XI: The weekend of August 10th

photo credit: Albumen via photopin cc

photo credit: Albumen via photopin cc

-In the first MLS game following Landon Donovan’s announcement that he would be retiring at the end of the season, his current team and his former team played to a 2-2 draw. Scorelines are rarely more misleading; the Galaxy dominated, outshooting San Jose 24-3. But Chris Wondolowski and the Earthquakes’ new designated player Matías Pérez García scored on their teams first two shots, and the visitors actually led 2-1 heading into halftime.

-In their only home game of the season against their in-state rivals, on the heels of the news about Donovan, the Galaxy drew just 19,719. Now, for the majority of MLS clubs, that would be a great crowd, but LA is used to averaging well more than 20k. Attendance is down by about 1,500 this year at the Stubhub Center, which, especially for a Friday night game, is in a less than ideal location. With the Galaxy playing in the suburbs, and Donovan retiring this winter, I believe that there is room for that second team in LA. But they can’t continue playing in their neighbors’ house.

-No attendance concerns in Seattle, where 50,279 saw the Sounders defeat Houston. Seattle had lost their previous two games, and gone more than 250 minutes without scoring before Marco Pappa’s shot took a deflection on its way into the net. That will assuage concerns of a summer meltdown along the lines of last season. In Houston, the road woes continue. A bad penalty at one end and Tally Hall’s inability to save a bad penalty at the other just about sum up their season so far.

-Fresh off of hosting Bayern Munich and the MLS All-Star Game, Portland hosted…Chivas USA. The home fans surely enjoyed it though; Diego Valeri scored a brilliant goal, his fourth in as many games, and the Timbers eased to a 2-0. They stumbled the week before against the Galaxy, but I get the sense that Portland has turned a corner in their season. The clean sheet is a good sign, perhaps Liam Ridgewell has finally brought stability to the defense. Hopefully for Portland’s sake they can continue this momentum through a hectic schedule that features a Champions League trip to Guyana.

-Real Salt Lake stomped all over DC United. The game finished 3-0, but RSL already had a two-goal advantage in the 13th minute. The clean sheet was Nick Rimando’s 113th in MLS, breaking the record previously held by Kevin Hartman. He needed to make just two saves in doing so, as DC suffered their second straight loss.

-Like RSL, Vancouver welcomed one of the eastern conference’s best, and they too were not generous hosts. The Whitecaps were rarely threatened in a 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. The Eastern Conference leaders played with the knowledge that DC had slipped up, but SKC came out flat. A disastrous own goal summed up their early performance, and Pedro Morales set up Darren Mattocks for the hosts’ second goal. The Whitecaps are still on the outside of the playoff spots in the tough Western Conference, but they have games in hand on Portland and Colorado.

-Toronto doesn’t do anything the easy way, but they gained ground on those above them. Twice on Saturday night, they allowed Columbus to level the game: at 1-1, with a penalty just before half-time, and at 2-2, when a Justin Meram cross ended up in the net after a period of Columbus dominance. But TFC manged anyways to get a third goal and take the three points in Ohio. The Reds now sit fairly comfortably in third place in the Eastern Conference, having played fewer games than those around them.

-You’ll have more luck flipping a coin than trying to predict the New York Red Bulls’ performance in a given game. Last week, they came out flat against New England, only to dominate the second half with ten men. Some thought it was the type of win that could spark them through the end of the season. On Sunday, they came out flat in Chicago, but never improved. They’ll have some questions for the ref who awarded the deciding penalty, but they can only blame themselves for a lifeless performance in a 1-0 loss to the Fire.

-The Community Shield is essentially a friendly with a trophy ceremony at the end, but Arsenal will be pleased with a 3-0 victory over Manchester City on Sunday. Neither side was at full strength; Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker didn’t play for the Gunners, while City were without Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, and Sergio Aguero.

-In other friendly news, Liverpool scored four goals in a romp over Borussia Dortmund. Meanwhile, Tottenham looked impressive in a 2-1 win against Schalke at White Hart Lane. Based on these results, the Premier League is far superior to the Bundesliga. Grains of salt, everyone.

-Elsewhere in Europe, the season kicked off. The English Championship began on Saturday; 18-year-old Emerson Hyndman started for Fulham in their 2-1 loss to Ipswich Town. Welcome to the second division, Fulham. Ligue Un got underway in France, and defending and future champions Paris Saint-Germain only got a draw.

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