Despite an anodyne image, the American soccer fan base can be cruel. So when an American player makes a crucial mistake on the world’s biggest soccer stage, it will follow them for a lifetime. Chris Wondolowski was one of these players, but this week he deserves the highest praise for reaching a historic career milestone, one of several twists and turns this week in MLS. Poor refereeing once again was also in the spotlight in a big game, a Major League Soccer veteran did what he does best and came through when his team needed him most, one of the league’s newest faces is becoming one of it’s best talents, and a new candidate for the MLS golden boot has emerged this week. If you missed any of the action this holiday weekend, we’ll get you caught up:
1. Wondo hits 100
No matter what you think of Chris Wondolowski’s international exploits, he’s had a tremendous career in MLS. While the San Jose Earthquakes striker has come under fire by many American soccer fans for his crucial miss against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, fans and media alike should take the time to appreciate Wondo scoring his 100th league goal. With his second half converted penalty against Orlando, he became the second fastest player in league history to reach the century mark. Wondo’s ability to reach this milestone so soon is incredible considering how his career began. Serving as nothing more than a bench player for his first six seasons, he entered the 2010 season with just seven career goals. His eighteen goal season in 2010 put him on the path to MLS stardom, and he went on to score seventy-four more goals in the next four plus seasons, combining for a total of ninety-two goals in one-hundred fifty-six games. That’s an astonishing 0.61/per game strike rate. Wondo may have struck out at the World Cup, but he’ll be in the MLS record books for forever.
2. Giovinco proves his worth to Toronto FC
Eyebrows were raised not only in North America but all over the world when Sebastian Giovinco decided to join MLS. A Juventus and Italian National Team player at only 27 years of age, a player of Seba’s calibre joining Major League Soccer would’ve been unheard of just a few years ago. Toronto FC inked the diminutive attacker to a 4 year contract worth 7 million dollars a year making him the highest paid Italian soccer player in the world. Giovinco has wasted no time living up to that huge contract. His stunning left-footed strike against Portland on Saturday was his fifth goal in league play. TFC have started slowly, but with Giovinco and Michael Bradley starting to develop on-field chemistry, Toronto are starting to produce results worthy of their talent.
3. Super Alan Gordon rescues LA once again
No matter the club Alan Gordon has served in his long MLS career, he’s always managed to score clutch goals. With his stoppage time game-winner against the Houston Dynamo this weekend, he tied Taylor Twellman for the third most stoppage time goals in MLS history. This season Gordon’s ability has been especially valuable to the LA Galaxy, as three of his four goals have either earned his side a draw or a win. This game was no exception; Gordon’s winner snapped the club’s five game winless streak. The Galaxy attack in truth has struggled mightily during that span, producing a paltry three goals. In fact, they have yet to score more than two goals in a game this season and have only had three two-goal games so far. With the return of Robbie Keane and Alan Gordon on the bench ready to save the day, things are looking up for the defending MLS Cup champions.
4. Kamara’s brace puts him into the Golden boot lead
Kei Kamara has played a total of nine seasons in MLS for five different clubs. In 2012 for Sporting KC he scored 11 goals, the most he’s scored in any season. His two goal effort against the Chicago Fire on Friday night pushed his goal total for this season to nine in only eleven games played. Barring an injury or a very poor run of form, he’s on pace to smash his personal goals per season record and possibly contend for the league’s Golden boot award—he’s two goals ahead of Clint Dempsey for the lead. Kamara plays for a very good team in the Columbus Crew and has no international obligations during the Summer, making him a strong favorite for the coveted end-of-season award.
5. Bad refereeing, poor discipline costs New England
It was a pretty awful week for the New England Revolution, the result of some poor refereeing and ill-discipline. Midweek they traveled to Kansas City to face SKC, and what started out as a potential classic turned into a rout when referee Alan Chapman awarded one of the softest penalties you’ll ever seen in the first half. Instead of a manageable one goal halftime deficit, the team trailed 3-1 and lost all focus to end up losing the game. Amazingly, it was the first ever regular season loss by the Revs with Jermaine Jones on the field. This past weekend they headed home to take on DC United, and again things started well early on as Charlie Davies gave them the lead on the brink of halftime. It all unraveled early in the second half when Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen both got sent off within six minutes of each other, and the MLS Cup runner-ups had to play with nine men for the last thirty minutes. The Revs fought valiantly, but DC equalized with ten minutes remaining. The Revs are one of the most talented teams in the league, but discipline issues like this could cost them when the most important games come around.