Week 8 of the MLS season was not blessed with an abundance of goals, yet there was enough intrigue, entertainment and incident in one game alone to ensure it was still an entertaining weekend of action in the USA's top league.
Most Expensive Matchup in League History Ends All Square Despite End to End Action
LA Galaxy 1-1 New York Red Bulls
Heading into the season, one of the fixtures most of the leagues fans was looking forward to was between the MLS's big spending heavyweights, LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls.
The two teams boasted the most expensive lineups to have faced each other in league history, including five Designated Players. It would also mark the first time that European superstars David Beckham and Thierry Henry would renew their head to head rivalry in MLS (each player missed their road fixture in the two matchups last season).
Anybody caught up in heavy traffic outside the Home Depot Center may have missed plenty of action already if they arrived in their seats late with the first chance of the game falling to Landon Donovan in just the third minute, before Thierry Henry opened the scoring in the fourth.
Jamaican winger, Dane Richards threaded a beautifully weighted through ball behind the LA defense for the Frenchman to run onto. Henry still had a lot to do, but he coolly rounded 'keeper Donovan Rickets and slipped the ball into the far corner while under pressure from an onrushing defender.
The first half featured some of the finest football you could hope to see, and it was a great advertisement of the standard of play that can now be seen in the MLS. Evidence that this is indeed a league on the rise and that one day, it may seriously produce teams capable of competing on a global level.
David Beckham had a masterful first half, turning back the years by producing probing and penetrating passes that looked to exploit New York's usually stingy defense. Both goalkeepers made a pair of good saves each and former Red Bulls hero, Juan Pablo Angel had a goal disallowed for offside for LA before Landon Donovan leveled the scores just before halftime.
The service, predictably, came from Beckham, who swung in a corner from the left-hand side straight onto the head of Donovan who had eluded his marker Roy Miller. The headed goal came on 40 minutes, but there was still time for Donovan to miss the opportunity to put his side ahead in the 43rd minute.
It was Beckham again that provided the service, sending Donovan clear of the defense. Donovan rounded the onrushing 'keeper, Bouna Coundoul and rolled the ball toward the empty net from 20 yards out, only for defender Tim Ream to give chase and execute one of the greatest goal-line clearances you might ever see.
The second half saw chances for both sides, with some efforts missing just wide, hitting the post of producing further great saves from both goalkeepers.
In the end, the points were shared between the leagues two "super-clubs" (Alexi Lalas' words), yet this matchup may turn into the leagues great rivalries and both should be there or thereabout when it comes to MLS Cup in November.
Two Red Cards and Horror Injury Blights Dramatic Late Win In Utah
Real Salt Lake 1-0 CD Chivas USA
Salt Lake may have only played six MLS games this season to LA's 10, but already sit just one point behind the West leading Galaxy.
This game was not without it's loss for Real however, as All-Star midfielder Javier Morales left with a broken ankle in the 38th minute. The injury was caused by a terrible tackle from behind by Chivas forward Marcos Mondaini who saw a red card for his troubles.
That red card saw him follow his teammate Andrew Boyens for the proverbial early bath. Kiwi Boyens had already seen red following a second yellow card in just the 28th minute.
Despite spending much of the game with a two man advantage, RSL failed to score until the 87th minute, with the eventual game winner coming from Will Johnson, sending Rio Tinto Stadium into rapture.
Sellout Crowd at BMO Field Delighted to See Toronto's First Win in a Month
Toronto FC 2-1 Houston Dynamo
The weekends highest scoring game (like I said earlier, it was a low scoring weekend), saw Toronto record only their second win of the season in their Eastern Conference fixture against Houston at BMO Field.
Joao Plata was heavily involved in the victory for Toronto, including his debut goal for the club when he converted a penalty by putting it high and out of reach from Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
Plata thought he had won a second penalty when he was fouled in the box by Hall. The referee pointed to the spot, only to have the assistant referee rule out the penalty with an offside flag.
Plata would be involved again in Toronto's second goal, tearing forward at full pace, he fed the ball to Maicon Santos who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Houston made the closing minutes a tense affair by scoring a 88th minute goal through midfielder Lovel Palmer. Yet Toronto were able to hold off the threat and delight their 20,259 supporters at the game.
Defender Danso Provides Critical Attacking Play in Portland Victory
Portland Timbers 1-0 Philadelphia Union
In Fox Soccer's Friday night matchup, this season's new boys Portland defeated last seasons new boys Philadelphia in front of 18,652 supporters at JELD-WEN Field.
The Union have boasted a stingy defense all season and the Timbers speedy attack looked to test it aerially with a series of crosses producing goalscoring opportunities in the first half, however, non were converted.
It was little surprise then, that when the deadlock was eventually broke in the 72nd minute, it came from the head of a Timbers player: defender Mamadou Danso.
The goal sparked some life into Philadelphia's attack as the produced a flurry of goalscoring opportunities in the final minutes. None were taken, and Portland were able to hold on for their fourth win of their inaugural season.
Familiar Route to Goal Gives Colorado a Point Against Former Boss
Columbus Crew 1-1 Seattle Sounders
Columbus Crew finally took their first point from former coach Sigi Schmid who left Columbus after guiding them to MLS glory in 2008 before joining Seattle for their debut 2009 season. Their goal also came in the most predictable of fashions.
The Crew have scored just eight goals all season, with half of them coming from penalty kicks, half of them have also been scored by Emilio Renteria. So guess how the goal was scored in this match? Yes, a penalty kick scored by Renteria.
That goal maintained a seven game unbeaten run for Columbus and cancelled out a seventh minute opener by Seattle's Colombian forward Fredy Montero.
The point sees Columbus stand second in the East behind leaders New York.
DC United 0-0 FC Dallas
New England Revolution 0-0 Colorado Rapids
Chicago Fire 0-0 Vancouver Whitecaps
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