Sunday, March 11, 2012

MLS Recap Week 1

Major League Soccer kicked off the 2012 season with several surprise wins and last gasp winners. Montreal lost its MLS opener, LA suffered a home loss and Andre Hainault gave Houston a win versus Chivas.
Pedro Gomes has the recaps of MLS Week 1:

Vancouver Whitecaps 2, Montreal Impact 0

MLS opened 2012 with a First Kick double dose. The Vancouver Whitecaps faced off against the Montreal Impact in their inaugural MLS match.  They kicked off in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,000 at BC Place in Vancouver. The Whitecaps got off to a quick start as Sebastian LeToux bagged his first goal of the 2012 season and also as a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps, following his controversial trade from Philadelphia in the off-season. The goal was assisted by fellow countryman Eric Hassli. Hassli flicked a long ball onto LeToux who deftly flicked it past Tyson Wahl and found himself one-on-one with Donovan Ricketts who he calmly slid he shot by in the 4’. Vancouver continued to pressure the Impact and eventually added a second goal in the 54’ following a wonderful passing sequence that eventually saw Davide Chumiento play Camillo in behind the defense. Camillo displayed some great footwork as he cut back around Montreal Defender, Ferrari, near the face of the goal and sent a left footed shot past Ricketts for the 2-0 Whitecap lead. Montreal struggled to string together consistent positive play throughout the match and will look to bounce back next week against the Chicago Fire.

Colorado Rapids 2, Columbus Crew 0

The second double dose of First Kick action saw the Colorado Rapids host the Columbus Crew at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in front of 14,746 supporters. The first half did not see a great amount of offense as both teams tried to find their grove in the season opener. Omar Cummings failed to capitalize on a Crew defensive mistake in the 20’ when he pounced on a poor back pass from Shaun Francis and couldn’t beat Andy Greunebaum one-on-one. Colorado eventually broke the deadlock just before half when Kosuke Kimura played a great ball back into the box following a corner that found the head of Drew Moor near the back post for the 1-0 Rapid lead. The Rapids came out in the second half and continued to pour the pressure on the Crew but couldn’t convert. The Crew’s best opportunity came in the 79’ when Chad Marshall’s head from a dead ball was pawed over the goal by Matt Pickens. Colorado added a late second goal from the right foot of Quicny Amarikwa in the 89’ when he was able to dribble to his right near the top of the box and unleashed a pin-point shot to the upper left corner of the night to seal the win for the Rapids.

DC United 0, Sporting Kansas City 1

DC United opened 2012 in front of 16,314 faithful followers at RFK against Sporting Kansas City. Neither team put together an impressive first half. Both teams struggled to string together quality scoring chances until the 45’ when Kei Kamara had a nice header saved on the line by a leaping Bill Hamid foot save. The second half began to build on the earlier signs of Sporting Kansas City’s ability to put together good counter-attacks as they threatened a few more times. DC United nearly jumped to a 1-0 lead when newly signed DP Hamdhi Salihi had an open header on net that he sent just wide of the right post. Sporting Kansas City finally exploited DC’s weakness last season of letting in late goals when second half sub and 2011 Rookie of the Year, CJ Sapong lost Perry Kitchen on a Graham Zusi corner and headed home the game winner in the 93’. DC’s hope for some points will not get easier as they face a tough road match against defending champs Los Angeles next week.

Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Real Salt Lake 3

The Los Angeles Galaxy hosted RSL at the Home Depot Center in First Kick’ marquee math-up Saturday night. A sell-out crowd of 27,000 fans showed up to take in the star-studded affair. The Galaxy almost found the back of the net in the 27’ following some good passing that saw a Landon Donovan shot hit the crossbar and a Mike Magee bicycle kick saved by Nick Rimando. Later in the 44’ Marcelo Sarvas’ long range blast hit the underside of the bar and bounced out for another near miss for RSL. The Galaxy drew first blood in the 71’ when David Beckham sent a pin-point cross into the box that Edson Buddle headed into the net for the 1-0 Galaxy lead. Two minutes later RSL leveled it up from an on goal by Sean Franklin when he deflected a Sebastian Valasquez cross into his own net. RSL jumped in front in the 80’ when Ned Grabavoy got in behind the Galaxy defense and sent a pass into the box that bounced around before Javier Morales beat AJ DeLaGarza to the loose ball with a toe poke past Saunders. Fabian Espindola added a third for RSL in the 85’. A long outlet pass from Rimando was flicked on by Alvaro Saborio and Espindola was able to skip past AJ DeLaGarza and break onto goal and finish with a low left-footed rocket past Josh Saunders. Los Angeles will have to regroup quickly as they host Toronto mid-week in the second leg of the CONCACAF Quarterfinals.

San Jose Earthquakes 1, New England Revolution 0

New England visited Buck Shaw stadium to take on the San Jose Earthquakes in their home opener and 10,525 fans showed in support. The Earthquakes jumped ahead early in the 15’ when Shea Salinas pounced on an uncharacteristic giveaway in mid-field by Shalrie Joseph. Salinas played a ball to Chris Wondolowski who beat the offside trap and found himself one-on-one with Matt Reis and he easily put it past him for the 1-0 lead. San Jose held onto the lead for the remainder of the game while New England could not muster many attacking threats. Their best chance came in the 92’ when Benny Feilhaber took a couple of nice touches to get around a defender and blasted a volley just wide of the left post. New England will need to regroup quickly as they face Sporting Kansas City at LSP next week.

FC Dallas 2, New York Red Bulls 1

FC Dallas played host to the New York Red Bulls at FC Dallas Stadium in front of 20,906 supporters. Dallas came out strong and put New York’s new defense and rookie goalkeeper, Ryan Meara, under plenty of pressure. That pressure eventually paid off in the 11’ when unlikely goal scorer, Zach Lloyd, capitalized on some poor defensive clearances by New York’s defense and slotted home the first goal of the match. FC Dallas had another opportunity to put one away when a deflected ball near the top of the box fell on to an open Blas Perez who half volleyed it straight at Ryan Meara who gobbled up the blast and prevented a rebound. Meara would come up big again in the 53’ when Brek Shea played an outside of the boot pass to Ricardo Villar who touched it past a defender and had another open look at goal but put it right at Meara who parried it away. Villar would once again find himself in on goal in the 61’ following a New York turnover in mid-field, but this time he chipped it over Meara and into the goal for the 2-0 Dallas lead. New York’s offense would eventually come alive late in the game as second half substitute, Kenny Cooper, would send a beautiful lob over Kevin Hartman for the goal with a nice assist from Thierry Henry. However, Dallas would hold on for the 3 points and New York will have to hit the road and look for points next week against RSL at Rio Tinto.

Chivas USA 0, Houston Dynamo 1

The Eastern Conference defending champion Houston Dynamo traveled to The Home Depot Center to face Chivas USA in front of 14,464 fans. Both teams had a few great opportunities in the first half to get on the board but neither of them could find the finishing touch.  Houston’s Brian Ching and Will Bruin both had good looks with one-on-ones with the keeper but couldn’t get their shots past Dan Kennedy. Chivas’ Juan Pablo Angel struck the post with a nice flick from a corner and kept the score level at zero heading in to the second half. The Dynamo had a few more opportunities in the second half but Dan Kennedy came up big with a double save on Adam Moffat and Will Bruin. Then in the 79’ a wonderful right footed volley from Brian Ching finally beat Kennedy but couldn’t beat the left post to keep it tied at zero. The game winner finally arrived in the 92’ when a Houston corner kick was punched out by Kennedy but fell to Adam Moffat who sent a shot back towards goal. The ball took a couple of deflections and eventually fell to Andre Hainault who put it past Kennedy for the late game winner. The Home Depot crowd was in shock as the Dynamo stole three points late from the home side.

Portland Timbers 3, Philadelphia Union 1

The new look Philadelphia Union traveled West to Portland to face a full house of 20,438 supports at JELD-WEN Field. Unfortunately it was the fan’s Star Spangled Banner rendition to start the game that was the highlight of the first half as neither team played particularly well. The offense finally came alive in the 51’ when new Union addition, Gabriel Gomez, sent a dangerous free-kick into the penalty area that barely skimmed off the head of Rookie Defender, Andrew Baptiste, and into the far corner of the net. The Rookie would have his redemption only 3 minutes later when he once again got his head to the ball from a Jack Jewsbury set-piece. His header appeared to be covered by Zac MacMath but the ball squirted under his arms and into the goal to level the score. The Timbers would go ahead in the 66’. Newly minted DP, Kris Boyd, put away a clinical header on a near post cross from Kalif Alhassan to open up his MLS scoring account. Alhassan would put the game to bed in the 76’ when his cross turned shot from the right side of the box floated over everyone and found the back of the far post netting.The match that started slowly turned out to be a fantastic end to an exciting MLS First Kick weekend of action.

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