Is Dallas Burning? PLUS: DC Rips Jabloteh a New One

For the love of Óscar Pareja would someone please tell me what's going on with Jeff Cunningham?

That's not a Steven Lenhart, bull-in-a-china-shop goal. That's just one damn nice piece of skill.

If they'd known that the well-traveled Jamaican born forward was going to go nuts (I'd say "catch fire" but Hunt Sports decided they preferred the inane - in the American context - "FC" moniker to being called "Burn") when they finally packed Frankencooper (and, presumably, his enormous schwanzstucker) off to Europe they would have done it last year.

In case you missed it, the final score last night was Dallas 1, New Englands' Playoff Hopes 0.

Of course, everyone has noticed that the teams occupying the bottom of the MLS table are suddenly acting like real live soccer teams, but Kansas City and New York are at least explainable because they have new guys calling the shots.

And as we've observed before, there's often a "Thank God the Old Coach is Gone" effect, a "bounce" if you will, when the players just feel so doggone good about life now that the last guy is playing golf all day that they go out and kick a bunch of end-of-season tail.

So with the Red Bulls under Richie "If My Scrawny Ass Could Do It, Yours Sure As Hell Can" Williams and the Wizards being helmed by Peter "Play Good or I'll Beat You to Death" Vermes, at least there's a rational explanation for the fact that suddenly they're among the last teams you want to see on your schedule.

And losing to, say, Houston or LA in a big "must win" game at the moment is at least explainable: they're good teams having good seasons under experienced coaches with impressive records.

Conversely, in Dallas, they're under the same coach that the fans have wanted tarred and feathered for months, a guy with absolutely no MLS experience who was apparently hired because the owner played for him back in the Eisenhower Administration.

I'll leave it to a post by loyal Dallas fan giggshasscored to put what's going on into some perspective:

First match without Kenny Cooper: 6-0 win against KC
Second match without Kenny Cooper: 1-0 win against Dynaho
First match without Drew Moor: 2-2 draw against DC United
Second match without Drew Moor: 6-3 win against Galaxy
First match after Pablo Richetti benching: 3-0 win against RSL
Second match afer Pablo Richetti benching: 1-0 win against NE Rev

All of which leads one to conclude that perhaps the guys running this show aren't as painfully imbecilic as had been previously believed. They suddenly have a lethal attack, a very solid midfield, an improving defense (Dallas winning matches 1-0 is, I believe, one of the signs of the Apocalypse) and, incredibly, after starting the season 2-8-1 have won five of nine since the All Star break, and 3 of their last 4.

As for Cunningham, currently on his fifth team since 2004, he's spent his career being pegged as the perfect third forward, a description he hates like Bruce Arena hates journalists.

Most people have forgotten that he was repeatedly invited into the Jamaican national side - he even played for them once, in a freindly - but, largely on the basis of what he felt were promises from the aforementioned Mr. Arena, repeatedly turned them down. Instead, he went through the long, tortuous process of getting US citizenship so that he could play for his adopted country whereupon, after a few appearances, including a forgettable start against Guatemala and a 90th minute insertion against Mexico in Columbus which seemed to piss him off as much as anything else, he was left off the 2006 World Cup side and has been a forgotten man ever since.

He still might have some usefulness coming off the bench for the US - streaky or not, when he's hot, as he is now, he's as dangerous as anyone we've got - but it's unlikely he'll get a call.

But you have to guess that even the current wheeler-dealer regime in Dallas isn't going to send him away anytime soon. It's probably safe to say that he's found a home in Dallas.

For his part, all Cunningham - a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve - has ever wanted is a little love and that's something Dallas fans seem more than happy to provide.

As for New England, who only added to their problems when Jay Heaps got carted off in the tenth minute, the loss puts them in the precarious 8th and last playoff spot while, incredibly, Dallas is now only four points back.

The loss was also a good break for DC United and Toronto FC, keeping both teams within easy reach of NE for the lone "wild card" spot that the East currently seems likely to get.

As for the DC/SJB game last night, well, it's hard to know what to say exactly.

Is Jabloteh really that bad? Is DC's bench really that good? Either way, the serious beat down the District laid on their opponent last night has to, at the least, give them some warm fuzzies leading up to Saturday's absolutely crucial do-or-die match with Chivas .

[ame=""]YouTube - DC United v San Juan Jabloteh Highlights[/ame]