Week 4: When Everybody Is On Vacation But You

Week four’s fixture list was a wee bit abridged this week, as most teams elected to take the week off in light of the season’s first international break.  That means that this week’s recap is going to be a lot shorter than usual, but hey, anything that gives me more time to work on my Cyle Larin vs Batman vs Superman vs Andy Rose fan fiction is serendipitous in my book.  I’m just putting the finishing touches on the chapter where Cyle Larin and Superman play Batman and Andy Rose in co-op seasons on FIFA and the stakes could not possibly be higher.  Does Batman stand up, throw his controller in rage and scream “HOW IS THAT NOT A FOUL” in that low curdling growl?  Well, you’re just going to have to buy the book when it comes out.  Random House is interested.

Ok, let’s get started.

The weekend kicked off on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium (aka the house that Ruth built in such a way that the camera angle is always incredibly low).  NYCFC took an early lead after an interesting passage of play involving Iraola doing a little shimmy, Tony Taylor doing a little slip and flick, David Villa smashing his shot of the cross bar, and an ever industrious Tommy McNamara bulldozing it into the back of the net.  It was a great start for NYCFC who once again managed to take an early lead.  But alas, as surely as the sun rises in the east, a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme, NYC concedes.  This is one of the dumbest goals you’re likely to see this year.  I mean just look at this:

I know this isn’t really anybody’s fault.  There’s nothing Saunders can do with that deflection.  Mendoza had no reason to expect Tierney to take such an awfully shaped free kick from that position and couldn’t be expected to get out of the way, and if you’re Chris Tierney all you can do is shrug and half-heartedly celebrate. This would be the last goal of the afternoon.  Gershon Koffie was sent off in the second half after a dangerous challenge on Tommy McNamara, but NYCFC has never done well with a man advantage, especially at home on their tiny field, and the match finished in a 1-1 draw.

DC United.  Goodness DC United, just what in the world are we supposed to do with a team such as yours? This wasn’t just an awful performance. This was not a result of merely being outclassed. This was slapstick. This was vaudeville.  This was 1950s screwball comedy. Michael Barrioscapitalized on defending errors twice in the first half hour to make the remaining 60 minutes more or less a formality, but that didn’t stop this match from getting exciting for all of the wrong reasons. Let’s analyze this passage of play:

62nd: Patrick Nyarko manages to cut, spin, and juke his way past several Dallas defenders and is cut down in the box for what appears to be a stone cold penalty. No call is made.

63rd:  Still reeling from the penalty decision, the howls of the DC Supporters can still be heard, but they manage to create another great scoring opportunity after some chaotic defending from Dallas. Fabian  Espindola lays a short ball off to an onrushing Lamar Neagle who has 96% of the goal at his mercy, but his low, crudely shaped shot is well saved by the foot of Chris Seitz.

64th:  The ensuing Corner Kick is well defended and Dallas break with a 4 on 1 opportunity. Maxi Urruti opts to stop, and from 20 yards out he strikes a ball at approximately 6 miles per hour towards DC’s goal. It somehow improbably manages to beat Worra and bounce once before striking the far post.  At this point in the DC broadcast you can hear one man laughing loudly, but it is a sad laugh.  A laugh intended to stave off tears.

64th minute: Now DC is on the attack.  Some clever interplay between Nyarko, Nick DeLeon, and, Sean Franklin result in Franklin finding some space.  Franklin manages to slip by his defender, but then decides that he’s not going to catch up to his wild touch and flings himself to the ground a full half second after any alleged contact would have been made. The ref points to the spot, and it’s fine, because this is a makeup call and Dallas are up by three.

65th minute:  Fabian Espindola’s penalty is saved.  It is saved because it was an awfully taken penalty.  It has no power, it is placed maybe a foot to the right of Chris Seitz.  It is easily saved.  The laughter has stopped.  Now it is not funny. It is just very sad again.

65th minute:  After saving and holding the penalty attempt, Seitz throws the ball out right towards Barrios who wants to break.  Marcelo Sarvas wants to break up the counter attack and does so by smashing Barrios in the face with his elbow.  He is given a straight red card.  The crowd boos.  But the boos are half-hearted. What has happened is only surprising because of how quickly it happened.  Usually DC manages to stretch these face-palm like moments throughout the course of ninety minutes.

Dallas won 3-0.

DC have more points than Seattle.

The third and final match of the week was north of the border in Vancouver. The Whitecaps have certainly been, ahem, “ put on the spot” a lot lately, and this worrying trend continued against the Dynamo. Jalil Alibaba was adjudged to have brought Masato Kudo in the box, and while there was some minor contact, replays revealed that maybe, just maybe, Kudo went down a bit demonstratively.  Now, I’m not calling the Vancouver Whitecaps a bunch of opportunistic diving cheaters, but I also didn’t edit out that sentence did I? I kid, but this WAS Vancouver’s third penalty kick in their last two matches, and their 4th on the season. Pedro Morales has made all four of his attempts and is currently the leading scorer in Major League Soccer exclusively on spot kicks.  Conventional wisdom says that things will even out in the end and Vancouver will suffer later for their amazing ref karma at the beginning of the season, but we’ll have to be patient for now.

Houston had opportunities to score with Leonel Miranda and Ricardo Clark both hitting the post, but the Dynamo’s feast or famine offense went hungry on the evening leaving many to wonder just which Houston Dynamo is going to show up on any given match day.

The match ended 1-0 Vancouver.

Ok, well that ended up being a bit longer than I thought, but a lot happened despite the lack of actual matches.  We’ll be back next week with a full load.