It may sound as simple and straightforward as a thought can be, but when the ball is in play, you must treat it as such. Many players forget this simple truth. But Orlando City's Pedro Ribeiro proved its wisdom on Friday night when he pressured Houston's Tyler Deric into conceding a 74th minute winner.
Dynamic defender David Horst passed the ball back to his own goalkeeper, meaning that Deric could not handle the ball. He had to get rid of it, and he had to do it with his feet. Ribeiro, a 54th minute substitute, knew this, ran after the ball, prevented Deric's clearing attempt, and headed down the rebound. Even if Ribeiro hadn't scored, it's likely that Deric's desperate defending would have resulted in a penalty kick being awarded as the keeper found himself on the wrong side of the attacker.
How many goals has Carlos Tevez scored by harassing goalkeepers like this? Or Didier Drogba? Many of the best strikers, past and present, will fight for these kinds of balls. But it's rare that you see a player do this in the Major League.
Vancouver have one in Octavio Rivero, who showed this kind of thinking against Toronto on Matchday One, and doubled his tally in Chicago on Matchday Two. Rivero is a truly electrifying player, the type of man who will put bums in the seats, and then get them off it. That's something the Whitecaps have been missing ever since Camilo Sanvezzo's controversial transfer to Méxican side Querétaro FC.
But before that, rightly or wrongly, Rivero found his name in the book when he was given a yellow card for simulation. He embellished his fall after Michael Stephens tripped him in the box, and he was penalised for it. He probably did deserve the penalty kick, but he overplayed his hand. Either way, we're glad to see referees cautioning players for simulation. It's the only way to stamp that kind of behaviour out of the Beautiful Game.
Of course, it's not a perfect system. As our own Mynor Campos will tell you, being a referee is a thankless job. They only get a split second to make a decision. They don't have the benefit of video replays. They can consult with the other officials, but in the end, one person has to make the decision, and they can only hope to get it right.
Columbus Crew SC, five-time winners of the Trillium Cup, got off to an early lead with their two-goal first leg win over the visitors from Toronto. The Red Patch Boys might think they have every right to feel aggrieved by Justin Morrow's red card. But they'd be wrong.
He and Ethan Finlay both went for the ball, and neither had control. After examining the incident, we think that referee David Gantar got it right... for the most part. Findley did not have control of the ball, so Morrow could not deny him a clear goal scoring opportunity. At best, Columbus deserved a free kick on the edge of the box. At worst, Morrow's action warranted a yellow, but not a straight red.
That said, we have the benefit of video replays. We have angles. The referee was several yards back, and he had bodies in the way. We're not sure exactly what he saw, but given everything that Gantar faced, we're not surprised that he went to his back pocket.
Our old friend Atiba Harris, now a converted right back for FC Dallas, was lucky not to be sent off against Sporting Kansas City. Naturally, there was no intent behind it, but he was late, and his studs were showing. The Hoops led by one goal at the time. Sporting would tie it up nine minutes later, but in the second half, Dallas got some help from the linesman.
FC Dallas had as many as five players in offside positions when the ball was struck, including the goal scorer, Blas Pérez. That's not just a bad day at the office. It's the kind of day when the window starts to look like a viable exit.
With five draws in their last seven encounters, it surprised no one when Real Salt Lake and the Philadelphia Union ended in stalemate. But the way it came about certainly did. After splitting four goals and four cautions, Real's Jámison Olave scored an own goal, the clubs traded two more cautions, and capped the night with a dodgy penalty. As Benidorm's Mick Garvey would say, "you're taking the piss, aren't you?" It was that kind of night, but more was yet to come.
It took Seattle Sounders FC a whole nineteen seconds to get on the score sheet against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Emerald City Supporters, Gorilla FC, North End Faithful, and Eastside Supporters must have been in rapture. The Sounders beat Anschutz Cup finalists New England Revolution 3-0 last week, and they were well on their way to dispatching their Heritage Cup rivals this week.
But fate can be a cruel mistress. Chris scored a Wondo-ful goal in the 14th minute, and he did it again in the 48th. Seattle was stunned. This was not in the script. But all was well. Víctor Bernárdez was good enough to get himself sent off, meaning that the ten Earthquake men would have to weather the Seattle assault for almost an entire half.
But then a funny thing happened. Innocent Emeghara played a wonderful give and go with Wondolowski, Brad Evans overcommitted, and the Earthquakes led 3-1.
The Big Green made it interesting when Obafemi Martins scored one of the easiest goals of his career, and never mind that Andy Rose was in an offside position when he received the ball. Martins' goal added some excitement to the last six minutes.
On Sunday, Yankee Stadium was transformed. It became a football stadium, and it worked. Sure, it was just 110 by 70 yards, the smallest playing surface allowed by FIFA, but it looked all right. Like Chicago, New York has only recently removed the winter tarp, but that's a temporary issue. Soon, the grass will be lush and green.
And as for the football, the Citizens put on a good show. New England often looked dangerous, they always do when Lee Nguyen is in the lineup, but the home team won, and they did it in style. New York's captain, David Villa, scored the first, and assisted on the second.
Not to be outdone, the week's final match featured a seemingly 90th minute winner by Portland's Fanendo Adi, his second of the game, but deep into stoppage time, former Timber and current Galaxy forward Alan Gordon headed it home to share the spoils. Los Angeles have a nasty habit of pulling those kinds of stunts.
Looking ahead to next week, the Montreal Impact have a CONCACAF Champions League Semi-Final date with LD Alajuelense to look forward to, while DC United and the Red Bull New York will meet in the 20th edition of the Atlantic Cup.