Philadelphia, PA – It was a week that saw goals aplenty around MLS, while Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Robbie Rogers made a bit of history on Sunday night as we look back on Week 13 in Major League Soccer.
ROBBIE ROGERS MAKES HISTORY
The Los Angeles Galaxy hammered the Seattle Sounders by a 4-0 count at the Home Depot Center behind a hat trick from Irish international Robbie Keane.
But the result was hardly the biggest story.
With the Galaxy already ahead by a comfortable margin, U.S. international Robbie Rogers entered the match in the 77th minute, making him the first openly gay male athlete to compete in a professional team sport in this country.
Rogers was acquired by the Galaxy from the Chicago Fire last week in exchange for Mike Magee, and he admitted prior to the match that he battled some nerves.
"I guess part of me was just afraid - not afraid, but a little nervous, I guess," Rogers said in the post game press conference. "I understand that, I guess, historically this is a big thing, but for me, it's just another soccer game. So I've kind of been battling with both of those things: 'OK, a soccer game: I've done this a million times.' But then, obviously, I'm not naive, I know people are watching."
Rogers came out back in February and immediately announced his retirement from the game, but then began training with the Galaxy and realized he wanted to return to MLS.
And once he stepped on the pitch Sunday night, it was as if he'd never left as he got a rousing round of applause from the Home Depot Center crowd.
"I only had a few touches, so I was happy to get a few touches," Rogers said. "My running felt pretty good - I felt like I haven't lost too much speed - but it was 4-0, so it's hard to say. I think the real test will come maybe Wednesday [in the US Open Cup meeting with the NASL's Carolina RailHawks] or the weekend [at New England]."
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena noted that Rogers has much work to do and can not be evaluated as a player based on one match.
"In terms of a player, he can't be judged tonight. He can't be judged in the next couple of weeks," Arena said. "Down the road, he can be judged as a player. It's way too early. We're just fortunate the game tonight played out the way it did and there was an opportunity to get him on the field. But he's got a way to go, and it's going to take some time, and we'll be patient with him."
Rogers' return to the pitch is certainly a landmark moment in the history of American professional sports, and while there will be immediate pressure on Rogers to perform to the best of his ability, Sunday's occasion leaves only one thing to be said:
Well done Robbie Rogers, well done.
OFFENSIVE OUTBURTS APELNTY
One of the more typical comments among those who do not count themselves as soccer fans is that the sport does not offer enough of an offensive punch.
That certainly wasn't the case this weekend.
The Portland Timbers are officially on a roll as Caleb Porter's team handled struggling D.C. United by a 2-0 score at RFK Stadium to run their impressive unbeaten run in league play to 11 consecutive matches.
Goals from Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe were all Portland needed to secure the victory, while across the continent in Montreal, forward Marco Di Vaio torched the Philadelphia Union for a first-half hat trick en route to a 5-3 win at Saputo Stadium.
In the weekend's final goal-fest, Seattle Sounders had no answer for Robbie Keane, who bagged his first career MLS hat trick as the Galaxy rolled to a 4-0 rout.
OTHER ACTION AROUND THE LEAGUE
In other weekend action around MLS, the New England Revolution appear to be turning a corner after their 2-0 victory over Toronto FC at Gillette Stadium.
Homegrown forward Diego Fagundez netted his third goal in as many matches and Juan Agudelo scored his second in a New England kit as the Revs won their second consecutive league match.
FC Dallas collected a goal from Fabian Castillo in the 33rd minute to pull out a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at FC Dallas Stadium. The result keeps FCD atop the Western Conference standings with 27 points, while San Jose sits in seventh place on 15 points.
Colorado Rapids continued their good run of form on Saturday by posting a 2-0 win over Chivas USA at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids got off to a poor start this season, but have rebounded nicely by going unbeaten in their last five matches to jump into a playoff spot in the West.
In Utah on Saturday, Quincy Amarikwa scored his first goal of the season as the Chicago Fire snatched a point against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.
On Sunday, Brad Davis and Kei Kamara swapped goals as the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City battled to a 1-1 draw, while Jamison Olave scored in stoppage time to save a point for New York in a 2-2 stalemate against the Columbus Crew.
NEW YORK RED BULLS - New York Red Bulls continue to roll as their 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew extended their unbeaten streak in league play to seven consecutive matches. The Red Bulls fell behind just two minutes in but Thierry Henry equalized in the 31st minute. Federico Higuain netted a PK in the 78th minute but again New York had an answer as Jamison Olave scored in stoppage time. Head coach Mike Petke has his club playing top-drawer football and they sit at the top of the Eastern Conference table with 25 points.
MONTREAL IMPACT - The Montreal Impact might be the most dangerous team in MLS after Italian Designated Player Marco Di Vaio netted a first-half hat trick in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Union. First-year head coach Marco Schallibaum is a front-runner for Coach of the Year and has his team playing an attractive brand of attacking soccer as the Impact have a chance to win the East in just their second season in the league.
PHILADELPHIA UNION - The Philadelphia Union were completely outclassed by Montreal over the weekend as the back line routinely lost track of Di Vaio in allowing him to burn them for three goals in just over 30 minutes on Saturday. The Union conceded five goals, the most in a single game in franchise history by the end of the 90 minutes and questions linger about the quality and depth of the back line. Defenders Gabriel Farfan and Bakary Soumare were traded in the past couple weeks, leaving the Philadelphia defense paper thin and exposed by the attacking prowess of Montreal. They need to figure out how to fill some depth at the back quickly or their hopes of a playoff berth will be dashed.
TORONTO FC - Toronto continues to struggle mightily as the Reds fell to the New England Revolution on Saturday by a 2-0 count at Gillette Stadium. TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen and president Kevin Payne have good intentions to improve the team as they acquired veteran Bobby Convey to provide some leadership, but no matter who TFC adds to the roster, the results don't seem to be coming. The Reds have taken three points just once this season -- a surprise 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City -- back on March 9 at Rogers Centre. The season is quickly turning into another rebuilding project after it started with such promise early on.
THE WEEK AHEAD
It will be a busy upcoming week as many MLS clubs will compete in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup competition on Tuesday and Wednesday in addition to a full slate of regular-season matches this weekend.
D.C. United, Colorado, Philadelphia, FC Dallas, San Jose, New England, SKC, Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA will all play USOC matches on Tuesday, while on Wednesday, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Columbus, Houston, Seattle and Portland will play USOC games.