MLS Wrap: Portland vs. Seattle and the Rest of the Weekend's Top Matches
The third weekend of MLS offers "Rivalry Day," the first-ever matchday dedicated specifically to the regional rivalries sprinkled throughout the league.
Starting with the New York Red Bulls hosting D.C. United for an Atlantic Cup clash and finishing on Sunday with the SuperClasico between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA, the weekend is full of appetizing matches.
Arguably, the main event comes in the form of a Cascadia Cup clash between longtime foes, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers. The Sounders are coming off an impressive 3-1 victory over Mexican side, Tigres UANL, in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Timbers' last game was a loss at home at the hands of the Montreal Impact, 2-1.
It should be a glorious weekend for the many supporters and passionate fans that make MLS tick.
We start with the Red Bulls welcoming their neighbors to the south, D.C United.
New York Red Bulls 0-0 D.C United
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Quick Recap: A snowy afternoon in New Jersey saw the New York Red Bulls pepper D.C. United with an onslaught of dangerous opportunities and shots, only to receive one point from their dominating effort.
New York managed 24 shots to D.C.'s five. United goalkeeper, Bill Hamid, was solid throughout and came up with a few heroic saves to ensure his team was competitive for the full 90 minutes. His point-blank stop on a big chance from Tim Cahill in the second half was gutsy, and his late turn-away following a Brandon Barklage header from a corner sealed the draw for United.
Man of the Match: Bill Hamid. The U.S. national team hopeful made a solid case for his inclusion in USMNT rosters in the future. Hamid stood on his head and made seven critical saves on the afternoon. No task was too daunting—it was simply a clinic in goalkeeping from the young American.
Goal-Line Technology: The proponents of goal-line technology will once again have justification for their desire to implement such a system. Red Bull players were insistent that Barklage's late header crossed the entire goal line. No conclusive evidence indicating as such has surfaced yet from the broadcast; however, there is no question that this was extremely close and could have benefited from another look.
Up Next: New York heads north and face a difficult test in Montreal. D.C. plays host to the Columbus Crew.
Sporting Kansas City 0-0 Chicago Fire
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Quick Recap: The Chicago Fire nabbed their first point of the season in a critical road draw against Sporting Kansas City, 0-0.
The home side was dominant in possession; holding onto the ball for a majority of the match. They garnered nearly 73 percent possession overall. They were, however, docile with their many shot attempts. Kansas City managed to put only three shots of their total 20 on target.
Chicago Fire goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, was steady when he was called upon.
Chicago was also futile in terms of chance creation, lacking quality attacking sequences. They mustered up only one shot on target of their seven total attempts. Chris Rolfe was able to create a bit from his individual skill throughout but nothing too devastating.
Man of the Match: Sean Johnson. The ball felt like it almost never left Johnson's defensive side of the pitch for the entire match. While Johnson only made three saves, he was confident and disruptive on crosses and did a nice job of keeping his backs tidy and in solid shape.
A Physical Affair: Rivalry, indeed. This game featured 34 total fouls (20 on Chicago, 14 on Kansas City), six yellow cards (four for Chicago, two for Kansas) and 117 duels.
Up Next: Sporting Kansas City travels to New England to play the Revolution. Chicago is on the road against Chivas USA.
Montreal Impact 2-1 Toronto FC
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Quick Recap: The Montreal Impact were good enough to top their Canadian rival, Toronto FC, 2-1; to remain perfect so for this MLS season.
The Impact got the winner in the form of a quality run and finish from Italian striker, Di Vaio. The recipient of a knifing through ball from team captain, Davy Arnaud, Di Vaio did what strikers are paid for: finish when provided creative service and a one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper.
Toronto FC fought with valor to try and salvage a point on the road. Their shiny new striker, Robert Earnshaw, cut into the Montreal lead with a penalty kick in the second half. It would be the only tally on the afternoon for Toronto.
Man of the Match: Patrice Bernier. A goal, an assist and three points for his team: not a bad day at the office for Montreal's defensive midfielder. Bernier opened the scoring with a calm penalty kick in the first half. He was credited with an assist for his involvment in Di Vaio's goal: a perfectly weighted vertical pass from his defensive end directly to the feet of Arnaud.
Golden Boot Contender: The season is still in relative infancy, but with his goal, Earnshaw is now tied atop the league's leading goalscorers list with three on the season. Who knows if he will keep it up; however, so far, so good, from Earnshaw.
Up Next: The Montreal Impact put their perfect season on the line at home against the New York Red Bulls. Toronto FC are off until Week Five of MLS when they travel to play the Galaxy.
Philadelphia Union 1-0 New England Revolution
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Goalscorers: Philadelphia: Jack McInerney 76'.
Quick Recap: The New England Revolution continued their streak of futility against the Philadelphia Union, losing 1-0 on a sloppy afternoon in Chester, PA. The Revolution were able to create some nice, offensive-soccer in the waning moments of the match but ultimately fell short; incapable of finding an equalizer.
They have never beaten the Philadelphia Union.
After mounting high pressure and committing multiple numbers forward, the Union got the only goal they needed following and expert corner kick from Frenchman, Sebastian Le Toux. McInerney's initial headed-attempt was boldly saved but he made no mistake on the rebound. A positionally aware striker, McInerney was in the right place, composed and clean with his touch.
Man of the Match: Jack McInerney. Philadelphia looked sharp in the midfield during a nice spell of the second half and many of their players deserve credit for dictating the tempo. It was McInerney's effort that provided the only goal of the match, though.
Welcome Back Le Toux: Another assist for Philadelphia fan-favorite, Sebastian Le Toux. The dynamic midfielder expressed his excitement about coming back to play for the team in which he was most successful in MLS. So far, he has found the form that seemed to escape him while playing in Vancouver and New York after leaving Philadelphia.
Up Next: The Philadelphia Union are off from MLS play until Week Five when they head to Red Bull Arena and play the New York Red Bulls. The Revolution serve as hosts to Sporting Kansas City next week.
Columbus Crew 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes
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Quick Recap: In a relatively even match, the San Jose Earthquakes managed a point from a trailing position once again, drawing the Columbus Crew, 1-1, on "Rivalry Day."
Both teams managed five shots on target and the possession figures were split relatively evenly as well (about 53 percent for the Crew and 47 percent for the Earthquakes).
The Crew scored off of a corner kick served up by the technical wizard, Federico Higuain. His outswinger landed perfectly on the head of Glauber whose strength was too much for the Earthquake defense.
Justin Morrow's precise left-footed finish from just outside the 18-yard-box equalized the score later in the second half. Morrow took an innocuous final-third pass from Ramiro Corrales and used the ridiculous amount of space afforded him to calmly place the ball in the side of the net.
Overall, an even, technical match from both sides.
Man of the Match: Justin Morrow. San Jose should feel good about gaining a point from this match. Columbus is never an easy place to play in MLS. Morrow showed off his ability to finish accurately when given time and put in a nice shift on the defensive end, as well.
Federico Higuain Keeps Getting Better: Higuain, the Argentinian, is looking like a smarter signing each and every game he plays in for the Columbus Crew. The attacking player has a talent unique to MLS: the ability serve up beautiful balls from set piece situations. Be it going for goal, or looking for a teammate, Higuain's technique is simply divine.
Up Next: The Columbus Crew head to Washington D.C. to face D.C United. The San Jose Earthquakes are home to a Western Conference opponent, the Seattle Sounders.
Real Salt Lake 1-1 Colorado Rapids
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Quick Recap: Colorado Rapids' rookie, Deshorn Brown, scored his debutant MLS goal against Real Salt Lake in the first installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup this season. Brown took advantage of a poor touch from Real Salt Lake defender, Chris Schuler, and buried his solo effort into the back of the net.
It was Alvaro Saborio to the rescue once again for Real Salt Lake. The striker is in quality form so far this year and it showed on "Rivalry Day." He took a short pass inside the 18-yard-box from Joao Plata and acutely finished his chance into the far netting with about 10 minutes to play.
Real Salt Lake had a few opportunities to gather all three points on the day during the dying embers of the match but were incapable of breaking down the organized and hard-working Colorado defense.
Man of the Match: Deshorn Brown. Credit once again to the road team getting a point in hostile conditions. And Colorado desperately needed this point after a disappointing start to this season's campaign. Brown was opportunistic and dedicated in his goal-scoring effort. Hats off for a night to remember from Brown.
Super-Sub Joao Plata: In Week One of MLS, Real Salt Lake got a late goal from a soft chipped pass served by substitute, Joao Plata. It was finished by Saborio. Once again, Plata entered the match in the second half and alerted the league just how dangerous he is. His assist was simple enough but he deserves recognition for being so collected and aware of his options in the box. The pass was the type Johan Cruyff dreamed about: perfectly in stride for his attacker to run onto.
Up Next: Both teams are away next week. Colorado visits Los Angeles to face the Galaxy, while Salt Lake heads south to play FC Dallas.
Seattle Sounders 1-1 Portland Timbers
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Quick Recap: The Seattle Sounders jumped out to and early lead in the first half, controlling the pace of play; however Rodney Wallace secured a road point for the Portland Timbers with a late equalizer in waning moments in the first installment between Cascadia rivals this season.
Steve Zakuani's pacey endeavour after a midfield interception was well synced with a darting, off-the-ball, penetrating run from Eddie Johnson into the 18-yard-box. Zakuani's service could not have been prettier as the winger accurately crossed a floating ball that landed right on the foot of the barrelling Johnson. He made no mistake about his finish.
Seattle may have had the better of play in the first have, with Osvaldo Alonso admirably surveying the center of the park. Yet Portland was able to take a bit of the game for themselves in the second 45 minutes.
Rodney Wallace and his party-ending header ensured the Timbers would split the spoils from a majestic evening in Washington.
Man of the Match: Eddie Johnson. Simply stated, he is scorching right now. After scoring the game-winner during the week in Seattle's CONCACAF match, Johnson scored once again in front of his home crowd. His movement was intelligent. He gave Portland issues all over the pitch.
Sounders Welcome Designated Player, Obafemi Martins: The highly-anticipated, highly-discussed debutant performance of the Sounders' newest offensive-weapon, Obafemi Martins, took place on "Rivalry Day." It was an uneventful evening at the office for Martins, who, according to the Opta Chalkboard, did not touch the ball too much in his 20 minutes of play. It might take a bit of time to adjust but Martins could be a something special going forward for Seattle.
Up Next: The Sounders head to San Jose for a match with the Earthquakes. The Timbers are off this week from MLS action and return with a road match against the Colorado Rapids in Week Five.
FC Dallas 3-2 Houston Dynamo
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Quick Recap: During a wild afternoon in Texas, FC Dallas saw a two-goal advantage crumble late in the second half. It took a 90th minute game-winner from club legend, Kenny Cooper, to salvage all three points for the home side.
Dallas took an early lead following two goals from two dead-ball situations. The first, a flick-on header from George John found the back of the net after Michel floated a long ball from midfield into the box. Scant seconds later, David Ferreira's corner was nicely buried by Andrew Jacobson.
It seemed like the day would remain all Dallas until another rookie opened his MLS scoring campaign. Andrew Driver nailed a left-footed shot just under the crossbar with 11 minutes to go, cutting the Dallas lead in half. Veteran, Brad Davis, pulled the game even just a few minutes later, driving a loose ball into the upper corner.
Controversy surrounds Cooper's late winner, as some believe the American's first touch should have been considered a hand ball. Regardless, Dallas and their three goals win all three points.
Man of the Match: George John. The defender was all over the defensive third, using his massive frame and keen positioning to lead his back line. His goal was a show of bravery and skill, throwing his body in harms way for the sake of his club.
Goals, Goals, and Goals: With one game still left to be played, this Texas derby was by far the highest scoring game of the weekend. The five total goals trumped the next closest total by two goals. The abundant amount of tallies make this game a leading candidate for the most entertaining game of the weekend. Cooper's late goal and shirt-removal celebration also helps this case.
Up Next: FC Dallas play host in Week Four to Real Salt Lake. Houston will welcome the Vancouver Whitecaps on the same day.
Los Angeles Galaxy 1-1 Chivas USA
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Quick Recap: 10 men for Chivas USA fought to secure a 1-1 draw. They did so after a late game-tying goal from Carlos Alvarez, an MLS rookie making his league debut.
The Goats were thoroughly dominated for the majority of the match in terms of possession and quality chances after Joaquin Velazquez received his second yellow card in the 40th minute.
Robbie Keane and company bothered Dan Kennedy and the Chivas defense the rest of the afternoon, rarely allowing their SuperClasico rivals the space to leave their own part of the pitch.
The Galaxy appeared to have justified their stranglehold on the match when Jack McBean scored a goal in the 83rd minute; however is was rookie Carlos Alvarez, who played the role of spoiler just a few minutes later. Alvarez calmly finished a far-post run by side-footing a deep horizontal pass from Carlos Borja.
It was a resilient response from a team that, last season, might have wilted after giving up the initial goal.
Man of the Match: Carlos Alvarez. This was a difficult choice as Dan Kennedy was a hero between the posts for the Goats all game long. But Alvarez, the Los Angeles native, and his late-winner are the biggest takeaway from this match.
Red Card: Joaquin Velazquez was the only player to a receive a red card this weekend.
Up Next: Both teams are in action next week in MLS. The Galaxy host the Colorado Rapids. Chivas USA hit the road for a test against the Chicago Fire.