More than the story: MLS Week 12

Posted by Jason Davis

Each week, as MLS teams hit the field in another round of competition, there’s an obvious question to be asked: Did the narratives from the lead-up hold true? Here are the storylines and how true they held in Week 12.

Toronto FC 0-1 Columbus Crew - Video

Narrative: What narrative? Teams headed in the wrong direction attempt to take advantage of the other’s failings

Columbus took all three points off a Toronto FC is quickly crumbling under the weight of losing so many points this season when one or more was there for the taking. Streaky Dominic Oduro streaked his way to a goal, a good sign for a Crew team that found the game's offensive side difficult in recent weeks.

Despite those recent struggles, the Crew's win puts them within hailing distance of a playoff position. If it's possible to gain confidence from a win over TFC, the Crew just might make a run. On the other side, Ryan Nelsen’s side is seeking their second win of the season. The Reds haven’t beaten anyone since surprising Sporting Kansas City in the second week of the year.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 Portland Timbers - Video

Narrative: The Timbers look tough to beat as they take Porterball to the Great White North to face talented but inconsistent Vancouver

Though both teams count Seattle as their bigger rivals, this game nevertheless had the edge one would expect. Sprinkle in a little bit of everything -- a well-taken free kick goal from Camillo, a penalty (converted by Will Johnson), a pretty curled goal from Gershon Koffie, a DOGSO red card, and a late equalizer that was as much a defensive failure as it was strong forward play, and this Cascadia Cup match more than lived up to its billing.

As much as the Timbers were thrilled that Futty Danso’s red card for pulling down a streaking Camillo didn't prevent them from escaping with a point, they’ll rue the loss of a defensive contributor for a game with such a depleted back line on such a 50/50 call.

The Whitecaps have some beef of their own though, with hints of a handball on Jose Valencia’s equalizer. It was the young Colombian’s first MLS goal, one long in coming after a year lost to a knee injury.

Philadelphia Union 1-0 Chicago Fire - Video

Narrative: The heatless Fire travel to Philadelphia to take on a Union team almost entirely dependent on Jack McInerney to score

McInerney scored, the Fire played their part by failing to find the net again, and the narrative played out to a tee. Three points for Philadelphia, and more questions for Frank Klopas and the Fire. Philly's win on McInerney's goal was the second time in eight days the Union managed that feat; last week McInerney scored the lone goal in a win at Chicago. Sandwiched in the middle for Philadelphia was a drubbing at the hands of the Galaxy.

The goalless performance was more of the same from the Fire, who are tied for last in MLS in goals scored (seven). For all of the Fire’s midfield industry, they rarely manage to put themselves dangerous positions, instead relying on long-range shots that only occasionally tested Union keeper Zach MacMath. He ended the day with six saves and a clean sheet.

Until the Fire find a striker capable of scoring, their performance at PPL Park will be par for the course.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 New England Revolution - Video

Narrative: Beaten at home for the first time in 37 games, the Dynamo will be ready to start a new streak against the visiting Revolution

Whether it was a hangover from last week’s home loss to Sporting and the end of the streak, or a step up in play by the Revolution, the night ended with a surprising winner. New England’s homegrown product Diego Fagundez walked through the Houston defense after a give-and-go passing sequence with Clyde Simms to give the visitors the lead before a Ricardo Clark own goal wrapped up the scoring late.

The win is a massive boost of confidence for New England, a team with obvious talent. The defense was solid and the Revs forced Houston in several moments of confusion in the Dynamo defensive end that speaks well of Jay Heaps and his coaching.

A first-half incident that led to the dismissal of both Bobby Boswell and the Revolution’s Dmitry Imbongo took the game to 10-on-10. Based on video replay, the Dynamo might lose Boswell for more than the mandatory one-game when the disciplinary committee has a look at his headbutt on the Revolution striker.

Seattle Sounders 4-2 FC Dallas - Video

Narrative: The Sounders, playing their best soccer of the year by miles, will have their hands full with the best team in the league so far, FC Dallas

Based on this result, Seattle is the league’s best team, regardless of FC Dallas’s much-better place in the standings. The Sounders beat FC Dallas comprehensively on a pair of goals by Eddie Johnson, one by Lamar Neagle and a late add-on tally by Obafemi Martins. After months of looking like a team that simply couldn’t replace the departed Fredy Montero no matter what they tried, Sigi Schmid now has the hottest team in the league on his hands.

All three Seattle scorers are on goal runs, showing the Sounders' depth of offensive talent.

FC Dallas crumbled under the Sounders barrage, but there’s no reason to think they’ll relinquish first place any time soon. Michel is an early season MVP candidate, seemingly out of nowhere, providing amazing service for FC Dallas’ dangerous set of attackers.

But yes, Seattle is back and for real. Look out, MLS.

San Jose 1-1 Colorado Rapids - Video

Narrative: San Jose, still looking for the real magic but now with Steven Lenhart back, meets a Colorado team on a winning streak

San Jose didn’t quite find the magic, though it did end Colorado’s winning streak at two thanks to Marvin Chavez's free kick that turned Rapids keeper Clint Irwin into an airborne whirling dervish. San Jose salvaged a point, again, and though it wasn’t a loss, Frank Yallop’s team is still failing to reach the heights they proved capable of last year.

-Video: MLS play of the weekend

There’s something missing that doesn't seem like to be found, even as the Quakes get closer to full health. The new Earthquakes might just be a team that flirts with the playoff line all season.

The Rapids, meanwhile, are doing the same for much of the same reasons. If not for injuries, one can't help but wonder if Colorado’s place in the standings would be stronger. Nevertheless, things are looking up for Oscar Pareja with his most important pieces back in the lineup.

New York Red Bulls 1-0 LA Galaxy - Video

Narrative: Clash of the Titans, fireworks ahead

There wasn’t much in the way of fireworks in the end, with New York squeaking out a victory on Tim Cahill’s late header. Cahill has suddenly found his knack for scoring again, a development that makes the Red Bulls much more dangerous. When Juninho Pernambucano’s dead-ball service found Cahill's head just in front of LA keeper Carlo Cudicini, all of the money spent by New York on those two players justified itself.

-More Red Bulls-Galaxy video

For LA, the loss to New York was the second half a two-game East Coast trip. The offense clicked in the first game against Philadelphia but never hit a rhythm against the Red Bulls. Missed chances -- and Cudicini’s hesitant goalkeeping -- preventing LA from picking up additional points.

The champs return home, where their reward for doing so is a matchup against the league’s hottest team, the Sounders. That game promises its own fireworks.

D.C. United 1-1 Sporting Kansas City - Video

Narrative: United haven’t earned a point since the Stone Age and Sporting KC is one of the best teams in the East--no reason to think it will change

Ultimately, the only thing that prevented Sporting from leaving RFK Stadium with three points and extending United's run of pointlessness was a missed offside call and Kyle Porter's goal from a perfect Chris Pontius cross. United will take the point and run -- it’s been so long since they had one, anything that isn’t a loss is worth building from -- but Sporting will rue the missed opportunity and the blown call.

Still, a team such as Sporting should have done better to create chances and test Bill Hamid, missed first-half goal or not. Sporting dominated much of the game, as one would expect, but was unable to put the ball into the net.

For D.C. United, the strong play of Hamid, the flashes of wing play that kept them in the match and in the end earned them a point, and the simple fact that they played and did not lose for the first time in more than two months is enough to celebrate and build upon.

Chivas USA 1-4 Real Salt Lake - Video

Narrative: Death-spiraling Chivas USA hosts RSL, who despite their late loss to Montreal last week, enters the HDC with confidence

Chivas’s death spiral continued, and RSL made sure of it. The visitors made it look easy, because it was, as they slashed Chivas USA’s three-man back line for a fourth-minute lead through the light-scoring Ned Grabavoy. In fact, nothing better encapsulates the desperate imbalance between ineffective attack and unsupported defending propagated by 'El Chelis' and Chivas USA this season than Grabavov's two goals. They were the ninth and 10th of his 10-year career.

Despite the comprehensiveness of the victory, RSL must feel they left goals on the field. Against Chivas, that’s not much of a problem--against the better teams in the league, however, not finishing chances will limit their success this season.

So what next for Chelis and Chivas USA? In the aftermath of the drubbing, Chelis sounded like a broken man, fighting a war with plastic weapons. He admitted the team lacks the quality to compete, so unless something changes dramatically in the Goats’ approach this summer, it will be a long, long year on the red and white side of the Home Depot Center.

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