More than the story: MLS Week 11

Posted by Jason Davis

How did this weekend’s MLS narratives play out, particularly after a full set of midweek games? Here's an attempt to answer the question.

Chicago Fire 0-1 Philadelphia Union - Video

Narrative: Underwhelming Chicago, a team that creates chances but rarely puts them away, hosts a Philadelphia team trying to shake off the ugly feelings of last week’s disappointing home draw.

Narrative fulfilled. Once again, Chicago was the aggressor at home and managed to put six shots on the Union goal. Philadelphia keeper Zac MacMath was up to the task, however, adding his name to the list of keepers who have stoned Chicago's best punches in in a winning effort. That's Chicago's modus operandi to this point--look dangerous, but fail to turn that danger into anything more than frustration for Frank Klopas and company.

A win on the road in Chicago counts as something of a bounceback performance for Philadelphia, even if they were at Chicago’s mercy for much of the match. Jack McInerney got back to his scoring ways, bagging his seventh goal of the season and reigniting Golden Boot talk for the 20-year old.

Montreal Impact 3-2 Real Salt Lake - Video

Narrative: Montreal's status as one of the best teams in the league gets tested -- again -- against RSL’s traveling road show.

Narrative muddled, but fun. It took a lot to get there, but ultimately the Impact added to their resume as one of the league’s top teams with a character-building win over a Western Conference foe. The home field advantage helped -- and the fact RSL was on the second leg of a trip east -- but Matteo Ferrari's winner showed the Impact are not an easy out when put up against the wall. Ferrari's goal was a bit of sweet redemption after he gifted Real Salt Lake their opener with an own goal.

In the end, RSL will be disappointed with the loss, though three points from their New England-Montreal swing isn't disastrous. Jason Kreis' team can take positives out of the play of Sebastien Valasquez, though the defensive breakdowns will undoubtedly haunt him.

Montreal remains the real deal until proven otherwise, and RSL gets the benefit of the doubt after a long road trip against what is clearly a very good team. Did we mention that it helps to have Marco Di Vaio?

Seattle Sounders 4-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Narrative: Seattle brings new confidence in against an Earthquakes team unable to find a rhythm but buzzing off some of their Goonies' magic midweek.

Seattle brought that confidence to bear, demolishing any chance for the Quakes to live up to their reputation as late-game magicians. The Sounders ran rampant. Lamar Neagle scored twice, Mauro Rosales curled in a pretty free kick, Obafemi Martins tacked on a late goal and did his patented acrobatic celebration. The flamethrowers at Century Link threw celebratory flame, and 39,000 Sounders fans ate it up. Whatever switch Sigi Schmid flipped in his team, it worked.

Meanwhile, San Jose had Alan Gordon back but couldn’t score. Chances were missed. Frank Yallop’s team didn’t have any of the spark they have shown in small measure recently, meaning a return to last year’s blistering form isn't in the offing. The end left that telltale aftertaste of teams headed in opposite directions, and headed there very quickly.

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 LA Galaxy - Video

Narrative: The 'no one knows what to make of them' Whitecaps host Galaxy team that is either really good at dealing with injuries or not, depending on which of the last two weeks was the real LA.

Vancouver went Dr. Jekyll all over this narrative and earned their first win over LA thanks to two goals from Canadian Russell Teibert. Nigel Reo-Coker was stellar in midfield, setting up Teibert’s first goal in the 63rd minute and pushing LA around like a schoolyard bully. LA didn’t play all that poorly, though the defense fell asleep at crucial moments, something we might never have expected from Bruce Arena’s team.

Teibert was only in the game as an injury replacement for Daigo Kobayashi, who sprained an ankle in the first 15 minutes. Moving forward, that loss will be a concern for Martin Rennie.

For LA, the only silver lining was the maiden MLS goal of homegrown signing Gyasi Zardes. The brash 21-year old's late header changed nothing about the outcome, but might have previewed things to come in LA.

Columbus Crew 0-2 Colorado Rapids

Narrative: Misfiring Columbus, who has the talent to compete if not the cohesion, hosts mending Colorado in a game the home team desperately needs.

Colorado had no interest in helping Columbus fulfill their end of the bargain. The Rapids took advantage of their two best chances with quality shots -- which came an hour apart -- and bracketed in the Crew in Columbus. Edson Buddle, crucial to Colorado’s chances of making any noise this season, scored a typical Buddle goal. Rookie Dillon Powers, certainly a contender for Rookie of the Year at this point, capped the scoring with deflected shot in the 69th minute.

-Video: MLS play of the weekend

The win was Colorado’s second straight and continues a good recent run that puts Oscar Pareja's side in fourth place in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Columbus’ home scoreless streak reached 225 minutes, a shocking number for a team with weapons such as Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro.

New England Revolution 1-1 New York Red Bulls - Video

Narrative: New England isn’t very good, but had their historical home dominance over the Red Bulls in their back pocket as New York rolled into town without the “resting” Thierry Henry.

If there was much of a prevailing narrative here, it was New York’s attempt to continue a good string of results despite the absence of Henry. The French forward has a natural aversion to Gillette Stadium’s particular brand of artificial surface, and with Peguy Leyindula out injured, Mike Petke turned to Andre Akpan to fill the void. New York was also missing Dax McCarty. Perhaps predictably, it was New England that controlled the game and scored first when Diego Fagundez pounced on a loose ball in the box after a corner kick to give the Revolution an early second-half lead.

The Red Bulls answered immediately, however, when winger Loyd Sam stung a shot into the far post past Revoultion keeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Sam’s goal was good enough, and the Red Bulls settled in to prevent a Revolution winner. Thanks to a save by Luis Robles on Fagundez with 10 minutes left, New York escaped their personal house of horrors (they have only won four times at New England) with a hard-earned point.

FC Dallas 2-1 D.C. United - Video

Narrative: FC Dallas is good (tops in the West) and D.C. United is not -- Dallas should win.

Narrative complete. Despite some small signs of improvement from United, FC Dallas secured another three points and a win over the worst MLS team. Jackson got the opener off of a quality pass from Eric Hassli, and Je-Vaughn Watson chested in a set piece in the 77th minute -- with a Dwayne DeRosario goal sandwiched in between -- to give the home team the victory.

Notably for FC Dallas, Schellas Hyndman flexed his team’s attacking depth by starting Eric Hassli and Blas Perez, leaving Kenny Cooper on the bench to start. Hyndman then got all three of his big name offensive threats on the field at once when Cooper entered for Fabian Castillo at halftime.

For United, it was just more of the same. It was seventh consecutive defeat, extended a record worst start to a season that is beginning to take on elements of a lost cause. Changes are coming, though it’s anyone's guess if they’ll make a difference.

Portland Timbers 3-0 Chivas USA - Video

Narrative: High-flying Portland will remain high-flying against a spiraling Chivas USA team known for shipping goals.

Portland made sure this narrative came through in spades thanks to the efforts of Rodney Wallace, Diego Valeri and company. The Timbers controlled possession and peppered backup Chivas keeper Patrick McLain with a steady stream of shots. Wallace, among the most improved players in the league under new Timbers coach Caleb Porter, opened the scoring in the 34th minute. From there, Portland did what Portland now does, pinging the ball around the field in a speedy attacking set up that leverages the team's collective atheltic ability.

Valeri added Portland's second goal in the 72nd minute, and Will Johnson added a third for good measure in added time. Chivas USA looks like a shell of their early-seasons selves as more clubs exploit their obvious weaknesses and remain organized against their hopeful attack.

Houston Dynamo 0-1 Sporting Kansas City - Video

Narrative: Undefeated at home in BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo hold the psychological edge of Sporting Kansas City in a battle of Eastern Confernce powers.

It took one Aurelien Collin back-flicked header and a strong performance by Jimmy Nielsen, but Sporting finally stole away the belief in a matchup of perennial playoff foes. That it was Sporting that ended the Dynamo’s 36-game home unbeaten streak in the new building should go a long way towards helping Peter Vermes’s team over the hurdle of the Dynamo when playoff time comes around again.

The game itself was atight, cagey contest for the first 75 minutes before Houston opened up in response to the Sporting goal. The pressure Houston applied came to naught mostly due to Nielsen; the Danish keeper played his part to allow Sporting to hang on for a landmark victory they subsequently celebrated on the Houston field.

If anything, the result only ramp up the budding rivalry between the sides. In addition to the goal, Collin picked up a yellow card for a late tackle on Ricardo Clark that adds to the growing pile of raw feelings felt by players and fans alike.

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