After the onslaught of goals in MLS last weekend, this past weekend’s matches were a little less “ha! soccer has plenty of goals!” and a little more “average soccer scorelines.” But hey, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of action, because there was. Several of the matches were also discussed in Monday's "Off The Bench" with Luke Lohr and Pedro Gomes. Here’s how Week 18 in MLS went down.
Sporting Kansas City 0-0 Houston Dynamo
The Houston Dynamo traveled to LiveStrong Sporting Park to take on Sporting Kansas City in front of 19,307 KC faithful. Both teams had been on a slightly-less-than-awesome streak of late and were looking to rekindle some momentum. Kansas City were statistically the better offensive side of the night, outshooting Houston 18-7, but only four shots were on target for KC and two on target for the Dynamo. Houston’s new signing Oscar Boniek García took a shot in the 15th minute only for Jimmy Nielsen to make the save, and after that the opportunities were few for the Dynamo. In the 30th minute, Jacob Peterson for KC laid off a nice backheel pass for Seth Sinovic, whose cross to the back post almost found Kei Kamara but was deflected out by Corey Ashe. Peterson also had KC’s best chance of the night, when he struck the ball low in the 33rd but was denied by the post. Roger Espinoza set up CJ Sapong in the 57th minute after a great individual effort to get the ball into the box, but Sapong’s shot was just wide. Houston had the chance to steal the game in the 90th minute with an effort from Brian Ownby, but Nielsen again was equal to the task and the teams had to share the points.
Real Salt Lake 3-0 Portland Timbers
The Portland Timbers had a tough task as they traveled to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Real Salt Lake in front of a 16, 444 crowd. RSL was looking to get back to winning ways after a series of disappointing results, while the Timbers were aiming for consistency. RSL came out on top after 90 minutes with a convincing 3-0 win thanks to a hat trick from Álvaro Saborío, though they dominated possession throughout and had plenty of chances before they broke the deadlock on 60 minutes. Portland almost managed to score in the 33rd minute off a shot from Eric Alexander, but it deflected off Jamison Olave and and the Timbers weren’t to get many more looks at goal. Saborío scored his first of the night at the hour mark with a header from Kyle Beckerman’s floated cross, and two minutes later bagged his second off a header from a cross by Chris Wingert. In the 73rd minute, Diego Chara saved another Saborío header off the line, but he did so with his hand and his effort earned him a second yellow, reducing the Timbers to 10 men. Saborío converted the resulting penalty to complete his hat trick, and the Timbers were left to regroup for their next match at home.
FC Dallas 0-0 San Jose Earthquakes
One of three scoreless draws in MLS for the weekend, FC Dallas vs. San Jose took place at FC Dallas Stadium in front of 10,132 fans. Dallas extended their winless streak to 13 games, while San Jose got their first clean sheet in three months. San Jose’s Jon Busch came off his line to collect a through ball by David Ferreira in the 31st minute, but when he struggled to keep hold of it, Fabian Castillo took a shot that, fortunately for the Quakes, deflected away from the net. Just minutes later, Chris Wondolowski looked sure to add to his goal tally for the season, but Hernán Pertúz cleared the ball off the line for Dallas at the last second to keep the game 0-0. Action really picked up again towards the end of the game when the Quakes’ Ramiro Corrales got himself two yellow cards within four minutes. Down to 10 men, however, San Jose continued their “never say die” attitude and almost found the win through Wondolowski again, but Hartman managed to earn the shutout.
Chivas USA 0-0 Vancouver Whitecaps
With 11, 659 fans watching, Chivas USA played to a 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps at the Home Depot Center. The match was Joe Cannon’s eighth clean sheet of the season and featured six yellow cards from referee Juan Guzman. The first 45 minutes were tough for both sides, with an organized midfield keeping attacks from building, and the game grew physical. The first yellow card of the night was given to Chivas midfielder Nick LaBrocca in the 45th minute for dissent. Both coaches tried to insert life into the attack for the second half, but the strategy worked for neither. The next two yellows went to Rauwshan McKenzie (Chivas) and Eric Hassli (Vancouver) in the 63rd and 64th minutes, respectively. In the 71st minute Martín Bonjour had the next honor of a yellow card, for a foul on Paulo Cardozo. The resulting free kick led to a struggle in the box that was taken care of, and soon after, Joe Cannon made a diving save on another free kick. Vancouver’s best chance of the match came in the 77th minute when Barry Robson headed a corner wide of the goal. In the 88th minute, Ben Zemanski for Chivas had a perfect opportunity to score from a James Riley cross, but somehow his shot missed and it was to be one point for everyone on the night.
Seattle Sounders 2-1 Colorado Rapids
In front of 39,060 fans at CenturyLink Field, the Seattle Sounders earned a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids. The Sounders broke their winless streak and welcomed the return of Steve Zakuani, while the Rapids’ comeback came too late in the match to make a difference. Seattle looked dangerous from the start of the game, with Mauro Rosales and Álvaro Fernández particularly bothersome for Colorado’s defense. The two combined for Seattle’s first goal, a perfect Rosales corner kick that Fernández headed into the net in the 52nd minute. Forward Eddie Johnson put Seattle 2-0 up in the 64th minute, nodding home Rosales’ cross. The Rapids didn’t get a good look at goal until the 79th minute, when Omar Cummings’ touch put Luis Zapata’s cross past Bryan Meredith. Jeff Larentowicz nearly spoiled the evening for Seattle, but his goal in the 85th minute was ruled offside and just afterwards, Steve Zakuani entered his first MLS match in over a year. In a touching moment after the whistle was blown, Zakuani exchanged shirts and a hug with Brian Mullan, whose tackle had been responsible for Zakuani’s injury.
Chicago Fire 0-2 LA Galaxy
The LA Galaxy traveled to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Fire, drawing a crowd of 20,563. Things went the Galaxy’s way on the night, ending Chicago’s four game unbeaten streak and moving LA up to fifth place in the Western Conference. Robbie Keane scored off a penalty given in the 22nd minute after a handball from Jalil Anibaba right on the edge of the box. The Fire struggled with sharpness all night, with only three shots on target out of sixteen altogether. Patrick Nyarko’s wide open header went wide in the 43rd minute, and Chicago barely pestered LA’s goal otherwise. Keane earned a brace in the 78th minute after a pass from Landon Donovan, and ultimately Chicago’s 60% possession resulted in zero points for the home side.
Philadelphia Union 3-0 Toronto FC
Toronto and their new coach Paul Mariner took on the Philadelphia Union and their new coach John Hackworth at PPL Park with 18,393 fans watching. Unfortunately for Toronto, they couldn’t stretch their five game unbeaten run, while Philly continued their steady improvement. The Union’s offense looked threatening all night and dominated statistically -- they managed 62% and 86% passing accuracy. Gabriel Gómez got the first goal of the game in the 34th minute off of a cross from Michael Farfan. Two minutes after that, Philly struck again, this time through Freddy Adu. Toronto did have chances, including a header in the 51st and an attempted bicycle kick in the 68th minute, both from Danny Koevermans. However, Antoine Hoppenot secured the win for the Union with his goal in the 78th minute, thanks to an assist by Michael Farfan. Philly saved the clean sheet in the 82nd minute with a save from Zac MacMath and subsequent header off the line by Sheanon Williams.
New England Revolution 2-0 New York Red Bulls
The New York Red Bulls missed out on first place in the Eastern Conference, facing the New England Revolution in front of 14,373 fans at Gillette Stadium. Although New York enjoyed significantly more possession, the Revs were the ones who came out on top. Lee Nguyen opened the scoring after 24 minutes, combining well with Chris Tierney and sending his shot nicely into the low left corner of the net. Saer Sene’s shot went wide just a minute later, while A.J. Soares header hit the crossbar and led to a scramble five minutes before halftime. Kenny Cooper almost hit the back of the net for New York early in the second half, but it wasn’t to be for the Red Bulls. New England saw out the win with an 84th minute close range goal from Honduran Bengtson, who was making his debut with the club.
Montreal Impact 2-1 Columbus Crew
The Montreal Impact took a page out of San Jose’s book and left their comeback win late in front of 15,118 fans at Saputo Stadium. The Impact outshot the Columbus Crew 25-9 but the teams enjoyed fairly equal possession. While the Impact looked the most threatening on goal for much of the game, with chances for Marco di Vaio and Lamar Neagle, it was the Crew who took the lead in the 64th minute. Milovan Mirosevic sent a strong near-post header past Donovan Ricketts, with delivery coming from Nemanja Vukovic’s corner. Montreal were to grab the win, though, first tying things up with defender Zarek Valentin’s first MLS goal in the 78th minute. Finally, a penalty given in the 89th minute allowed Patrice Bernier to earn his side the victory.