By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
MLS Playoffs:Top seeds beaten in first leg; Adu benched
MIAMI — Thus far the top seeds have guaranteed nothing to the San Jose Earthquakes and New England Revolution. The Western and Eastern Conference’s top seeds both lost the opening leg their respective playoff series and have it all to do when the return home next weekend.
Yet the biggest news of the weekend was in DC and Chicago as United’s Freddy Adu was suspended for the opening leg of their series against the Fire in Chi-town.
Galaxy 3, San Jose 1
San Jose fans had tanuted Landon Donovan all season long. Donovan who led the Earthquakes to two MLS Cups, left San Jose to fulfill his contract with German club Bayer Leverkusen, only to leave a month later and sign with his hometown (and bitter San Jose rivals) L.A. Galaxy. The move didn’t stop San Jose from securing the Supporter’s Shield as the league’s best team with 64 points.
However, Donovan is about 90 minutes from getting the last laugh. He scored twice on Sunday to lead LA to a 3-1 win in the first leg of their Conference semifinal, played in LA.
Veteran Cobi Jones was a significant catalyst for the Galaxy in the first half. His 24th minute run through the Earthquakes defense was ended only by a hard, yellow-card inducing foul by San Joe’s Wade Barrett. Budding star Hercules Gomez nailed the ensuing free kick that took a slight deflection into the net.
Gomez turned provider in the 39th sending a cross into the Earthquakes’ penalty area that was poorly cleared and slotted home by Donovan. 2-0 LA.
Ricardo Clark (l) scored for SJ but it was Landon Donovan’s show (MLS)
Ricardo Clark brought the two-time champs within one in the 68th minute. It was LA’s turn not to clear a free kick and Clark took one touch and buried the shot just inside the post.
But Donovan finished the match off, receiving a long pass from Jones and flicking the ball over the head of on rushing GK Pat Onstead. Donovan headed it into the empty net for his 2nd goal and completed the 3-1 scoreline.
NY/NJ Metrostars 1, Revolution 0
The Metrostars’ Amado Guevara complained that he was unfairly targeted by MLS referees. He had come in for some criticism for disappearing in games and not working hard for the shirt he plays in.
Yet in one moment of brilliance he showed why he was the 2004 MLS MVP. In the 34th minute, Guevara took a throw in on the left side, lost his marker drilled his shot 26 yards past GK Matt Reis to give the Metros a 1-0 win over the East’s top seed, New England Revolution.
While the goal and the response to Guevara’s critics was impressive, it paled in comparison to defensive effort turned in by the Metrostars. They kept MLS Gold Boot (leading goal scorer) Taylor Twellman on lockdown for the entire 90 minutes and stifiled New England in the midfield, not allowing players like Pat Dempsey and Sharlie Joseph to create and space or service for Twellman.
It was NY/NJ’s first playoff win in 4 years and they will look to complete the job in Foxboro next weekend, needing a win or a tie to move on. Not bad for a team that gained the playoffs on the very last day of the season.
Chicago Fire 0, DC United 0
A defensive struggle that simply needed one of the league’s best talents to unlock the home side’s defense. Yet the player most suited to the job was, well…wearing a suit.
Freddy Adu was suspended by defending champion DC United on game day for “conduct detrimental to the team” and watched Chicago and DC fail to resolve anything in a 0-0 draw at Soldier’s Field. Adu had publicly complained about his inconsistent playing time two days before the playoff opener and was suspended for not apologizing to the team before the the first leg began.
DC could have used him. DC United coach Peter Nowak was correct when he said, “Chicago didn’t do much,” as they managed only two shots on goal though they had an apparent game winner disallowed for a foul off the ball in the 90th minute. The problem for DC was they had none. By suspending Adu, Nowak essentially made Adu’s argument for him.
The 4 time MLS Champions will look to take control in RFK Stadium next weekend.
But back to Adu. Let’s be serious. For Adu to bring this up just days before DC starts to defend its championship is absolutely stupid. But for United to bring Adu to Chicago, knowing full well that they were going to drop him from the game day squad after forcing him to apologize or be suspended didn’t exactly foster goodwill either. Still no word in Adu will dress for Game 2 or whether he will ever play for DC United again.
Rapids 0, FC Dallas 0
The Rapids and FC Dallas accomplished next to nothing in their opening leg and the Hoops as FCD are known, will look to finish off the Denver based side in Pizza Hut Park next weekend.
Eddie Johnson is out for the rest of the season and head coach elected to keep Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz on the bench giving a start to Ecudorian Roberto Mina. Meanwhile Jeff Cunnningham was left on the bench as well as Haiti’s Jean-Phillippe Peguero and Alan Nkong partnered with Dedi Ben-Dayan in the attack for Colorado.
However the play was bottled up in the middle of the park with only six total shots on goal recorded. The introduction of Cunnigham and Ruiz later in the match did not liven up either offense and the most significant play of the match was Scott Garlick’s 87th miraculous save on Ben-Dayan’s diving header.
Teams advance based on aggregate goals scored over two legs in the Conference Semifinal and Final round while MLS Cup 2005 will be decided by a single game to be played at Pizza Hut Park on Novemeber 13.