I'll remember Week 2 of MLS 2014 for three horrific mistakes which led to a trio of critical goals that changed their respective games and condemned the guilty parties to that awful, "no-place-to-hide" feeling. Interestingly, the culprits were not rookies, but well paid, experienced pros.
The first gaffe came in the 24th minute of arguably the biggest early season MLS game in history between Seattle and Toronto. Sounder newcomer Marco Pappa, (with over 100 MLS games, and 39 Guatemalan Caps to his name) attempted a back pass to one of his central defenders. It was woefully short, and instead fell to Jermain Defoe. The new Toronto DP, who had opened the scoring just seven minutes earlier, coolly slotted it home past Stefan Frei. Two-nil, game-winner, 38,000 plus glaring at Pappa...shoulders slumped, head down.
Then on Sunday, with the Whitecaps trying to find their rhythm against a frustrating and unified Chivas USA team, another veteran produced an inexplicable brain cramp at the worst possible moment...the last minute before half time.
Chivas had been reduced to 10 men after only 13 minutes via a dubious straight red to Agustin Pelletierie. The sending off galvanized Chivas, and further flustered Vancouver who not only failed to create a single first-half chance, they actually conceded more pressure and chances. Then, in that most critical period - the last five minutes of a half - one of the most experienced players on the park coughed up the ball.
Nigel Reo-Coker looked to the heavens while Erick Torres busted out his hopelessly awful robot dance...to the "delight" of the handful of friends and family in attendance. It was the Englishman's high-risk, no-reward ball that was snapped up by Mauro Rosales, and before you knew it the team with 10 men was leading.
As fate would have it, Reo-Coker's mistake would be cancelled out by another blunder, also from a player you would think might be immune to such a thing. Dani Fragoso, who has plied his trade in Spain's lower divisions for 14 seasons, had been on for all of a minute before gifting the ball to Darren Mattocks in his own half. The Jamaican squared it right, and Kekuta Manneh squared the game.
When rookies make crushing, result-changing mistakes, it's usually the savvy pros who are first to offer consolation. But when it's the veterans wearing the goat horns, the same kind of reassuring solace is harder to find in a quiet dressing room.