1) What was Sigi Thinking?!
Early in the first half Diego Chara chopped Clint Dempsey down, sending the league’s most valuable player crashing to the hard artificial turf at Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field.
The clear yellow card offense was termed just a foul, another incidence of the league failing to protect their most valuable assets. But then, if Dempsey’s own coach won’t protect him, why should the referee?
Dempsey’s reintroduction into MLS has been tough. A hamstring injury has been the main culprit, limiting Deuce’s playing time, and with Seattle in a tailspin and missing Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins, Schmid’s reluctance to remove Dempsey is understandable.
But, come on! Dempsey could not raise his left arm. Every bump or fall, however insignificant, was cause for alarm. Dempsey tiptoed around the fringes of the game, gingerly trying to make an impact.
Schmid’s decision to leave the highest salaried (salary was just a part of the package for David Beckham) player in MLS history in the danger zone into the 77th minute was reckless and foolish on the part of Seattle’s coach. Time will tell just how costly Schmid’s (in)decision was.
2) You Can’t Elbow a Guy in the Face.
Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was shown a straight red in the 74th minute for an elbow to the face of Portland’s Will Johnson. It wasn’t the hardest elbow in the face, but it was still an elbow in the face. And an elbow in the face earns said elbower a straight red card, pretty much every time.
Afterward Schmid was giving off that Johnson embellished the situation. True, Johnson fell to his knees after the moderate elbow to the face. But, and say it with me now, “it was an elbow to the face.” And I wonder has Schmid has ever seen a game from Europe or South America. Johnson’s reaction was absolutely restrained in comparison to what could be expected from a player in any of the bigger leagues. He didn’t fall flat on the ground, he never held his face in his hand. Heck, he didn’t even roll. Not even once.
3) The Thing About Games in Hand is, You Have to Win Them.
Just a couple of weeks ago everything was coming up roses for the Seattle Sounders. They were at the top of the standings and they had Games in Hand. Meaning, that the Sounders had played less games than their rivals, and when you added in the points the Sounders would pick up from those games, they would be cruising.
Then Seattle went on a five game winless streak, the last three being losses. So two points from five matches, and those games in hand were wasted.
Now Seattle have played 32 games, the same as every team in the West except the Galaxy. They are just a point behind RSL and two behind new front runners Portland. They are still in the Supporters Shield race too, only one point back of the Timbers and New York.
But those games in hand can’t help the now.
4) And Speaking of Games in Hand
Fourth place Montreal Impact were sitting on a potential haul of six to nine extra points for much if the season, having played less times than all their rivals. But Montreal have been slipping. Like Seattle, the Impact have gone five consecutive games without a win, losing three.
The streak has seen Montreal fall from the top of the table to fourth place. Talk of winning the Supporters Shield has given way to playoff survival. Montreal still control their own fate, but New England and Philadelphia are nipping at their heels.
5) Jack Mac is Back!
And finally, let’s end on a positive note. Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney was one of the best stories of the first half of the MLS season, leading the league with 10 goals and earning a callup to the U.S. national team.
Then the goals stopped coming. Before Saturday McInerney hasn’t found the net since June 1st, 18 games ago. The young striker, who turned 21 in August, was robbed by D.C. keeper Bill Hamid after great work from Danny Cruz in the 83rd minute. So, when Jack Mac headed in from a Kleberson cross in the 90th minute, he whipped off his jersey in celebration, earning a yellow card. The official reason for the caution, “excessive celebration.”
Excessive? The guy hasn’t scored in 133 days, and the goal earned the Union a point, keeping their playoff hopes alive. Define excessive MLS.