the flight jacket beneath the “Mission Accomplished” banner: the New York Red Bulls, whose comprehensive final-day win over Chicago was as meaningful as it was impressive (see the next item), and also the Portland TImbers. Portland needed a win at Chivas USA to take the Western Conference’s top spot … and Caleb Porter’s team did it with a big flourish in a 5-0 result.
Supporters Shield decided
Congratulations to the New York Red Bulls, who needed just 18 years, 13 managers and hundreds of players to finally win a major trophy. So … nailed it!
Mike Petke’s team clinched the Supporters Shield (awarded to the team with best regular season record) with that mighty win (5-2) Sunday over Chicago.
Yes, that was the team’s very first major piece of silverware. (No truth to the rumor that workers were busy all night at RBNY headquarters actually building a trophy case.)
The Golden Boot decided
With his early strike Sunday against New York, Chicago’s Mike Magee grabbed the Golden Boot — but he didn’t keep hold for long. Vancouver’s Camilo scored once before half and then twice on either side, seizing the league’s final goals leadership in high hat trick style at BC Place. (And putting a little Golden Boot bow on an otherwise humdrum season for his club.) His 22 goals trumped Magee’s total (21) and Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio’s (20).
And a potential MVP lost, too
As for Magee, his breakout season was a superb story for MLS, doing so much to rescue a season gone sideways around Toyota Park … but if may not be enough to get Magee a league MVP. Remember, only one MVP has come from a team that didn’t make the post-season (Dwayne De Rosario in 2011). And since Chicago finished sixth, one spot out of the post-season …
D.C. United’s dubious records – yuk!:
With its loss on Sunday, D.C. United sealed the statistical deal on what the eye test showed us all along: that this team was absolutely awful. Historically awful, in fact. The club set MLS all-time season records for fewest wins (just three for United this year, “beating” the old record by one) and worst goal difference (-37 this year, also setting the record by one goal). More on it here from Richard Farley.
Clint Dempsey gets one
It took him nine games, but the Sounders big summer signing (and the league’s highest wage earner) scored his debut goal for the Sounders in the league’s final regular season game. He came into the match with no goals and no assists in eight previous 2013 matches.
The goal that wasn’t — more controversy
Periodic calls for goal line technology arrive in the form of a close call along the line, between the pipes. But the one missed late Sunday in Seattle? Not. Even. Close.
Omar Gonzalez’s header off an LA Galaxy corner kick was a goal. Period. End of story. No “didn’t get a good angle” or any of that. Officials on site blew this one. More about that one here.
Weekend’s best goal
Thierry Henry has scored just three goals since July, but there can be no denying that that the Red Bulls’ fabulous Frenchman still has that “something special” about him. How else to talk about his first-half bit of awesome, chesting a ball inot the air (and away from a defender) with one touch, and then volleying splendidly into the corner with his second touch. Here it is:
And now …. the MLS Playoffs
More on the MLS playoffs later today at ProSoccerTalk
For now, here are the matchups, with the single elimination matches set for Wednesday or Thursday:
- East: Montreal Impact vs. Houston Dynamo
— Winner hosts New York Red Bulls this weekend in first leg conference semifinal
— New England hosts Sporting Kansas City this weekend in first leg conference semifinal
- West: Colorado Rapids at Seattle Sounders
— Winner hosts Portland Timbers this weekend in first leg conference semifinal
— Real Salt Lake hosts LA Galaxy this weekend in first leg conference semifinal
The playoff schedule ahead:
Conference elimination matches (4th place vs. 5th place), Wednesday and Thursday
Conference Semifinals, Leg 1: Nov. 2-3 (Sat.-Sun.)
Conference Semifinals, Leg 2: Nov. 6-7 (Wed.-Thurs.)
Conference Finals, Leg 1: Nov. 9-10 (Sat.-Sun.)
Conference Finals, Leg 2: Nov. 23-24 (Sat.-Sun.)
MLS Cup: Dec. 7 (Sat.)