2009's Most Memorable MLS Games
|These are the nine games I'll remember most from the past MLS season (from all competitions). Not necessarily the highest quality, but the ones we'll still be talking about years later:|
March 19 - Seattle Sounders FC 3:0 New York Red Bulls
The debut of the Sounders. I went into this expecting Seattle to win, not because I thought they were the better team, but rather that NY's foreign signings (Pacheco, Johnson, Celades) wouldn't arrive until a couple games later. But I and everyone else was amazed at just how amazing the crowd was, and it was the start of a magical season for the team and its fans. It's not just that it was a debut victory, but the emphatic nature of it that made it special. Fredy Montero ran wild, including the embarrassing gaffe by Mike Petke that resulted in the third goal.
April 25 - Columbus Crew 2:2 Chicago Fire
Also known as the "Blanco jersey" game. This early season match was between the top two MLS Cup favorites entering the season, and it didn't disappoint. Going into it, both teams were headed in opposite directions. The Crew were defending champions, yet winless at 0-2-3. The Fire meanwhile were still undefeated at 2-0-3.
The Crew jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead, but the changing point of the match came in the 57th minute, when Gino Padula was sent off for a foul on Cuauhtemoc Blanco. It was definitely not a slam dunk red card. The Fire then scored twice in the game's final five minutes to ensure both teams would keep their steaks going. But the real story emerged in the days following the match. It turns out that Blanco gave his jersey to referee Jair Marrufo after the match, and Marrufo accepted it. Blanco wasn't punished, while Marrufo was suspended for two games.
April 26 - New York Red Bulls 2:3 D.C. United
NY is dead. The season was only a month old, but for all intents and purposes NY's chances ended here. It was a classic Metro failure, with the team coming back from a goal down at halftime to take the lead, only to give up two goals at the death. It epitomized the entire history of the franchise.
June 18 - Montreal Impact 1:6 Toronto FC
The final game of the 2009 Canadian Championship. Due to losing their last match in Vancouver, TFC needed a four goal victory on the road to win the title. Things went from bad to worse when Montreal was awarded a penalty and converted it, meaning that five goals were now necessary. Yet somehow, everything clicked and one after another, they came. Dwayne De Rosario with the hat trick, and Amado Guevara with another great free kick goal.
July 16 - New York Red Bulls 1:3 Los Angeles Galaxy
After all the press from Grant Wahl's book "The Beckham Experiment" and the loan to AC Milan, David Beckham returned to MLS. It was immediately apparent that LA would not be a dysfunctional mess. They dominated, with Landon Donovan raising his game and showing that he was the best player on the team. He scored an amazing goal and set up another to Eddie Lewis, while Alecko Eskandarian scored a great one of his own. LA was up 3-0 after a great first half display, and Beckham had little to do with it despite all the attention. LD and Becks were even seen hugging each other.
September 2 - D.C. United 1:2 Seattle Sounders FC
Open Cup final. The game itself was great, as both teams had played five games to get here and took it very seriously. I remember being upset that DC got to host. They had played every game of the 2008 tournament at home and won, and followed that by playing five more home games to get to this final. It seemed like a no-brainer to give it to Seattle, both because of that and because of their larger crowds. So there was a war of words going into it over that. Seattle was also missing both of their starting center backs due to injury and suspension. They started the match with Patrick Ianni and Tyson Wahl instead. Sigi Schmid also started Peter Vagenas in place of Brad Evans. It's fair to say they were the underdogs, but they deserved their victory.
The most memorable thing was a moment of madness from Josh Wicks. It came only a few days after the DC goalkeeper had a remarkable incident in the previous match, the 1-0 regular season victory over Chicago. Wicks had almost gotten into a fight with his own teammate Marc Burch in the late stages of the match, giving us this amazing photo. Well, Wicks did it again by stomping on Fredy Montero after he scored the opener and getting ejected.
October 31 - Real Salt Lake 1:0 Columbus Crew
Robert Warzycha's decision to bench Alejandro Moreno and Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the team's first playoff game will surely be debated for a long time to come. And it's not just that they didn't start, neither came off the bench as well. RSL would score near the end of the game to win 1-0, a moment of deja vu along with their 2008 playoff opener against Chivas USA. The Crew defense could not hold out for all 90 minutes.
November 13 - Los Angeles Galaxy 2:0 Houston Dynamo
The lights go out at the Home Depot Center. Twice. Did MLS stand for Mismanaged Lights Soccer? Anyway, after Houston had a goal disallowed due to a foul, the game went to extra time where the Galaxy put it away.
November 22 - Real Salt Lake 1:1 (5-4 pens) Los Angeles Galaxy
Of course we'll remember the MLS Cup. I thought RSL was dead after the opening goal. Then again, I also thought that many other times during the playoffs, both before and during the games.
Labels: memorable games