There was an attendance record in Seattle, more drama in the Magical Mystery Tour that is the Red Bulls’ 2011 season, and a new leader in the Premier League—but before we get to all that, let’s check out the latest piece of magic from Lionel Messi:
That was not too shabby. We’re pretty sure that first touch is a future first-ballot entry in the First Touch Hall of Fame.
We also found it amazing how three of the four defenders turned their attention away from Messi after he made the pass to Iniesta. It was kind of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach to defending the best player in the world in your own 18.
While goals like that by Messi always get worldwide recognition, it’s not every week that Major League Soccer makes international waves, but Seattle Sounders FC did just that on Saturday night.
The three-year-old Pacific Northwest club pulled in 64,140 fans for goalkeeper Kasey Keller’s final regular-season home game (he’s retiring at the end of the year). It was the third-largest non-doubleheader crowd in league history, and the fourth-largest soccer crowd on the planet on Saturday night.
Only Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich drew larger crowds that night. Needless to say, Seattle—and their Cascadian brethren Portland and Vancouver—have been fantastic additions to the league.
French superstar Thierry Henry has also been, for the most part, a fantastic addition to MLS. He currently leads the Red Bulls in scoring with 14 goals—including several of the incredibly clutch variety—but he’s also shown flashes of surprising recklessness in his brief time with New York.
There have been several borderline incidents—blasting a dead ball off Kevin Hartman’s foot after a goal last season (injuring the keeper’s MCL in the process), love-tapping Adam Moffat in the back of the head just a little too hard earlier this season, and grabbing Nat Borchers by the throat last month.
Who knows whether moments like that were in referee Kevin Stott’s head on Saturday afternoon, but the official did not hesitate to show Henry a straight red for charging into Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza while the midfielder was on the ground in the 27th minute of New York’s pivotal visit to Livestrong Sporting Park.
Controversial? A poll on the league website was running about 50-50 this morning on the question of whether or not the ejection was deserved.
Judge for yourself:
Justified or not, the sending off turned the game, as shorthanded New York could not hold on for the next 63 minutes, and fell 2-0. They’ll be without Henry for Thursday night’s win-and-you’re-in season finale against Philadelphia at Red Bull Arena. Check out the rest of this week’s MLS action right here.
The Premier League didn’t have the drama (or the attendance high-water mark) of MLS, Week 31, but there were some big results that installed a new team at the top of the table.
Manchester United needed a late goal from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to salvage a 1-1 draw at Anfield, while Man City belted Aston Villa 4-1 to move into first place with a 7-0-1 record, two points clear of their intra-city rivals.
Among Yanks in England, Tim Howard went the full 90 against Chelsea and made two saves in Everton’s 3-1 loss; Clint Dempsey started and went the distance in Fulham’s 2-0 loss to Stoke City; and Brad Friedel made four saves for Tottenham but couldn’t keep out Shola Ameobi’s 85th-minute equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Newcastle.
How did the Premier League action affect your BPFL team? We’ll have a BPFL post for you in the coming days, from Our Man at the Valley, now that he has returned from Budokan, where, like Cheap Trick, he is absolutely massive.