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After a one hour weather delay for lightning and heavy rain, FC Dallas came back onto the pitch and found the back of the net. On a quick counter by Dallas, Brek Shea scored a marvelous goal as he sent a shot to the far post over the head of Donovan Ricketts. The game winning goal came just minutes after the teams came back on the pitch.
One thought Fabian Castillo's goal earlier in the second half was pretty but Shea's easily will go down as the goal of the night. Castillo's goal came earlier in the second half.
The lone goal on the night for the Galaxy came shortly after Castillo's goal as Landon Donovan finished off a Juninho cross. From there it looked as though that this game was headed to a 1-1 draw.
In the last minutes of the game, the Galaxy have had plenty of chances on the rain soaked field but they've been unable to recover. Landon Donovan had one chance in front of the net after a corner kick but Dallas was able to clear the ball out of the box in a moment of desperation.
The weather delay may have caused some issues for the Galaxy. One has to wonder if the Galaxy failed warm up enough before the play restarted here. It seemed as though they went through the motions during those warmups.
With only a few minutes left in the match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and FC Dallas, thunder and lightning hit the Frisco area and the officials immediately called a weather delay on the game. The game was tied 1-1 in the 83rd minute.
Heavy rain has been an issue in this game all evening. With temperatures in the mid-40s and heavy winds in the area, the rain is only making things worse. As halftime hit, the rains began to really come down and continued throughout the second half. Just as it seemed like the rain was going away, the lightning hit and then the thunder. Both teams left for the locker rooms and the stand cleared as well.
As the rain began to come down harder at Pizza Hut Park, so did the goals. Fabian Castillo opened up his goal scoring account with FC Dallas in the 47th minute of the second half thanks to a nifty little chip over Donovan Ricketts. The ball came in from Andrew Jacobson and Castillo was wide open in the box to volley it over Ricketts..
But moments later Landon Donovan returned the favor for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
With the slicker surface, players are sliding all around right now. The Donovan goal looked a bit dangerous as he and George John both slide into the far post as the ball crossed the goal line.
The Galaxy have turned on the pressure since the equalizer as they look a little more determined to get the go-ahead goal here. It will come down to whomever beats the rain that will come away with the three points in this one.
Blame the cold weather, the shifts in lineups for both sides, or whatever. Neither FC Dallas or the Los Angeles Galaxy could find any sort of identity out there in the first 45 minutes. The possession battle in this one is probably 50-50 as LA had a couple decent chances from a couple David Beckham free kicks. Dallas on the other hand is putting some decent pressure on the Galaxy back line with Eric Avila filling in nicely for David Ferreira.
Still neither club seemed to find their normal style of play in the first half. The Galaxy had some spurts of possession but never connected anything in the final third with Juan Pablo Angel or Chad Barrett. One guy who does appear to be dangerous for the Galaxy is Juninho, who is seemingly all over the place, winning 50-50 balls and putting a lot of pressure on Daniel Hernandez and Andrew Jacobson.
The best chances for Dallas came late in the half when they were winning multiple corner kick chances. Avila put in a couple good chances in the box that were brushed away by Donovan Ricketts in goal for the Galaxy. Fabian Castillo has put some good pressure on the Galaxy back line and saw a couple quality spots on goal.
Still, with a 0-0 scoreline something has to change for both sides.
FC Dallas is coming out in what appears to be a 4-4-2 with Fabian Castillo and Marvin Chavez playing up top. Though it could easily end up being the 4-1-4-1 or something else entirely. Seeing Eric Avila and Brek Shea on the wings kind of give me the sense that this is a 4-4-2 but we'll definitely know as the game kicks off.
Brad Evans scored two goals and assisted on the other as the Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 3-0 on Saturday. It was the Sounders' first game since losing starters Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White for the foreseeable future. Zakuani, as has been well documented, is probably out for the year after breaking his leg last Friday and White recently underwent emergency surgery to have a blood clot removed and his return has been called "indefinite."
The Sounders got off to a fast start, as Alvaro Fernandez headed in a Evans cross in the 9th minute to take some of the edge off and allow the Sounders to exhale a bit. A few minutes later, from the 11:00 mark to 11:59 the 36,000-plus crowd held up No. 11 placards and chanted Zakuani's name.
The Sounders had the better of play throughout the first half, but only led 1-0. Evans changed that in the 52nd minute when he one-timed a feed from Fredy Montero to double the Sounders' lead. Evans then put the game away on a penalty in the 75th minute that followed a Dicoy Williams handball in the box.
The hex that Chivas USA has over the New England Revolution continues. Chivas gets their first home win since last October and their first winning streak of the season as they dominated the Revolution 3-0. Goals came early and often for the Red-and-White as Nick LaBrocca, Alejandro Moreno and Marcos Mondaini all found the back of the net in this one.
LaBrocca got things started early in the 22nd minute after he headed home a nice cross from Ben Zamenski. Mondaini got the play started as he handed off a short ball to Zamenski who sent in perfect cross that split two defenders to find LaBrocca.
Just before halftime, Chivas was at it yet again, this time with Mondaini. Moreno sent in a cross that found Mondaini, who did an acrobatic kick to hammer home the goal. It was easily one of the best goals I've ever seen a Chivas USA player score and possibly the goal of the week.
In the second half things began to settle down as the Revolution made a couple changes in hopes to put more pressure on the Chivas back four. But it was their own defenders who yet again caused Chivas to score again. Shalrie Joseph sent an ill-advised pass back in his own penalty box to Dieder Domi, who's first touch absolutely failed him as Moreno put pressure on him. After the bad first touch Moreno gobbled up the ball and set it past Bobby Shuttleworth.
Chivas looked hungry throughout this one and didn't even let up with the three-goal lead. With the win the Goats move up the standings a bit with nine points, while the Revolution head back east to try and figure out what exactly went wrong in this one for them tonight.
Real Salt Lake made two substitutions at the half, bringing on Andy Williams and Will Johnson to try to open things up offensively. It didn't seem to help as the half began but around the 60th minute Salt Lake began to make in-roads in to the Portland defense and you could start to see the possession and control Portland had shown over the match begin to fade. It was a steady forward push by RSL to collapse the Timbers shape and get on the heels. Still, no goals came.
Despite several good chances for Salt Lake, there were unable to break through against the Timbers who looked like an entirely new club on the defensive end.
After all the defensive struggles and giving up the second most goals in MLS so far this season, a clean sheet against anyone would be a tremendous feet. To shutout arguably the league's best club, even at home, is one hell of a performance from this new iteration of the Timbers.
With the loss, Salt Lake's unbeaten run ends at 18 matches, one shy of tying the league record and their nine-match road unbeaten streak (second best all-time) ends as well. While it's only one match, with fatigue and travel playing a part, you expect the inevitable questions will begin to be asked about how Salt Lake is going to rebound from the CONCACAF Champions League loss. To be fair, it's too early to say and I don't want to take anything away from the Timbers performance tonight.
For now, Salt Lake will have to regroup and get their season back on track while the Timbers can leave Jeld-Wen Field proud of their performance with the sound of a revving chainsaw ringing in their ears...or a blues explosion.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the New England Revolution as yet another defensive lapse allow Chivas USA to put home the game's third goal. The Revolution were attempting to clear the ball out of their penalty box while Chivas's strikers Alejandro Moreno and Marcos Mondaini put pressure on the Revolution defenders with the ball. One ill advised pass back to Dieder Domi by Shalrie Joseph and Morano made the Revolution pay.
The goal was Moreno's third of the season and easily one of his easiest goals in his career as Domi's first touch let him down. There was nothing Bobby Shuttleworth could do about the shot as Morano hammered it home from the six yard box.
The mental lapse by the Revolution have happened left and right in this game and are a good reason why Chivas USA is up 3-0 here. Steve Nicol's side has put a couple more chances on Dan Kennedy's goal so far in this second half but it's his defense that has caused the damage here so far tonight.
You have to give Chivas plenty of credit for staying hungry here as Moreno and Mondaini have been a thorn in the Revolution side tonight.
The New England Revolution are in some big time trouble on the road as they are now down 2-0 going into the half against Chivas USA. Nick LaBrocca put Chivas USA up early after a nice header off a Ben Zamenski cross. But just before the half was over Chivas was at it again with what could easily be the best goal of the week. Alejandro Morano found some space on the endline and sent a great ball into the box where Marcos Mondaini finished a nifty acrobatic kick to put home the game's second goal.
The goal was Mondaini's first of the year and easily the best goal any Chivas player has scored this season.
Chivas USA dominated the half from start to finish too. Never once did Robin Fraser's club let the lead go to their heads in the first half as they maintained quality possession throughout the half. Morano, Mondaini and company where knocking at the door a few times in this one and could easily have a three goal lead here.
New England had a couple chances early on in the game but after going down a goal they haven't put a lot of pressure on Chivas offensively. Instead they are finding themselves in card trouble yet again with both Shalrie Joseph and Franco Coria picking up yellow cards in the first half.
Steve Nicol will have to find a way to get some life back in his offense here as Chivas has done a great job shutting down the passing lanes for the Revolution.
It starting to feel like Jeld-Wen Field in Portland is going to be an extremely difficult place for MLS clubs to play this season. It's only halftime and they are missing some starters, but Real Salt Lake have looked like anything but their typical dominate selves.
After a quiet opening 20 minutes, Portland got on the board as Kalif Alhassan got alone on the left wing thanks to a quick free kick and found Kenny Cooper in front of Nick Rimando's goal. Cooper deftly redirected the cross with his foot and put the Timbers in the lead.
Within a minute the entire Timbers Army end of the stadium was filled with smoke and Timber Joey's chainsaw was fired up and sawing another piece off the giant log behind the goal.
The goal (and/or the smoke and chainsaw) did seem to wake-up Jason Kreis' club and they began to be more efficient in possession and create some offensive opportunities. A veritable siege of the Timbers goals culminated in the 32nd minute when Salt Lake appeared to level the match but referee Jair Marrufo came charging in and waived off the goal for a foul. It was a good call as Chris Schuler had pushed Jack Jewsbury to the ground, helping to create space for Alvaro Soborio to score the goal that would not stand.
Two great chances late for Portland. Jeremy Hall chipped a fantastic ball that found Jorge Perlaza who couldn't direct his header on net and it went across the face of goal and on the wrong side of the far post. Just a minute later in stoppage time, Alhassan took a shot from 25-yards out that looked wide at first, but curled late and was kept out by a tremendous diving save from Rimando. Two excellent chances to give Portland some confidence going in to the locker room.
It was an excellent first half for the Timbers who controlled the game for the most part. More importantly, for least for the first 45 minutes, the Timbers defense, which has struggled at times this season, looked more confident and organized. We'll have to see how they hold up to the inevitable push for the tying goal from RSL in the second half.
After some decent possession by Chivas USA, they finally cashed in and got a vital first goal of the game against the New England Revolution. Midfielder Nick LaBrocca opened up things in the 22nd minute with the game's first goal and his first of the season. LaBrocca headed home the goal thanks to a cross from Ben Zemanski.
So far this game has been pretty open as both clubs have seen their chances on goal. New England hasn't been able to get that final touch in their offensive third to separate themselves from Chivas. The few chances the Revolution have seen haven't been on frame to really test Dan Kennedy.
As for the home-side they've had some good build up on offense so far thanks to Zamenski and Jorge Flores. Chivas has held the bulk of the possession so far in this one and get putting lots of pressure on Bobby Shuttleworth's goal.
The match started slow but in the 22nd minute, the Timbers woke Jeld-Wen Field just as I was thinking, this match needs more chainsaw.
After the Timbers earned a free kick in space, Jack Jewsbury found Kalif Alhassan with a quick, short free kick who ran towards the end line before sending a well placed cross that found Kenny Cooper in space. Cooper flicked the ball in to the net then climbed the cross bar to celebrate the strike.
It's only the second league goal allowed by Real Salt Lake this season and the first in the last 213 minutes. It's still early but the question can already be asked if their loss in the CONCACAF Champions League could weigh on this RSL club for a little while, especially considering how dominate they have been so far this season against MLS competition.
Then again, this could be the wake-up call they need to focus and get back to their winning ways.
Steve Nicol's New England Revolution try to make their second trip to the Home Depot Center a memorable one. Earlier in the year they nearly left the HDC with three points but had to settle for a draw against the LA Galaxy. Tonight they play a Chivas USA squad that is unbeaten in their last four and are coming off their first win of the season. Robin Fraser's squad is playing with more confidence by the week and will have a stiff challenge ahead of them tonight.
For 45 minutes, the match was all New York Red Bulls. They went up a goal and looked like they were going to score several times more, but the second 45 minutes were a whole other story. Sporting Kansas City pushed the Red Bulls and challenged the home side, but KC couldn't find an equalizer and New York grabbed a 1-0 victory. With the win, the Red Bulls move back on top of the Eastern Conference, while the loss leaves Kansas City all alone in the cellar.
The Red Bulls had their chance to go on top early when Dwayne De Rosario drew a penalty, but Rafa Marquez's spot kick was slow and not near the corner, allowing Jimmy Nielsen to make an easy save. Nielsen didn't have that opportunity when the Red Bulls finally got on the scoreboard. A quick restart by Marquez was flicked on by Henry to De Rosario, who crossed to a streaking Rodgers. Rodgers finished with the first touch past a helpless Nielsen as the Sporting defenders appealed off an offside call on Rodgers. Replays showed the play to be very close and inconclusive, but the replays were insignificant anyways because the linesman's flag did not go up and the goal stood.
New York continued to push, but couldn't find a second goal and went into halftime with their 1-0 lead. The second half was a different story though. Kansas City did not dominate the second half the way New York dominated the first, but they pushed and pressured the Red Bulls' back line. Chances went wide and high though with Bouna Coundoul making saves on the couple chances that found the frame as the Red Bulls hung on for the three points.
The Portland Timbers return home to Jeld-Wen Field where they've yet to lose a match so far this season. Real Salt Lake arrives fresh off the disappointing aggregate goal loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League Final and we'll get a good idea tonight of just how much that loss with effect Jason Kreis' club.
Timbers' designated player Diego Chara is in the starting lineup, while Salt Lake's Fabian Espindola did not travel to the northwest for the match. A few changes for Kreis as several regular starters are on the bench after their midweek match.
The New York Red Bulls head into halftime with a one goal lead, but they will probably be wondering how it isn't more. At the same time, Sporting Kansas City are probably wondering how they are not in a scoreless match with the belief that Luke Rodgers was offside on his goal that provides the difference in this 1-0 match. Even so, there is no doubt that the Red Bulls have been the far superior team and do deserve to be ahead after completely dominating the first 45 minutes.
Early on in the match it looked as if the Red Bulls would grab a lead when Dwayne De Rosario was grabbed and taken down in the box to get the home side a penalty kick. Thierry Henry missed New York's only other penalty this season so this time Rafa Marquez stepped to the spot, but a weak rolled shot not near the corner made it an easy save for Jimmy Nielsen to keep the game scoreless.
That scoreless tie would only last until the 22nd minute when a quik restart from Marquez and flick on by Henry played De Rosario in ont he right. He crossed for Rodgers, who calmly finished into the empty net, but the Sporting players were left standing with their hands up in the air. They wanted Rodgers to be called offside, but they did not get it and the replays showed it to be extremely close without any definitive answer as to whether or not he was offside.
Now with a 1-0 halftime lead and all of the good play in the opening stanza, the Red Bulls look set to get three points and move back atop the Eastern Conference. They'll have to do it without Rodgers though, who is being subbed off with a slight injury as Juan Agudelo replaces him.
The New York Red Bulls are the first team on the scoreboard thanks to a 22nd minute goal by Luke Rodgers, but was the Englishman offside? It's tough to tell. The Red Bulls quickly restarted near midfield as Rafa Marquez played a ball to Thierry Henry, which was flicked into the path of Dwayne De Rosario. Rosario spotted Rodgers making a run and with his second touch played a perfect cross that Rodgers easily put past a helpless Jimmy Nielsen.
Was Rodgers offside when De Rosario played him in though? It's tough to tell.
The build up was so quick that the linesman was behind the play and didn't have a good angle to tell whether or not Rodgers was offside. Offside or not, the goal was given and the Red Bulls lead 1-0. It's a deserved lead to after they opened the match in complete control and even earned a penalty, only to see Nielsen save Marquez's spot kick. Now Kansas City must push for a goal, something they have looked completely incapable of in the first 25 minutes.
Omar Salgado, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLS superDraft, will receive his first career start with the Vancouver Whitecaps. He will start along side Camilo Sanvezzo and in place of Designated Player Eric Hassli, who is missing his third game with a red-card suspension. Jay DeMerit is missing his third straight game with injury.
Salgado, who was a surprise No. 1 pick, spent the early part of the season with the United States U-20 team and has slowly been working his way into the good graces of Whitecaps coach Teitur Thordson. With Hassli out and Atiba Harris injured, that was apparently the opening for Salgado to get his first real chance. Salgado has made three other appearances but played just 19 minutes.
Crew starters: 1.Hesmer; 21.Miranda, 14.Marshall, 26.James, 31.Gardner; 15.Burns, 11.Duka, 22.Rusmir, 18.Rogers; 12.Gaven, 20.Renteria. Bench: 1.Hesmer; 21.Miranda, 14.Marshall, 26.James, 31.Gardner; 15.Burns, 11.Duka, 22.Rusmir, 18.Rogers; 12.Gaven, 20.Renteria
Whitecaps starters: 18.Nolly; 25.Leathers, 14.Janicki, 50.Akloul, 4.Rochat; 8.Knight, 7.Dunfield, 28.Koffie, 20.Chiumiento; 37.Camilo,17.Salgado. Bench: 1.Cannon, 2.Boxall, 12.Brovsky, 16.Khalfan, 19.Wagner, 22.Salinas, 31.Teibert
The Juan Agudelo vs. Teal Bunbury Twitter battle has ended with a dud. The two young American strikers had a friendly contest to see who could get the most followers and before they squared off against each other tonight when the New York Red Bulls host Sporting Kansas City, but now we learn that Agudelo isn't even in the staring lineup for the match. Not that it's a surprise with Luke Rodgers playing very well for the Red Bulls at forward, but it must be a disappointment for those who joined #TeamAgudelo.
This match is a chance for New York to jump back atop the Eastern Conference table, a spot they lost when the Philadelphia Union picked up three points this afternoon. Meanwhile, Kansas City is bottom of the table with just four points from five matches this season and need to find a way to move to the middle of the table before a friendly second half of the schedule packed with home matches at their new Sporting Park that can give them a chance to make a run at a playoff spot.
This match will probably not go in the Mark Geiger's refereeing highlight package, but the Philadelphia Union made the most of it and came away with yet another 1-0 victory on Saturday. Geiger was at the middle of two huge calls, both largely questionable decisions. The Union were forced to play about 50 minutes with 10 men, but also were the beneficiary of a penalty call that resulted in the game's only goal.
The Union were both the victims and the beneficiaries of Geiger's questionable decision-making. In the 41st minute, Geiger showed a red card to Jordan Harvey for allegedly stomping on Earthquakes defender Chris Leitch. Replays were inconclusive, but showed no proof of Harvey doing anything that looked remotely red-card worthy.
Perhaps wanting to make up for that call, Geiger awarded a penalty to the Union in the 76th minute. The penalty will likely go down as one of the worst calls of the season, as the call appeared to be a handball, but replays were inconclusive as to whether the ball ever hit Daniel Hernandez's hand. In any case, his arms were held tight to his body.
Sebastien Le Toux calmly converted the penalty, which in its own way seemed to allow a fitting result. Despite being a man up for the majority of the match, the Earthquakes create precious few opportunities. They managed just four shots and did not force Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon into a single save.
The victory is the fourth 1-0 victory of the season for the Union, who have yet to score more than one goal in any of their six matches.
Capitalizing on what will surely go down as one of the weaker penalty calls of the season, Sebastien Le Toux gave the 10-man Philadelphia Union a 1-0 lead over the San Jose Earthquakes in the 76th minute on Saturday at PPL Park. It was Le Toux's first goal of the season. The penalty was awarded when an attempted cross from the endline may have hit the arm of Daniel Hernandez, who was sliding with his arms into his body. The replays were inconclusive in showing if the ball even touched his arm, but even if it did, it would seem to be the very definition of ball-to-hand.
In any case, the Union have had the better of play despite playing down a man for the entire second half. The Earthquakes have struggled to create almost any pressure and have not even controlled possession. While the penalty was undoubtedly soft, it can not be denied that the Union will have deserved these three points based on the run of play.
Whether or not the red card Jordan Harvey received for allegedly stomping on Earthquakes defender Chris Leitch was fair, the fact of the matter is the Philadelphia Union face an uphill battle in the second half. Although the score is tied 0-0, the Union have not exactly shown much penchant for scoring even when they have a full complement of players. Now with 10 men, they'll need to equal their season-high goal output to get anymore than one point against an Earthquakes team that is riding a three-match winless streak.
The Union have yet to score more than one goal in any game this season and weren't looking particularly dangerous even before Harvey's 42nd minute red card. They have taken just two shots, despite holding a 58-42 possession advantage.
The Union have had a couple decent opportunities, but neither one of them really turned into anything as San Jose defenders were able to cut off passing lanes before anything really developed.
The Philadelphia Union will play the final 50 or so minutes with 10 men as Jordan Harvey has received a straight red card for allegedly stomping on San Jose Earthquakes defender Chris Leitch in the 42nd minute. On the play, Leitch went sliding toward Harvey trying to win a free ball. Harvey pulled up short and appeared to make a stomping motion toward Leitch, who at that point was laying on the ground. Leitch retaliated by kicking at Harvey, but did not receive any card.
The card was the fourth of the match and the third for the Union, although Harvey had not been involved in any of them. There had been an incident several minutes earlier that resulted in both Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and Earthquakes midfielder Brandon McDonald each receiving yellow cards. Those cards were the result of a shouting match between Mondragon and McDonald after the goalkeeper took offense to a challenge from Chris Wondolowski.
Steven Lenhart will make his long awaited starting debut for the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday as they visit the Philadelphia Union. Lenhart will be joined in the starting lineup by another player making his starting debut, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, who will pair with Chris Wondolowski to form what is probably the longest names to ever play together as a starting midfield.
More seriously, Lenhart has been hurt much of the year and made his debut last week. The Quakes had acquired him from the Columbus Crew hoping that he would help diversify their scoring that was almost entirely dependent on Wondolowski a season ago. From the look of it, Frank Yallop is switching to more of a 4-4-2 to accommodate Lenhart.
Union starters: Mondragon; Harvey, Califf, Valdes, Williams; Daniel, Okugo, Torres, Le Toux; Ruiz, Mwanga. Bench: MacMath, Nakazawa, Mapp, Richter, M. Farfan, McInerney, Miglioranzi.
Earthquakes starers: Busch, Leitch, Hernandez, Burling, Morrow, Wondolowski, McDonald, Ring, Ampai, Sealy, Lenhart. Bench: Weber, Opara, Corrales, Convey, Cronin, Stephenson, Johnson.
The Houston Dynamo got off to a perfect start against DC United and although they had a briefly worrying spell in the middle of the first half ended up cruising to a 4-1 win at home. It took less than four minutes for them to find the scoresheet, taking advantage of some shoddy defending by DC (this was a theme) to send Will Bruin clean through on Bill Hamid, and the young striker slotted home at the near post with not inconsiderable aplomb.
Although DC midfielder Chris Pontius was denied a clear penalty by referee Jason Anno, the visitors didn't have to wait to long to draw level, Marc Burch smacking home an elaborately worked free-kick from 25 yards after Andrew Hainault was adjudged to have handled. Parity didn't last long, however, and barely had DC's celebrations died down when Will Bruin had the ball in the net again, this time from a header made possible by a pinpoint delivery from Brad Davis.
Houston went into the break with a 2-1 advantage and they ended up extending it with two quickfire goals in the second half. Bruin got his hattrick in the 56th minute after Davis sent in another beuatiful cross, this time from a free kick, and Cam Weaver took advantage of some horrible defending to run clear down the right side and smash past Hamid. The scoreline looked to be frustrating DC's defenders, and Dejan Jakovic lost his cool shortly thereafter, sending Weaver flying off the pitch and under the fourth official's table with a dreadful two-footed lunge that should quite clearly have resulted in a straight red card. He was booked. Fortunately, Weaver was ok to continue.
Weaver would be withdrawn nineteen minutes later, making way for the exciting Sergio Koke to make his MLS debut. Koke ended up partnering Brian Ching (on for Bruin) in an impressive partnership off the bench, but Houston didn't seem particularly keen on padding their lead further, and the game's intensity died down a little towards the end of the match.
It was an impressive performance overall for Houston, who held firm in the face of a dangerous DC United attack and took advantage of their guests' many mistakes. The result takes them to the top of the Eastern conference with one point more than the New York Red Bulls, albeit with one more game players, and DC United fall to seventh on goal differential. If there's a lesson for Ben Olson and his team, it's that the defence needs work, and fast.
It's getting a little bit difficult to keep up now. The Houston Dynamo now lead DC Untied 4-1 after yet another defensive breakdown on the part of the visitors allowed Cam Weaver to slip in (on the right this time, so at least they're being uniformly bad), and he leathered a shot past Bill Hamid, who I'm now legally obligated to describe as 'beleaguered,' to make the score a stunning 4-1 in favour of Houston. Will Bruin has the other three goals, for those keeping count.
Obviously, being on the receiving end of a thrashing isn't making DC's players particularly happy, and they're taking those frustrations out on their opposition. Dejan Jakovic, apparently, is particularly irked after spending most of this game being utterly inept, so when he saw an opportunity to go in two footed on Weaver, boy did he take it. His tackle was late and a little bit high, and he managed to send his victim flying off the pitch and, rather inexplicably, rolling underneath a table. With the MLS' new hard-line stance on dangerous/potentially dangerous tackles, one might expect the defender to have been sent off and suspended three matches. Instead, it's a booking. Nice.
It's 3-1 Houston Dynamo against DC United and Will Bruin has his hattrick. Like goal number two, this was a header after a neat cross from the left wing that saw DC United's defence fail to live up to their job descriptions - Bruin was able to simply outjump his markers and power home past a yet-again-exposed Bill Hamid for his third goal of the evening. For those counting, Bruin has increased his seasonal goal output by 400% today, which isn't too bad. Great work by the rookie in exposing DC's defensive mistakes.
The visitors had had a couple of great chances to equalise prior to Bruin notching his hattrack, and Andrew Hainault (who conceded the free kick in the first half from which Marc Burch eventually scored) laid in an absolutely vital block to deny Chris Pontius, who's been DC United's best attacker today. Right now it's a battle between DC's really quite good attack and their abysmal defence for dominance, and defence is winning. Losing. Whatever.
Interesting first half in Houston, where DC United's defence is the story of the evening. Less than four minutes had elapsed before they made their first major error of the evening, allowing Will Bruin to slip in behind them and score on what ended up being a two on one with unfortunate goalkeeper Bill Hamid. DC were generating chances of their own, but they seemed absolutely intent on handing the Dynamo more opportunities.
Referee Jason Anno had denied United a clear chance to equalise when he completely ignored Hunter Freeman sliding through Chris Pontius in the penalty area, but Houston couldn't keep their guests off the scoresheet for long - Marc Burch getting his first goal of the season with a very well-worked free kick than forced the Dynamo wall to disintegrate before the defender hammered past Tally Hall.
If that goal raised the visitors' spirits, Houston's response sent them right back down. It was yet another example of defensive ineptitude as Brad Davis was allowed to simply stroll unchecked onto a long ball sent down the right and the midfielder laid in a perfect cross for Will Bruin, who claimed his brace with a firm, unsaveable header. So, it's 2-1 to the home team at halftime, but frankly anything could happen in the rest of the match.
DC United's defence has been appalling so far today, but that doesn't matter so much when you can score goals. Just minutes after they were denied a clear penalty after Houston Dynamo defender Hutner Freeman brought down Chris Pontius as he broke into the penalty box, they were level from a set piece. Andrew Hainault was called for a handball about 25 yards out, and four DC players stood over the ball to take the free kick.
The routine was really interesting - Chris Pontius jumped over the ball, it was tapped to Dax McCarty, and then Mark Burch hammered the ball through the now-crumbling well and past Tally Hall, who got a hand to it as it was crossing the line but had no chance of keeping it out.
DC were level for all of two minutes. As mentioned about eighteen times already today, their defence has been a complete and total shambles. For some reason, Brad Davis was allowed to latch onto a long diagonal pass, and the midfielder swung in a lovely left-footed cross for Will Bruin to head home his second. Whoops.
DC United should be level against the Houston Dynamo after Chris Pontius was brought down in the box by Hunter Freeman only to be denied the call for no apparent reason. The midfielder had nicked the ball away from the defender and pushed towards Tally Hall's goal only for Freeman to slide in and totally miss, bringing Pontius down for a clear penalty. Which was totally ignored. It looked like a penalty live, and it looked even more like one on replay. That's a mystifying decision by Jason Anno not to give them that.
At the other end of the pitch, Bill Hamid has made an excellent save to keep a bullet header from Cameron Weaver from doubling Houston's lead. Weaver's bandaged head rose well above DC's sleeping back line and Hamid had to claw away the ball to his right for a corner. As before, the visitors' midfield is doing just fine, but they're really having issues at the back, and that could cost them.
The Houston Dynamo grab an early lead against DC United through Will Bruin after ugly play by the visiting defence. United looked as though they had mopped up an attack in the fourth minute, but the ball ricocheted off an orange shirt and suddenly space opened up in the back for Bruin to run into. He was found with a slide-rule pass and although DC United's line would clamour for offside, he was clearly on, and he finished past Bill Hamid with a crisp low striker at the near post.
Bruin then celebrated his goal by acting like a mildly concussed otter. Given the choice, I suspect he'd rather be better at scoring goals than celebrating them, but that was awful. As for DC's response, the midfields and forwards seem to be well up for this one - they've just tested Tally Hall with a bullet header and earned a corner in the process, but the defending so far has been completely and utterly laughable. They've got to get themselves together and quickly if they don't want to go further behind.
DC United travel to Texas to take on the undefeated-in-five Houston Dynamo, who are quietly working their way up the Eastern Conference standings. DC, however, could vault over them into third place with a win at Robertson Stadium, and they'll be using the likes of Chris Pontius and Charlie Davies to try to slice through a robust Houston defence. Will they be able to make it count? They'll have to make do without designated player Branko Boskovic, however - the Montenegrin is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
We will be treated to several interesting matchups in Week 7, with the final game of the weekend looking like the most entertaining as Real Salt Lake will be trying to put their CONCACAF Champions League finals loss in the rear-view mirror as they pay a visit to the Portland Timbers. Assuming RSL doesn't give their starters a rest, this should be the best test of the Timbers' home-field advantage yet.
Other intriguing matches include surprisingly surging Chivas USA hosting the suddenly talent-rich New England Revolution, the now gelling New York Red Bulls hosting the explosive offense of Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders facing Toronto FC in a match that should be filled with emotion.
Last week's predictions: 3 of 8 correct
The Dynamo are one of three MLS teams currently riding five-match unbeaten streaks, claiming nine points and scoring seven goals in that time. They haven't been dominant, but they have quietly posted a league-leading 96 shots and appear to be hitting their stride despite having some injuries to key players. Facing teams of similar stock as United in their past two games at Robertson Stadium, they outscored their opponents 4-1 and out shot them 47-16 while claiming all six points. United has been on a bit of a roller-coaster. In their two wins, they've outscored their opponents 6-1, but in their three losses, they've been outscored 10-2. Predicting how they'll perform on any given week seems a total crap shoot. Prediction: Dynamo 2-1.
After agreeing to move last Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake, the Union ended up with an unexpected two-week break. In their last game, they surrendered two points when the Sounders found a late equalizer. But such is life when you're living on the edge, as they've yet to score more than one goal in any match. Of course, they've also never allowed more than one goal and their defense has been lauded as being one of the best in MLS. The Earthquakes have not won since winning at FC Dallas in Week 2 and are coming off three straight particularly disappointing performances. While the Quakes' scoring has been more diversified than it was a year ago, they have yet to find any consistency and facing a defense like this is unlikely to be the cure they're looking for. Prediction: Union 1-0.
Of the three teams riding five-match unbeaten streaks, the Crew are probably the most surprising and have done so in the least impressive fashion. They've only scored four goals and have settled for two scoreless ties. They are unlikely to win any beauty contests and it's hard to see them keeping this up as long as they are playing like this, but the Whitecaps don't seem like a team that will give the Crew much trouble. After a blistering start, the Whitecaps have cooled off a bit and, in any case, just don't look as dangerous on the road as they do at home. Throw in the fact that they are once again without Designated Player Eric Hassli due to a red-card suspension and are still fighting off several injuries and it doesn't look good for them. Prediction: Crew 1-0.
After a bit of an inconsistent start, the Red Bulls have looked like world beaters the past two weeks. All that talent has finally started to gel and we're seeing the results as they've won their post two matches by a cumulative score of 7-0. Almost every position has offensive weapons and their defense has been plenty up to the task. The Sporks, as we like to call them, have been going in the opposite direction. We know they can score, as they've averaged 2.0 goals per match, but they can't defend worth a lick, allowing a league worst 2.4 goals per match. They are now halfway through their season-opening 10-match road trip and are sitting on just four points. In order to avoid falling completely out of the playoff race by the time they open Livestrong Sporting Park, they need to start picking up results. Unfortunately, Red Bull Arena seems an unlikely spot for that turnaround to begin. Prediction: Red Bulls 3-1.
It's been a tough week for the Rapids, admittedly mainly of their own making. In addition to dealing with the firestorm of criticism over Brian Mullan's leg-breaking tackle on Steve Zakuani, they've also come under fire for their seemingly tone-deaf response. To top it off, they will be without one of their regular starters, Mullan, for the next 10 weeks. Maybe this is exactly what they need to do, though, as Gary Smith seems to have fostered an Us vs. Them mentality. No one is doubting the talent in Colorado and there's really no reason they can't still be one of the top teams in the league. Facing a Fire team that has not won since Week 2 and has lost three of their last four, is probably a good way for the Rapids to get their groove back. That this match will be played at elevation also bodes well for the Rapids. Prediction: Rapids 2-1.
A week after losing one of their best players to what appears to be a season-ending injury and just a few days after finding out that they'd also be without O'Brian White for the foreseeable future, there hasn't been a lot of good news surrounding the Sounders. Luckily, they can count on 36,000-strong to give them an emotional lift, which should only be enhanced by the planned tribute to Steve Zakuani at the 11:00 mark. Perhaps lost in news of Zakuani's injury, is that the Sounders have been playing quite well in recent weeks and have not lost since Week 2. Fredy Montero is still wearing a cast, but went 90 minutes at altitude last week and scored his first goal of the season. TFC is still very much a team that is searching for an identity and, on paper at least, are just the kind of team the Sounders should want to face this week. A host of regular TFC starters are battling nagging injuries. This could get ugly. Prediction: Sounders 2-0.
A few weeks ago, this looked like a real bummer of a matchup. Neither team was playing particularly well, nor had the kind of players you'd pay money to see just for entertainment value. While still lacking that marquee draw, it must be said that Chivas are rounding into shape and are now unbeaten in their last four while looking like a solid defensive outfit. The Revolution now boast a midfield trio that might just be the best in the league as Ousmane Dabo is expected to join Benny Feilhaber and Shalrie Joseph in the starting 11 this week. Feilhaber looked like the real deal in his debut despite only practicing with the Revs for a few days and the expectation is that Joseph will have much more freedom to join the attack with Dabo holding down most of the defensive midfield duties. Prediction: Tied 1-1.
In two matches at Jeld-Wen Field, the Timbers have scored seven goals and won twice. In four road matches, they've claimed just one point and been outscored 9-2. There isn't another team in the league that comes anywhere close to that kind of split. Question is, can they continue to play this well at home when they are so obviously out-classed on the road. RSL should be the first major test of that theory. Knowing what we do about Jason Kreis and co., a big dropoff is unlikely, at least in the immediate aftermath of their loss in the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. If anything, I'd expect them to come out with renewed vigor. It's the coming weeks, when the emotions have died down that a fall off seems more likely. For the time being, this could be a game where they take out their frustrations. Prediction: RSL 3-2.
For the first time in almost three years, FC Dallas will learn what it's like to play without David Ferreira, who broke his ankle and could be out for a long time. It's still unclear what kind of adjustments Schellas Hyndman will implement, but losing the best playmaker in the league will not go unnoticed. The Galaxy are finally nearing full health and are coming off their best performance of the season. It's not looking good for the Toros. Prediction: Galaxy 2-1.
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