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MLS Weekend Hatewatch, Week 12: Life’s Rich Pageant

Portland with the late thriller, shenanigans in Atlanta, and more from Week 12

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

I talk a lot of shit about Major League Soccer in these weekly recaps, but I do genuinely enjoy watching this league. It’s fun, it’s lively, and when the league office and their corporate partners get out of the way of the fans there’s a vibrant culture underpinning the game unlike anywhere else in the world.

Even so, I can’t watch every game live as it happens. This weekend alone had ten games to sift through— not counting Vancouver v SJ last wednesday, not counting the Fire, and not counting Montreal vs LAG later today. The scheduling of the games is such that I usually couldn’t watch every single game live and in full even if I tried.

As it happens, I have a life outside of this job. I don’t feel like that’s a thing I should have to explain or apologize for, but after the backlash to my off-hand comment about watching the Eurovision Final in last week’s column, clearly there are some who disagree.

We value transparency and accountability here at Hot Time In Old Town. To that end, here’s a list of things I did this weekend besides watch MLS games to prepare for this column.

Somewhere in there I watched some MLS games. One or two in full, the rest either condensed matches or highlights. Then I wrote this column. Hope that’s ok.

Right, here’s some soccer you might’ve missed this weekend.

Toronto FC 2-1 Orlando City

Pleased to see Orlando drop points again after threatening to become the new San Jose with their late comebacks. Less pleased to see Toronto doing well again. All joy contains the seeds of sorrow, etc.

New York City FC 4-0 Colorado Rapids

Every time I feel bad about the Fire I check out what the Rapids are up to and remind myself that things could always be worse.

Portland Timbers 2-1 Los Angeles FC

This game was fun and messy in all the ways that typify MLS at its best. I feel like I would’ve enjoyed it more if I watched it live immediately after that turd of an FA Cup Final. (I had to watch it later on Saturday night, as I was busy getting my butt kicked by a 10 year old in chess.) But even on its own merits this was a fun ass game, capped off by two sizzle reel goals from Carlos Vela and Samuel Armenteros. This is a game you show if you want to get a newbie interested in MLS.

New England Revolution 0-1 Columbus Crew

I’m really not excited to trudge through the rest of the season while having to watch That Yellow Team actually be good at soccer. But here we are. This wasn’t anything approaching Columbus’ dominant performance last week against, er, us, but Lalas Abubakar’s header off a corner kick was enough to get the job done. There’s a very real possibility that the Crew are going to end up as Supporters Shield contenders for their last season ever. Truly, this is the darkest timeline.

Atlanta United 1-3 New York Red Bulls

I wish I could just talk about the game itself, because it was a heck of a lot of fun. And while I generally wish pain and disappointment on the Red Bulls, seeing them come from behind to make Atlanta eat shit on their own turf is a perfectly fine outcome for me. It was also a good showcase for two of the league’s best forwards in Ezequiel Barco and Bradley Wright-Philips.

But I can’t just talk about the game, for two reasons.

The first is Kemar Lawrence’s injury late in the second half. It was really scary to watch at home, not least because A. it wasn’t immediately obvious what the cause of the injury was, and B. the camera kept zooming in on Lawrence while he was laying prone on the pitch and possibly unconscious. That’s really not cool. Premier League broadcasters at least have the decency to aim the cameras at the technical area or the stands. (Anyway, please be okay Kemar Lawrence.)

The second: fucking Chris Penso.

There was a lot of Pensoing in this game. It says something that even having VAR— which overturned a red card shown to former Fire skipper Jeff Larentowicz— can’t completely cancel out Penso. It can contain him, it can make him Less Bad, but his essential Penso-ness still wins out. Leandro González Pirez should’ve been sent off for a foul and DOGSO on Florian Valot but dude only saw a yellow. And then Greg Garza got sent off like five minutes later. The officiating was inconsistent and generally lax, to the point where it put players at risk. And nothing’s ever going to be done about it.