For the first time in 2015 the MLS weekend went more or less true to form, with favorites notching rests across the weekend’s slate of games.
Here’s a rundown of all of Week Seven’s action:
It’s been a frustrating week for NYCFC. What started with a loss at Philadelphia by way of a Vincent Noguiera goal at the death got worse when the Citizens faded in the second half to draw the back end of a home-and-home with the Union. The first half, however, was all NYCFC, with only some finishing troubles keeping City off the board. In the 28th minute Mehdi Ballouchy received a beauty of a David Villa setup at the top of the box with only John McCarthy to beat, but the Casablanca native put his finish well over the bar. Ballouchy redeemed himself in the 57th minute, however, after taking a nice feed from Khiry Shelton and bending a left footer inside the far post. But that’s where things stopped going well for City, and the Union grew back into the game. After NYCFC failed to convincingly clear a long Union free kick in the 73rd minute, the ball fell to Zach Pfeffer in the middle of the box where he hit a shot goalward only to be denied very nicely by Josh Saunders. But the Union love their fifty-yard entry balls floated into the box, which was again evident in the 86th minute when Maurice Edu got head to Cristian Maidana’s looping cross and put it into the path of C.J. Sapong for the karate-kick equalizer.
Fact: The New York Red Bulls are good. And it didn’t take long to show that against the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday night, as two first half goals were enough to cruise mostly comfortably past the Quakes. The Metros got the scoring going in the 29th minute when a Felipe cross dribbled across goal and found Sacha Kljestan waiting at the back stick for the opener. The Red Bulls doubled the lead six minutes later when Lloyd Sam found Mike Grella waiting unmarked beyond the far post for the finish. The Earthquakes only arguably played in the game before the 60th minute, but after the hour San Jose found a way into the game. the Quakes couldn’t break through, however, thanks to two great saves from Luis Robles, the first to deny Tommy Thompson and the second to keep Innocent out in the 83rd minute. But on the whole, anything less than a convincing win for the Red Bulls would have flattered the Earthquakes, as the Metros were hands-down the deserving winners.
This back and forth match featured two teams with different attacking sensibilities: D.C. held the bulk of the possession on the night and controlled the flanks, out-crossing their opponents by a significant margin, while Houston deployed a solid defensive block, now a hallmark of Owen Coyle's tenture as head coach with the Dynamo, and looked to counter down the pitch. For D.C., however, the game opener would off a set piece rather than through their advantage in possession as Chris Rolfe curled a beauty of a free kick just inside the post to beat the near-invincible Tyler Deric in the 36'. The Dynamo pull themselves back into the match in the second half as Brad Davis swung a cross in to the near post run of Will Bruin. The Dancing Bear flicked the ball on with his foot, forcing a fingertip save from Andrew Dykstra, but Ricardo Clark was following the play and hammered home the rebound to tie up the match.
Columbus Crew 3, Orlando City 0
Hot on the heels of their somewhat surprising win over the Portland Timbers, Orlando set out to prove themselves over some of the top competition in the Eastern Conference and were found wanting. The Crew opened the scoring in the 32' when Ethan Finley got on the end of a poorly conceived clearance from Rafael Ramos and sent the ball back in to the waiting feet of Federico Higuain in the City box, who nonchalantly back-heel flicked the ball around Donovan Ricketts and into the back of the net. Things got worse for Orlando in the 34' when Ramos went in studs up on Waylon Francis and earned an obvious red. The Crew extended their lead in the 55' when Kai Kamara nipped the ball off Christian Higuita inside the City box, knocking it to Justin Meram who slammed the ball home from close range. The final goal of the match came in the 60' when Kamara got in behind the Orlando back line and sent an arching chip over Ricketts to finish off the match. In truth, Columbus could have been up 4-0 by the time the final whistle blew, if it were not for a series of late game saves from Ricketts.
The weekend's highest scoring match started out with a bang as Fabian Castillo put Dallas on the board just 30 seconds in with a deft near post shot around Joe Bendik to open the scoring. The early going was all Castillo as, in the 10', he cut the ball at the top of the Toronto box, cut the ball onto his right boot, and curled a shot inside the far post to make it 2-0. The game had all the makings of a route when, in the 27', Ryan Hollingshead won a ball deep in the Toronto half and fed Blas Perez for a well struck finish, putting the home team up 3-0. Toronto were granted a repreive, however, when lightning struck nearby, temporarily bringing down the lights in the stadium just as Dallas were looking good for a fourth and forcing the game to be delayed for almost three hours. When play resumed both teams came out flat, but it was Toronto who managed to get themselves pointed in the right direction, eventually breaking through in the 83' thanks to a spectacular Sebastian Giovinco run and near post chip to beat Chris Seitz. Toronto managed to pull back another in the 89' and again it was Giovinco, this time sending in a cheekily curled free kick from close range. It would not be enough to overcome Dallas's flying start, however, leaving Toronto with only three points through five matches so far, while Dallas solidify their hold on second place in the West.
Colorado started out this one as the league's tightest defense, looking to shut down the Sounders' offensive juggernaut. The first chance of the night saw Dillon Powers crash through the Seattle defense and send a toe-poked shot on goal, only to have it clip off the post, but it was Seattle who struck first in the 5' as Lamar Neagle knuckled in an upper-ninety shot from just outside the box. The Rapids evened things up in the 21', moving the ball quickly down the pitch and finding Gabriel Torres, who simply slotted the ball home under Stefan Frei. The even ground would not last for long, however, as again the Sounders marched down the field in the 25' and again they found Neagle, this time bundling home a bouncing ball in the Colorado box to grab a lead that Seattle would not relinquish. The Sounders effectively finished the game off in the 73', finding Obafemi Martins on the run with a long ball from Andy Rose out of the back. Martins took the ball down and, with an obscene touch, split two defenders before knocking the ball home around Clint Irwin.
Vancouver traveled to the Wasatch Front with confidence in their ability to end RSL's 13 game home winning streak. The game was a defensive and physical affair with a lot of fouls and calls for the trainers to attend to players who had picked up knocks. Even with the physical nature of the game numerous chances were created by both sides in the first half but the game entered the break 0-0. In the second half the physical nature of the game bit Real Salt Lake. First Sebastian Saucedo saw red for a studs up tackle on Mauro Rosales in the 76th minute. Just four minutes later Vancouver got a lucky break when a pass was blocked directly to Russell Tiebert as we was streaking down the wing. His cross was met by the head of Darren Mattocks and he earned the away team the full three points. To add insult to injury, Jamison Olave picked up his second yellow in the 89th minute for a professional foul to stop a possible odd man rush.
The Galaxy jumped out to an early lead in the 9th minute when a shross from Stefan Ishizaki was palmed right to the crashing Baggio Husidic for the easy, tap-in goal. Sporting Kansas City did not let the early goal get to them and they kept plugging along. The equalizer came in the 21st minute when Benny Feilhaber received a dangerous ball into the box from Dominic Dwyer and he deftly hit the one touch pass to Krisztian Nemeth. Nemeth chipped the ball over a charging Jaime Penedo for the goal. LA was not to be denied as they, once again, earned a result in stoppage time. This time it was Omar Gonzalez who volleyed a Juninho corner off the leg of Bernardo Anor and into the net for the game winning goal in the 94th minute.
Philadelphia Union 1, New England Revolution 2
Philadelphia almost took the lead in the 16' in this one as a hard shot across the face of goal from Fernando Aristeguieta caromed of the foot of keeper Bobby Shuttleworth and the underside of the bar before bouncing away. It would be the Union who would score first, however, as Christian Maidana lined up a long range free kick in the 42' that again hit the woodwork, but this time the bounce favored the home team as the ball banked off the near post and into the back of the net. The recently revitalized Revolution were down but not out, charging back in the 64' as recent substitute Teal Bunburry nutmegged his defender then found Charlie Davies with an excellently curled in cross for the touch-home finish. In the 76', Bunburry turned from goal provider to goal scorer, this time getting on the end of a curled in cross from fellow substitute Diego Fagundez for another close range finish. Now down a goal, the Union scrambled to grab any points they could from the game, but a series of goal line saves from the Revs denied their best chances to get back in the game and the Revolution walked away the winners.