Dogs and Cats Living Together

If you're part of the Truther/Birther/Grassy Knoll/Area 51-style lunatic fringe (or a resident of Toronto) that believes MLS is scripted by a small cabal of evil corporate puppetmasters in New York, you'd better knock back a couple fingers of Wild Turkey or a nice fat Bob Marley spliff before you read this, because your head may be about to explode.

Gooooooood Morning MLS! The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the Los Angeles Galaxy just took over first place in the West yesterday and clinched a spot in the 2009 Playoffs.

The fact that they did it sitting at home watching Chivas' Maicon Santos score against DC United doesn't diminish the glow one little bit:


For the record they're calling this an own goal on Kocic, a ruling which is perhaps - just perhaps - a bit harsh. Now if they'd like to annotate the record to indicate that Julius James does a pretty lame imitation of "defense" that would be, perhaps, a bit more just.

LA is now two points away from the Shield and are one of only two teams that have clinched a post season slot, this after not even sniffing the playoffs since winning the Cup in 2005.

This is of course the same team that went 8-13-9 last season, finishing dead last and tied for the worst record in the league. The question is not whether Bruce Arena will win Coach of the year, but if anyone else will get a vote.

There is of course a caveat here, that being the fact that Houston is hosting KC this afternoon in the Sunday MLS Blackout Match (that's www.justin.tv but you didn't hear it from me), so it's entirely possible that their stay on top of the West will be a brief one.

The other story of note as we head into the final weeks of the season is the shocking collapse of the East Division.

Anyone remember last year, when picking MLS winners was simply a matter of taking the team from the East over the team from the West? Hell, the West was so bad that they didn't even have a representative in MLS Cup. The eighth place New York Red Bulls, who backed into the playoffs with a sub-500 record, made it to the Cup based on being lucky enough to only have to face Western division opponents to get there.

Well, those days are over my friend.

What we've witnessed this weekend is the Beast of the East laying down like a cheap doormat.

When the bloodletting was over yesterday, the West had chalked up four wins (five if you count Dallas 1-0 win over the Revs on Wednesday) and a draw while giving up a grand total of one goal collectively.

Put another way, the East was shut out in 5 out of 6 games.

Put another way, they're really stinking the place up.

The only player in the entire East division of Major League Soccer to score this weekend was New England's Kheli Dube who converted a very nice Kenny Mansally free kick:


Textbook stuff, brilliant execution, no question. Very pretty indeed. But when five professional teams play a combined total of over 540 minutes of soccer, you somehow expect a little more than one stinking goal.

And of course, as fortune continues to spread her legs for the Colorado Rapids in the form of penalty kicks awarded when down a goal, Dube's goal was matched by a Conor Casey PK, making the final 1-1, leaving the Rapids looking very solid for the post season while New England clings to the eighth and final spot.

If you need more proof of how bizarre it's all suddenly become for the East, look no further than automatic, sure thing, money-in-the-bank casher of PK's Guillermo Barros-Schelotto:


His shocking 83rd minute miss allowed a Sounders team that was under siege for almost the full 90 minutes to become the first visitor to leave Crew stadium with a win since June of 2008 when the coach was, of course, Sounders manager Sigi Schmid.

Even more surprising, the once almost insurmountable lead which had no less of an unimpeachable authority than Dan Loney awarding the Shield to Columbus just two weeks ago has suddenly shrunk to a mere 2 points over the Gals with Houston able to tie them at 46 with a win this afternoon over KC.

And as everyone has remarked over the last few weeks - yours truly being first and foremost among them - the teams who spent the first five months of the season sucking have suddenly become very dangerous opponents for clubs driving for the playoffs.

But what happens when the cellar-dwellers in each division - in this case New York and San Jose -square off?

If you don't know, go back to the top and start reading again. Those of you who have been following along here already know how to bet this one: the team from the West, as Saint Joe cashed a 10th minute PK and held on for 80 minutes - although the issue never seemed much in doubt as New York never really seemed to get their offense untracked and the Quakes ran their unbeaten streak to four games.

Which brings us back to another West division team currently on a four game unbeaten streak, namely Chivas USA who played a very frustrated looking DC side.

Unfortunately, the league has suddenly gotten fairly squeamish about providing clips of ejection incidents so I can't offer up the video which might illustrate, as well as anything else, DC United's season:

Cobra Kai thug Yamith Cuestra nailed DC's Ben Olsen in the back with an elbow that would get you arrested anyplace else, an assault so shocking that even Kevin "White Cane" Stott noticed and had a yellow card in his hand while trying to get Cuestras' attention. Olsen got to his feet, set the ball down and drilled the Chivas man in the back with it.

So Olsen was gone along with, quite possibly, DC's season as the District now sits on 36 points, 9th place, out of the playoffs and in a bad mood.

For their part, the Goats are somehow 3 points back of LA after this Padilla volley:


Between the Kocic goal, whoever you blame for it, and this monumental piece of Mark Burch suckitude, Olsen's action was so emblematic of the feelings of DC's fans and players that it's almost embarrassingly obvious. Which of course didn't stop the screenplay office in New York from writing it.

So it's suddenly down to the Wizards this afternoon to go into Houston and show those cocky West divisionites who's boss.

Or not.