The Throw-In: 9 underrated moments of 2010

Triumphs, defeats, farewells and milestones made this season epic

Gallery LAvsSEA July 4th - 19

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora

Alright everyone, enough with the moping. The US didn’t get the 2022 World Cup. Let’s move on.

In
case you forgot, MLS is just fine. More than fine. We just wrapped one
of the more memorable seasons in league history, including crowning a
new champion after an MLS Cup Playoffs filled with unprecedented
quality. We had a summer break for the first time to watch seriously
thrilling dramatics at the World Cup. And the US Open Cup and CONCACAF
Champions League were arguably the most entertaining we’ve ever seen.

So
I’m not crying. I’m remembering what we saw over the past nine months.
It wasn’t always a victorious, triumphant moment that caught my eye –
there were a lot of ends of eras in 2010. And those are just as
memorable. What follows isn’t a best-of list. Here’s my nine favorite
underrated moments of the year. Nine's such an underrated number, don't
you think?

Bring the boys back home

There
were fireworks after the game at The Home Depot Center, but they paled
next to the pyrotechnics in the game itself. The Galaxy punched holes
through Seattle on July 4, winning 3-1 in front of a standing-room only
crowd of 27,000. And all of them went wild every time Landon Donovan
touched the ball, a moving show of appreciation for the national-team
star, who was playing his first game since his heroic turn in South
Africa.

Interestingly, it was his US teammate, Edson Buddle, who
actually scored a goal that night. He got a nice ovation, too – but it
was clear who the LA crowd favored after the World Cup.

A nation of millions

We couldn’t
possibly have another sellout at Qwest Field for a second consecutive
First Kick, could we? Yes we could. And we did. An army of 36,241 filled
the Sounders’ home venue to watch their team rattle off another
opening-day win, 2-0 over Philadelphia.

Those same fans helped
their team weather some midseason doldrums to finish strong, with a
second consecutive MLS Cup Playoffs appearance and back-to-back US Open
Cup triumphs. And oh yeah, top 1 million in home attendance in just two
seasons. Well done, Emerald City.

Always a McBridesmaid...

It
became commonplace to see Brian McBride coming off the bench for the
Fire this season – not exactly the fairytale ending for the greatest
striker in American history. But maybe McBride saw the writing on the
wall on April 17 at RFK Stadium.

Carlos de los Cobos benched him
in favor of Collins John. And though McBride scored the icer in a 2-0
win over D.C. United – off a header, of course – he never again was a
regular starter in Chicago’s lineup as de los Cobos tinkered the rest of
the way. This may have been the moment McBride started to see his
future laid out in front of him.

Juan to watch

Conor
Chinn was the star of the night as the rookie’s brace led the Red Bulls
over Philadelphia in Open Cup play on April 27. But history may tell a
different story. Quietly, a young 17-year-old Juan Agudelo made his pro
debut, too. Six months later, The Kid was starting next to Juan Pablo
Angel in a playoff game, then scored a goal in his first US cap last
month. Reminds me a little of another RBNY kid who made his pro debut in
an Open Cup game four years ago – Josmer something-or-other…

Chivas’ changing of the stripes

The
game wasn’t much to write home about – a last-gasp 1-0 loss at Columbus
in May. But it was the last time Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein
ever shared a pitch in Red and White shirts. A week later, Bornstein was
off to US national-team camp. By the time he returned, Kljestan had
left for Anderlecht and Jonny B’s departure was announced soon after.

Since
being drafted by Chivas USA in 2006, the duo had become the young faces
of the club. This quiet defeat marked an equally quiet end of an era.

KC’s sporting chance

OK,
forgive the rebrand pun. But what’s more thrilling than watching the
highlights of the former Wizards’ amazing comeback on Houston on Sept.
22 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark?

Kansas City rattled off three
straight second-half goals – including Josh Wolff’s winner deep into
stoppage time – to turn a 3-1 deficit into an incredible 4-3 victory.
For a couple weeks, at least, the Wizards’ playoff hopes were still very
much alive. And Davy Arnaud’s rugby-style takedown of Wolff is still
hilarious.

It’s Wondo’s World – we’re all living in it

Before
this one at home against Chivas USA, Chris Wondolowski was a great
story line to 2010, somehow keeping pace in the race for the Golden
Boot. By the time the final whistle had blown, the San Jose attacker had
spectacularly caught up to Edson Buddle with his 15th, 16th and 17th
goals of the season.

A hat trick – as a substitute. One goal was
poached, one was on a PK and one was a clinical finish. All told, the
night was a microcosm of Wondo’s entire season. The next week, the
lifelong substitute clinched the Boot.

Bald is beautiful

Conor
Casey rarely scores a pretty goal. And that’s just fine for the big
Rapids striker. His most important goal of his MLS career was perhaps
the ugliest – the equalizer that put Colorado on the board in MLS Cup.

Jamie
Smith’s cross in the 57th minute was swallowed in a three-man diving
scrum of Casey and FC Dallas’ Kevin Hartman and Jair Benitez. With the
ball still loose, a prone Casey had the awareness to throw his right
foot at it, and the Rapids had their goal. The Beautiful Game it was
not. But goals like that were what carried Colorado to their first-ever
title.

Downpour in el DF

I’m hard-pressed
to think of a more entertaining soccer game involving an MLS team in
the last three years that was as entertaining as this CONCACAF Champions
League group-stage match in October. In a torrential downpour, Alvaro
Saborio and Real Salt Lake were ticks away from doing the unthinkable:
finally beating a Mexican team on Mexican soil.

Their 3-1 lead at
Estadio Azul didn’t stand – Cruz Azul scored four times in the final 15
minutes, even negating Will Johnson’s would-be point-saver in extra
time. It just wasn’t to be. But this gorgeous display of chaos in some
of the worst conditions you’ve ever seen made this an instant classic.
And in the long run, it made RSL stronger.

Raise your hand if you
believe Garth Lagerwey’s claim that the CCL crown may be bigger than
MLS Cup. Yeah, my hand is up, too. I can’t wait for spring.

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