This wasn’t really a great weekend for the neutral viewer. As I was watching many of these games, I couldn’t help but think some of these squads were showing a bit of burnout. The goals were not flowing like they had been in previous weeks but it could just be an anomaly.
Toronto 5-0 Columbus
Toronto put a whooping onto the Crew Friday night in Canada. Going into the match it was well poised, looking to be two teams near the top of the conference battling - but what ensued was anything but that. I really believe the score line is a bit harsh on the Columbus effort. They had some nice possession early on and created several chances early. If Columbus had scored when it was 1-0 or 2-0, Toronto we may have had a different game. The counterpoint would be that Jon Mensah should have likely seen red after his 5th minute foul in which Toronto was awarded a PK on the opening goal. If the referee is going to call that a foul it has to be red card, right?
Anyway, I think the conclusion after this one is that Toronto really may be the deepest team in MLS. No Giovinco, No Altidore, no problem. Toronto at home is really scary and they are going to continue rolling at home no matter who the opposition is.
Vancouver 0–1 DC United
The result in this one was a surprise to me. I really thought there was no way DC was going to Vancouver and winning and the really didn’t deserve to in my estimation. DC scored the lone goal of the game from the PK spot. It was a very soft call, and quite frankly a dive. Vancouver had 22 shots in the game yet they could not find the net. The Whitecaps struck the cross bar three or four times and missed a PK of their own when Christian Techera hit the right post.
New York Red Bulls 2–1 New England
Lee Nguyen scored early in this one from the PK spot. At that point it really seemed like it could be the goal and game that led to the unraveling of New York’s season. The Red Bulls however responded very well. New York had the better of the play the rest of the first half but had to wait until the 47th minute to equalize. The revs keeper Cody Cropper made a mess of a weakly hit ball and Bradley Wright Phillips cleaned up nicely to equalize. New York showed a lot spirit in coming from behind to win this one, they will be very pleased and it was the best I’ve seen them play anytime recently. It was a good opportunity to watch these teams head to head.
Minnesota 1–0 Orlando
The storyline after this game has to be about Minnesota boss Adrian Heath beating his former team, the club that let him go shortly after their entry into MLS. Minnesota was off to one of the worst starts MLS had seen but they have since turned things around and it appears Heath may be the right man for the job there. Orlando, on the other hand, is really on a bad run right now. Just over a month ago Orlando was looked at as one of the biggest threats to Toronto, but they are now nine points off of TFC and have not won in six games. Orlando will play DC on Wednesday trying to turn things around.
Real Salt Lake 1–0 Philadelphia
It was back down to earth for the Union after winning four straight. RSL was able to find the game’s only goal with Joao Plata netting from close range. It was Plata’s first goal of the season and RSL will be hoping to get him going in order to climb their way off the bottom end of the table. This game really deserved a goal or two more as there were some really good saves on each end. I say back down to earth because I believe Philadelphia had been punching above their weight recently. I am not sure that they have the firepower to sustain their recent form. Jim Curtain has a real challenge on his hands to try and get this team back into the playoffs after sneaking in last year.
Atlanta 3-1 NYCFC
This was the Atlanta side that has many people raving. When they are moving the ball quickly and surging forward they can beat anyone. They put NYCFC to the sword on Sunday. NYCFC dominated the early minutes of the game until Miguel Almiron scored in the 15th minute on a really quick counter attack for Atlanta. Hector Villalba scored a really nice side footer gently curling the ball into the back post and Miguel Almiron got his brace when Julian Gressel ran down an NYC defender who was asking to be fouled rather than clearing his lines. It was a bit of a statement win for Atlanta at home. While they have been inconsistent thus far it was a reminder of the talent they possess.
Hot (Time) Take
One thing is increasingly clear: Toronto are far and away the team to beat right now in the East. While I said the score line was a bit misleading in favor of TFC on Friday night, it was still really impressive. To win like that without Giovinco and Altidore is really impressive. You don’t just score five goals out of sheer luck. TFC can do no wrong right now; things are just going well for them at every turn.
Another point I am confident in making is that the Fire have established themselves into the tier of teams chasing TFC. A few weeks ago I put NYCFC, Columbus and Orlando in that group, and I wasn’t ready to add the Fire. But after several more wins it is quite clear that the Fire are in that conversation.
While the Men in Red are moving upwards, Orlando is moving the opposite direction. Orlando has not won yet in the month of May. The goals have dried up for the Lions. When Cyle Larin isn’t netting for Orlando, who will? It will be interesting to see if Orlando and Columbus can bounce back this week after their respective losses. We have another action packed weekend ahead with a whole bunch of midweek games and weekend games as well.