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The Vancouver Whitecaps won their first game since mid-June, ending a run of seven matches without a victory, with a 4-2 thrashing of the Chicago Fire. Both clubs are at the bottom of the standings in their respective conferences and despite the win Vancouver still have the fewest points in MLS with 19. But on the day the Whitecaps were rampant, and while it's been a frustrating inaugural season for Vancouver the potential they flashed today and at other points throughout the year should give the team's supporters more than a few things to look forward to in the future.
Eric Hassli got the scoring started in the first minute after Yamith Cuesta whiffed on a clearance and allowed the ball to slide right into Hassli's path. Vancouver's DP striker then fired into the corner past a diving Sean Johnson. Chicago leveled in the 23rd minute thanks to a fantastic individual effort from Dominic Oduro. Oduro chased down a clever flick on from Sebastián Grazzini and dribbled past two defenders before an emphatic finish into the roof of Jay Nolly's net.
Vancouver came right back to take the lead just seconds later when Hassli slid the ball to Gershon Koffie in space who took one touch and drove a low ball in from well outside the area, a tricky hop allowing the shot to bounce past an outstretched Johnson. Vancouver very nearly had another before the half after Cuesta dragged Camilo Sanvezzo down inside the area, but Johnson stopped Hassli's well-taken penalty to keep the gap at one. It didn't take the Whitecaps long to grab another though, with Camilo sliding a low drive from a tight angle past Johnson in the 48th minute.
Hassli would get the brace that was earlier denied by Johnson and seal the win for Vancouver in the 72nd minute and put the game out of reach for the home side, pouncing on the rebound from a free kick and first hitting the post before finally putting the ball away. Orr Barouch would get one back for Chicago in the 80th minute to bring the deficit back to two, but it was too late for the Fire to mount a comeback of any real significance and things ended 4-2, Hassli's brace proving the difference.
The Fire's own winless streak stands at eight, now longer than the run of futility just ended by the Whitecaps. chicago's last win in MLS came on June 12th, a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew. though Chicago have the edge in points over the Whitecaps, their two wins on the season is fewer than any team in MLS. This is just the third win of the season for Vancouver with all three coming at Empire Field. In seasons this difficult, wins this stand out for teams like the Whitecaps-especially given that this is just their first season in the league. For Chicago, the hurt keeps on rolling and the team that was once one of the best in MLS must figure a way to get the ship righted.
Something crazy tends to happen when Sporting Kansas City plays the Seattle Sounders. Unfortunately, for Sporting fans, it's almost always bad. The latest horror happened on Saturday when the Sounders scored the equalizer in the 90th minute and then got the game-winner about a minute later to escape with a 2-1 victory. Mauro Rosales scored the equalizer and then assisted on Lamar Neagle's winner.
The loss ended Sporting's 14-game unbeaten streak and was their first in MLS action at Livestrong Sporting Park. But that only begins to tell the story of just how deep the frustration must go.
For starters, up until the 90th minute, Sporting had been the far superior team despite playing the final 31 minutes a man down. The Sounders' scoring opportunities had been few and far between, even with the man advantage. On the few chances they did have, SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was more than up for the challenge. His best moment came in the 69th minute when he first turned away a Mike Fucito attempt and then made what very well might be the Save of the Year when he blocked Neagle's attempt off the rebound with his foot.
It was also the third time in these teams' past four meetings that the Sounders found the winner in the 90th minute or later. It was also the second time this season in which the Sounders beat Sporting in stoppage time. Coincidentally, their first meeting was also the last time Sporting had lost a MLS match.
Unlike past meetings in which Sporting would have been happy to escape with a point, the pain of this one will probably linger because they really did deserve all three. Kei Kamara gave Sporting an early lead with a header in the 20th minute off a Matt Besler throw-in. From there, it was only because of the efforts of Kasey Keller that the lead did not grow.
The match did start to turn in the 59th minute when Omar Bravo came in late and hard on Pat Noonan. Although he got a lot of ball, the tackle looked very dangerous and he was shown an immediate red card. He then may have earned himself an additional suspension when he got in Noonan's face and then feigned injury when Noonan responded. It was a rather embarrassing sequence of events for a player who should be above such antics.
From there, the Sounders slowly started to get back into the game, but a victory still seemed unlikely. That is until Rosales was able to create some space about 10 yards out and was able to get a shot past Nielsen that first appeared to deflect off a Sporting defender. Just about a minute later, a very similar play unfolded again, this time resulting in Neagle's winner.
On Saturday evening, the Los Angeles Galaxy laid down a major marker in their quest to claim the Supporters Shield. FC Dallas, one of the few teams with any hope of denying them the Shield were in town, and had gone up 1-0 thanks to an absolutely superb strike by Marvin Chavez within the first nine minutes. No matter, though - the hosts came roaring back to score three unanswered goals, bringing the gap between themselves and the losers to six points (although Dallas do have a game in hand).
For a good while, it didn't look like it was going to be Bruce Arena's night. Not ten minutes had passed before right back Ugo Ihemelu has release Maicon Santos through the Los Angeles left. When confronted by a reforming defence, Santos did the sensible thing and laid the ball off to Chavez. Chavez did not do the sensible thing. Instead, he did a crazy, beautiful thing. He shot towards Josh Saunders' goal from 25 yards. Even he was a little surprised by how well it turned out - the ball was sent scorching over the goalkeeper's head, bounced off the underside of the crossbar and then rippled the back of the net.
1-0 Dallas, and that was bad news for the Galaxy, especially with the Seattle Sounders contriving to win their game at Sporting Kansas City with two very late goals. A win for the visitors would have meant the Western Conference race tightening up considerably, but the Galaxy were having none of that. This was their big chance to break away from the pack.
They wouldn't have managed it without considerable help from Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Normally a rock at the back, the veteran charged out to pick up a ball swung into the box. He might have gotten there had he not tried to run straight through one of his own defenders in the process, which resulted in the Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez picking up possession in space one yard away from an empty net. He nodded home. It wasn't hard.
The half ended 1-1, but Los Angeles upped the ante in the second. Shortly after the hour mark, the hosts earned a rather dubious free kick near the corner flag, and David Beckham's delivery eluded the Dallas defence. Greg Berhalter didn't really make the most of the opportunity, weakly popping the ball up, but possession eventually ended up with Juninho, just outside the penalty box. If you're Dallas, that is most emphatically not where you want the ball to be, and Juninho punished them, volleying off the ground, off Hartman's right-hand post and in to give the Galaxy their first lead of the evening.
Now Dallas pushed back, without ever looking particularly dangerous. There would be no heroics for the visitors, however - Mike McGhee made sure of that in the 80th minute, heading in a corner from that man David Beckham to make the score 3-1. At the rate Dallas were attacking (i.e. ponderous), two goals with ten minutes left was an insurmountable deficit, and so it proved. Four minutes of extra time passed, and Los Angeles had earned a key win. Not a good day to be a Dallas fan - they suddenly find themselves just a point ahead of Seattle and seven behind the leaders.
After 90 minutes of extremely physical but mostly fair play, both the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers will be forced to admit that their 1-1 draw was a justified result. Both teams had chances to win the match and will feel like they should have been able to win the match, but neither could put away a winner at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The game was one defined by contrasting styles, as San Jose played patiently and with the ball on the turf for the most part while the Timbers tried to use their superior size and speed to engineer chances through direct play. Their strategy helped to create the first goal, as Jorge Perlaza's pace was a thorn in the side of another MLS team.
In the 23rd minute, Perlaza did well to stay onside as he took off at the perfect moment after a through ball on the right side of the penalty area. He squared a ball across the box for Kenny Cooper, who was somehow completely unmarked as he tapped the ball into the back of the net.
San Jose's patience eventually paid off in the 67th minute, thanks to a goal created by Steven Beitashour and Alan Gordon. Beitashour was arguably the man of the match, playing a great game defensively and assisting on Gordon's goal with a fantastic cross, which Gordon headed into the back of the net.
After the match, Gordon revealed that he was playing with a double hernia and that he will be undergoing surgery later in the week. He was in visible pain as he spoke with local television reporters, but certainly didn't seem to regret getting out on the pitch in pain.
Well now, things really have gone completely pear shaped in New York, haven't they? The New York Red Bulls are now in absolute free fall, as they have now gone five consecutive matches without a win after being top of the Eastern Conference for most of the year. This defeat has been the worst of them all, as they were never involved in the match. Real Salt Lake has come out of their two-game slump with a 3-0 win, and the score was no more than they deserved.
New York have shown very little cohesion, imagination and creativity going forward in recent weeks, so they were going to be depending on their extremely talented defense to step up, especially on the road. Unfortunately for them, that defense did nothing of the sort, allowing Nat Borchers to score the opening goal in the 13th minute off of a corner kick.
Fabian Espindola beat the slow-looking central defense pairing of Rafael Marquez and Tim Ream over and over like rented mules, but thankfully for them his speed was easily the best part of his game. Had Espindola's decision making and finishing matched his pace, the Red Bulls might have been looking at a deficit of six or more goals.
Luis Gil scored a fantastic goal for the hosts in the 44th minute, and it was the cherry on top of a brilliant first half for the 17-year-old. He looked very calm and composed taking over Javier Morales' spot at the tip of the midfield diamond, and he capped off his great performance with a brilliant strike to put his team up 2-0 just before the halftime whistle.
As if Gil's goal didn't effectively end the game, New York left back Roy Miller completely put the game to rest in the 76th minute, when he was called for a deliberate handball in the penalty area. Alvaro Saborio stepped up and drilled it home, giving RSL a 3-0 lead and raising serious questions about the future employment status of New York manager Hans Backe.
The Philadelphia Union looked on course for a win at PPL Park, but that figured without some late heroics on the Houston Dynamo's part. And it also figured without the post.
Jack McInerney scored early for the Union - somewhat against the run of play - turning home from close range in the 14th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead, but that always seemed more than a little tenuous. The union didn't play badly, but the Dynamo tended to have the better of things. But as the first half passed without much in the way of a threat from the visitors and the second stretched on, it looked for all the world as though the hosts would hang on for a fairly undeserved three points.
Then, in the 84th minute, struck that evil duo - post and Geoff Cameron. Sebastian le Toux, who's had a less than impressive season so far, did extremely well to battle through the Dynamo defence and go one on one with Tally Hall from a sharp angle. He also did extremely well to get a good shot away, beating the goalkeeper but not his right-hand post. The ball ricocheted to safety and Houston cleared it away.
Well, they did more than clear it, actually. The Dynamo went on the attack, the ball eventually finding its way to Geoff Cameron in space thirty yards away from Faryd Mondragon's net. A nonchalant flip brought it onto his right boot, and the next touch sent a screaming low shot into the bottom corner of the net. 1-1. Crowd silenced. Game more or less over.
So, that was all a little heartbreaking for the Union, but it's not as though they really deserved to win. As long as the lead's only one goal, the defence always has something to worry about. You think they'll close down Cameron the next time he's in shooting range?
You want perfectly played soccer? It sure didn't happen in Washington DC tonight, but you did get to witness one of the most entertaining matches of the year.
Fresh off of his first call-up to the United States Men's National Team, DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was shown a red card in the 7th minute after a clumsy challenge outside of his box on Toronto FC's Eric Avila. United was forced to make the early change bringing off midfielder Stephen King for backup goalkeeper Steve Cronin.
Being down a man early didn't completely faze United, and Dwayne De Rosario made his former team pay when he he put the home side ahead just ten minutes after the red card. Santino Quaranta, playing in his first match since the middle of May when he suffered a concussion in training, played a short free kick to De Rosario, and the Canadian international put the ball past his former teammate Stefan Frei from well outside the penalty area. The remainder of the half would see DC outplay Toronto to the delight of the home crowd.
Toronto came out on the attack in the second half and were rewarded with a goal from halftime substitute Peri Marosevic in the 50th minute to level the score. Ashtone Morgan played in a cross from the left wing that Cronin tried to punch out of the box. Unfortunately for the United goalkeeper, the ball traveled about 3 feet before smacking the back of centerback Brandon McDonald and falling to the feet of Marosevic who had an easy tap in.
De Rosario would strike against his former team again in the 64th minute to give United a 2-1 lead. For Toronto fans, the match immediately became the "Andy Iro Show" due to his calamitous mistakes. In this instance, Chris Pontius played a ball in that Iro allowed to go right through his legs, and De Rosario pounced on it, rounded Frei and put in the back of the net.
It wasn't until the 69th minute that referee Jasen Anno decided to spice things up a bit with an awful, game-changing decision. Toronto had throw in deep in DC territory. McDonald was behind the DC goal getting treatment for an injury and was unable to return, so the referee signaled for substitute Ethan White to come on the field. White had taken two steps on the field when Toronto threw the ball in and Julian De Guzman scored a screamer. The United players on the field, coaching staff and players on the bench and the fans in the stands went absolutely mental. For his protest against the call, United manager Ben Olsen was sent to the stands.
The "Andy Iro Show" was on display again in the 85th and 86th minutes. Toronto would take the lead on a corner kick in the 85th minute when Danny Koevermans got his boot to a Joao Plata free kick that deflected off of Iro and into the net. This lead would last just a minute as Austin Da Luz ran down the field on the kick off and was shoved from behind to the ground by the Iro earning a penalty. De Rosario stepped up to take the penalty and even the score once more to earn his hat trick.
De Rosario almost bagged his fourth goal in stoppage time when he gathered a loose ball in the box but saw his shot go just wide of the goal.
The match will likely be felt as a loss by both clubs who needed a victory. DC fans will feel aggrieved by the bad decision by the referee on the De Guzman goal, and Toronto fans will feel aggrieved that their club traded for Andy Iro.
Chivas USA edged out the New England Revolution by a final score of 3-2 to earn a vital away win at the Gilette Stadium in Boston. It's a harsh result for the Revolution, who played well throughout and probably deserved at least a point out of the clash, but they wasted several opportunities to find the net and ultimately paid the price on a day where both Diego Fergundez and Milton Caraglio made their debuts.
The first half was pretty standard fare - Chivas did enough to earn their lead, provided by Alejandro Moreno in the 31st minute, but the Revs did their fair share of attacking too, and deserved at least one goal for their efforts. After the interval though, the home side were by far the better team, nearly battering Dan Kennedy's goal down with a flurry of attacks.
It came as a real shock, then, that it was Chivas who'd score next. Nick LaBrocca took advantage of appalling defending on the Revolution right to dash in and smash home past a helpless Matt Reis, just seconds after a goalmouth scramble yielded nothing at the other end of the pitch. If the hosts were disheartened, they didn't show it, quickly responding by earning and then converting a penalty. 16-year-old debutant Fergundez did most of the work before Heath Pierce brought him down, and Shalrie Joseph strode up to bring the score back down to 2-1.
The Revs continued to press forward and continued to generate chance after chance, either missing the target of being denied by Kennedy. Again, though, it was Chivas who'd inexplicably score next, Moreno making it two on the night for him in the 80th minute to bring the score up to a seemingly unassiable 3-1, only for Fergundez to reply with a goal of his own four minutes later.
The game stayed 3-2 into injury time. The Revs were, by this point, completely and utterly dominant - but hugely unlucky. They might have argued that they deserved a handball call in the box after the ball spun off an upraised arm, but they can't have any complaints about what happened next, with a wonder-save from Kennedy denying Joseph's thunderbolt of a shot, deflecting it onto the post.
The Revs would have further chances to score, but none that clear-cut, and when referee Mark Kadlecik blew his whistle for full-time Chivas had held out for the narrowest of narrow wins. It was an excellent game for the neutral, but the final score was desperately unlucky for the hosts.
The Columbus Crew came into Friday night's encounter with the Colorado Rapids on top of the Eastern Conference and as one of the form teams in the league. Unfortunately for their supporters, they didn't bring their form with them to Colorado, as they were outplayed at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids scored a well deserved 2-0 victory, highlighted by a fantastic winning strike by Brian Mullan in the second half.
The first half was relatively poor, with both teams struggling to create chances. Colorado did a good job of getting the ball into wide areas getting forward while Emmanuel Ekpo played well in the center for the Crew, but both teams were missing the quality on their final balls.
Mullan eliminated the need for that passing quality with his thunderbolt of a strike in the second half, as he scored what would ultimately be the winner with a 30 yard thunderbolt into the back of the net in the 54th minute. Omar Cummings would add an insurance goal with a nice tidy finish in the 79th, sealing the victory for the Rapids.
The Crew's position at the top of the East is in jeopardy, as the Philadelphia Union can overtake them with a win, while both the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City are both within striking distance. Colorado's win moves them to fourth in the West, and they are firmly in a playoff place at the moment.
Despite a slow start and a pitiful offense, the Crew find themselves atop the Eastern Conference standings.
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