MLS Saturday Wrap
MLS' second week of action was highlighted by a pair of stunning upsets.
The New England Revolution and Toronto FC found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings last season. After impressive victories Saturday night, the two teams have cause for optimism in 2013—a sentiment the Chicago Fire cannot echo after two matches.
Here's a detailed look at all of Saturday's action.
Note: Be sure to check back for updated recaps and analysis from all of Sunday's action.
Toronto FC 2-1 Sporting Kansas City
Goals: Toronto FC—Robert Earnshaw 3’, 21’ (penalty); Sporting Kansas City—Claudio Bieler 77’
Quick Recap: Robert Earnshaw’s brace propelled Toronto to a shocking 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon.
After another ghastly start for Sporting Kansas City, Graham Zusi and company found themselves trailing by two goals at halftime. Claudio Bieler’s volley in the 77th minute—his second goal of the season—cut the lead in half.
But the early deficit proved to be insurmountable for Sporting. A resilient Toronto side managed to hold on and give Ryan Nelsen his first victory as head coach.
Man of the Match: The only thing more spectacular than Earnshaw’s home debut was his celebration. The Welshman's acrobatic front flip was followed by a matador-style grace.
Quick Start: A costly turnover in front of Kansas City’s goal led to a perfect start for the Reds. Earnshaw scored his first goal for Toronto after pouncing on Matt Besler’s weak pass across the 18-yard box.
Toronto's Defense Effort: Sporting possessed the ball for 68.2 percent of the match. But 15 of its 16 shots were off target or blocked by the Reds.
The Ryan Nelsen Effect: Toronto has conceded two goals in its first two games. In total, the team has allowed four shots on target while blocking 11. Compare that to the six goals and 12 shots on target Toronto allowed in its first two games under Paul Mariner last year.
Lesson Learned: The Reds were not considered a contender in the east (ranked No. 18 in B/R’s Week 1 Power Rankings). But today’s victory, coupled with last week’s hard-fought loss, has temporarily altered the perception of a team that finished dead last in 2012.
Up Next: Both teams are in action next Saturday for Rivalry Week. Toronto travels to Montreal to face the Impact. Sporting Kansas City plays its home opener against the Chicago Fire.
DC United 1-0 Real Salt Lake
Goals: DC United—Lionard Pajoy 60’
The two sides played to a defensive stalemate for a majority of the match. Only two shots were recorded on target before United took control in the second half. Pajoy’s diving header—his first goal of the season—broke the scoreless tie in the 60th minute.
The victory extended DC’s home unbeaten streak to 19 matches.
Man of the Match: Nick Rimando showcased his world-class ability on each of his five saves. With Tim Howard expected to miss the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, Rimando made his case for a start at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park March 22.
Home-Field Advantage: Real Salt Lake suffered its fifth loss all time to DC. The team is now winless in all eight of its matches (0-5-3) at RFK Stadium.
Carlos Ruiz: The 83rd minute marked the MLS return of Ruiz. El Pescadito was stoned by Rimando in the fourth minute of stoppage time from eight yards out.
Thorrington’s Injury: John Thorrington was assisted off the field in the 75th minute after suffering a leg injury.
Lesson Learned: DC looked more like the team that made last year’s Eastern Conference finals and less like the team that was dominated in Houston last week.
Now that Dwayne De Rosario has served the final game of his two-game suspension, don’t expect another disjointed effort from United in Harrison, N.J., next week.
Up Next: Both teams are in action next Saturday. United travels on the road to face the New York Red Bulls, while Real host the Colorado Rapids.
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Columbus Crew
Goals: Vancouver Whitecaps—Daigo Kobayashi 6’, Kenny Miller 57’; Columbus Crew—Jairo Arrieta 46’
Quick Recap: The Vancouver Whitecaps continued to excite its home crowd in Week 2 with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew.
The 18,078 fans at BC Place were treated to another impressive midfield performance from Nigel Reo-Coker and Daigo Kobayashi. Jairo Arrieta’s equalizer early in the second half set the stage for an enthralling finish.
Unlike Reo-Coker, Kenny Miller did not disappoint on his chance. The Scottish footballer's hustle and determination led to a game-winner in the 57th minute. The Whitecaps remained unbeaten in the young season.
Man of the Match: Kenny Miller scored two goals in 2012. He now has 32 more chances to match that output in 2013.
New Captain: Miller stepped in as captain for the injured Jay DeMerit, who is out six to eight months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Bombs Away: Kobayashi opened the match with a booming blast from nearly 40 yards out in the sixth minute. It is an early favorite for goal of the year at season’s end.
Lesson Learned: Vancouver’s dynamic offense was put on display for the second straight week. Kobayashi (one goal and one assist) is already returning dividends for the Whitecaps.
Despite his impressive display, the Japanese international has been unable to play a full 90 minutes for Vancouver. The thought of Kobayashi performing at peak fitness is a scary one for the rest of the teams in the Western Conference.
Up Next: The Crew host the San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday. The Whitecaps won’t be in action until March 23 against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Chicago Fire 0-1 New England Revolution
Goals: New England Revolution—Jerry Bengtson 62’
Quick Recap: The Chicago Fire dropped its home opener 1-0 to the New England Revolution Saturday night.
The two sides started the match at a rigorous pace, but failed to make an impact on the scoreboard before halftime. Bengtson’s lone tally in the 62nd minute—a header off a magnificent cross from Kelyn Rowe—was enough to give the Revolution its first win of the season.
It was New England's first ever victory at Toyota Park (0-6-1 entering today).
Man of the Match: Bengtson scored the goal. But Matt Reis preserved New England’s historic victory with his four saves, especially late in stoppage time.
First Blood: Austin Berry was forced to miss several minutes of action in the first half after suffering a bloody nose.
Sound the Alarms: The new-look Fire have been outscored 5-0 in their first two games of the season.
Lesson Learned: The newly acquired Joel Lindpere, Jeff Larentowicz and Dilly Duka were supposed to serve as an upgrade for the Fire. After two disappointing matches, the trio are yet to make a significant impact for a scoreless Chicago team.
It doesn't get much better next week. A trip to Kansas City leaves the Fire in serious danger of starting the 2013 campaign with three straight losses.
Up Next: Chicago is on the road for an Eastern Conference showdown against Sporting Kansas City. New England travels to Philadelphia to take on the Union.
Portland Timbers 1-2 Montreal Impact
Goals: Portland Timbers—Ryan Johnson 80’; Montreal Impact—Hassoun Camara 30’, Felipe Martins 60’
Quick Recap: Montreal held on to an impressive 2-1 victory in front of another sellout crowd at JELD-WEN Field Saturday night. Ryan Johnson’s goal in the 80th minute gave the Timbers hope—cutting the deficit in half—but Portland was unable to replicate last week’s result.
Goals from Hassoun Camara (30’) and Felipe Martins (60’) propelled Montreal to its second victory of the season.
Man of the Match: Patrice Bernier had another productive effort in the midfield. His beautiful through ball for Andres Romero led to Montreal’s game-winning goal.
Camara’s Bicycle: Vancouver’s Kobayashi will have some competition for goal of the week. Camara’s stunning bicycle kick in the 30th minute gave Montreal a deserving 1-0 lead.
Miller Goes Down: If Nani’s red card taught us anything, it’s that soccer is never devoid of controversy. Sanna Nyassi’s push is just the latest installment.
His clear foul in the box on Ryan Miller was worthy of a penalty. But referee Edvin Jurisevic did not reward Portland with an opportunity to equalize late in the first half.
The Caleb Porter Effect: The Timbers attack continues to perform at a frenetic pace. Portland finished the match with 63 percent of the possession and 19 attempts on goal. It will be interesting to see how the offense takes shape when it is forced to protect a lead rather than chase one.
Montreal’s Defensive Effort: Only six of Portland’s 19 attempts on goal were on target.
Road Warriors: Montreal recorded two victories on the road in 2012. The Impact matched that total in the first eight days of the season (per Ives Galarcep).
Lesson Learned: Montreal and Portland’s approach to the game are worlds apart. The Impact spent the first two matches of the season protecting leads, while Portland continues to find itself in search of a comeback.
True, Porter’s Timbers play a beautiful brand of attacking soccer. But Marco Schallibaum’s defensive-minded squad has proven that it takes an effective, sometimes unattractive style of soccer to post results in MLS.
Up Next: Both teams are in action next Saturday. Montreal host Toronto FC, while Portland travels to Seattle to face the Sounders.
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