Midfielder Juan Toja (left) and the New England Revolution knocked off the LA Galaxy 5-0 on Sunday.
Eric Canha/Cal Sport Media
While the U.S. men's national team stole the spotlight over the weekend, the New England Revolution made some noise with a landmark showing to highlight MLS Week 14:
1. Revolution are on the rise. If watching the U.S. men's national team score four goals on Germany came as a surprise, then surely seeing the upstart New England Revolution drop a five spot on the two-time defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy had to make American soccer fans wonder if Sunday was just an outrageous Tony Soprano-like dream sequence or, in fact, reality.
As it turns out, both performances happened, and the Revs, following their improbable 5-0 victory over the Galaxy, are very much for real. Suddenly, a team that struggled to find the back of the net has nine goals in its last three games -- all wins, with two coming against the MLS Cup final participants in each of the last two years -- and is playing with the one-touch flair of a Spanish side. The addition of Juan Agudelo has made a significant difference to Jay Heaps' squad; the chemistry Agudelo is forming with burgeoning 18-year-old homegrown attacker Diego Fagundez and second-year midfielder Kelyn Rowe gives the Revs three of the league's exciting young players -- all of whom teamed up to create the third goal of the day.
Having a healthy Saer Sene, whose 11 goals last season led the team by a wide margin, return to the starting lineup is just another boon for Heaps and his newfound juggernaut of a roster. Now, New England has to be taken seriously in Eastern Conference, particularly considering the defensive balance the club has managed to accrue as well.
Meanwhile, the loss won't derail the travel-weary Galaxy in any way, but one would have expected a bit more discipline. Los Angeles unraveled in the aftermath of a controversial foul call. More pressing, though, is the play of goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. The former Chelsea and Tottenham man was brought in to be an upgrade over two-time MLS Cup-winning goalkeeper Josh Saunders, but he has not produced consistently enough to justify the expense of importing him from the Premier League.
2. Impact ascend to the top. The Revs may have turned in the performance of the week, but the Montreal Impact remain the story of the MLS Eastern Conference. Following a 2-1 road win in Kansas City in which they finished with 10 men, the Impact leapfrogged the New York Red Bulls to sit atop the conference standings. They have anywhere between two and four games in hand on their four closest competitors.
Averaging an MLS-best 2.17 points per game despite the loss of captain Davy Arnaud to concussion woes for the last five games, Montreal has had players step up at different times to accelerate the overall progress of the club. With Sanna Nyassi and Collen Warner scoring on Saturday to join the group of complementary players who have augmented the efforts of stars Marco Di Vaio, Felipe and Patrice Bernier, Montreal maintains the ability to come at teams from multiple angles.
The Impact may not be making many friends along the way, with heated exchanges again emerging from a clash against Sporting Kansas City. Manager Marco Schallibaum was sent off for a second time this season at Sporting Park. But the Impact continue to find ways to get it done. On top of all that, the club captured the Canadian championship in riveting fashion to clinch a place in this summer's CONCACAF Champions League, ending Toronto FC's four-year reign as king of the Great White North. In a very short time, Montreal has risen from expansion upstart to legitimate contender.
3. Dom Dwyer exemplifies the loan conundrum. Sporting Kansas City loaned forward Dom Dwyer to USL PRO power Orlando City SC in hopes of getting him meaningful minutes and repetitions to advance his development. That certainly has happened, as he leads U.S. Soccer's third division in scoring and tallied two goals in an impressive third-round U.S. Open Cup victory over the Colorado Rapids. With Orlando City advancing to the next round, it'd seem Dwyer would have another opportunity to play important minutes, thereby increasing his value to Sporting KC while accelerating his personal growth.
Except for one thing: Sporting KC is Orlando City's next opponent and won't let Dwyer play in the game. And one can't blame Sporting KC for exercising its option to remove its upcoming opponent's top threat. The club values the Open Cup, is defending its title and will do whatever is necessary to win again and cement another berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.
That said, the perils of loaning players include potentially upsetting them and denying them opportunities against top competition. (Not in every case, as D.C. United, for example, allowed a pair of loaned players to suit up for USL PRO affiliate Richmond.) Unfortunately for Dwyer, a heralded product out of the University of South Florida who has been stuck behind a myriad of talented strikers in Kansas City, business is business. He has no choice but to accept his fate and hope Orlando City can manufacture an upset without him to give him another opportunity on a prominent stage.
4. Gold Cup roster is full of snubs and surprises. All it took was one glance over the provisional USA Gold Cup roster that CONCACAF revealed over the weekend to notice this summer won't be as fruitful on the international level as many may have expected for some of MLS' top talent. The likes of Agudelo, Amobi Okugo, Chris Pontius, George John, Dax McCarty, Mike Magee and Justin Morrow were among those MLS players who figured to get a shot at cracking Jurgen Klinsmann's secondary summer roster, but they were nowhere to be found. The omission of Agudelo is especially confounding considering that he has -- on occasion -- earned full national team call-ups when out of form. Now that he is in form and healthy, the Gold Cup figured to be a stage for him to get acclimated on the international stage again. Yet that won't be the case.
There is just cause for so many omissions. With so many first-team-caliber players and veterans -- like Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Stuart Holden, Brek Shea, Eddie Johnson, DaMarcus Beasley, Jose Torres and Herculez Gomez -- occupying places on the 35-man list (which will be cut down to 23), the probability that some of the lesser-heralded MLS players would get the call in decreased. For those expecting the Gold Cup to be a second version of the U.S. January camp and a forum for tryouts, guess again. Still, there remains plenty of intrigue on the roster. Between Donovan's pending return to the national team set-up, Holden's chance to play a vital role and the red-hot Jack McInerney's potential first full call-up, the tournament will provide a glimpse at some players working their way toward the top. Just not as many as might have been anticipated.
5. Team of the Week
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo)
Defenders: Djimi Traore (Seattle Sounders), Jose Goncalves (New England Revolution), Matteo Ferrari (Montreal Impact)
Midfielders: Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution), Felipe (Montreal Impact)
Forwards: Blas Perez (FC Dallas), Atiba Harris (Colorado Rapids), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)
|Week 14 MLS Power Rankings|
||FC Dallas (8-2-4)
A wild sequence at Dick's Sporting Goods Park resulted in a well-taken brace by Blas Perez and allowed FC Dallas to twice come back from one-goal deficits to salvage a draw in its 2010 MLS Cup final rematch with the Colorado Rapids. FCD's pace has slowed considerably, with the club having just two wins in the last six games, but Schellas Hyndman's side continues to find a way to make the points add up. It remains atop the Western Conference standings.
||Portland Timbers (5-1-7)
The Timbers used their bye week in league play to put a hurting on the Wilmington Hammerheads in U.S. Open Cup play, as Frederic Piquionne netted four first-half goals in the third-round rout. The club is still the hottest team in MLS, unbeaten in 11 league games, but it will have to overcome some personnel losses due to international duty -- namely goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and in-form wide forward Rodney Wallace -- to keep its streak alive against the Chicago Fire.
||Montreal Impact (8-2-2)
The Impact stand alone atop the Eastern Conference standings after an impressive road win over Sporting Kansas City, exacting revenge for one of the club's two losses this season. The lesser-heralded players got the job done, with Sanna Nyassi and Collen Warner chipping in goals to lift the reigning Canadian champion to a huge three-point haul.
||Sporting Kansas City (6-5-4)
Without U.S. national team call-ups Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, Sporting KC failed to maintain a home lead and secure points in a high-profile showdown with Montreal. A controversial penalty helped Sporting KC gain the lead, but defensive lapses and an inability to come up with clearances from inside its own box ensured that the Sporting Park faithful went home unsatisfied.
||Real Salt Lake (7-5-3)
RSL's technical ability -- with the likes of Javier Morales and Joao Plata taking center stage on Saturday night -- remains top-class in MLS. And it was on full display in an overwhelming victory over San Jose. Last season, the Earthquakes had RSL's number, taking all three meetings (including a 5-0 drubbing), but in 2013 it's a different story completely. RSL holds a 2-0-0 edge, outscoring the Quakes 5-0.
||Houston Dynamo (6-4-4)
Tally Hall will accompany the U.S. national team to Kingston, Jamaica, as the third goalkeeper for Friday's World Cup qualifier. On Saturday night, he showed why he has earned that trip. Hall repeatedly came up with big saves to help Houston salvage a road point against Columbus. The Dynamo were hit hard by international call-ups and have endured a bit of an injury crisis, but they remain afloat heading into a bye week.
||New York Red Bulls (7-5-4)
The roof caved in on the Red Bulls on Saturday, as their seven-game unbeaten streak ended after a home loss to Vancouver. If the penalty that New York conceded to Columbus caused Mike Petke to turn in a fine-inducing rant, then the second yellow card shown to integral center back Jamison Olave surely must have ramped up the first-year manager's blood pressure. Petke will have to do without Olave in three weeks time for the club's next game against Philadelphia.
||Los Angeles Galaxy (6-5-2)
There are results that turn heads, and the vaunted Galaxy's 5-0 loss in New England certainly qualifies as one -- especially considering it came on the heels of LA's 4-0 drubbing of Seattle just a week earlier. Granted, the Galaxy were without Omar Gonzalez in the back and Robbie Keane up front. But that should not have been cause for such an overwhelming defeat and late-game collapse for a disciplined side like LA.
||Colorado Rapids (5-4-5)
The Rapids could not make good on Atiba Harris' brace, with both of his goals giving the club a momentary one-goal leads over FC Dallas. Even so, a point against the league-leading side is a valuable takeaway from a week in which the club also received word that the foot injury that Martin Rivero suffered was not a recurrence of his broken foot and was not so serious, after all.
||Seattle Sounders (5-4-3)
This Ricardo Salazar-Seattle storyline is getting excessive. The referee has had a controversial history with the Sounders, and he added to it on Saturday night with the questionable red card he gave to Obafemi Martins. The Sounders were able to prevail over hapless Chivas USA regardless, bouncing back from last week's drubbing in LA and shocking midweek exit in the U.S. Open Cup, a tournament in which the club has reached the final the last four years.
||New England Revolution (5-4-4)
The Revs delivered the shocker of the week, dropping five goals on the Galaxy to remain in the thick of the Eastern Conference mix. Diego Fagundez scored for the fourth straight game and Jose Goncalves continued to produce consistent valuable minutes in central defense. Top overall draft pick Andrew Farrell has the look of another Louisville defender on his way to earning Rookie of the Year honors.
||Philadelphia Union (5-5-4)
It seems as if every week the question is the same: Where would the Union be without 20-year-old striker Jack McInerney? The Gold Cup call-up's league-leading 10th goal salvaged another point for Philadelphia, saving face for what would have been an embarrassing loss to Toronto FC for the second time this season. McInerney's late-game exploits have single-handedly kept the Union in the playoff hunt, as the team has earned only one point in games in which he has not scored in 2013.
||Columbus Crew (4-4-5)
The Crew's week was dampened with the word that leader and star midfielder Eddie Gaven is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. But that didn't prevent the club from gutting out a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo. Federico Higuain's all-around performance was complemented by his penalty kick conversion, his second in as many games.
||Vancouver Whitecaps (4-4-4)
Vancouver needed a bounce-back performance considering the way it lost the Canadian championship to Montreal, and it got just that by winning on the road for the first time in 2013 -- and topping the Red Bulls to do it. Kenny Miller has been the subject of exit rumors for some time, but the Scottish veteran came through with a game-winning goal to lift Martin Rennie's side.
||Chicago Fire (3-7-2)
The acquisitions of Mike Magee and Bakary Soumare have made an instant impact on the Fire, and both played key roles in the club's 2-0 home win over cellar-dwelling D.C. United. Magee's goal-scoring exploits have translated from the Galaxy's high-octane attack to the Fire's less-explosive one, and he scored in the club's U.S. Open Cup victory over the Charlotte Eagles in addition to sealing the win over D.C. with a late strike.
||San Jose Earthquakes (3-6-6)
With Victor Bernardez suspended, RSL unlocked San Jose's defense from the start. The Earthquakes fell behind 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium by the 38th minute, rendering little hope for a road result after that. The reigning Supporters' Shield holders are officially reeling, with just one win in their last 11 league matches. They also crashed out of the U.S. Open Cup at the hands of the Charleston Battery.
||Chivas USA (3-8-2)
Head coach Chelis was unceremoniously fired, a pair of former academy coaches are suing the club for wrongful termination and the club failed to challenge Seattle, with Mario de Luna adding an all-time epic own goal to his 2013 highlight reel, which also includes him shoving a ball boy. Yep, just another week in the life of Chivas USA.
||Toronto FC (1-7-5)
Late-game woes continue to be the Reds' Achilles heel. On the cusp of what would have been a spirit-lifting victory over the Philadelphia Union, TFC conceded in stoppage time yet again, spoiling what could have been a celebratory day for the club and goal-scorer Jonathan Osorio. Making matters worse, it's the second time this has happened against the Union, the fourth time it's happened this season and the 10th time the club has conceded after the 85th minute. TFC just can't get out of its own way.
||D.C. United (1-10-2)
Dwayne De Rosario was reinserted in the starting lineup, but that couldn't prevent D.C. from failing to win for a franchise-worst 11th consecutive game. United dropped a 2-0 result to the Chicago Fire and was shut out for a league-worst eighth time in the process. If there's a light at the end of the tunnel, it is not within visible range at the moment.