Monday, August 15, 2011

MLS Recap Week 22

Week 23 of MLS held some fantastic storylines. Among them was the showdown in Philadelphia which saw Freddy Adu make his league debut. DC United demolished the Vancouver Whitecaps while Houston seems to be gaining league momentum. Here's your recap.


Seattle Sounders 0, Chivas USA 0

Seattle headed into the game looking to take 2nd place in the West with a win at home while Chivas was hoping to stay afloat in the play-off race. The match did not produce any goals in the day but there was definitely no shortage of opportunities. The first and best of the night came in the 19' when Alvaro Fernandez played a ball in the box that hit Chivas Defender Michael Umana. Alvarez took the ensuing spot kick but his effort struck the right post, keeper Dan Kennedy and out of bounds. Just before half Chivas' Nick Labrocca had a decent chance at goal from a nice flick on pass but Kasey Keller got to the ball first. The second half saw Seattle pour the pressure on Chivas' defense and goal but each and every opportunity saw a lack of finishing quality by Seattle and great defensive energy by Chivas to keep the score level at 0. A controversial no call in the dying moments of the game denied the Sounders a second  opportunity at the spot to win the game and pull off a second consecutive late game victory. However, despite numerous opportunities for Seattle to earn a hard fought victory at home in front of their 36,364 supports at Century Link Field.

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Toronto FC 1,  Real Salt Lake 0

An improved Toronto FC team who was riding a 2 game unbeaten streak hosted Real Salt Lake who had rebounded well the week prior with a 4-0 dismantling of the New York Red Bulls at Rio Tinto. Toronto FC started strong in the 8' when Joao Plata created some space off the dribble and sent a centering pass to the top of the box for Peri Marosevic who's shot was parried away by RSL keeper Nick Rimando. The Toronto FC offense then took a back seat to RSL as they mounted several attacks on heir defense. RSL had two shots go off the cross bar only minutes apart and one of those opportunities came from Fabian Espindola who had only the keeper to beat after a slick pass in the box by Alvaro Saboria but could only find the crossbar. It was RSL's best opportunity of the night. RSL had another shot in the 67' but Will Johnson could not get a good strike on the ball after another great feed by Saborio. Then in the 77' Toronto FC's offense was able to put it together and get a much needed goal from Joao Plata. Plata played a ball right in front of Nick Rimando that Peri Marosevic almost got a foot to but the distraction by Peri was enough to let the ball slip by Rimando and into the net. RSL continued to attack and nearly equalized with a fantastic volley by Will Johnson that Milos Kocic was able to get down on and block ensuring a victory at home for Toronto.

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Columbus Crew 3, New England Revolution 1

This match was a battle of nearly the opposite ends of the Eastern Conference. Columbus was sitting at the top while the Revolution where barely ahead of the Chicago Fire. It was the New England Revolution who took the lead just before half-time off a nice sequence of two touch passing by the Revs that ended in a Benny Feilhaber blast that ripped past a diving Will Hesmer. The Crew responded in the 54' with what has been officially listed as an own goal by the Revolution's Kevin Alston but credit should be given to Tommy Heinemann who made Alston's life very difficult on the pass by Andres Mendoza. The Revs nearly took the lead again in the 62' following a Benny Feilhaber free kick that was headed back towards an open goal but the Rev's AJ Soares could only knock it straight up off  the crossbar. The Crew responded in the 74' from a corner that Julius James was able to sky to near the front post and head down and into the goal to give the Crew a 2-1 advantage. Emilio Renteria notched another goal for the crew in the 81' which sealed the win for the Crew and the 13,041 supporters at Crew Stadium.

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D.C. United 4, Vancouver Whitecaps 0

DC United played host to the team with the worst record in the league and the final scoreline proved it correct. The first half got off to a slow start until the 40' when a Vancouver Free Kick was spectacularly saved by DC keeper Joe Willis. The rebound fell to the feet of several Whitecaps who couldn't get the ball past the DC defense for the go ahead goal. However, DC was able to get the go ahead goal in stoppage time of the fist half after a great individual effort by Dwayne DeRosario who freed himself to send a dangerous cross to a sliding Chris Pontius for the goal. Andy Najar added another goal just after the break. Najar took a long ball up the right side of the field and took a low hard shot on a tough angle that slipped between Jay Nolly's legs and into the goal. Vancouver almost pulled one back in the 66' from a Hassli lunging effort but it was pushed away by Willis. Seconds later following that play Davies and DeRosario had a two on one that ended with a DeRo shot off the far post and back out to him which he put over the crossbar and out. Minutes later Pontius put his second away for a 3-0 DC lead.  The 81' saw Stephen King make it a 4-0 DC lead and sent the 11,738 fans home ecstatic.

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New York Red Bulls 2, Chicago Fire 2

Of the 46 matches played by New York and Chicago a shocking 25 had ended in draws this season and Saturday night's match up was no different. New York came out swinging with a couple of good chances early. Their effort paid off in the 9' when Thierry Henry bent in a wonderful shot just outside the box past a diving Sean Johnson. However, Chicago leveled the score just minutes later when Patrick Nyarko found Dominic Oduro at the near post with a great pass that Oduro flicked past NY's keeper and into the net. Chicago took the lead in the 24' when Sebastian Grazzini cleaned up a rebound off a Oduro shot that NY keeper Chris Konopka parried to Grazzini. New York put the pressure back on the Fire throughout the remainder of the game and eventually got the equalizer in the 63' when Joel Lindpere redirected a Dane Richards cross into the net. The Red Bulls or Fire could not find another goal in the match and it ended in yet another draw for the clubs. The 25,177 sold-out crowd at Red Bull Arena went home after witnessing yet another draw for the Red Bulls.

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Philadelphia Union 2, FC Dallas 2

Saturday night marked the “debut” of Freddy Adu with the Philadelphia Union as they faced Western Conference powerhouse FC Dallas. In the 16' an uncharacteristic mistake in the Union backline saw Maicon Santos put a goal away a nice goal over the head of the Union's Mondragon for the early 1-0 lead. Sebastian LeToux almost equalized the match in the 25' following a well struck Free-kick that Dallas' Kevin Hartman pushed away. LeToux did get the equalizer in the 33' from the penalty spot oafter Justin Mapp was pushed down in the box by Dallas' Ihemelu. Dallas jumped ahead again in 1st half stoppage time when Dallas' Marvin Chavez snuck a shot under Mondragon's legs and towards goal. However, the ball bounced off the post but Brek Shea was there to knock it into goal for the 2-1 lead. The 81' saw Dallas reduced to 10 men as George John earned his 2nd yellow on the night for a reckless tackle. Philadelphia earned a second penalty kick on the night when Jair Benitez pushed Gabriel Farfan down in the box. LeToux took the spot kick and made it 2-2. The Union nearly grabbed a late game winner off a corner that found Keon Daniels head which sent the ball low and hard towards the goal. Kevin Hartman made a great save off the bounce to make sure Dallas left with at least a point on the night. The 18,811 Union fans saw their team maintain second place in the East in entertaining fashion at PPL Park.

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San Jose Earthquakes 1, Colorado Rapids 2

San Jose was looking to secure 3 points at home to make a late season push for the play-offs as they hosted the defending MLS Cup Champions, Colorado Rapids in front of 10,525 fans at Buck Shaw Stadium. Colorado nearly jumped ahead in the 7' from a Caleb Folan header that beat Jon Busch but was denied by the left post. The Earthquakes grabbed the lead in the 22' when Bobby Convey sent a low cross right to Chris Wondolowski right in front of Colorado keeper Matt Pickens who could only get a touch to Wondolowski's ball but luckily the rebound fell to an open Joey Gjerstan on the far post who nodded it in. The Rapids got a penalty called in the 38' when Pablo Mastroeni's cross hit a sliding Earthquake defender's trailing arm in the box. Colorado's Caleb Folan stepped up to the spot and buried the PK which tied the match at 1 a piece. The Earthquakes went down a man in the 50' when Sam Cronin was shown Red on a tackle on Mastroeni. San Jose nearly took the lead in the 56' but Wondolowski sent his shot over the crossbar from a low cross by Gjerstan. Jeff Larentowicz gave Colorado the 2-1 advantage in the 72' off a low hard free kick that squirted past Jon Busch. The Earthquakes were unable to find a second goal and the match ended in a 2-1 victory for the Rapids.

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Houston Dynamo 2, Portland Timbers 1

The Houston Dynamo needed a victory at home in order to jump to a 3rd place tie with the Red Bulls in the east and the Portland Timbers desperately needed some points just to keep their playoff dreams alive. The Dynamo took an early lead off a long range bomb following a corner that rebounded out deep. His drive from distance found the upper left corner of the goal and gave the Dynamo a 1-0 lead. Brian Ching made it 2-0 Dynamo just 10 minutes later following some pretty passing between Davis, Clark and Ching who finished his chance skillfully past Troy Perkins. Portland pulled one back in the 56' when Jack Jewsbury's volley in the box took a deflection off a Dynamo player and into the net. However, in the end the Timbers couldn't get anymore goals as Tally Hall came up big for the Dynamo. The 14,475 fans at Robertson Stadium were happy to know that the win put the Dynamo into serious playoff contention in the East.  

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MLS Recaps written by Pedro Gomes, the MLS Super Sub. He can be followed on Twitter @MLSSuperSub and via email at uvagnomes@gmail.com

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