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5 Things We Learned in MLS: Week 12

The once and future king of New York reigns supreme in the Bronx.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1. New York is Red(head)

Forget the faux-hooliganism before the match (although it was quite funny). The Red Bulls absolutely destroyed NYCFC at Yankee Stadium to the tune of 7-0, and they did it because of Dax McCarty. The diminutive defensive midfielder has always been a good workhorse in MLS, but he has reached new heights as captain and midfield engine in Jesse Marsch's system. His passion is infectious, and when he's on (which he was, as all 5'8" of him managed to score two separate headed goals from corner kicks) his team feeds off of him.

It's not like he's winning the physical fitness test in the vertical jump here. He's just working harder and fighting through challenges to get to the ball first. When McCarty is buzzing, the Red Bulls are hard to beat. NYC just found that out the hard way.

2. DV8 Takes the High Road

Diego Valeri opened the scoring for the Portland Timbers against the Vancouver Whitecaps, unsurprisingly. He's one of the best players in the league and with early golden boot candidate Fanendo Adi injured, Valeri was always going to be the go-to man for the Timbers. What was more interesting was Valeri's approach to two crucial kicks in the second half which took the game from 2-1 to 4-1 in the Timbers favor. When Portland had a second penalty kick called in their favor, Valeri decided to pass the penalty duties up. To Dairon Asprilla, who had just made the Timbers 18 for the first time in weeks. Asprilla's play was instrumental to the Timber's playoff run in 2015, but his form dropped sharply at the beginning of this season. Valeri saw an opportunity to build some confidence in the young Colombian, and Asprilla rocketed the ball into the net. Just a few minutes later (and possibly after feeling the effects of a hamstring tug) Valeri did the same thing when he passed on free kick duties to Darlington Nagbe, who curled a classy free kick into the net that sent keeper David Ousted crashing into the near post. Only weeks removed from KamaraGate, Valeri's decision to get his teammates in on the scoring has to be applauded here.


CHICAGO WON A GAME, PEOPLE. It's been a rough (read: very, very rough) start to the season for the Fire and coach Veljko Paunovic. Losing their best attacker in David Accam only a couple games into the season, the Fire proceeded to earn only 7 out of a possible 30 points through 10 games. But a win and clean sheet against Houston (admittedly also a bad team) in addition to Accam's early return from injury and some definite defensive chemistry occurring might just signal a shift in the winds for the longsuffering Fire. They've got a home matchup with the Timbers before the Copa America break to see if they can make it stick.

4. Kaka Has the Juice

I'll admit it: I had serious doubts over how much gas Kaka still had in the tank when he moved to MLS. After his world-record move to Real Madrid, he seemed to just waste away into a shell of the Player of the Year. He was pretty good for Madrid; he was ok in his return to Milan as well. It just didn't seem like he had brilliance in him anymore, and I didn't know if the physically punishing nature of MLS was going to tolerate the waning skills of a once-best World XI player.

Cyle Larin 2nd Goal - Orlando City SC 2-1... by Pathmanathan_Cumanan

I'll also freely admit I was wrong. Kaka keeps bringing the goods for Orlando. This chest pass to Julio Baptista and one time touch across goal to Cyle Larin is some Matrix level distribution. I can't tell you how many players would've taken that ball over the top and try to hit it as hard as they could at the goal. Kaka strokes it across the face for the easy tap in. I could watch that all day.

5. How to Lose a Defender in One Play

Sorry Kendall Waston, but you're gonna be on the shelf for a while after this one.

I mean, he scissors Dairon Asprilla from behind, he jumps into the tackle with both feet off the ground, he destroys the runner's plant leg, and he shows studs. It doesn't matter if you get the ball if the tackle is still dangerous, and MLS has been giving this tackle a red card from the run of play all season. Why is this one worse? The game was already over. Asprilla was dribbling into space to run out the clock, and Waston piledrives him four or five seconds after the ref blows his whistle twice to end the game. A lot of Caps fans are very heated that Waston was given red for this, and Waston himself said he never heard the whistle, so let me ask you in all seriousness: if you saw one of your players get tackled like this after the two goal game the other team had no chance of getting a result from had ended, would you be ok with it?