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Seattle dominated at home, Houston continued their climb to the top of the Eastern Conference but the news of the weekend centered around the passing of a promising young rookie.
A defense that includes Bryan Gaul, David Junior Lopes and a still-not-100% Omar Gonzalez probably isn't going to fare so well in MLS play and certainly won't against Mauro Rosales, Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero with the way that trio of playing. So naturally, when the LA Galaxy trotted those three out in the starting defense, the faces of the Seattle Sounders lit up and those smiles lasted for a full 90 minutes as the Sounders demolished the Galaxy, 4-0, on Sunday night.
The Sounders gave the Galaxy a preview of what was coming all night when they forced Josh Saunders into a great double save just four minutes into the contest. They got in behind the LA defense and forced one save, then another on the rebound.
But two minutes later, Saunders could do nothing to stop Eddie Johnson as Seattle exposed LA's lack of pace in defense again. Gaul looked every bit the part of left back converted from striker when he allowed the Sounders space on the left, which resulted in Mauro Rosales getting plenty of time to get a cross away. It was a pinpoint cross, too, finding Johnson, who outran Gonzalez and snapped perfect header into the side netting for the opening tally.
The Galaxy managed to keep the Sounders off of the scoreboard for the rest of the half as they got more of the ball and chipped the ball long, doing everything in their power to avoid Osvaldo Alonso. It was a good tactic and would have been effective if not for their deficiencies at the back, but those deficiencies were there and when the Sounders found their groove in the second half LA got exposed.
In the 51st minute, Seattle got in behind the LA defense again and while Saunders came rushing off his line to make a great save, but the rebound found Montero. The Colombian hit a great first time shot that beat a scrambling Saunders and the Sounders were 2-0 up.
Not even 10 minutes later, the Sounders added to their lead. Johnson left Lopes in his dust and got in alone on Saunders. The LA goalkeeper did well once again to knock the ball away, but he was well off of his line and it only made it as far as Alex Caskey, who was 35 yards out. Looking nothing like a player without a goal to his name, Caskey hit a great chip over Saunders for his first career goal and the rout was on.
In the 88th minute, Andy Rose capped Seattle's dominating performance with one more goal to give the match its final scoreline that was very indicative of the 90 minutes at CenturyLink Field. The LA defense was in shambles and Seattle was all too happy to take advantage, torching the Galaxy with fine play en route to a great three points.
If there was relegation then FC Dallas visiting the Portland Timbers would have been a great match with a ton on the line. Instead it was a match with nothing on the line that was only played because the schedule required it.* For most of the contest, it looked very much like two teams with nothing on the line, but there were a few moments of note. Dallas scored, Zach Loyd got sent off and Portland equalized, sending the match to a 1-1 draw that means very little.
* This is not a complaint about MLS not having relegation. It will not have relegation any time soon and that is fine. This is a complaint that both of these teams are awful.
Brek Shea, starting again after dealing with behavior problems that forced Schellas Hyndman to bench him, made his impact early on and created Dallas' first goal. The winger got free down the left in the 51st minute and hit a perfect cross for Scott Sealy, who was waiting right in front of goal. it didn't have to be a perfect cross because he was completely unmarked* so he just tapped it in and Dallas was in front.
* That isn't a mistake. He was completely unmarked right in the middle of the box.
The problem for Dallas came the following minute when Loyd was shown a yellow card for a late tackle, his second yellow of the match. The defender was sent off and Portland had nearly 30 minutes to drag themselves out of their grave.
Finally, with 11 minutes to go, Jack Jewsbury dug the Timbers up. He hit a great volley off of a Kevin Hartman punch to find the back of the net and lift Portland to purgatory, where Dallas was waiting for them.
Apparently the Colorado Rapids weren't planning to lose their rest of their games, after all. Facing their biggest rival, the Rapids finally put an end to their six-match losing streak, topping Real Salt Lake 1-0 on Saturday.
Joseph Nane provided the winning margin, collecting a rebound from a Jaime Castrillon shot and putting it past Nick Rimando in the 38th minute. The win also ended an eight-game winless streak against RSL, who had won the two previous matches earlier this season and had already clinched the Rocky Mountain Cup.
RSL only put one shot on target all match, but it did require Matt Pickens to make a highlight-reel save as he made a diving stop of a Justin Braun header. Pickens picked up his 40th career shutout for the Rapids and his sixth this season.
RSL missed out on a chance pass the San Jose Earthquakes for the Supporters' Shield lead and remain two points behind.
It looked like Toronto FC's turnaround under Paul Mariner would continue on Saturday night at Toyota Park. They were a goal up and on the front foot, but then Marco Pappa got the Chicago Fire leveled. The match was flipped upside down and then six minutes before time Austin Berry scored to complete the Fire comeback and hand them a 2-1 win.
The Fire started the match brightly, but one mistake changed that. A awful backpass by Marco Pappa doubled as a through ball for Ryan Johnson, who was in all alone on goal and finished easily to put Toronto up after 15 minutes.
Once they got their goal, Toronto took control of the match. It wasn't so much that they were creating chances, because they weren't, but they were seeing out the match and never felt too threatened. That earned them a halftime lead and at the hour mark they were still ahead.
But in the 64th minute, Toronto's defense failed them. They played pinball with the ball in their own box and eventually Marco Pappa got to it. He rounded Milos Kocic and then finished from a sharp angle to level things.
Six minutes from time, the match looked destined fro a draw, but then Chicago earned a free kick in the final third. Pavel Pardo stepped to it and hit a great curled ball, which was met by Austin Berry and headed home for the match-winner.
Sporting Kansas City's former fortress Livestrong Sporting Park had turned into a haven for visiting teams so apparently they figured, "let's just get away from home and we'll get three points". It proved to be sound logic, too, because they went to Gillette Stadium on Saturday night and thanks to a goal by Teal Bunbury, topped the New England Revolution 1-0 to get back on track.
Bunbury's goal came in the 20th minute when he was able to use one good touch and his speed to beat the slow-footed Revs defense. Bunbury gave chase to a ball near midfield, which the Revolution defense also stepped up to try to get, but Bunbury got there first. He then used one touch to flick the ball over the top and then gave chase. Nobody on New England was going to be able to chase down Bunbury, who got to the ball, settled and curled the ball low inside the post to give Sporting the lead.
From that point on, Kansas City was very disciplined and was clearly thinking defend before attack. They were organized and maybe even sometimes cynical, committing 21 fouls to slow down the Revs. It proved effective as the Revs struggled to create chances and when the final whistle went, Sporting could not be happier to finally be back on the smiling side of the scoreboard.
The Montreal Impact did not play flawlessly against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night. In fact, the Union were the better team in many aspects of the match, keeping the ball and creating chances, but the Impact were better where it mattered -- finish. Two expert finishes by Andrew Wenger and Felipe Martins were all that Montreal needed to best Philadelphia, 2-0, and take all three points at Stade Saputo.
Philadelphia was certainly the better team in the first half and had they gone into the break level they probably would have felt hard done so when Wenger scored just before halftime, the Union were probably heartbroken. The Impact took their corner with a square ball to the edge of the box, where Patrice Bernier hit a cross into the mixer. Wenger was able to get to it at the penalty spot and snap a good header into the corner of the net that left Zac MacMath no chance.
Down a goal, the Union pressed for an equalizer and once again looked the better side, but once again it resulted in nothing. They hit the post in the first half and had several more chance in the second, but it didn't pay off.
In the 69th minute, things got dirty. Unhappy with Antoine Hoppenot's physical play, Nelson Rivas headbutted Hoppenot and sparked a fight in the middle of the field. Jack McInerney got involved and knocked Rivas over and when it was all sorted out, Rivas and McInerney were both sent off.
Playing 10v10, the Union looked like it did with 11 men. They were bright, but nothing came of it and then the Impact got them again with some great finishing.
Hassoun Camara started the play with a cross from the right, but it was behind Felipe and near the top of the box. 98 times out of 100 it wouldn't have been even a little bit of a dangerous ball, but this time it was because Felipe was able to hit a sensational scissor kick on the volley to beat MacMath for the exclamation point on a good three points for Montreal.
Chris Pontius scored his 10th goal of the season and Emiliano Dudar made his first appearance since April 28 as D.C. United held off a late surge from the Columbus Crew to win 1-0. The Crew seemed poised to equalize on several occasions late in the game, but United was able to skirt disaster each time to end a two-game losing streak and move them to within four points of the top spot in the East.
The Crew, who had entered this game having won 4 of 5, actually dropped to seventh place in the East, two points behind the Montreal Impact. After giving up Pontius' goal in the 49th minute, they largely dominated the match. They ended up out-shooting United 17-15, but were done in by only putting three of those shots on frame. Time after time, it seemed like open headers were sent high or wide, with Chad Marshall missing an exceptionally good chance late in the first half.
United didn't always look strong, but they did just enough to win. Their goal was created by some nifty dribbling by rookie Nick DeLeon, who sliced and spun his way through the Crew defense before sending a ball to the front of the goal. Although Long Tan couldn't handle the pass, it fell to the feet of Pontius, who slammed it into the back of the net. Pontius now has five goals in his past six appearances.
Andy Gruenebaum didn't have a very busy second half, but did come up with six saves to keep it close.
What happened to the New York Red Bulls of two weeks ago? They traded for Sebastien Le Toux and looked nearly unbeatable, but a loss to Montreal followed and despite adding Tim Cahill, they couldn't right the ship this week. To be fair, they were playing arguably the hottest team in MLS and the Houston Dynamo showed them just what red hot looks like, smoking the Red Bulls 2-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Two minutes hadn't passed before Houston went in front as New York flashed the lackadaisical defending that would kill them all night. The Red Bulls failed to clear a free kick then after Bill Gaudette made a good save on the Dynamo's second effort, New York couldn't clear the ball again. Andre Hainault got to the ball and hit a ball across the goal where Jermaine Taylor was waiting to knock it over the line.
The Dynamo didn't slow down at all after their opening goal. They kept pressing and the Red Bulls' defense was terrible. They were lucky not to go down another goal on several occasions in the first half then finally in the 28th minute, Calen Carr got the Dynamo the goal that they deserved.
Macouma Kandji knocked over Heath Pearce to get the ball and then he held it in the final third. New York had plenty of time to recover and get numbers back, which they did, but they didn't mark up. After passing and getting the ball back, Kandji finally crossed it to Calen Carr, who got free way too easily and headed home Houston's second goal.
New York was lucky not to lose by three, four or even five goals as Houston continued to push in the second half. They got chance after chance and while they could not add to their lead, it did not matter. They had the comfortable win and three points that puts the red hot Dynamo in the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The end of the season isn't too far away, which means teams are running out of time to get the wins they need.