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Among the highlights of the recently released MLS player salary data are a median salary of $80,000 and an median team budget of nearly $3.4 million.
Representing the nation's two biggest markets, the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls always draw some eyeballs to the TV screen whenever they meet and on Saturday night those who tuned in were the lucky ones. The two star-studded teams put on a show at the sold out Home Depot Center as goals by Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan highlighted the match and led to a 1-1 draw between the league's marquee teams.
It took all of four minutes for the Red Bulls to score first. Henry was played in by Dane Richards and the Frenchman dribbled around Donovan Ricketts before slotting the ball home for the match's first goal. It continued a strong run of form for Henry as he netted for the fourth time in the last four matches.
For the Galaxy, it brought back some bad memories of New York's visit to Los Angeles last year when LA was overrun by the visitors. Unlike last season though, LA responded well and were able to hang with New York. They pressed on and almost scored not long after on a corner kick. The ball was knocked down and played to Chad Barrett , who had himself a shot from 15 yards, but Bouna Coundoul did well to get down for the save.
The rest of the half continued in thrilling fashion. Both teams opened up and looked to get forward whenever possible, which resulted in plenty of chances. Richards took a shot from distance and forced RIcketts into a strong save and Donovan twice had chances to score only to put the shot wide. It was one of the poorer starts for Donovan in some time as he missed chances and took several bad touches, but he made his mark in the 41st minute.
Once again, the Galaxy got an opportunity off a corner kick and this time it led to a goal. David Beckham put the ball right on Donovan's head, whose job was made easier by Roy Miller's strange decision to not jump. That left Donovan free in the center to head the ball past Coundoul for the equalizer.
Donovan almost added to his total a few minutes later when Beckham slid a ball through to him and he was all alone on goal. He made it around Coundoul and had the goal to himself. Donovan kicked the ball slowly towards the goal, but TIm Ream was hustling back and in a full sprint slid and kicked the ball away with it on the goal line to save a goal.
The second half slowed down and while it was still quality soccer, it was nowhere near as entertaining as the first half. Both teams had chances and once again, both keeper came up with good saves. The Red Bulls beat Ricketts once and looked to have a goal, but Richards' shot hit the post and bounced away to keep the match level.
In the end, Los Angeles and New York played the best match Major League Soccer has seen in some time, something that will undoubtedly thrill the league considering it came on national TV between the league's two marquee teams.
The names Los Angeles and New York have plenty of cache in them alone and within MLS, the Galaxy and Red Bulls have plenty of stars so whenever the two teams square off, it is a big-time match for the league. Well, if MLS was looking for a match to show off they picked the right one because the first 45 minutes between the Galaxy and Red Bulls are about as entertaining as any 45 minutes you will see in soccer. The two teams have had great chances, fantastic passes, stunning saves and one of the more amazing defensive plays anyone will see in a match that cannot be described as anything else than thrilling. Luckily for those in attendance and tuning in on TV, with the match tied at 1-1 they are primed to see more of it in the second half.
Things started early for New York as Thierry Henry got them on the scoreboard just four minutes in. The Galaxy gave Dane Richards space 30 yards from goal and he spotted Henry making a good diagonal run. Richards slid the ball into Henry, who rounded the keeper and put the ball in the net for an early Red Bulls goal.
The goal didn't slow things up. In fact, the match only picked up in intensity after the goal. The Galaxy pushed and pushed the Red Bulls and it looked like it paid off when Juan Pablo Angel nodded one past Coundoul only for it to be disallowed because the lineman correctly ruled him offside. Landon Donovan had two good chances to put the Galaxy ahead, but missed the frame once and put the shot right at the keeper the other time.
New York had a couple chances of their own, but Donovan Ricketts made a good save on Richards and another shot slid just inches wide of the goal. With New York playing without a true defensive midfielder and Los Angeles getting sensational passing from David Beckham, there was plenty of back and forth opportunities for both teams.
After several good chances, Los Angeles finally got their goal in the 41st minute. A Beckham corner kick found Landon Donovan, who rose and headed the ball past Coundoul for the equalizer. It is rare that Donovan wins headers in traffic, but Roy Miller's strange and inexplicable decision to not jump surely made things easier.
Just before halftime it looked like Donovan would get his second goal when Beckham played him in. Donovan had the ball and had gotten past Coundoul so he had just the open goal in front of him, which he slowly nudged the ball towards. Tim Ream was hustling back though and in a full sprint slid at the goal line, kicking the ball off of the line and away to deny the goal in one of the more spectacular plays a defender could make.
After 45 minutes the two teams are right where they started. It's all even, but it wasn't for nothing. It was some of the most entertaining 45 minutes anyone could see and the second half could just be more of the same.
Whenever the Los Angeles Galaxy play the New York Red Bulls it is billed as big markets and big stars. Early on, the big stars have lived up to their side of the bargain with Landon Donovan scoring for the Galaxy off of a David Beckham corner kick to match Thierry Henry's early goal for the Red Bulls. The match has been insanely entertaining with both sides generating chances and some sensational plays that have left most wondering how it is only 1-1.
Donovan equalized when he was able to sky above a pack of teammates and defenders to head a ball past Bouna Coundoul, who has been sensational. It's rare to see the diminutive Donovan win a header, much less one with plenty of defenders around, but that's what he did. Roy Miller did help by planting himself to the ground and never even bothering to jump, but Donovan won't complain. He has himself a goal and the Galaxy are level after 41 minutes.
It took all of five minutes for the New York Red Bulls to go up on the LA Galaxy and they did so through Thierry Henry. Dane Richards got the ball with plenty of space 30 yards from goal and played the ball into Henry, who was making a diagonal run. From there, Henry just had to round an onrushing Donovan Ricketts and finish past a recovering Sean Franklin to put the visitors ahead 1-0 very early on.
New York's goal came just a minute after Los Angeles almost netted the game's first goal. David Beckham played a perfect long ball for Landon Donovan, who took the ball first touch on the volley, but put it right at Bouna Coundoul. The Red Bulls won at the Home Depot Center last season by dominating what is an average at best Los Angeles central midfield and while it is still early, it looks as if that may be the case again this season.
Major League Soccer's two marquee teams from the county's two biggest markets are ready to do battle tonight at the Home Depot Center. The two teams have played some highly entertaining games in past years and a year ago each team won away from home. It is also a match-up filled with big names with a total of five designated players on the field. For the Galaxy, it's Landon Donovan, Juan Pablo Angel and David Beckham grabbing the headlines and big checks. For the Red Bulls, it's Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez. For the league, it's the two clubs they need most to succeed and to this point they have with New York leading the Eastern Conference and LA second in the Western Conference
The smallest man on the pitch came up big for Toronto FC as 5-foot-3 Joao Plata scored a penalty and assisted on the game-winner as the Red beat the Houston Dynamo 2-1 on Saturday. It was TFC's first MLS victory in more than a month and ended a six-match unbeaten run.
Plata, who went unselected in the most recent SuperDraft, was given his first MLS start and responded with his first MLS goal and assist. Plata had looked dangerous in previous appearances and had played well during TFC's Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal against FC Edmonton.
After giving TFC the lead with his 50th minute penalty, Plata helped push the lead to 2-0 when he set up Maicon Santos with an outstanding through ball in the 81st minute. Santos was able to collect Plata's service in stride, made a couple of touches and then beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall inside the far post.
The loss was the second straight for the Dynamo who entered the week on a six-match unbeaten run. They lost to the Colorado Rapids 2-1 at home on Wednesday.
Add the Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps to the list of drawn matches on MLS Saturday. Six matches have been played so far and four of them have finished in draw with the Fire and Whitecaps the third to finish scoreless. Despite being the better side for most the entire match, Chicago could not find a goal and are unable to make up much ground in the Eastern Conference table, while Vancouver has managed their first ever point away from home in MLS play.
The Fire threatened the Whitecaps early and often, usually through Diego Chaves. The Uruguayan routinely caused havoc for the Whitecaps' defense, but he couldn't turn any of the threats into a goal. His first opportunity came when he was played alone in on goal, but he struggled to control the ball and once he did he hesitated so once he finally got ready to shoot, he was taken out by a good tackle. His next chance came again in along on goal and this time he got the shot away and beat the keeper, but he couldn't beat the post so the two teams went to halftime scoreless.
Vancouver showed some more life to start the second half, but Chicago was still better. That changed in the final 30 minutes when the Whitecaps turned it on and will feel as if they should have grabbed the three points. Their best chance came with Eric Hassli was played in and had no defender around him. Instead of slotting it past the keeper, Hassli tried to round the keeper, only to dribble it into Jon Conway and waste the chance.
While the Whitecaps will wonder "what if" after a strong finish and getting their best player in alone on goal, they will be happy with their point. The expansion team had yet to garner a point away from home all year and now finally have their first. Meanwhile, the Fire will be angry that they couldn't get a goal or three in the first 60 minutes to put the match away for three points they probably should have grabbed.
The first half didn't have much in the way of exciting play and while the quality of play in the second half didn't get any better, the chances did. Both the New England Revolution and Colorado had their opportunities in the second 45 minutes to grab a goal and three points, but neither side could capitalize so they were forced to settle for a point apiece. The Rapids can't be upset about grabbing an away point with both of their star strikers, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings, out with injury, while the Revolution will likely take anything after an embarrassing 3-0 loss at Chivas a week ago.
After a forgettable first half by both teams it looked like the Revs might get on the board 10 minutes into the second half when Shalrie Joseph for inexplicably free near the far post on a corner kick. Joseph snapped a decent header on goal, but Matt Pickens did well to get down and save it before the Colorado defense scrambled to clear the rebound away.
Benny Feilhaber came within inches of putting the Revolution ahead in the 74th minute when he got on the end of a low cross and struck the ball hard past Pickens. The shot clattered off of the cross bar and away though, leaving Feilhaber frustrated and the match still goalless.
The Revolution continued to push for a goal late and they almost got on the end of several crosses in the waning minutes, but none could be turned on goal. The home side had their way with the Rapids late on, but they were not rewarded and were forced to take their draw.
DC United came out in this one with lots of time on the ball and had plenty of opportunities to come away with chances on goal but it wasn't until the very last minute of the game that they really tested Kevin Hartman. Charlie Davies used his speed and skill all night to cause havoc on the Dallas back four, and in the 90th minute he got around George John and sent a nice ball across the six-yard box to Fred who tried to head it in but was denied by Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman. The 36-year old Hartman was huge for Dallas on a couple spots where his defense let him down tonight.
Dallas struggled in the possession game for most of the night as Schellas Hyndman had to shift Brek Shea back into the defense for the forth time this season. It didn't hurt the club defensively but on offense the Toros missed his pace down the wings and really only saw a couple good chances on offense when he pushed forward.
Offensively speaking, Dallas had a couple chances on net and did well from the wings with Fabian Castillo and Marvin Chavez but the final ball into the box was lacking tonight from the visitors. Andrew Jacobson had a big night against his former club as he was winning 50-50 balls left and right.
DC was also able to do well with their wing play tonight as the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar was a handfull all night for Dallas. Once he was subbed out late in the game with a small injury, did the game settle down on his side of the pitch for United.
Ben Olsen has to be pleased to see his defense get a shutout against a club that was starting to do well on offense here. His young back four did a very nice job of cutting down the passing lanes for Dallas and their attack. But it was also the midfield game that really cooled Dallas off in this one. Dax McCarty definitely got the best of his former club in this one.
With the draw, both teams stay level on points with 11 on the year.
There is no doubt that the Chicago Fire have been better than the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first half at Toyota Park. Everyone in the stadium knows it. Well, everyone except for the scoreboard. The Fire had four shots to the Whitecaps' none and 69% of the possession, but it didn't result in anything. Chicago was undoubtedly better, but they couldn't tally so the scoreboard shows none of their dominance as they head into halftime in a scoreless game with Vancouver.
Diego Chaves is the man that has been Vancouver's biggest problem and their best friend. The Uruguayan has been a handful all match, getting in behind the Whitecaps' defense, getting free on set pieces and finding space in the box. Fortunately for the Whitecaps, he's also struggled to finish. Once he flashed ashot just by the post, he took too long while all alone and had the ball tackled away at the final moment and another time he struck the post, but most important is that none of the shots have gone in. Although, it's unlikely that Vancouver can defend on that in the second half if they continue to defend like they have.
They have played 45 minutes of soccer at Gillette Stadium and there isn't a ton to write about. The New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids did nothing overly exciting, although that's hardly a surprise considering the Revs' quality, a soaked turf field and the Rapids being forced to play without Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. The closest either team came to a goal was when Ryan Cochrane put a header off of the crossbar, but chances have been few and far between.
The most surprising part of the first half might have been Benny Feilhaber actually tracking back, something that is rare from the midfielder. It wasn't the most vigorous of defending from Feilhaber, but it was something. Meanwhile, the Rapids have zero creativity in the midfield and they are out of strikers. Neither Casey nor Cummings are injured so they were left with just three healthy strikers, but Caleb Folan had to come off in the 30th minute with an injury. With Andre Akpan on for him now, the Rapids have no more strikers available.
The first half is in the books at RFK Stadium between FC Dallas and DC United and we're at the same place we started, 0-0. So far neither club has been able to find the back of the net and really neither have created too many quality chances on goal in the half. The game has been stuck mostly in the midfield as each team has been fighting for possession here. For the most part the Black-and-Red have been able to keep the ball and have Dallas chase them.
DC has had a couple chances but none have been on frame or have even troubled Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman. United's best attack this evening so far has been through their wings with Andy Najar. He's been a pest so far in this one and has really forced Dallas to sit back more than they'd like.
United have also done well at winning some dangerous set pieces in their offensive end but Dax McCarty hasn't been able to find anyone on the end of them. Give credit to Dallas's defense for coming up strong on those so far.
On the flip side for the visitors, Dallas seen some success of their own on the wings with Fabian Castillo and Marvin Chavez. Both have put plenty of pressure on the young United back line. Dallas has done a decent job at getting some long throw-ins into the box from Zach Loyd but have yet to be able to do anything with them. The final pass just hasn't been there for Dallas.
Neither the Chicago Fire nor the Vancouver Whitecaps are off to very strong starts this season, although no one expected much from them. The Fire were awful a season ago and brought in several new faces so a slow start was to be expected. The Whitecaps are an expansion team so expectations were very low, as they always are with first-year teams. Both teams have played to those low expectations as each is second from the bottom in their respective conference tables heading into this evening match at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., where the Fire have to be looked at as slight favorite on the basis of being at home.
It is a cold and wet day in Massachusetts with the defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids in town to play to home standing New England Revolution. The afternoon was filled with rain, thunder and lightning, something that could lead to a very ugly match on the slick Gillette Stadium turf.
The Rapids will have to play without both of their top strikers, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. Casey continues to battle an hamstring injury and is not on the bench so he is out. The same goes for Cummings, who is dealing with a sprained knee. Meanwhile, the Revs have themselves a late scratch as Zak Boggs was taken out just before the match as he battles an illness with Kenny Mansally taking his place in the starting XI.
Things are about to get underway at RFK Stadium between FC Dallas and DC United. The Black-and-Red are coming out with a pretty young defense yet again with rookies Perry Kitchen and Ethan White in the back. Once again they'll be starting three Home Grown Players, a couple more than what any other club has been able to do so far.
For Dallas, Schellas Hyndman will once again have Brek Shea back in the defense. Its a pretty shocking move considering how well the club had been playing in recent weeks with him in the midfield helping out in the attack. Instead, Fabian Castillo will slide back into the wing with veteran Milton Rodriguez up top. Obviously this is a tactic by Hyndman to go against Ben Olsen's young defense.
Real Salt Lake got an 87th minute goal from Will Johnson to beat nine-man Chivas USA 1-0 on Saturday to extend their MLS home unbeaten streak to 31 matches. But that victory will likely ring hallow as RSL lost Javier Morales to a potentially season-ending broken ankle that he suffered in the first half on a Marcos Mondaini tackle from behind.
After the injury, the severity of which seemed pretty apparent as Morales writhed on the field in agony, the RSL attack was understandably out of sorts. Not only had the players lost a teammate, but from a more practical standpoint, they also lost their best playmaker.
The Goats seemed perfectly willing to bunker, especially after Mondaini was the second player to be sent off. Earlier in the match, Andrew Boyens was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in the first 25 minutes. Taken together, it's hard not to think that Chivas USA came in with an attitude of simply trying to "out physical" the obviously more talented RSL side.
The truth is, that strategy seemed to be working up until the 87th minute. That's when Warner sent in a probing ball from outside the penalty area. It deflected off Nat Borchers and Johnson caught up to it just before Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy did, poking it into the back of the net.
The win was RSL's first since April 13 when they beat the Colorado Rapids. RSL had only played one MLS match in the meantime as they were given a week off to prepare for CONCACAF Champions League.
Javier Morales was clearly in a lot of pain when he went down after being tackled by Marco Mondaini from behind. Now, Real Salt Lake is reporting what seemed apparently on the field: Morales broke his ankle on the play.
Replays showed Morales' ankle being twisted in a very unnatural way and when he rolled over, his foot did not seem to be pointing straight. It will likely take Morales at least a few months to recover from the injury and it's very possible that MLS will take the extent of his injury into account when determining how to punish Mondaini.
There's been no official indication, but it looks as if Javier Morales may have just broken his ankle on a sloppy tackle from behind by Chivas USA forward Marcos Mondaini. The Real Salt Lake midfielder went down in a heap just outside the penalty area when Mondaini tackled him from behind, entirely missing the ball and rolling up on the back of his leg. Morales' leg appeared to get trapped underneath and bent in an entirely unnatural way. Mondaini was shown a red card, leaving Chivas USA with just nine men for the final 50-plus minutes of the match.
The tackle was not as violent as Brian Mullan's leg-breaking tackle of Steve Zakuani on April 23, but it was not nearly as innocent as Jonathan Leathers' tackle of David Ferreira that resulted in the league's reigning MVP breaking his ankle. Mondaini had no real chance at the ball, and while the injury was not the intended consequence, it was clearly a cynical foul that was not meant to win possession, but rather to slow up an opposing attack.
Now, it will be interesting to see what the MLS disciplinary committee does as they have set a clear precedent with Mullan's 10-game suspension.
Chivas USA came into Saturday's match at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium a decided underdog. After Andrew Boyens picked up his second yellow card in the 25th minute, leaving the Goats with just 10 men, they are going to have to work pretty hard just to get a point.
Boyens' second foul was a pretty obvious card, as he lowered his shoulder on Alvaro Saborio in the middle of the pitch. The contact was not particularly hard, but it was a clear foul and Boyens had committed several other clear fouls throughout the early going. On the second yellow, the ball was not even anywhere particularly close to play and Boyens appeared to be trying to disrupt the already slumping Saborio.
RSL entered the match having not lost in their last 30 MLS matches at home, a streak that dates back to May 2009. In the early going, they've had the better of the play even before Boyens was sent off.
Soccer Night In America, Fox Soccer Channel's new "showcase" for MLS, debuted on Friday to much fanfare. The Portland Timbers hosted the Philadelphia Union and pulled out a 1-0 victory in front of more than 18,000 signing and chanting fans. The game wasn't spectacular, but games involving the Union rarely are.
More to the point, the broadcast went reasonably well, which unfortunately, is actually saying something for FSC, who has earned a reputation for third-rate production quality. The Brotherly Game, SB Nation's Philadelphia Union blog, actually came away reasonably impressed.
In terms of the production itself, the new graphics were used properly at all times, and replays seemed to be better timed to avoid missing any on-going action than in the past. With the exception of just a couple of instances, camera angles were transitioned to and from smoothly, and there wasn't a ton of "let's stop showing the main camera feed so we can show you a close-up of an area of the pitch where nothing's going on anymore" moments, if that makes any sense.
It's more than a little sad that the broadcast is earning praise for simply failing to suck. But, when you've run the product into the ground as thoroughly as FSC has in the, "not sucking" is a huge improvement and right now, we should probably be happy with that.
Once seemingly unbeatable Real Salt Lake may be wounded, but they still carry a record 30-match home unbeaten run against MLS opponents that dates back to May 19, 2009. To continue that streak, they'll have to face a Chivas USA team that has an unbeaten run of their own, albeit a decidedly less impressive five matches.
RSL will use what is essentially a first-choice lineup that features slumping striker Alvaro Saborio starting alongside Fabian Espindola.. Chivas USA counters with the same lineup that has essentially got them to this point, with Alejandro Moreno and Marcos Mondaini starting up top and Justin Braun coming off the bench.
RSL starters: Rimando, Russell, Olave, Borchers, Wingert, Beckerman, Grabavoy, Johnson, Morales, Espindola, Saborio. Bench: Reynish, Schuler, Beltran, Alexandre, Warner, Williams, Alvarez
Chivas USA staters: Kennedy, Jazic, Pearce, Boyens, Valentin, Elliott, Flores, Zemanski, LaBrocca, Moreno, Mondaini. Bench: Thornton, Braun, Estupinan, Mayen, Mendoza, Trujillo and Umana
Once again the fortress that is JELD-WEN Field has yielded another victim. The Portland Timbers had the bulk of the possession, the better chances on goal and in the end a Mamadou "Futty" Danso header was the difference as the Timbers down the Philadelphia Union 1-0. The win marks the second straight shutout for the Timbers who had been giving up goals left and right in previous games.
Danso's goal came midway through the second half when the Union were whistled for a handball in the middle of the park. Jack Jewsbury had a tough angle on the free kick but he curled in a ball straight to Danso, who was free in the box to head it home.
The Timbers looked pretty solid throughout this game and held the bulk of possession in this one. Getting a second straight shutout at home is huge for the Timbers too. Their defense wasn't tested much tonight but the few chances that came the Union's way, Troy Perkins came up big or his defense in front of him did.
Neither side played all that well though. Philadelphia sat back for much of the first half and part of the second and really allowed Portland to take the game to them. The little possession they saw they wasted their chances with it. But give plenty of credit to the Union defense as it could have easily been a two or maybe even a three goal game for the Timbers. Faryd Mondragon and his defense really did a good job of shutting down the Timbers attack. The back four for the Union also did a good job of cutting down passing lanes.
The Timbers only had a few chances even with the bulk of possession. Kenny Cooper never got enough touches on the ball tonight but his partner up top, Jorge Perlaza was a workhorse all night for the Timbers. His energy allowed the Timbers offense to keep pressure on the young Union back line.
The loss for the Union isn't a terrible ont but they have to feel this was a wasted trip to Portland as their offense never got going in this game. Whether it was the loud crowd in the stands or the shorten field, the Union just couldn't get it going in the offensive end.
It's taken the Portland Timbers 70 minutes but they have finally broken the deadlock at JELD-WEN Field. After a handball in the middle of the field, Jack Jewsbury sent in the free kick and Manadou "Futty" Danso finished the cross for the game's first goal. Danso headed home a wonderful ball from Jewsbury off a difficult angle for the free kick.
The goal was Danso's first career Major League Soccer goal.
The Timbers continue to prove how good they are on set pieces as they take the lead and get the crowd back on into the game a bit more. The Philadelphia Union defenders were all out of position and Danso was able to break free on the set piece.
So far the second half has been just as open as the first was for the Timbers. The Timbers continue to dominate the possession in this one as the Union have a more offensive lineup on the field in the second half with Kyle Nakazawa came on for Gabriel Farfan early in the half. The Union haven't been able to find the possession yet to get scoring chances here.
After 45 minutes at JELD-WEN Field, it is still scoreless between the Portland Timbers and the Philadelphia Union. But all was not as level as the score suggests. The Timbers easily had the bulk of the possession in the first half and had a few quality chances on Faryd Mondragon's goal.
Philadelphia came out with a very young back four with the Farfan brothers, Gabriel and Michael, both have really showed well in the first half along side Carlos Valdes and Sheanon Williams. The Union back line has done an excellent job so far at cutting down the passing lines for the Timbers from their midfield. Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara haven't been able to get too many good balls through to Kenny Cooper or Jorge Perlaza.
The few times that the Timbers have seen success in getting Cooper or Perlaza open were on the wings with Jeremy Hall or Darlington Nagbe. Both young players have done well at springing their forwards free into the attack. But in the end, the Timbers haven't been able to capitalize with their chances.
The best possibly came at the end of the first half as Portland got a free kick outside the penalty area. Jewsbury hit a wonderful ball into the box where Eric Brunner got a head on it but it sailed over the crossbar. Brunner was wide open on the header and could have done better to hammer it home for the game's first goal.
On the other end, the Union have only seen a couple chances but are getting some success down the right side with Danny Mwanga. Once he shifted over to that side the game opened up a little for the visitors and their possession seemed to follow. Mwanga lead a dangerous chance late in the first half where he used his speed and strength to get by a Timbers defender and nearly found Carlos Ruiz on the back post. Had he played the ball a touch sooner Philadelphia would probably be sitting with a one goal lead at the half.
It's Soccer Night in America. Fox Soccer displays their new hi-tech stuff tonight to the world (free of charge to Match Day Live subscribers I might add). We're in for a treat too as JELD-WEN Field should be a rocking place tonight as the Portland Timbers host the Philadelphia Union.
Portland is going out with an attacking lineup tonight as they have rookie Darlington Nagbe in the starting eleven along with Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza. Philadelphia hopes to get their offense going with their three headed monster of an attack with Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz and Danny Mwanga.
Week 8 of the MLS season brings us a couple of things we've been awaiting for quite some time: Fox Soccer Channel making a real commitment to the league and five Designated Players all starting in the same game. Both are significant for entirely different reasons.
"Soccer Night in America," which debuts Friday when the Portland Timbers host the Philadelphia Union, promises to be the kind of showcase event followers of MLS have been wanting for years. Top-notch graphics, numerous camera angles and super slow-motion replays are the kinds of things the U.S. sports fans have become accustomed to, but MLS has never really had any of that until now.
The congregation of five DPs at once is something we've been expecting for a while now, but various circumstances have kept all of them from starting. Now, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez all appear to be match fit and should be ready to go.
Last week's predictions: 5 of 9
It's a well-worn fact that teams tend to perform better at home than on the road, but few teams take that extreme to the levels of the Timbers. On the road, they are downright awful, claiming just one point in four matches and posting a league-worst -7 goal-difference. At home, the Timbers are a perfect 3-0-0 with a +4 goal-difference. That difference of 11 goals is five more than any other team. Luckily for them, this one is being played at the friendly confines of Jeld-Wen Field. The Union have gotten off to a fast start, claiming 13 of 18 possible points so far this season, but they've done it while having the worst offense in the league. Somehow a fifth 1-0 wins does not seem to b a likely outcome in this one. Pick: Timbers 2-1.
In the span of a little more than a week, RSL had two rather impressive streaks broken. Their 37-match home unbeaten streak across all competitions was snapped during the April 26's loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final and their 18-match MLS unbeaten streak was broken when they lost to the Timbers on Saturday. But there's still one more record streak that is intact -- RSL's 26-match home unbeaten run against MLS teams. Although the Goats have looked much better in recent weeks, compiling a five-match unbeaten streak of their own, they still seem an unlikely candidate to win at Rio Tinto Stadium. Pick: RSL 2-0.
In a league with as much mediocrity as MLS, figuring who the worst team is can sometimes be as hard as figuring out who's best. Right now, though, it's hard to argue against the Reds being at the bottom. Their -6 goal difference is the worst in the league and they are one of only three teams to have been outscored at home so far this year. Considering it wasn't so long ago that BMO Field was considered a fortress, this is a particularly tough pill. The Dynamo, though, are coming to town on short rest and are coming off just their second loss of the season. The availability of Geoff Cameron will probably be key. Pick: Tied 1-1.
It's been a couple weeks since Benny Feilhaber joined the Revs and ever since then I've been saying they have the most talented group of central midfielders. Of course, that's only theoretical as Ousmane Dabo has yet to make an appearance, and now it looks like Steve Nicol may be switching to a 4-4-2, which would render the value of three very good CMs essentially meaningless. Despite their 3-0 loss at Chivas USA last week, this still seems like a team that has better days ahead. The Rapids snapped a four-match winless streak and should be getting a little healthier. They've never been a great road team, but if they can get some of their injured bodies back, they should be fine. Pick: Tied 1-1.
Injuries and absences have been hanging over the Sounders seemingly all season and they seemed to really catch up to them on Wednesday. Fredy Montero did not look comfortable in his cast, Mauro Rosales was essentially dead weight for the final 10-15 minutes, the team does not have a 90-minute fit target forward ... the list goes on. Now, they have a match on short rest facing a team with a six-match unbeaten streak that hasn't lost at home. Of course, that team is the Crew and they still don't look all that impressive on paper. They've yet to score two run-of-play goals in a single game and their defense has looked solid, but not dominant. A win here wouldn't silence their critics, but it would be another step in that direction. Pick: Crew 2-1.
Neither of these teams were looking particularly good a week ago, but after each won their last game, some signs of life seem a little more apparent. Charlie Davies showed some serious speed in scoring his league-leading sixth goal and picking up an assist on United's other goal during their 2-1 win on Wednesday. Their defense still has some issues and Bill Hamid was the only thing that stood between them and a much less satisfying result, but talk of this team not being any better than last year's outfit should probably just stop. It's still unclear how the Toros will deal with the loss of David Ferreira in the long term, but the 4-2-3-1 they featured last week with Fabian Castillo as a lone-striker seemed to work OK. The torrential downpour, though, made any real assessment difficult. Pick: Tied 2-2.
Oh man, this is not what they call "must-see TV." Both teams got off to promising starts, but now have combined for 12 straight matches without a victory. Neither team looks particularly awful, and both have some obviously talented players, but neither is close to being able to define themselves by anything. Predicting an outcome in this one seems rather ridiculous. Let's just hope for a shootout. Pick: Tied 2-2.
Assuming no one comes up with a last-second injury, this should be the first time five Designated Players start in the same game. Befitting the occasion, all of them are legitimately among the biggest names in MLS and have careers befitting their salaries. Making this an even more intriguing match is some of the supporting characters, like U.S. national teamers Omar Gonazles, Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo, as well the likes of Dwayne De Rosario, Dane Richards and Juninho. Maybe it will fail to live up to the hype, but at least there's some legitimate hype to be had. Pick: Red Bulls 2-1.
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