Tuesday, August 2, 2011

MLS Recap Week 20

MLS returned to action after the All-Star break with mixed results. Houston continued their domination at home against Seattle while Vancouver was schellacked by LA. Portland jumped out to an impressive lead before surrendering it to Toronto. Colorado made a statement to the league in a photo finish against the Union. Here's your recap of MLS action in Week 20.

Philadelphia Union 1, Colorado Rapids 2

The Philadelphia Union were looking to maintain 1st Place in the Eastern Conference when they hosted the defending MLS Cup Champions, Colorado Rapids. The Union had the first quality scoring opportunity on the night, midway through the 1st half, on a dangerous Keon Daniel free kick that hit off the crossbar and over the net. Roughly 10 minutes later, Pablo Mastroeni, not typically none for his scoring touch, beat Philadelphia's Carlos Valdez on the dribble and Mondragon with a curled left-footed shot that found the upper 90 of the net. Colorado sealed the game just minutes before the half when Wells Thompson caused a turnover at mid-field from Philly's Sebastian LeToux. The ball fell to the feet of Omar Cummings who carried it to the edge of the box before sending a perfectly timed through ball to a streaking Sanna Nyassi who one-timed it to the far side netting. Philadelphia nearly pulled on back early in the 2d half but both chances couldn't find the back of the net. Any chance Philly might have had to make a comeback become astronomically more difficult in the 64' when Sheanon Williams got two back-to-back yellows for dissent. The only bright spot on the night for Philadelphia came in stoppage time when youngster Roger Torres showed great skill to bring a cross down in the box and dribble past a couple of Colorado defenders and finish with his left foot. The 18,770 fans at PPL witnessed the first Union home loss of the season ending an impressive streak.

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Vancouver Whitecaps 0, Los Angelas Galaxy 4

Another league fixture for the Vancouver Whitecaps and another disappointing result. The Los Angeles Galaxy had the better of chances in the first half but Vancouver was able to go into the 2nd half without conceding a goal. The longer the Whitecaps stayed in the game the greater their confidence grew. This came to a point in the 59', when Shea Salinas won a ball near mid-feild and carried past a couple of Galaxy defenders and into the box. His shot beat Saunders but hit off the inside of the right post and amazingly skimmed the entire goal line but never crossed it. The Galaxy seized the momentum only minutes later when Landon Donovan got behind the Whitecap defense when defender Michael Boxall slipped on the play and Donovan was left one-on-one with the keeper. That goal seemed to drain the Whitecaps of any confidence and they proceeded to concede an additional 3 goals. Donovan added another goal on a Penalty Kick for a Jordan Harvey hand ball in the box, roughly 10 minutes later. The Galaxy added another goal in the 80' from Sean Franklin and Adam Cristman finished the game off in the 90' with a goal of his own.

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Sporting Kansas City 1, New England Revolution 1

New England was looking to hand Sporting Kansas City their first loss at home this season in a stifling 100+ degree day at Live Strong Sporting Park. The Revs came out strong right from the start with a beautiful passing sequence in the 9' between Feilhaber, Joseph, Lekic and back to Joseph who sent a shot just wide of the left post. Then in the 38', their persistence paid off when Matt Reis' clearance bounced over the Kansas City defense and to an open Rajko Lekic who took one touch on the ball before hitting a beautiful right-footed volley with the outside of his foot that zipped into the lower left side netting. Kansas City seemed to pick their offense up after that with a number of chances to level the score but were unable to finish any of them. Their luck seemed to turn in the 82' when Revolution Defender, AJ Soares, was sent off for a controversial goal-saving tackle. In the 89' struggling second year pro, Teal Bunbury, finished a chance off in the box following a positive sequence of plays for Sporting. The goal sent the 17, 418 fans at LSP into a frenzy and ensured their home unbeaten streak continued.

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Houston Dynamo 3, Seattle Sounders 1

Houston hosted one of the hottest teams in the league this weekend and put on a surprising display for its 18,465 fans in attendance. The Dynamo had been struggling prior to the weekend and were looking to turn their form around and stay competitive in the play-off race. They got right to work with a quick goal in the 9' from midfielder Colin Clark following a Geoff Cameron cross and they never looked back.  Cameron provided another quality cross in the 23' that Brian Ching easily headed past Kasey Keller after finding space behind two Seattle defenders. Seattle was able to cut the lead in half in the 36' when Freddy Montero was brought down in the box. Alvaro Fernandez converted the penalty kick and brought hope back to the Sounders. Brian Ching buried his second goal and the game for the Dynamo in the 70' when he tapped home a low cross from Houston's other goalscorer, Colin Clark.

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Real Salt Lake 0, Columbus Crew 2

In another shocker over the weekend, the Columbus Crew not only put an end to a 7 game unbeaten streak for Real Salt Lake but did it at the “Fortress” known as Rio Tinto Stadium. Real Salt Lake had to make some late adjustments to the attacking formation after Alvaro Saborio was suspended by the league on Friday for a dive he took the week before against San Jose. The Columbus Crew got off the blocks quickly with a goal in the 4'. Robbie Roger got behind the Salt Lake defense and squared a ball across goal to a wide open Eddie Gaven to passed it into the open net. Then only minutes later Rogers again got by the Salt Lake defense on the left side of the field and sent a cross into the box that Tommy Heinemann headed low and past a diving Nick Rimando. Real Salt Lake had a few opportunities to get a goal back but could not connect as well as not receiving a questionable hand-ball call on the Crew following a shot in the box. Either way Columbus was able to walk away with its first victory ever at Rio Tinto in front of 18,516 frustrated RSL fans.

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San Jose Earthquakes 0, DC United 2

The Earthquakes hosted a DC United team that hadn't scored in their last 2 games and were looking to get their team back on track and back in the win column. Both teams took small offensive jabs at each other in the 1st half, but neither could get a goal. However, the second half saw the United and in particular Dwayne DeRosario pick up their offense pressure. After a few dangerous chances DeRosario finally put one away in the 57' when a long ball from Andy Najar fell to him after San Jose Defender Nana Attakora slipped on the play. DeRo took a wonderful shot just outside the box that found the top left corner of the net. 10 minutes later DeRosario put away an even more impressive goal than his earlier one. Chris Pontius played a great centering pass to DeRosario who one-timed it with a clever redirection. DC was able to hold onto the lead even after going down to 10 men after a red card was given to Andy Najar for a tackle from behind to prevent a one-on-one opportunity for San Jose. The 10, 525 fans at Buck Shaw Stadium will have to wait another game to see a San Jose home victory.

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Portland Timbers 2, Toronto FC 2

The Portland and Toronto FC match-up saw two teams in desperate need of a win. Both teams were struggling in their conferences and desperately needed points. The Timbers almost got off to a quick start in the 10' but Eddie Johnson's shot was saved enough by Stefan Frei to send it off the crossbar and out of the goal. Johnson eventually got his goal in the 23' when he calmly collected a pass at the top of the box, took one touch past a Toronto defender and blasted a right-footed shot past Frei. The Timbers put away another goal in the 57' when Jack Jewsbury converted a penalty after Diego Chara was brought down in the box. The Timbers seemed to be in command for a win at home. But then in the 71'  newly signed Peri Marosevic, cut the Timber lead in half with a long distance shot the skidded past Troy Perkins. Toronto did finally tie the game in the 81' when Joao Plata sent a pass to Danny Kovermans in the box who volleyed it past Troy Perkins. The 18, 627 Timber fans in attendance had plenty of entertainment but unfortunately not a win to celebrate on the night.

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FC Dallas 1, Chivas USA 0

FC Dallas looked to continue their hot streak as they hosted Chivas USA at Pizza Hut Park, or as many fans are beginning to call it “The Oven” for its incredible 3 digit temperatures. Dallas got on the board first in the 26' when Ruben Luna chased down a ball in the box before it went out of bounds. Luna centered a square ball to an on-rushing Marvin Chavez who's shot took a deflection off of Heath Pearce and into the back of the net. Chivas USA struggled to get any offense going on the night. Their best chance of the night came from a 30 effort that was easily saved by Dallas' Kevin Hartman. Dallas continued their impressive play in front of 10,023 very appreciative fans at Pizza Hut Park.

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