If ties are like kissing your sister …

… MLS had a family reunion field day on Saturday. And the sad thing is, in two of the three matches that finished 1-1, one team scored both goals.

Here’s a quick look around the league as I saw it:

* Just your average MLS Saturday night, huh? Nothing more to see there, right? Ugh. On the field, Guillermo Berros Schelotto scored from the spot, only to see that lead disappear when Gino Padula’s own goal left the sides level. Toronto goalkeeper and rookie Stefan Frei left the match injured at halftime. This game, as did many in MLS since they played on a FIFA date, saw personnel missing for national team matches. So, perhaps you can take these results with a grain of salt.

But I’m all out of salt.

* This time, it was the visitors from New England who did for New York what it couldn’t do for itself – score a goal. The Red Bulls haven’t found the net on their own yet this season, but got a point here after last week’s debacle in Seattle thanks to a Jay Heaps own goal. Kenny Mansally scored in the right direction to get New England a point.

Jay Heaps. Own goal. The same week as Duke hoops gets thrashed by Villanova in the Sweet 16. Priceless.

* This was like watching two entirely different games. Thankfully I only had to buy one ticket. Good effort from United in the first half, a Luciano Emilio goal, a couple other chances, and very little from the Fire. United are back! Home win! Not quite. Patrick Nyarko beat Dejan Jakovic like a rented Red Star Belgrade reserve center back early in the second half, and the Fire somehow squandered three clear chances late to leave the match square.

Meanwhile, United have somehow found a clone of Zach Wells in goal, with Josh Wicks. Wicks incredibly dropped two near his goal line – with one almost going over it, while he made a recovery save on Brian McBride on the other. But then he turned around and made a spectacular tip save on Chris Rolfe. Go figure. Head coach Tom Soehn says there’s competition for the position between Wicks and Louis Crayton? Wasn’t Crayton signed last season to boot Wells out of the net? Ugh.

Sorry. Got a little carried away.

On to matches over the weekend that actually had winners.

* Lots of folks I’ve heard from say RSL is a threat in the West this year, after they broke through last year and got to the Western Conference final. I tended to believe them. Apparently, RSL must break through the Great Wall of Seattle first. The Sounders have now outscored their opponents, 5-0, with Kasey Keller posting two shutouts. Fredy Montero scored again (his third) for Seattle, who also got a goal from Nate Jaqua.

* I’ll come out and say it – I kind of thought the Wizards would be somewhat decent this year. But a home loss to Toronto FC last week, and now a road defeat at Colorado, who got goals from Terry Cooke and Omar Cummings, kind of makes me wonder. To be fair, KC was without Davy Arnaud, who scored twice in the opening week loss, and was listed as Probable with a neck strain, but didn’t get on the field.

* Nice win for San Jose at home in a wild affair that saw the Earthquakes grab the lead then double it just after the half-hour, before Houston’s Chris Wondolowski quickly bagged a goal and an assist as the Dynamo got even at 36 minutes. That didn’t last, however, as San Jose showed some resiliency and Cam Weaver netted in the 44th minute with what turned out to be the game-winner. It’s a special night in San Jose when a team with both Chris Leitch and Eric Denton doesn’t allow a goal in the second half, allowing the Earthquakes to hold the lead and win.

* There may have been more TFC fans at the game in Columbus than there were FCD fans at the game in Dallas. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but let’s just say there were plenty of good seats available Sunday afternoon at Pizza Hut Park. It was almost as if Rachel Phelps bought the team hoping to move it to Miami. But the fans didn’t miss much from the home side anyway. Eduardo Lillingston and Bojan Stepanovic, no relation to Steve Stipanovich, scored for Chivas USA. FC Dallas fell to 0-2, with one goal for and five against.

Chicago, Toronto FC, and New England all share the lead in the Eastern Conference with four points, while Chivas USA and Seattle both have six in the West to set the pace. Through two weeks, Seattle has the best goal differential and the most goals scored, while New York and Salt Lake have yet to score for themselves.

Salt Lake gets a chance to break that skid Thursday when it hosts Columbus on ESPN2 (9 p.m., also available on ESPN Deportes). The Crew then have to turn around and play Sunday at Chivas USA (8 p.m.). Must be a perk for winning MLS Cup or something.

Elsewhere (all times Eastern):

Seattle at Toronto, 4 p.m., FSC
FC Dallas at New England, 7:30 p.m.
Houston at DC United, 7:30 p.m.
Colorado at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.

New York at Chicago, 3 p.m., Telefutura
San Jose at Kansas City, 3 p.m.

Enjoy your soccer this week.

Toronto FC needs to control its idiot fans right now

Toronto FC fans were misbehaving yet again Saturday in Columbus. From the Columbus Dispatch:

I am not pinning this one bit on Columbus or its fans, except to say that maybe the police should’ve done a better job of ensuring TFC fans didn’t move en masse towards Crew fans. But the rest of my criticism goes towards TFC, and their escalating fan conduct problems.

When I envision the worst possible PR incidents for MLS and American soccer, I come up with these three items:

  1. MLS folds
  2. USA fails to qualify for World Cup
  3. MLS fans take part in hooligan-inspired violence that causes serious injuries to other fans or the police

You’d surely agree that disasters one and two are fairly far off possibilities, but TFC is pushing us closer and closer to possibility no. 3.

TFC must immediately begin putting pressure on its supporter club leadership to stop the violence and property damage. If the supporters clubs won’t show leadership here, then TFC itself needs to begin removing their privileges to force the issue. I am not sure TFC management takes this issue seriously enough. Where is the statement? Where is the plan to work with the supporters clubs to find the guilty individuals and discipline them?

I took a quick swing by the Red Patch Boys’ forum and here are some comments from there verbatim and just because my grandparents might read it, I should warn you that some of the language is quite obscene.

Quote 1.
Quote 2
Quote 3
Quote 4
Quote 5
I should also add that there were plenty of folks on there expressing displeasure with the kinds of comments and actions posted above.

The fan who threw that piece of metal off the back of the bleachers should be a) charged with a crime, and b) have his season ticket stripped and face at least a season-long ban. What happens if that railing maims or kills someone? This isn’t a slippery slope argument. This is violent and potentially lethal behavior on the part of Toronto fans.

I am sorry, this simply doesn’t happen with other teams. Chicago’s fans always travel in large numbers and I don’t think they have these kinds of continuing problems. DC fans travel everywhere and I can only think of one incident that has ever caused an injury – and the guilty party in that incident was banned immediately after being identified by other DC supporters.

The onus is now on TFC management to make clear to the supporters clubs that there will be serious consequences if violent activity and property damage continues. If TFC management is ineffective at that, then the league should involve itself.

I suspect that Saturday was as close as we’ve ever seen to someone being killed or seriously maimed at an MLS match. We cannot allow for us to get that close again.

Below are some more photos and video I found on Flickr and Youtube:
<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf?v=68975&quot; classid="clsid27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″>


[ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pN2AvgFcHA”%5DYouTube – Police at Columbus Crew and Toronto FC game[/ame]
[ame=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clt80KpHx7c”%5DYouTube – Toronto FC Fan Being Tasered in Columbus[/ame]

Editor: And here’s Bill’s take on it.

Can you tell it was an international weekend? MLS fans sure could.

Hmm, let’s see. Three draws, only two matches featuring more than two goals, only one game decided with a late winner, and one game decided with a late-game own goal. Could you tell that most of this league’s best players weren’t out there? I could.

Because of that, it’s hard to say we learned all that much this week. Here’s what I learned:

  • Houston needs to deal for another forward, and soon. Yes, Kamara will be back soon, but I am not sure a team with title aspirations can lean so heavily on the assasins known as Kei Kamara and Chris Wondolowski.
  • Seattle might be actually pretty good and not just “for an expansion team.” They’re going to get the benefit of playing in the weaker West, but that being said, they still look like a playoff team to me. Montero looks like the best player to hit MLS in a long time and Schmid has this group going on one direction. I am not going to read too much into RSL’s night, especially as it was their first match after having to sit out the first week.
  • DC remains not very good. Two matches, two leads blown. Soehn is going to have to answer questions about Crayton not starting because Wicks looks even worse than Wells.

The USA gets a tie, many of its fans remain morons, and life goes on

As to be expected, after the USA’s 2-2 comeback draw in San Salvador, fans have turned their ire to just about anything and everything related to the national team. Why? Because many USA fans are complete morons.

  • Did the USA stink for 75 minutes? Yes
  • Did some individual players (Pearce, Kljestan, Guzan, Beasley) play pretty badly? Yes
  • Did the USA look petrified of attacking for much of the match? Yes

Does any of this really matter if we come out and beat Trinidad on Wednesday? It does not – not one bit.

The old English cliche is that the “league is a marathon, not a sprint.” Well, the 10-game final round of CONCACAF isn’t a marathon, it’s more like the 1,500-meters. You can’t completely fall on your face and then win, but a stumble or two won’t doom your chances.

I don’t know when this started, but somewhere along the way this meme developed amongst idiot USA fans that the US must never drop points in qualifying even if it’s on the road. That’s unrealistic for any country attempting to qualify in any region. Let’s review some countries that dropped points on the road this weekend.

That’s not such a bad bunch of teams, is it? And those are just from this Saturday. Other powerful road teams will struggle away at lesser opposition. It always happens. It always will happen. This is what makes international soccer different. It’s a lot harder to go into a third-world hell-hole and get three points than it is to travel to Sunderland and wait for them to collapse at your feet.

If you’re one of those people who have spend all weekend lighting up the internet screaming for Bob Bradley’s head, ask yourself this:

At this moment, is the US in the slightest danger of not qualifying for the 2010 World Cup?

The answer is, unequivocally, no.