This week's 5 Things is a little bit different: in a world where everyone wants a number 10, a love letter to the number 9s.
1. Morris Throws It Down
Returns from Jordan Morris have been very quiet so far this year. While he's looked eager and energetic, nearly scoring a couple times through sheer determination, he's hardly taken the world by storm as so many who predicted he would have a rookie of the year campaign thought that he would. He's looked uncertain on the wing and Seattle's offense has still yet to really click.
That is exactly the kind of goal Sounders fans have been waiting for Morris to score. Ivanschitz gets the ball wide on the left, curls a ball behind the defense, and the middle of the field opens up for Morris to turn on the afterburners and use his pace to get between Philadelphia's centerbacks. A cool finish with the toe beats Andre Blake, and Seattle would take that goal to the bank for the full three points.
2. All About CJ
Speaking about that Philly-Seattle game, CJ Sapong once again proved why he's one of the most dangerous forwards in MLS right now, getting the Union right back into the game with a beautiful headed assist to Sebastian Le Toux. Sapong runs off of Brad Evans's back shoulder and turns to see the ball lofted his way. Evans tracks the ball and chases after Sapong while Dylan Remick closes him down from the outside, determined to not let him get a free header. The problem: Sapong is never going to trouble Frei from that angle and with no power behind the lob, Remick or Evans will never win a header against CJ Sapong while the man has a good run-up on it, and Le Toux is unmarked at the top of the box. Sapong goes up, redirects the header perfectly into Le Toux's path, and the Frenchman volleys the Union back into the game. That type of hold-up game and awareness in quickly-developing situations is what's made Sapong such a dangerous player with the Union over the last two seasons, and with Andre Blake playing Superman at the other end of the field, it's time people started taking the Union seriously.
3. A Dichotomy in Portland
How much did the Timbers miss Darlington Nagbe last night?
Valeri is a great attacking midfielder, and Chara a tireless defender, but without Darlington Nagbe's speed and ability in the middle of the park, the Timbers resorted to just hoofing the ball forward for most of their game against the Earthquakes. With Jack MacInerney starting in the two-game week for the Timbers, that didn't go so well. Until he scored the flukiest, most determined, most JackMac goal I think I've ever seen.
Most forwards give up when a touch goes that awry in the box, they have no position on the defender, and the game has gone against them the entire night. MacInerney had been running around up top all night without much purpose or direction to his game. He chased this ball down just the same, threw himself into a slide tackle, and somehow came up with the ball at his feet with Bingham out of the net. An easy finish later, the Timbers were winning, and MacInerney had his third goal of the season already as a backup forward.
4. B Dichotomy in Portland
Fanendo Adi is big, and he's strong, and he can finish. But not nearly enough attention is paid to how smart the guy is on the ball.
Adi does not have the quickest feet in the world by a longshot, but the presence of mind to cut that ball back on Bernardez for a clean look at goal actually made me yell. It was a simple cut and a simple-looking goal, but it only happened because Adi was a couple steps ahead of the Quakes defense on the mental side of the ball when Valeri's shot ricocheted to him.
5. And Here's to You, Everyone Else
Whether it's Chris Wondolowski or Julio Baptista causing defenders fits and drawing penalties, Jozy Altidore curling a pass behind a defense, Didier Drogba flicking home with quintessential cheekiness or David Villa executing his clinical efficiency (just to name a few), the number 9s were bringing home the goods in MLS this week, and that is a very, very good thing.