MLS 2012, Midweek 16: Busy Independence Day Around The League

There are goals all over the place in MLS and now there are 4th of July fireworks too!

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LA Galaxy Vs. Philadelphia Union, 2012 MLS: Visitors Win It With Late Goal

A week ago, the LA Galaxy were "back." They had won three matches in a week and catapulted themselves back into a playoff spot. Now they are the losers of two straight after getting beat by the Philadelphia Union, 2-1, on Wednesday evening at the Home Depot Center.

Jack McInerney got the scoring going with a fantastic goal just before halftime. Michael Farfan did a lot of the work with some great play down the right and a good, low cross to McInerney at the near post. Then the 19-year-old got involved with a backheel that clipped off the inside of the far post and in for a strong MLS Goal of the Week nominee.

It took Chad Barrett (seriously, Chad Barrett) coming in for LA to get even. The striker was able to be first to a loose ball in front of the goal after a scramble from a corner kick, and all he had to do was tap it in. He did so and the Galaxy looked like they would get back on track with at least a point.

Farfan made sure that wouldn't happen, though. Five minutes into stoppage time, Farfan got the ball and ran at A.J. DeLaGarza, who was one of the few LA players defending. But DeLaGarza gave Farfan way too much space and Farfan took advantage with a clinical curling finish into the side netting for the winning goal.

The story for LA was much like the story from their losses earlier this season. They were pretty good in the midfield and created several chances, but their finishing was absolutely horrible. Robbie Keane was especially bad and David Lopes put a golden chance off of the crossbar in the loss. Add in some iffy defense and the Galaxy had themselves a loss.

At this point, the only positive that the Galaxy could take from the match was the return of Omar Gonzalez, who got 45 minutes in his first match since tearing his ACL. Still, their finishing needs a lot of work even if Gonzalez can stabilize the defense. Meanwhile, John Hackworth continues to turn the Union around and has another three points to add to his application to get his interim tag removed.

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Real Salt Lake Vs. Seattle Sounders, 2012 MLS: Neither Team Gets Off The Schneid In Draw

Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders were both hoping to end recent rough stretches with a win on Wednesday night, but neither were able to. Instead, the two teams -- both believed to be among MLS's best just a month ago -- continued their skids, playing to a scoreless draw at Rio Tinto Stadium.

With RSL playing just three at the back and without Jamison Olave, it looked like the Sounders would be able to create chances and get goals, but they couldn't. They had one golden opportunity when a perfect Mauro Rosales free kick found an unmarked Zach Scott six yards from goal, but Scott somehow headed it over the bar. The Sounders put just one shot on goal all match, and if anyone was going to win, it would have been RSL.

For the home side, it was disappointing for them to not find a goal. Fabian Espindola was dangerous, but he always is. He also finished poorly, which he usually does. Alvaro Saborio was also active and involved, but he couldn't find the mark either.

Things don't look too bad for RSL after nabbing a point. They are winless in their last four, but after losing three straight, a point isn't awful. That's not exactly true of the Sounders, who are now winless in their last nine matches.

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Colorado Rapids Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 2012 MLS: Caps Pick Up Great Away Win

It took just one awful play by Drew Moor to turn the match, but the Vancouver Whitecaps aren't complaining.

The second-year MLS team continued their fine season with a very good road win on Wednesday evening. Darren Mattocks scored the lone goal of the match to lead the Whitecaps to a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids that keeps them firmly in third place in the Western Conference.

The goal came on a flubbed clearance by Drew Moor. A diagonal ball for Mattocks missed the Whitecaps striker and instead found Moor 20 yards from goal. It was a simple clearance for Moor and Mattocks didn't even try too hard to pressure him, but the veteran still mishit the ball and basically played Mattocks in on goal. The rookie finished easily and the visitors were in front.

Colorado didn't play poorly and did create some opportunities to level, but they couldn't finish. Tony Cascio was especially dangerous in creating chances for himself and for others. The Rapids were all over the Whitecaps late, but the goals weren't there, and as a result, nether was the win. That went to the Whitecaps, who are looking pretty fantastic just one year removed from a tough expansion season.

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FC Dallas Vs. Toronto FC, 2012 MLS: FCD Still A Mess After 1-1 Draw

It wasn't too long ago that Toronto FC were the joke of MLS, but now they are unbeaten in five straight under Paul Mariner. That means the league is in need of a new laughingstock, a role now being filled ably by FC Dallas. TFC and FCD played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday evening in Frisco, Texas, extending Dallas' franchise-record winless streak to 12 games.

Dallas looked like they might actually be a capable team early on, scoring just five minutes into the contest. Andrew Jacobson won a header that he knocked in front of goal for an onrushing Zach Loyd. The defender got to the ball just before his marker and finished with a diving header to give the home side an early lead.

A little bit past the half-hour mark, though, Toronto got even through the red-hot Danny Koevermans. The Dutchman was able to get just enough of a piece of a Eric Avila shot to redirect it past keeper Kevin Hartman. The striker has now scored in five consecutive matches and helped earn the visitors a point.

The one bright spot for Dallas came in the 57th minute, when David Ferreira came off the bench in his first appearance since breaking his right ankle 15 months ago. If FCD are going to sort out their mess of a season, then they will need the 2010 MLS MVP to get fit and in form quickly.

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Montreal Impact Vs. Sporting Kansas City, 2012 MLS: PKs Lead KC To Win

Trailing 1-0 and hoping to avenge a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Impact earlier in the season, Sporting Kansas City turned to the referee and the penalty spot to win. A pair of penalties followed by a late strike by Jacob Peterson brought them back from a goal down and delivered a 3-1 win at Stade Saputo on Wednesday evening.

Marco Di Vaio played his best game since joining the Impact, creating several chances for Montreal in the first half, but it took until just after the break for the home side to break through -- and they did it without Di Vaio involved. Felipe Martins got free down the right before cutting back for Patrice Bernier to finish.

Once Montreal went in front, though, Kansas City turned it up a notch. They pressed the action right away and it paid off six minutes later when Bernier handled the ball in the box. Kei Kamara buried the spot kick and the match was level. Former Kansas City captain Davy Arnaud then fouled Soony Saad in the box to give Sporting another penalty, which Graham Zusi converted.

Up 2-1 and in control, Sporting could have sat on their lead, but they pressed for one more. Peterson gathered a Roger Espinoza cross on the right and ripped a shot that deflected off of Shavar Thomas before beating Donovan Ricketts to seal the two-goal win.

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Omar Gonzalez Returns From Torn ACL, In Starting Lineup For LA Galaxy

Omar Gonzalez is back and in record time. OK, there are no actual records to confirm that Gonzalez has made a record recovery from a torn ACL, but it is a really, really, really fast recovery. He is in the starting lineup for the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Union, one day before the six-month mark since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

The Galaxy defense has really struggled without Gonzalez. They have allowed 27 goals in just 20 matches this season, a year after they allowed just 28 in all 34 matches en route to both the Supporters' Shield and the MLS Cup title. The other three starters from last year's defense are all back, but clearly the unit is nowhere near as good without Gonzalez.

Recovery from a torn ACL typically takes between nine months and one year. Gonzalez has been ahead of schedule in his recovery since day one, but returning this quickly is a surprise to anyone. He tore his ACL over the winter in his first training session with Nuremberg after going on trial with the German club.

The one concern for Gonzalez will be match fitness. He played 45 minutes with the Galaxy's reserve team against their U-18's, but that is the extent of his in-match recovery work to date, so the odds are that he will not be at full fitness for Wednesday's match.

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Portland Timbers Vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 2012 MLS: Does Anyone Want To Be No. 1?

After beating LA on Saturday, most seemed to accept that the San Jose Earthquakes were the best team in MLS so naturally, they lost in their next match. The Portland Timbers topped the Quakes, 2-1, on Tuesday to continue the trend of MLS' best going down as soon as they get the crown.

It seems like every time a team establishes themselves as the best in MLS they follow it up with a string of losses. It happened to the Galaxy early in the season, then at various points to Sporting, Seattle and Salt Lake. Now it is the Earthquakes' turn.

Portland struck first on a quick counterattack. After a Quakes giveaway near the Timbers' goal, the home side broke quickly. Franck Songo'o got it on the right and raced almost the length of the pitch before spotting Danny Mwanga coming across to the near post. With the Timbers breaking so quickly, there was plenty of space and Mwanga was able to get free to redirect Songo'o's cross for the opening tally.

Just before the hour mark, Portland added to their lead. David Bingham, who was starting for the injured Jon Busch, couldn't hold onto a ball when challenged in the air by Futty Danso. The ball came free and was bouncing towards the goal where Jack Jewsbury was able to get to it just before a San Jose defender and rap it in for the second goal.

Alan Gordon gave San Jose hope of another miraculous comeback late when he was able to redirect a shot in to cut Portland's lead in half, but it wasn't to be. The curse of being touted as MLS's best bit the Quakes.

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Houston Dynamo Vs. Chicago Fire, 2012 MLS: That Was Boring

The Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire played 90 minutes, but at no point was it the least bit entertaining. The match finished scoreless and there weren't many clear cut chances. This one couldn't even be chalked up to good defense either because neither of the defenses were challenged so it was just a bore.

There was only once good chance in the match. It came just before halftime on a header by Will Bruin, but that went over the bar.

With both teams coming into the match on short rest and with a few starters sitting, it wasn't ever going to be a great match and it wasn't. It really, really wasn't. It was very ugly and very boring, but the results will do for both teams. Houston remains undefeated at home this season with four wins and three draws at BBVA Compass Stadium and the Fire are now undefeated in their last four matches.

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MLS 2012, Midweek 16 Preview And Fixtures: Some Midweek Fireworks, Please

There are goals all over the place in MLS and now there are 4th of July fireworks too!

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