Devang touched on the particulars last night, but the second leg between the New York Red Bulls and DC United in the MLS Cup playoffs Eastern Conference semifinals will go down as a bona fide Major League Soccer classic.
It was a game where DC United keeper Bill Hamid seemed to be the difference, making some aggressive stops in a NYRB attack that included Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Kenny Cooper. So when Hamid was rightfully sent off for taking out an onside Cooper in the box who split the defense and found himself alone on goal, New York had the momentum and the extra man.
That was, until, the subsequent penalty awarded to New York after an irate Hamid finally left the field was called back for encroachment. Again, strict perhaps, but the correct decision under the rigorous guidelines set out by Law 14. Even more delicious was the fact that it was the big European names, Cahill and Henry, that barged in to pick up on any Cooper mistake. But not quite as great as the fact Cooper’s retake was saved by the replacement keeper Joe Willis.
And even that couldn’t quite make up for Rafa Marquez’s one-man mission to be sent off, which he was on a insane slide tackle on Chris Pontius less than 10 minutes later, throwing away their man advantage. And then DC’s DeLeon scored in the 88th minute to crush New York, again.
How many watched the game is uncertain and how long it will live on in the memory as the playoffs continue is also unknown. But this game was great in the most MLSey way imaginable—encroachment calls? Rash, idiotic second yellows in a key phase in the match? A game decided on a single, goal taken with—hell—swagger?
This is entirely subjective, but it almost seems MLS is okay with its ‘Ship of Fools’ status in the global soccer pantheon. And so it should be. Yes, the refereeing is delightfully unpredictable (even when it’s correct). Yes, it’s far, far more obviously aggressive than the more subtle abuse of the European game. But it’s ours, and at least it’s unmistakable.
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Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers stands behind last night’s line-up choice.
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Barcelona refuses to deviate from tiki-taka despite loss to Celtic in Champions League.
Reigning Europa League Champs Atletico Madrid suffer shocking defeat at the hands of Academica.
Gerry Wittmann’s take on all the Bundesliga teams’s performances in the Champions and Europa Leagues this week.
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MLS reaches new heights for its racial diversity.
Bit and Bobs
This is what happens when players lose the spirit of sportsmanship. An American footballer slams the ball into her opponents face with a throw-in.
Players on Brazilian side Palmeiras fear for their lives as team nears relegation zone.
Edinburgh soccer club reaches out to fans in an effort to save the Hearts.
Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.