Alan Gordon argues with Timbers midfielder and captain Will Johnson on Sunday night.
Steve Dykes/USA Today Sports
A pair of regretful moments marred an otherwise entertaining MLS Week 7, in which an impressive record fell, as did the two-time defending MLS Cup champions, and a new team claimed the top spot in the Power Rankings ...
1. Gordon crosses The Line. When Portland Timbers captain Will Johnson held up three fingers in San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon's face Sunday night in Portland, it wasn't to signify that he was about to score his third goal in three games and deliver the Timbers another three-point haul. It was to preemptively deliver the news of the multi-game suspension that Gordon should receive from the MLS league office any minute now.
Even though MLS has taken a hard stance in recent years regarding racism and homophobia, dealing harshly with a pair of incidents in which gay slurs have been used in games and touting its "Don't Cross The Line" campaign, that didn't stop Gordon from joining Colin Clark and Marc Burch in the infamous pantheon of players to let a homophobic slur slip in the heat of the moment. It remains beyond inexcusable and will undoubtedly yield at least the three-game bans that Clark received for his regretful outburst at a Seattle Sounders ballboy last March and Burch got for his lapse in judgment directed at Johnson, of all people, one that forced him to miss time in the playoffs.
Gordon, to his credit, released a statement of apology on the Earthquakes' website late Sunday, though he was not made available to media after the game, in which he was sent off in the 69th minute for a separate incident.
"I sincerely apologize for what I said in our game tonight," Gordon wrote. "Although I said it in the heat of the moment, that language has no place in our game. That is not my character, but there is still no excuse for saying what I said. I made a mistake and I accept full responsibility for my actions."
That's fine and nice, and given Gordon's reputation and track record (and the immediate contrition on his face after he recognized what he said), he does not seem like a maliciously prejudiced player. That does not mean there is any justifiable reason for letting that slur slip. Don't Cross The Line and England's Kick It Out campaign lay it out pretty clearly and in catch terms for how players, coaches and fans should conduct themselves. Couple Gordon's incident with the bonehead FC Dallas fan who thought it was wise to chuck a beer bottle at George John's head after he scored the game-winning goal against the LA Galaxy, though, and there are only two simple words necessary for players, fans, coaches and anyone else inside a stadium during a game: STOP IT.
Timing is everything, too. Former Columbus Crew and U.S. national team winger Robbie Rogers' first TV interviews since coming out air Monday night on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 and on ABC's Nightline. Perhaps those will provide a little bit more personalized inspiration for the next time an MLS player, no matter where his intent is, elects to stoop to the lowest of levels when emotions rise highest.
2. Is the Disciplinary Committee becoming softer? While Gordon is sure to hear from the MLS Disciplinary Committee for his actions, it certainly seems as if the MLS DC has backed off considerably in its second season of enforcing retroactive punishment.
Last season, it appeared as if almost every reckless challenge from behind or scissor-kick tackle came with a delayed one-game suspension. This season, not so much. Through seven weeks, the Disciplinary Committee has issued just two suspensions for incidents that have happened in the regular season (and one for a Dwayne De Rosario headbutt that happened in the preseason), but that does not mean that the hard challenges have been any less frequent.
Just in Week 6, for example, Nigel Reo Coker's sliding takedown of Sam Cronin, Sheanon Williams' challenge from behind on Ben Speas and Claudio Bieler's clothesline to Brandon McDonald resulted in absolute silence. Every one of those plays would have been met with much more retroactive scrutiny last season. Is it a byproduct of the league wanting to put more faith in its referees' real-time decisions? Or has the rubric for a retroactive punishment been altered? Either way, consistency is key in protecting players and the integrity of the Disciplinary Committee, and that has not been prevalent through the opening chunk of the 2013 campaign.
3. Houston's home mark. Move over Real Salt Lake, there's a new record holder.
The Dynamo's 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday gave the club sole possession of the league's all-time home unbeaten streak mark, now 35 matches across all competitions -- a span of almost 22 months.
It was quite fitting for Brad Davis, who scored the first goal in the new BBVA Compass Stadium and has been a part of so many major Dynamo moments over the years, to play such a vital role in the record-setting victory. His trademark space-creating run down the left and ensuing pinpoint cross was him at his best. The goal he wound up scoring off a set piece may be considered a bit fluky, he put the ball in a perfect place to create indecision across the Chicago defenders and goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Considering the way the club's players have downplayed focusing on the mark and the lack of fanfare surrounding the record-setter, don't expect Houston to have any sort of emotional letdown the next time the club takes to the field at home, April 28 against Colorado, when it attempts to take the baton from RSL even further and stretch that mark to 36.
4. More McInerney magic. It is super early, and the MVP debate will likely encompass a good dozen or two more players before the season is up, but one of the premature candidates has to be Philadelphia Union striker Jack McInerney.
The 20-year-old forward was scored in four of his last five games with the Union going 2-0-2 in that time. Philadelphia's only two losses came in games the two games he hasn't scored. Three of his four tallies have come in the last 15 minutes of games, and two have been game-winning strikes. Over the weekend, like Montreal's Marco Di Vaio was against Columbus, McInerney was denied what appeared to be a good goal prior to coming through with his point-saving finish, showing the ability to shrug off frustration and come back with production.
"The American Chicharito" nickname that some have batted around for McInerney is a bit much (or extremely hyperbolic, your choice), but the fact remains that McInerney is developing into quite a poacher and timely finisher and is on pace to thrash his career high of eight goals from last season. Training with U.S. veteran Conor Casey every day can only help accelerate the development of one of the league's rising stars. He appears to have no problem taking the weight of his team on his shoulders and is making a push for a place on this summer's U.S. Gold Cup roster.
5. Team of the Week
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik (Toronto FC)
Defenders: Jamison Olave (New York Red Bulls), Jose Goncalves (New England Revolution), George John (FC Dallas), Futty Danso (Portland Timbers)
Midfielders: Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders), Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Forwards: Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact)
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|Week 7 MLS Power Rankings|
||FC Dallas (5-1-1)
Kudos to George John for not only heading home the late game-winning goal but for also comically responding to the knucklehead who threw a beer bottle at him. John said next time the fan should buy him a beer. The fan was reportedly arrested, John has been stitched up and Dallas stands atop MLS after delivering the two-time defending MLS Cup champs their first loss.
||Montreal Impact (4-1-1)
The Impact will not be satisfied letting two points slip after conceding an almost-immediate equalizer following Marco Di Vaio's fantastic opener. The Italian veteran likely should have had two goals if not for a controversial offside call robbed him of an earlier strike, but he made no mistake about his long-range blast that opened the scoring.
||Los Angeles Galaxy (2-1-2)
The Galaxy had an atypically poor week -- elimination from the CONCACAF Champions League and their first MLS loss. Landon Donovan may seem more acclimated after his first league start, but he was uncharacteristically off from the penalty spot and cost his side a chance at points when Raul Fernandez saved his spot kick. With center back Leonardo set to miss a match following his red card, the door is open for Tommy Meyer to reclaim his starting spot beside Omar Gonzalez.
||Sporting Kansas City (3-1-2)
Sporting KC's bye week will give the club a huge advantage at New York on Wednesday, with the hosts having just three days of rest while in-form SKC will have had 11 days off since a 1-0 victory over D.C. United. In a four-day span, KC will play on both coasts against two of the league's top-spending teams, the Red Bulls and Galaxy.
||Houston Dynamo (4-2-0)
The Dynamo's home unbeaten streak remained in tact due to a stellar showing from Brad Davis, who owned the flanks and contributed a goal and an assist in the 2-1 win over Chicago. With Oscar Boniek Garcia still out, Andrew Driver stepped in on the opposite wing with a comprehensive, complementary showing to ensure Houston did not miss a beat.
||Vancouver Whitecaps (2-2-2)
Camilo has been a confounding figure for the Whitecaps, but he peppered Real Salt Lake throughout Saturday's match and got his deserved goal from the penalty spot to salvage a draw when it appeared the club was headed for its first home loss. That momentum will be carried into a trying stretch -- against FC Dallas (league play) and FC Edmonton (Canadian championship).
||Real Salt Lake (2-3-2)
RSL may feel aggrieved for the manner in which the late penalty was conceded by Nat Borchers. It prevented the club from a three-point haul at Vancouver despite a gutty performance after captain Kyle Beckerman's 31st-minute rib injury. It does appear that RSL has uncovered another gem in Olmes Garcia. The Colombian forward, 20, opened his MLS scoring account in stellar fashion. His ability to body up his defender to win a ball, run into space to make himself available for a return pass and curl an unstoppable shot from long range opened plenty of eyes.
||Columbus Crew (2-1-3)br>
Columbus became the first team to take a home point off Montreal, and Dominic Oduro played hero for a second straight week. After rifling home a highlight-reel equalizer with his right foot from a tight angle against Philadelphia, Oduro was at it again, taking down a 50-50 ball with his right and seamlessly going top corner with his left to stun the Stade Saputo faithful and extend Columbus' unbeaten run to four.
||Chivas USA (3-2-1)
Chivas came back to earth with a lackluster home performance against undermanned Colorado, one in which the score could have been a lot worse if not for Dan Kennedy doing what he does best and making life incredibly difficult for opposing attackers. Eric Avila and Jose Correa, specifically, should put their hands up to accept blame, after the former's obvious foul gifted the Rapids an early penalty and the latter missed a penalty that could have salvaged an undeserved draw.
||Portland Timbers (2-1-3)
Make that two straight wins for the Timbers, who have appeared to turn a corner and become a thoroughly dominant side, commanding about two-thirds of possession against an unusually timid San Jose. Will Johnson's tremendous free kick proved the difference maker. A a tip of the cap is due to center back Futty Danso, who debuted in place of the injured David Horst and Andrew Jean-Baptiste and looked plenty comfortable in combating Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart.
||Philadelphia Union (2-2-2)
The Union have Jack McInerney to thank again for another point. The youngster scored in stoppage time to force a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC at PPL Park. The match also marked the debut of Brazilian veteran and DP midfielder Kleberson, acquired from Bahia in the move that sent Freddy Adu to Brazil. Kleberson nearly marked his MLS debut with an equalizer of his own. His short stint had to be encouraging for manager John Hackworth, who can finally put the chunk of salary cap that Adu was taking up to good use.
||New York Red Bulls (2-3-2)
The Red Bulls finally figured out how to hold onto a second-half lead, turning in a comprehensive 90 minutes in a 2-0 win at rival D.C. United. Thierry Henry's class showing helped the Red Bulls flip the switch, but the back line that boasted leading scorer Jamison Olave (three goals) and Roy Miller -- yes, he who has put the "oy" in Roy on multiple occasions -- held strong to post its second clean sheet, both against D.C. There is not a whole lot of time to celebrate. Sporting KC visits Wednesday.
||San Jose Earthquakes (2-3-2)
Chris Wondolowski has definitely had success on the wing, but it limits his exposure and presence in front of the goal, where he is at his most prolific. His inability to impact the Quakes' match in Portland, where he tied Roy Lassiter's single-season scoring mark last year, was quite evident save one header on frame. With Alan Gordon set for multiple games on the sideline following his red card and regretful outburst at Will Johnson, the onus falls on Wondolowski to lead the line up top.
||New England Revolution (1-2-2)
No, the Revolution have not come close to figuring out how to solve their attacking problems, but the league's top defensive unit stood strong in the face of intense Seattle pressure, even without the recovering Kevin Alston (#GetWellKA), to pitch another road shutout. One goal in five games is hardly a sound return. Productive forward Saer Sene can't return soon enough from his torn ACL.
||Colorado Rapids (2-3-2)
Coach Oscar Pareja deserves a ton of credit for steadying the Rapids' ship when it would have been easy to capsize and blame the wild rash of injuries. The second-year boss has gotten the most out of some inexperienced pieces, including dynamic rookie forward Deshorn Brown and up-and-coming goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who both stood tall in the club's win at Chivas. Now, if the Rapids can stop conceding penalties.
||Toronto FC (1-2-3)
A third straight Toronto FC match involved late drama. This time, the Reds will feel like they let three points slip away again after losing late against LA and then turning the script on FC Dallas last week. Robert Earnshaw's goal tied him atop the league's Golden Boot standings with Mike Magee. Joe Bendik continues to have a stranglehold on the No. 1 goalkeeping job after another standout performance in between the pipes.
||D.C. United (1-4-1)
There's a drop-off, and then there's what is happening with D.C. United. The club is toothless in the attack and prone to lapses in the back and fell for the second straight time at RFK Stadium after previously carrying a 19-game unbeaten run at home. The desperation is making its way onto the field with players, including defenders, forcing speculative blasts from distance when other decisions are clearly better. After an embarrassing showing at home against rival New York, D.C. is in for a soul-searching week before welcoming Philadelphia for a nationally televised game Sunday.
||Chicago Fire (1-4-1)
Chicago certainly did not roll over and allow Houston to ease its way to another home victory, but the Fire will be ruing the way they lost. Brad Davis' free kick soared over everyone in the box, taking a hop and bouncing past a statuesque Sean Johnson in goal for the preventable game-winner. Chicago is definitely playing better, but the final third remains an issue.
||Seattle Sounders (0-3-2)
Entering its home match against New England with a must-win mentality after its CCL elimination, Seattle failed to finish again and was shut out for the third time in five matches. If there's a positive, after the 0-0 draw only three teams have conceded fewer than the five goals, but that is digging pretty deep for a team expected to contend for an MLS Cup.
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