Victor Bernardez

San Jose Earthquakes 0-0 FC Dallas: Red cards go back and forth in draw

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One game in 100 words: Much like the Colorado Rapids-Real Salt Lake 0-0 draw that occurred earlier in the day, both sides in this game had their fair share of shots (10 each) but had trouble getting their scoring prospects between the pipes. The real story here was the amount of red cards given out; there were three—one to Mark Sherrod, the second to Je-Vaughn Watson and the third to J.J. Koval in the 88th minute. By definition of what referees look for in a red, all of them made sense, though Sherrod’s seemed like a mistimed hop-and-land. FC Dallas remains in the top six. San Jose stays outside of the Western Conference’s playoff contention in eighth place.

 

Three moments that mattered

20’ — Bingham the stonewall— Michael Barrios broke free down the left wing and approached the net looking to fire one home. He nearly did just that, cutting inside the box past Quakes defender Victor Bernardez, but goalkeeper David Bingham was quick on his feet for the save. It wasn’t a very steep angle taken by Bingham to parry away the seething right footer; rather, he relied on sheer reflex as he had plain vision of the strike.

53’ — First red — San Jose midfielder Cordell Cato ran up the left wing and sent in a standard cross when he approached the end line. Forward Mark Sherrod was covered well by FC Dallas defenders, and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy fell on his side to swallow up the attempted assist. After the play, though, Sherrod kept moving, jumped in the air and his right foot smashed Kennedy in the head.

75’— Second red — Je-Vaughn Watson should have approached this tackle more cautiously, no doubt, although you could argue he did so competitively, not out of malicious intent. Cato slid into the loose ball that Watson was chasing and the Dallas defender hoped to chip the ball over him; instead, the Earthquakes man beat him to the ball and was hit “studs up” with Watson’s foot. An automatic red card. Now both teams were down to 10 men.

 

Lineups

San Jose: Mark Sherrod; David Bingham; Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson, Jordan Stewart; Fatai Alashe, Cordell Cato (J.J. Koval 82′), Chris Wondolowski; Matias Perez Garcia (Adam Jahn 59′), Shea Salinas (Shaun Francis 89′)

Dallas: Tesho Akindele, David Texeira; Dan Kennedy; Atiba Harris, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Hedges (Moises Hernandez 80′), Je-Vaughn Watson; Michel (Fabian Castillo 60′), Victor Ulloa, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios (Ryan Hollingshead 75′)

 

Crimes and Misdemeanors: Víctor Bernárdez suspended after stepping on David Texeira (twice)

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Major League Soccer described this “misconduct.” Others might call it dangerous. Inadvertent is also a reasonable possibility, but no matter how sympathetic you want to be to Víctor Bernárdez, the San Jose defender still stepped on an opponent twice on Saturday.

As a result, the Honduran’s last game before leaving for the World Cup will see him ineligible, with the MLS’s Disciplinary Committee handing Bernárdez a one-match suspension on Thursday. San Jose head coach Mark Watson will have to replace both Bernárdez and U.S. international Clarence Goodson this weekend at Seattle.

The foul came in the 62nd minute of the Earthquakes’ 2-1 win, with Bernárdez’s initial contact coming as his studs ran down David Texeira’s calf. After the Uruguayan went to ground, Bernárdez’s attempt to leap over the fallen attacker ended with a boot in the thigh. Chris Penso gave the former Defender of the Year a pass. The Disciplinary Committee did not.

I’m of two minds on this one. We hear “Studs up! Studs up!” so often that we think every time you see the bottom of a boot somebody should be tossed. Each foul is different, though. Some are more dangerous than others.

Was Bernárdez’s foul especially dangerous? No, but if MLS wants to be a  league that says, “dangerous or not, you’re expected to avoid these situations,” I’m all for it. Perhaps that’s a bar that’s higher than we’ve seen in the past, but there is no real downside to forcing players to be more conscious of each others’ safety.

Then again, maybe Major League Soccer thought Bernárdez could have done more to avoid this; hence, “misconduct.”

This week’s MLS5: Our early look at the Defender of the Year award

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As we continue our weekly (at least) update on Major League Soccer’s still long off postseason awards, the Defensive Player of the Year discussion promises to be the murkiest. We’re just not used to talking about defenders like this. They don’t score much, don’t snare many Player of the Week honors, so there’s little to distinguish them in the discourse on a week-to-week basis.

Come All-Star time, people think about it, pick their mid-season best, then put the defender discussion on the shelf until award season. Whereas MVP talk is almost constant and things like goals and assist subtly inform other debates, Defender of the Year doesn’t get tracked. At the end of the year come get together, debate a little, then cast votes for players who we feel have been the best, usually without diving into their week-to-week performances.

There’s already an early example of this process: FC Dallas’s Matt Hedges. The guy looks great, so much so that he’s started being mentioned as an emerging talent – a potential U.S. defender next World Cup cycle. By the end of the season, he could very well earn a place in this discussion. But if you go game-by-game, scoring opportunity by scoring opportunity, the Dallas defender has been involved in a lot of meaningful goals this season: Chivas USA’s Erick Torres beating him to the near post; Clint Dempsey drawing him out during Seattle’s visit; being the closest man on Aurélien Collin’s goal in Kansas City; his own goal against Portland. Those are a lot of question marks for a player who’s 2014 is starting to generate some buzz.

The process also helps a player like Matt Besler, who has been far less mistake prone. He also has not had that many stand-out performances. If we only talk about Defender of the Year twice a year, it’s easy to recall our general image of Matt Besler and say, “Yeah, he’s been good.” But if you’re tracking it week-to-week or month-to-month, you notice he isn’t part of many Teams of the Week hasn’t had the kind of stand-out performances we’ve seen occasionally from Michael Parkhurst or Chad Marshall. The award should be who performed the best of the season, not who you would pick if you were starting a team tomorrow.

So Besler isn’t on the list, this time. Nor is Matt Hedges, but don’t be surprised of both make their way onto this countdown over the next couple of months. At this point in the season, only a couple of performances separate number one from the also rans.

For now, here’s this week’s MLS5 – Defensive Player of the Year:

source: AP

5. Víctor Bernárdez, San Jose Earthquakes – Bernández’s defending got off to a shaky start with some errors in the Earthquakes’ 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake, mistakes he made up for with two goals, an assist, and our Player of the Week honor. Since, Bernárdez has been very good at the back, and while he may not be rating out quite as high as his partner, Clarence Goodson, on a game-by-game basis, he’s been healthy all year. Goodson missed the first part of the season.

source:  AP

4. Drew Moor, Colorado Rapids – The veteran defender has been overlooked since moving to Colorado in 2009, his play usually more solid than spectacular. But this year, having to work with two different partners in the middle (and two different keepers behind him), that solidity has been particularly valuable, with Colorado allowing only five goals in its first six games. The Rapids were exploited on Saturday, allowing four in Seattle, but even while his team was blown out, we saw glimpses of Moor’s value. He’s the only player in Colorado’s back five to start every game in the same spot, and only restored partner Shane O’Neill has joined him in every starting XI.

source: AP

3. Chad Marshall, Seattle Sounders – Picking up on a theme mentioned in Moor’s blurb, Marshall was overlooked last season because he wasn’t in a prominent, adored market, and while he has been slightly better this season, this is the player Sigi Schmid expected when Seattle acquired him this offseason. Particularly in Seattle’s visit to Montréal, the former Defensive Player of the Year has proven occasionally dominant. The few mistakes he’s made have been shared with his teammates, not function of his failings alone. Without Marshall, Seattle’s defense would be in big trouble.

source: AP

2. Michael Parkhurst, Columbus Crew – Parkhurst has been a perfect fit for Gregg Berhalter’s approach, having already given the team two extremely good performances (particularly the hour in Seattle before Djimi Traoré’s sending off). The partnership between him and  Giancarlo Gonzalez has come together immediately, but whereas Costa Rican’s low points are more frequent and dramatic, Parkhurst’s relative slips only serve to highlight the former Defensive Player of the Year’s steadiness. If Columbus was going to give up Chad Marshall, they needed to get somebody like Parkhurst.

source: AP

1. Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake – It’s been difficult for Borchers to distinguish himself from partner Chris Schuler, but the young U.S. hopeful may be pushing his veteran partner to slightly higher levels. Perhaps Borchers has also freed up to be more aggressive, because the number of big clearances, tackles, and aerial challenges the RSL stalwart is winning is taking him from appreciated veteran to Best XI contender (again). As Schuler puts his early season injuries further in the past, he’ll join his partner at the top of this list, but helping his team to a 1.00 goals against average through eight games, Borchers has our top spot. For now.

Others considered: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City); Carlos Bocanegra (Chivas USA); Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes); David Horst (Houston Dynamo); Jámison Olave (New York Red Bulls); Chris Schuler (Real Salt Lake)

ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Player of the Week: Víctor Bernárdez

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Defenders just can’t give up chances. Over the course of 90 minutes, great attacker are going to generate enough opportunities on their own. Teams can’t afford to have individual mistakes make it easier for the opposition.

That’s why those errors get judged harshly in PST’s weekly awards. When DeAndre Yedlin gets caught on the ball in the first half against Sporting Kansas City, a mistake that lead to a chance within seconds, it’s was enough to knock him to honorable mentions in our first Team of the Week.  As strong as Yedlin was in week one, if you had a whole back line making similar errors, you’d give him far more good chances than similar defenses. Mistakes tend to outweigh the series of smaller contributions defenders make throughout matches.

That’s what made this week’s Player of the Week honor so difficult. San Jose’s Víctor Bernárdez was certainly the weekend’s big hero, scoring twice in Saturday’s final 30 minutes to help pull the Earthquakes even with the league’s best team (spoiler alert), but he also played a part in two big Real Salt Lake chances. When Joao Plata’s feint bought the RSL forward extra time ahead of his team’s second goal, it was Bernárdez’s lack of effort to get back in position that allowed the Ecuadorian to exploit the space closer to the spot. And in the second half, Álvaro Saborío beat the Honduran badly on a ball that ended up off the base of Jon Busch’s post.

At the other end of the field, however, Bernárdez more than made up for those mistakes. The 2012 Defender of the Year assisted on Chris Wondolowski’s sixth minute opener. In the 75th minute. his headed finish off a set piece pulled San Jose within one, while his 95th minute winner through a desperate RSL defense earned the Earthquakes a 3-3 draw.

All of which still makes his choice as Player of the Week a skeptical one. Jermaine Defoe had two goals in Seattle, but he also was allowed to click it into cruise control for 67 minutes. Seattle’s part in his brace meant his level of difficulty was low. Maurice Edu and Michael Bradley had strong days in their respective midfields, while Bernárdez teammate Shea Salinas may have been the best player on the field at Buck Shaw on Saturday. Consider the San Jose winger a close second this week. (Even as I type this, I want to give Salinas the award.)

Ultimately, we couldn’t ignore Bernárdez. It’s not just that he scored goals. They were big goals, scored against the best team in the league – a team that’s going to make other defenders look back this season. In a week were there was no clear Player of the Week winner, Bernárdez Goonie-ism serves as the tiebreaker.

This season’s Player of the Week winners:

  PST Award MLS Award
Week 1 Will Bruin, Houston Dynamo
2g, 1a vs. New England
Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
8 saves, PK save at LA
Week 2 Victor Bernardez, San Jose Earthquakes
2g, 1a vs. Real Salt Lake
Jermain Defoe, Toronto FC
2 goals at Seattle

FC Dallas vs. San Jose had it all: Four goals, three red cards, a comeback and questionable officiating

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Two old foes in Major League Soccer’s Western conference when head-to-head on Saturday. Man, it got ugly in the final 10 minutes.

FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes played out a hugely entertaining game in front of nearly 15,000 in Frisco, Texas.

San Jose raced into a two goal lead after 15 minutes, but Dallas came fighting back to tie the game at 2-2 and snatch a point. However the decisive 69th minute penalty given for a supposed fall by Bernardez on Blas Perez was laughable and the San Jose bench have every right to feel adjudged as Michel stepped up to seal a point for FCD.

But then the game broke out into a prolonged scuffle for the final period, as San Jose had Justin Morrow and Bernardez sent off and Dallas striker Kenny Cooper uncharacteristically lost the plot. Plenty of MLS fans are pointing towards referee Baldomero Toledo for losing his cool and brandishing red cards willy-nilly. They’ve got a point.

Let’s use video to break down the three red cards in the games final ten minutes, watch the highlights here as Morrow is sent off.

Firstly, this can only be described as a cynical foul by Justin Morrow in the 81st minute. Ramon Nunez is fast, we all know that. But Morrow was caught napping and this was all he could do to try and stop the speedy Honduran winger. This scything tackle deserved a red.

Then watch here as Bernardez clipped Cooper and the big American striker had just about enough of San Jose’s physical tactics for one game. Watch on in disbelief as Cooper pushes Bernardez to the ground in the 86th minute, pins him down and tells him exactly what he thinks. A moment of madness that somehow saw both men sent off. Surely a yellow card for both would have been the correct decision?

That’s just my view. Watch it all again below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhEda6ghYdM&w=590&h=320]