Soccer Weekly with Brandon Wolak: Crazy Season Begins

On Friday night, Sporting Kansas City (5-4-3) drew 2-2 against Toronto FC in one of the more entertaining fixtures of the season. League-leading goal poacher Dom Dwyer netted another brace, but it wasn’t enough to earn three points as Toronto scored two short-handed goals in the second half.

Dwyer commented after the match, “It wasn’t meant to be tonight, that was the only frustration but again it was a good performance and I thought the guys in the back did a fantastic job. We don’t have one natural center back playing out there and no one looked a step out of place, so credit to them.”

Ah yes, about that backline situation…

Just when things couldn’t get much worse for Sporting Kansas City’s defense, Toronto’s Jermain Defoe takes out Chance Myers for the rest of the season. If you are scoring at home, that means that Sporting are currently without defenders Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Ike Opara, and now Chance Myers.

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Despite what my buddy Miles thinks, Myers is not faking an injury in order to reprise his roll as Johnny Lawrence in a new Karate Kid movie. Sweep the leg Johnny.

The good news for Sporting’s defense is that Erik Palmer-Brown will be available for the next match after sitting out a game for earning a red card in his debut. That’s right, a 17-year-old high school kid is our best option presently. The kid showed a lot of promise in his first match, but he has a long way to go before he is ready to anchor Sporting’s defense.

The timing of all this chaos couldn’t be much worse. Thierry Henry and his New York Red Bulls (3-5-5) will be rolling into town on Tuesday night looking to get back into the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. Presently, they sit two points out of the playoffs. A win would catapult them within one point of Sporting Kansas City (who sit in a tie for second place with Handball United).

The logjam that is the Eastern Conference should make for an interesting summer. Of the ten teams in the conference, nine have a legitimate shot at sneaking into one of the five playoff spots (sorry Montreal, you suck too hard to sniff anything but last place this year). Between the league parody, injuries, and World Cup call-ups, this should be a race for the ages.

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Stray Thoughts

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Huge props to Landon Donovan. After getting cut from the USMNT, he went absolutely mental and scored two goals against Philadelphia Union Sunday night to take sole possession of Major League Soccer’s career goal-scoring record. I am of the mindset that Landon Donovan is good for soccer in this country, and I also think that it is important that supporters of soccer in the United States embrace all of its stars. It is a darn shame that we as fans might not get to watch this legend play for much longer. It is also a darn shame that MLS opponents will have deal with a pissed off and motivated Landon Donovan for the immediate future. I predict right now that he ends up a top five goal scorer this season, even after he spotted the rest of the league a one-third season head start.

In regards to Donovan’s snub with the USMNT, it was a bit of a shock, but it wasn’t completely unexpected. Jürgen Klinsmann has been very vocal about his displeasure with Donovan taking a sabbatical from soccer last year. I’m speculating a bit, but it seems like Klinsmann is trying to go for a bit of a youth movement with an eye towards the 2018 World Cup. For this edition of the World Cup, Klinsmann seems to be saying that our best chance of getting out of the “group of death” is to out-run and out-fitness our opponents. Donovan is arguably one of the most skilled domestic players, but his fitness has been called into question as 32-year-old enters the twilight of his career. If I were running the show, Donovan would have at least made the 23-man roster as a super sub.

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Replica Ring Giveaway

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If you are heading to the match versus New York Red Bulls on Tuesday, be sure to get there early. The first 15,000 fans will receive replica championship rings. If you can’t make it out to the match (7:00 PM first touch), be sure to follow me on Twitter: @Baron_von_KC  . Better yet, come introduce yourself, and I might just buy you a brew!

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