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Between Portland's home form and D.C. United's injury concerns, this looked like it would be another match where John Spencer's club built on their momentum and continued to push towards a playoff place. The game became anything but that for the Portland Timbers, as they fell to DC 3-2 after an exciting second half.
The first half was rather uneventful, with DC scoring one goal to take a 1-0 lead into halftime. The goal was scored by third overall draft pick Perry Kitchen, who has enjoyed a solid start to his MLS career. The visitors had the better of the chances in the first half, forcing Troy Perkins into some action, but it was a relatively uneventful period, at least compared to many of this week's other matches.
Portland found their equalizer in bizarre fashion in the 67th minute, about three minutes after being granted a penalty kick. Throughout the sequence, the behavior of the D.C. United players was absolutely childish and embarrassing. First, Dejan Jakovic hauled down Kenny Cooper, for which the penalty was given. On Cooper's first two penalty attempts, Bill Hamid came off of his line early and the linesman called for a re-take of the penalty. On all three calls, DC harassed the officials, despite the fact that all three calls were absolutely correct. Jack Jewsbury stepped up to take the third attempt and buried it, leveling the game at 1-1.
The Black and Red reclaimed the lead in the 75th minute in the same manner that Portland equalized, as Chris Pontius converted a penalty kick. It was given for a Diego Chara handball, and once again, the referee got the decision correct.
While Portland were pushing bodies forward for an equalizer late in the game, they got caught out by DC, who scored the clinching goal and what would eventually be the game winner in the 85th minute. On a long ball forward, substitute Santino Quaranta hit a flicked header forward for Josh Wolff to run onto, catching the Portland back line napping. Wolff ran forward and finished past Perkins, giving his team a 3-1 lead.
Portland scored a consolation goal in the 87th minute to bring the score line back to 3-2, thanks to a Jorge Perlaza header on a Jeremy Hall throw-in, but consolation is all it would be. Perlaza almost found an equalizer in stoppage time, but his powerful left-footed effort went wide of Hamid's left post by less than a foot.
This loss was Portland's first at home, and they will be disappointed by their performance. With Dax McCarty out of DC's lineup and Jack Jewsbury in great form, they should have been able to control the center of midfield, but a great performance by Clyde Simms nullified that supposed advantage. Despite their injury issues, DC has not lost in their last four games.
The Portland Timbers have faced some of MLS's best teams at Jeld-Wen Field, but none of them have managed to accomplish what DC United has in the first half on Sunday. Behind Perry Kitchen's first career MLS goal, United lead 1-0 at halftime.
The Timbers have won their first five MLS contests at Jeld-Wend Field and have never trailed at any point in the game, but United have generally looked like the better team so far. United has created several good scoring opportunities and only the goalkeeping of Troy Perkins has kept the score as close as it is.
Kenny Cooper has come close to scoring at least twice, but his best chances have both been whistled offsides. The Timbers' attack has generally not looked as cohesive as it has in past games and their set-piece work has yet to create the opportunities that we've become accustomed to seeing. As it stands now, they would need two more wins to equal the longest home winning streak for an expansion team.
The goal-scoring sequence started on a throw-in deep in the Timbers' defensive third. Chris Pontius found Brettschneider near the endline. Brettschneider was able to redirect the ball back to the front of the goal where Kitchen was able to put it past Troy Perkins.
The Timbers had scored first in each of their first five home MLS matches and have never even yielded the lead after scoring. They have had plenty of experience playing from behind, though, as they've yielded the first goal in all five road matches. In two of those, they came back to tie the game. They lost the other three.
Their five-match home winning streak is the longest to start a season for a first-year team since the Los Angeles Galaxy opened with 11 straight wins during the inaugural 1996 season.
If DC United is going to be the team that hand the Portland Timbers' their first MLS loss at the fortress Jeld-Wen Field, they are going to do it with a makeshift lineup. Among their absences are Charlie Davies, Dax McCarty and Santino Quaranta. Joseph Ngwenya and Blake Brettschneider will start at forward and Stephen King gets a rare start in the midfield.
They'll be facing a Timbers team that is at close to full strength. Sal Zizzo is the only player in their starting lineup who has not started regularly, but even he has played in eight matches. Among their starters are two former United players, Troy Perkins and Rodney Wallace.
Timbers starters: Perkins-G, Hall-D, Brunner-D, Danso-D, Wallace-D, Zizzo-M, Jewsbury-M, Chara-M, Alhassan-M, Cooper-F, Perlaza-F. Subs: Brown-G, Horst-D, Marcelin-M, Moffat-M, Nagbe-M, Johnson-F, Pore-F
United starters: Hamid; Kitchen, Jakovic, White, Woolard; Najar, Simms, King, Pontius; Ngwenya, Brettschneider. Subs: Wolff, Fred, Barklage, Shanosky, Korb, Brasesco, Willis
For the second time in less than a week, the Chicago Fire erased a second-half deficit against the San Jose Earthquakes. This time, the Fire twice fell behind, but pulled out a 2-2 result with Cory Gibbs' 80th minute strike standing up as the equalizer. On Wednesday, the Fire trailed the Quakes 2-0 in U.S. Open Cup qualifying before winning in a penalty shootout.
The Earthquakes took their first lead on a Ramiro Corrales header in the 50th minute that came off a corner from Anthony Ampaipitakwong. They took the lead again on Chris Wondolowski's sixth goal of the season, another header off an assist from Ampaipitakwong.
Each time, though, the Fire found the equalizer. The first came off the foot of Dominic Oduro, but it was the work of Cristian Nazarith that created it. His shot deflected off a defender, hit the crossbar and the post and came out to Oduro. Gibbs' equalizer came off an assist from Baggio Husidic.
Real Salt Lake's unbeaten streak could not go on forever, but there were times when it seemed like it might. Turns out, it ended at 29 matches as the Seattle Sounders dealt RSL their first MLS defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium since May 16, 2009 when the then Kansas City Wizards did the deed.
RSL was forced to play the 32-plus minutes a man down after Jamison Olave was shown a straight red card after dragging down Mike Fucito just outside the penalty area. About 14 minutes later, the Sounders opened the scoring on Patrick Ianni's third career goal. The scoring sequence was started on a corner kick and Ianni poked in a ball that deflected off Fredy Montero's knee. That goal ended a 409-minute shutout streak for RSL.
The Sounders doubled their lead when Lamar Neagle scored his first career MLS goal. His shot came from about 20 yards out and deflected off the underside of the crossbar.
RSL was not about to go down easily, though. Nelson Gonzalez scored in the 87th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. RSL forced Kasey Keller into several tough saves and hit at least one shot off the woodwork.
With the Seattle Sounders struggling to score goals, it figures one of their defenders would get them on the board. Patrick Ianni scored just his third career goal in the 72nd minute to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead over 10-man Real Salt Lake. It was the second goal the Sounders have scored in three game, both of which have come off corners and been scored by defenders.
Although the goal came off a well served corner, the two assists will go to Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero. Jaqua was able to get a solid shot off that deflected off Montero and Ianni was able to poke past the goal line.
The goal snapped RSL's 409-minute shutout streak and put their 29-match home unbeaten streak in jeopardy. To avoid their first loss since May 2009, they will need to score while playing a man down. Jamison Olave was sent off in the 58th minute after dragging down Mike Fucito just outside of the penalty area.
Three matches in eight days and three 1-0 wins. That's how this week went for the Los Angeles Galaxy as they held tight to their place atop the MLS table. The Galaxy won in Los Angeles against their rivals, Chivas USA, last Saturday, took down the Houston Dynamo at home on Wednesday and on this Saturday, went on the road and defeated the New England Revolution. Miguel Lopez did the honors, scoring his first MLS goal on a David Beckham cross and a crazy, late match scramble kept the Galaxy ahead for their three points.
The first half had its chances, but it was a pretty ugly first 45 minutes. Almost all of the chances either team had came on poor defending with Omar Gonzalez coming the closest to scoring a goal when his header hit the underside of the crossbar before coming straight down on the goal line, but never crossing it.
Things opened up in the second half and the Galaxy took advantage when they knocked the ball around some in the New England half. Eventually, the ball made its way to Beckham on the right side, but about 40 yards away from the endline. Far away or not, Beckham was able to whip a great cross to the edge of the six-yard box where Lopez got on the end of it. The Argentine did well to put a glancing header past Matt Reis and LA led 1-0.
It was not a dominating Galaxy performance though. They were shaky at the back, giving the Revolution chances and the home side did well to build from the back several times to threaten the LA goal.
Two minuts into stoppage time it looked like the Revs had themselves an equalizer three times in one sequences. First, Donovan Ricketts was beaten, but A.J. DeLaGarza came back with a great clearance off the line. The ball was played right back in by the Revs and they smacked the cross off of the crossbar. It came right down in front of the Galaxy goal and looked like it was going to be pushed over the line, but Landon Donovan was a sensational clearance off the line and the Galaxy were safe with their 1-0 win.
Jamison Olave has been sent off in the 58th minute after dragging down Mike Fucito just outside the penalty area, forcing Real Salt Lake down to 10 men in their match against the Seattle Sounders. Fucito appeared to have beaten Olave and had a clear path to the goal. The ensuing free kick created no danger.
Prior to the card, RSL had been dominating the second half and had hit a shot off the crossbar, as well as created several other scoring chances. RSL has not scored in more than 300 minutes, although they have not allowed a goal in more than 400 minutes. They also have not lost at home in MLS play in 29 matches.
The Sounders have so far been unable to take advantage after about 10 minutes. The Sounders last played a man up against the Colorado Rapids, a game they won 1-0. They did not look especially effective in that game, though.
Down a man and a goal, things didn't look good for the Dynamo. Then in the 88th minute, Brad Davis found Colin Clark otuside the FC Dallas defense and the midfielder buried a hard low shot past Kevin Hartman to tie the match and rescue a point for the Houston Dynamo.
The crowd of 16,709 got an interesting and entertaining first half of soccer. Plenty of attack both directions and two nice goals as well. FC Dallas scored first after a hard challenge on Kofi Sarkodie was ignored by match referee Terry Vaughn. Martin Chavez drilled a shot off the post on the counter that rebounded directly to Peter Jacobson who was standing about 20 yards from goal. Jacobson made a nice quick reaction header and put the ball in the empty net as Tally Hall was caught at the far post trying to stop the initial shot.
The Dynamo had the better of possession but were unable to break through until late. Brad Davis, who's been denied space in the last couple matches, found some room down the wing and made one his patented hard runs to the line before crossing back across the box. Cam Weaver was all alone in space and calmly sent his shot to the far post, beating Kevin Hartman.
The end to end action continued in the second half, though Dallas looked the more dangerous team. Brek Shea unleashed a couple dangerous shots, once forcing a nice save from Tally Hall. Dallas scored in the 69th minute as Ugo Ihemelu headed home a Martin Chavez cross as the entire Dynamo roster stood flat footed in the box.
Kofi Sarkodie was shown his second yellow card just a couple minutes after the goal and was sent off. It was a immature decision from the Dynamo rookie who'd been playing well up to that point.
The draw allows the Galaxy some more space between them and Dallas in the Western Conference, while the Dynamo improve to 3-4-6 and stay in the playoff mix in the East.
After losing Kofi Sarkodie to a red card and going down 2-1 in a matter of a few minutes the Houston Dynamo have made a couple moves and have found a way to get back into this game as Colin Clark scores a game-tying goal in the 86th minute.
The wild looked to be going Dallas's way just before the goal as they had the lead and the man advantage but the midfield giveaways and lack of strong possession continue to haunt this club in this game.
With minutes remain the Dynamo are starting to press now that they have the momentum in this one again. Should they get the draw it will be a huge boost to the club while for Dallas it will be a big let down after being in the lead.
Those at Crew Stadium on Saturday evening were not cheated. They got a thrilling match with six goals, but they couldn't get themselves a winner as the Columbus Crew and Chivas USA played to a 3-3 draw. Andres Mendoza scored twice for the home side and Columbus came from behind three different times to earn their point. Now the Crew sit on 14 points this season, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference, while Chivas is on 13 points, seventh in the Western Conference.
The match started quickly with a nice passing by Chivas USA, ending with Justin Braun getting a cross at the far post and playing it back to Nick LaBrocca to finish in a wide open goal. It was a fitting, pretty goal to start what would be an entertaining match.
Mendoza equalized for the Crew, although most of the work was done by Emmanuel Ekpo. The Nigerian drove down the center of the pitch, right by all of the Chivas defenders before laying it off for Mendoza on the left. Mendoza struck the ball well with his first touch and Columbus was level.
They weren't level for long though. Chivas earned a corner kick, which Heath Pearce took and took well. It was right to Andrew Boyens head and Boyens had no issue snapping it down for the go-ahead goal.
Chivas took their 2-1 lead into halftime, but didn't have it for long in the second 45 minutes and it was all their own fault. Simon Elliot's horrendous pass to nobody in particular played Mendoza in and left Dan Kennedy stranded. The Chivas keeper had no chance as Mendoza slotted it past him for the Crew's second equalizer.
It took only minutes for the Goats to go back on top though. Jorge Flores got played in on the left and he struck the ball well towards the far post. it looked as if Will Hesmer had done well to get off his line and get to the ball, but his hand wasn't strong enough as the shot went off his hand and in for the Chivas goal.
The home fans still had a third and final equalizer to see though. After a few chances at goal, Chivas got the ball 40 yards from goal, but it was booted back into the box. Ekpo was able to bring it down at the edge of the six-yard box and while the Goats defenders watched, Ekpo turned his defender and fired for the sixth and final goal of the match to split the points.
After the game settled down in the second half, FC Dallas started finally started to get more possession and the end result sees Ugo Ihemelu get a big header off a Marvin Chavez corner kick to put Dallas up 2-1 with 20 minutes to play. Ihemelu scored his second goal of the year and yet another one against the Dynamo, he scored against them last season at Robertson Stadium.
The bigger story now may be the fact that the Dynamo are now down to ten men after rookie Kofi Sarkodie took Brek Shea down and received his second yellow card of the match. Without Sarkodie in the back, the Dynamo will now have to shift things around and find a way to get their possession game back up to what it was in the first half when Davis was making runs through the Dallas defense and found space on the wings to set up the lone Dynamo goal.
The Seattle Sounders' injury situation seemed to be getting a little better with the return of Brad Evans to the starting lineup. But 17 minutes into Saturday's game against Real Salt Lake, they lost another starting midfielder as Alvaro Fernandez had to be removed with what appeared to be a pulled hamstring. It's the third time in the last five games that a leg muscle strain has felled a Sounder.
Neither team has looked especially good in the scoreless first half. Neither team really challenged the goal, although they did combine for three shots on goal.
RSL can put some of the blame for their lackluster offensive play on the absence of three of their top four forwards that forced midfielder Jean Alexandre into a rare start up top. Defensively, they've held up just fine, though. Their shutout streak currently sits at 383 minutes, and their home unbeaten streak sits at 29 matches.
The Chicago Fire could use a win in the worst way. Through the first half against the San Jose Earthquakes, it's so far shaping up as another frustrating day. Despite outshooting their opponents 7-1, they are scoreless at the half.
The Fire have not won since beating Sporting Kansas City in Week 2 and have now gone eight matches without tasting victory. Prior to last week's loss, the Fire had tied four straight.
The Earthquakes, after a slow start, came into this match on a two-game winning streak, but haven't looked particularly aggressive so far. Chris Wondolowski, who has been their best offensive player dating back to last year, has yet to take a shot in the game, which will be his last before joining the United States Gold Cup team.
David Beckham might not be very committed to the Los Angeles Galaxy. His taking off to play 90 minutes in Gary Neville's testimonial instead of playing in the Galaxy's match against the Houston or at least really resting made that abundantly clear. When he does play though, he can still hit a cross as well as anyone in the world. That's what he did and Miguel Lopez got on the end of it to put the Galaxy ahead of the New England Revolution, 1-0, in the 69th minute.
After knocking the ball around some, the Galaxy got the ball to Beckham deep on the right. He whipped in a beautiful ball to the edge of the six-yard box. Lopez got on the end of it and put a good glancing header past Matt Reis for the match's opening tally. It might be the match's only tally, something LA would be perfectly happy with.
Brad Davis has been a pain in the butt for FC Dallas and after 42 minutes it finally pays off. The Houston Dynamo go into halftime tied 1-1 thanks to a goal from Cam Weaver. The tall striker found space in the penalty box thanks to a great ball from Davis to bring the game on level terms.
Dallas had taken the lead earlier in the half when Andrew Jacobson headed home a rebound off a Fabian Castillo shot that hit off the crossbar. Jacobson scored his first goal of the season and his first with FC Dallas.
The Dynamo have been dominating the possession game in this one. For the most part its largely due to Davis and what he's been doing all over the field. His play on the wings have been causing problems for Dallas and it finally came together for Houston before the half with Weaver's goal. Dallas will have to do a better job at defending Davis and the wing play in the second half.
As you'd expect this rivalry game has been pretty physical. Center official Terry Vaughn has already given out a couple hards to both teams but hasn't called a foul that has caused any big play for either side. You'd expect even more physical play in the second half as the game wears on with two clubs that are playing their third game within the last week.
After loads of good possession by the Houston Dynamo it was FC Dallas that made the first strike on goal. Dallas got the ball on the wing with Colombian striker Fabian Castillo who decided to take a shot from 25 yards out and the ball beat Houston keeper Tally Hall but hit off the upper-V of the goal and came back out to Andrew Jacobson who quickly headed it into the empty net to give Dallas the 1-0 lead.
The goal was Jacobson's first with Dallas. Castillo was injured on the play and may possibly have to leave the game.
Dallas's speed on the wing has been tough for the Dynamo to contain but the boys in Orange have had a couple good chances of their own with Brad Davis and rookie Will Bruin. Bruin got on the end of a Davis pass and nearly beat Kevin Hartman who had to punch the ball out of the box.
As you would expect this game has been very physical so far as both teams are pushing hard for a result against their rival. Center official Terry Vaughn has his work cut out for him as he has already made a few tough foul calls in this one but none that have made a major dent into this game.
The Los Angeles Galaxy aren't strangers to ugly matches. As glamorous as they may appear on paper with David Beckham and Landon Donovan, 1-0 matches without a ton of chances or only chances thanks to defensive miscues are pretty normal. Well, they've taken that style with them to Gillette Stadium and they're locked in an ugly 0-0 draw with the New England Revolution at halftime. Each side had a few chances, but more than anything it was sloppy defensive play that created anything resembling excitement.
The closest either team came to scoring was when Omar Gonzalez got his head on a ball and put it off the underside of the crossbar. The ball came straight down and while part of the ball crossed the line, replays showed the referee was correct in not giving the goal. New England had their chances too, twice getting free in the box only to scuff the shot while the Galaxy defenders were staring at the assistant referee asking for offside. Even so, this match is knotted at zeroes.
Chivas USA had been steadily improving all season and hit a high two weeks ago with a win at the New York Red Bulls. Last week's loss to their rivals, the Los Angeles Galaxy, looked like it might knock them back some, but they don't look like they've been knocked back at all in the first half against the Columbus Crew. The Goats started quickly and when the Crew answered, answered right back to take a 2-1 lead on the road at halftime.
It took less than four minutes for Chivas to jump on top and they did so with a very pretty goal. They knocked the ball around the Crew half quickly and efficiently before a cross to the back post found Justin Braun. Braun put it back across the goal where Nick LaBrocca finished into an empty goal to put the Goats on top.
The Crew had an equalizer in them though and it came through Andres Mendoza. Emmanuel Ekpo created the chance with a blazing right right through the center of the park before passing to Mondoza on the right. Mendoza made no mistake, ripping a shot on the first touch for a good goal.
Chivas hasn't been dominant though. Ante Jazic had to make a great clearance off of the goal line and the Crew have had their chances, but Robin Fraser is doing one heck of a turnaround job with the Goats.
After Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid called out forward Fredy Montero for his lack of recent scoring, maybe it shouldn't come as a huge shock that the Designated Player has been benched for Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake. Mike Fucito will get his second straight start and will be joined by Nate Jaqua. Brad Evans also gets his first start in three games. In all, the Sounders have six new starters from Wednesday's loss to FC Dallas.
As expected, RSL will start Jean Alexandre, normally a midfielder, at forward as Arturo Alvarez, Alvaro Saborio and Paulo Jr. are all unavailable. Ned Grabavoy appears to be starting as the central midfielder.
Real Salt Lake starters: Rimando, Beltran, Borchers, Olave, Russell, Beckerman, Johnson, Grabavoy, Williams, Espindola, Alexandre
Sounders starters: Keller, Riley, Parke, Ianni, Wahl, Evans, Alonso, Friberg, Fernandez, Fucito, Jaqua. Subs: GK Terry Boss, D Jhon K. Hurtado, D Zach Scott, M Mauro Rosales, F/M Roger Levesque, F/M Lamar Neagle, F Fredy Montero
In a battle of the winless teams, both teams remained winless. Eric Hassli got the homestanding Vancouver Whitecaps off to a strong start when he scored from the penalty spot, but Luke Rodgers answered with a goal of his own for a 1-1 draw at Empire Stadium. For the Whitecaps, it is their 11th straight match without a win, while the Red Bulls have gone five consecutive matches without a win after a start that made them look like possibly the best team in the league.
To be fair to the Red Bulls, they were playing without Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry and it showed, especially early when the Whitecaps grabbed a lead. Davide Chiumiento and Camilo executed a pretty give-and-go in the 24th minute and on the end of it, Carlos Mendes took down Camilo. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Hassli put it away for an early 1-0 Vancouver lead.
It took all of 10 minutes for New York to equalize. Roy Miller's long cross field pass to Jan Gunnar Solli opened up space and Solli spotted Rodgers. The Englishmen struck the ball on his first touch and it found net to level the match at 1-1.
Both teams had chances to grab a winner in the second half. They went back and forth on chances, but neither team could convert so they were forced to split the point and remain winless.
It's the final weekend of MLS matches before teams are depleted by Gold Cup call ups and both the Los Angeles Galaxy and New England Revolution will be among the depleted teams. The Galaxy will lose Landon Donovan, Donovan Ricketts, while the Revs will lose Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber. Because of that, both teams will be looking to grab points today before they lose their top players.
For the Galaxy, it is a near full-strength lineup. David Beckham is back after missing Wednesday's 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo to play in Gary Neville's testimonial, but Juan Pablo Angel gets a rest after playing last Saturday and Wednesday. The Revolution are near full-strength too and have lost only one match at home this season so things will be tough on LA. The Galaxy have only lost once on the road though so they appear to be up to the task and lead the league with 26 points.
The Dynamo are win less in the month of May and would love to finish the month on a positive note with a defeat of their rivals from the north. FC Dallas is on a tear, undefeated in their last seven matches since losing David Ferriera to an ankle injury. Dallas hasn't allowed a goal since May 1st so the Houston offense will have to try and break out of their slump against the hottest defense team in the league.
Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear has made a couple changes ahead of the Gold Cup, playing all three players who will be leaving and resting some regular starters like Bobby Boswell and Hunter Freeman.
Playing on short rest, albeit unofficially, the Vancouver Whitecaps are going with what is pretty much their first-choice starting XI against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. The only significant change is Wes Knight getting the start over Jonathan Leathers at right back. Shea Salinas is once again among the starters.
In place of Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez, the Red Bulls are giving Juan Agudelo the start at forward and Stephen Keel the start at center back. Agudelo has played well this year and will join the United States Gold Cup team. Keel, on the other hand, is relatively untested this year as this will be just his second starter and third appearance. In fact, it's just his ninth career MLS starter despite spending seven seasons in the league.
Whitecaps starters: Nolly; Knight, DeMerit, Janicki, Rochat; Salinas, Dunfield, Koffie, Chiumiento; Hassli, Sanvezzo.
Red Bulls starters: Sutton, Mendes, Keel, Ream, Miller, Solli, Lindpere, Tainio, De Rosario, Agudelo, Rodgers. Subs: Coundoul, Schneider, Lassiter, Kassel, Rooney, da Luz, Hertzog
The team that was the worst offensive side in MLS for the first nine weeks is suddenly looking like an offensive juggernaut. After scoring just six goals during the first 873 minutes of the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Union have scored eight goals in their past 117 minutes. The last six came in their 6-2 win over Toronto FC on Saturday, as they scored more goals in each half than they had scored in any 2011 two-game stretch prior to this week.
The Union scored early (Gabriel Farfan in the 2nd minute) and they scored late (Danny Mwanga in the 89th minute). It was Farfan's first career goal, and Mwanga's two-goal, one-assist performance was easily his best of the year. The Union also got a pair of goals from Justin Mapp and got a goal and an assist from Kyle Nakazawa
Amazingly, TFC actually made a game of this at one point. After falling behind 3-0 at halftime, they cut the deficit to 3-2 on a pair of goals from Maicon Santos nine minutes apart. But Mapp's second goal in the 62nd minute pushed the lead back to two goals, and the rout was one from there.
After scoring just six goals during the first 873 minutes of the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Union now have five in their past 71. The three most recent goals all came in the first half of Saturday's match, which they lead 3-0 over Toronto FC.
The match got off to a fast start when Gabriel Farfan scored his first professional goal in the 2nd minute. Jordan Harvey sent a pass into the box that Farfan chested down, transferred to his right foot and beat TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
That was followed just nine minutes later on Justin Mapp's first goal of the 2011 season. Mapp started the goal-scoring sequence when he intercepted a ball at midfield and passed it off to Kyle Nakazawa, who then sent it back to Mapp. Mapp then unleashed a shot from about 20 yards out.
Nakazawa capped off the scoring in the 44th minute, finishing a feed from Danny Mwanga. The scoring sequence started in TFC's end, when an attempted quick free kick ended up in Union possession.
Philadelphia Union coach Petr Nowak has revived the Danny Mwanga-Sebastian Le Toux forward pairing for just the second time this season. Although Carlos Ruiz won't join the Guatemalan Gold Cup team until next week, he will start the game on the bench.
Toronto FC counters with a lineup that features Mikael Yourassowsky getting his third start of the season, but his second in a row. Yourassowsky looked effective in TFC's last match against the Colorado Rapids. The Reds starting lineup is a bit heavy on guys who did not begin the season as starters, as Yourassowsky is joined by Nick Soolsma, Joao Plata, Richard Eckersley, Dicoy Williams and Tony Tchani. With many of these players in the lineup, TFC has lost just one of their past five matches.
Toronto FC starters: Frei; Eckersley, Harden, Williams, Gargan, de Guzman, Tchani, Yourassowsky, Soolsma, Maicon Santos, Plata.
Union starters: Mondragon; Williams, Valdes, Califf, Harvey; Mapp, Nakazawa, Carroll, G. Farfan; Mwanga, Le Toux
One of the busiest weeks on the MLS schedule continues with a jam-packed weekend that features nine more matches. The most intriguing is probably the Texas Derby between FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo, but the most telling may be the Seattle Sounders visiting Real Salt Lake.
Last week's predictions: 5 of 8 correctly picked
It's been a bit of an odd week for the Reds. On Wednesday, they were poised to decide their fate in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Instead, with them trailing, weather forced the match to be abandoned and tentatively rescheduled for Thursday morning. Conditions had not sufficiently improved, though, and it was ultimately pushed back to July 2. Luckily, they never had to leave Toronto, at least diminishing the effects. They'll need all their wits about them as they face a Union team remains tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Union are coming off their first two-goal performance of the year and will have striker Carlos Ruiz for one final game before he joins Guatemala for the Gold Cup. After opening the season with a win on the road, the Union have lost all three matches away from PPL Park since then. Pick: Tied 1-1.
The soccer gods did not do the Whitecaps any favors this week. Adding insult to the abandonment of their 2-1 aggregate-goal lead over Toronto FC in the NCC was the fact that they had to stick around an extra day while the BMO Field conditions were assessed for the tentatively rescheduled match the next day. Just to put an extra cherry on top of the frustrating week, they now get ready to face the Red Bulls just a couple days after getting back home. If there's any good news to come out of this, it's that they at least don't have to face a full-strength opponent as Thierry Henry has been left at home and Dane Richards and Rafael Marquez have already joined their respective national teams. Of course, that just means Whitecaps fans will get to see the likes of Juan Agudelo and Luke Rodgers for a full match. Pick: Tied 1-1.
After a start that featured just one loss in their first eight matches, the Crew have lost two straight. More tellingly, they haven't scored in more than 200 minutes and have scored just eight goals all season. Making matters worse is that leading scorer Emilio Renteria has been ruled out for the match, meaning so-far-disappointing Designated Player Andres Mendoza will likely get the start as the lone forward in Robert Warzycha's 4-1-4-1 formation. They'll also have left winger Robbie Rogers for at least one more match before he (gosh, it hurts to write this) joins the United States national team. Chivas USA have quietly put together a solid season, going 3-2-3 in their last eight that has included two road victories. Justin Braun and Alejandro Moreno seem to be forming a decent forward partnership and their defense has allowed a perfectly respectable seven goals in their past nine. Pick: Tied 0-0.
No MLS team has been better this year on the road than the Galaxy, whose 13 road points is easily the best total in the league. For the most part, they've gotten those results by playing lock down defense, as they've registered three shutouts and allowed more than one goal just twice away from Home Depot Center. They should have a full complement of Designated Players, as David Beckham joined the team in New England and Landon Donovan will play one more game with the Galaxy before joining the USMNT. The Revolution, though, have lost just once at home and have claimed 11 of their 13 points at Gillette Stadium. They don't always look pretty doing it, but this team does have the talent to compete with almost anyone. It also looks like Shalrie Joseph is having second thoughts about joining Grenada for the Gold Cup, meaning they too should have a pretty close to full-strength side. Pick: Tied 1-1.
It's been a long time since the Fire last tasted victory. In fact, it's been just over two months as their only win of the season came in Week 2 on March 26. That said, they are coming off a huge come-from-behind win over the Earthquakes to earn a spot in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16. In the game, the Fire erased a 2-0 halftime deficit and overcame playing the final 22 minutes of overtime a man down to win in the sixth round of the penalty shootout. Each team should be at close to full strength, as both Marco Pappa and Chris Wondolowski will play one more game for their clubs before joining their respective national teams. The Earthquakes have picked up their game as of late, winning two straight after a six-match winless streak. Wondolowski is looking like the reigning Golden Boot winner again, picking up a goal or an assist in each of the past three matches. Pick: Earthquakes 2-1.
Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m., Saturday
The Texas Derby has never really taken off despite both cities harboring a good amount of ill will for one another and the matches being reasonably contentious in recent years. That all my finally be changing, as both teams seem to be putting a lot more energy into fueling this rivalry. Whether it was the Dynamo buying a billboard in Dallas proclaiming their trophy superiority or Dallas reminding everyone who currently holds "El Capitan," this finally seems to be the kind of rivalry people can get excited about. The Toros will be playing their second road match in four days, but are also riding a seven-match unbeaten run and a 489-minute shutout streak. The Dynamo have hit a bit of a rough patch, having gone five matches without a victory and are also coming off a midweek game of their own. Pick: FCD 1-0.
If there's a team that is the definition of treading water right now, it's the Rapids. Wednesday's tie was their fourth straight and they have now now gone 1-0-5 in the six games since Brian Mullan was given a 10-game suspension. The offense has definitely been lacking, but they did find a way to get two goals at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday and Conor Casey appears to be nearing full fitness. Up until Wednesday' game, their defense was also on a seven-game run in which they had not allowed more than a goal. None of this bodes well for a Sporting side that has not won since Week 1 and is riding a six-match losing streak, the most recent of which came after a 93rd minute heartbreaker in Seattle. The good news is they have just one more road game after this before finally playing their home opener. Pick: Rapids 2-1.
Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders, 9 p.m., Saturday
There's still no reason for panic to set in around RSL, but there has to be some cause for concern. Despite still leading in points per match, the Royals have now gone four matches without a goal against a full-strength side and their once indisputable spot atop the MLS hierarchy has been loudly questioned. Unfortunately, the offense doesn't appear to have an obvious path to improvement as Alvaro Saborio and Arturo Alvarez have already joined their national teams for Gold Cup duty and Paulo Jr. is likely out for a month with an injury. That leaves the slumping Fabian Espindola as the main option at forward and hoping that someone like Jean Alexandre can step up. The Sounders haven't exactly been burning the backs of nets, either, having failed to score more than one goal in any of their past five matches and in just three of their 13 matches this season. Pick: Tied 1-1.
They are still a few games away from making significant MLS history, but the Timbers have already established Jeld-Wen Field as a fortress. Their 5-0-0 record is the best start at home for a first-year franchise in the post shootout era and has included wins over several likely playoff teams. Right now, United does not appear to be in that class, and the availability of Charlie Davies is still in question. The Timbers won't keep up this perfect start forever, but it seems highly unlikely to end this week. Pick: Timbers 1-0.
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