Now we’re talking.
Week Five brought us a significant uptick in goals, drama, and overall quality of play as the conclusion of the international break restored most teams to full strength. Here’s your weekly roundup of the week that was:
If there is one team that sheds more points in second-half stoppage time than the Timbers, it’s Orlando City. The Lions had chance after chance to open the scoring, but Bill Hamid was immense in the first half denying Rafael Ramos in the 33rd minute and Kevin Molino (after a beautiful through ball from Kaka) in the 41st. D.C. United shifted onto the front foot as the game wore on, however, and should have gone up in the 68th minute when the Lions came up with three saves in quick succession, including an eye-popping Brek Shea clearance off the line. For the second time in three weeks, however, Orlando City coughed up a point at the death, this time to a free kick by Luis Silva, making his first appearance of 2015, that went through the Lions’ leaky wall, off Donovan Ricketts’s hand, and in for the winner.
The Fire took this opportunity against big-spending Toronto to say, hey, we are not terrible at soccer; we can score some goals. Or, at least Shaun Maloney did. The Fire's DP attacking midfielder assisted on the Fire's first goal, a 14th minute give and go with youngster Joevin Jones, and scored their second, a low, curling shot after a cut in from the left wing in the 56th minute. It was, however, Big Red himself, Jeff Larentowicz, who scored the game winner for the Fire, hammering home a long-range free kick after a slight touch from Harry Shipp.
The Fire were not the only team with an attacking midfielder now firing on all cylinders. Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco got in on the action as well and, just like Maloney, picked up a goal and an assist. In the 20th minute, Giovinco got the ball in the box and slipped a shot through traffic to wrong foot Jon Busch and tie the game at 1-1. Then, in the 54th minute, he took the ball into the Fire zone on the break before cutting it back for the onrushing Benoit Cheyrou to knock home from the top of the box.
Ten hours. 600 minutes. 36,000 seconds. Any way you put it, the Rapids’ goalscoring drought has lasted a long, long time. Colorado’s scoreless streak now stands the equivalent of third all time (the MLS Fact and Record Book doesn’t count streaks that span two seasons), and unless they can score within the first minute at FC Dallas next weekend, the Rapids will jump into second place all-time, only looking up longingly at Toronto FC’s legendary 824-minute streak in 2007.
Back to the game. For much of Saturday’s fixture in Commerce City, Colorado was on the front foot, as they fired off 17 shots (five on target), held 57% of the ball, and strung together 413 passes. It didn’t take long for the Revolution to notch the opener, however, as Juan Agudelo fired a Kelyn Rowe 18th-minute cross off the underside of the bar and in before anybody at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park had even had a chance to look at their phone or go to the bathroom. In spite of the Rapids’ goalscoring woes, the save of the game belonged to the Revs' Bobby Shuttleworth for this 42nd-minute swat of a Dillon Powers shot just over the bar. But Powers’s shot was a fluke. How bad are the Rapids at scoring goals? This bad. The Revs doubled their lead in the 55th minute when Lee Nguyen sent Clint Irwin the wrong way from the spot after referee Fotis Bazakos was impressed by Charlie Davies’s dive. But don’t worry, that wasn’t Bazakos’s worst moment of the day - not by a longshot. This was.
Every bit as fun to watch as the scoreline suggests, this one was marred by an early second half red to Seattle midfielder Gonzalo Pineda, for attempting to recreate Nigel De Jong's famous World Cup 2010 red card by booting Houston's Ricardo Clark squarely in the chest. The card came to late for the Dynamo, though, as the one-two punch of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins had already unlocked their back line and put the Sounders up 1-0. In the 39th minute, Dempsey found Martins making a run into the box where the Nigerian striker spun around his defender before slotting the ball calmly home. From there the Dynamo battered themselves against the 10-man Seattle defense, but had no luck at finding an opening or really even the frame of the goal as they took 16 shots, but only put two of them on target.
Entering the game the LA Galaxy had not posted a road win since August of 2014, a string of 8 games, going 0-4-4 over that span. Unfortunately for them they were unable to break the streak as the Galaxy failed to muster any dangerous goalscoring opportunities. Rather, it was the Vancouver Whitecaps who looked dominant in the win, as they shredded a very lackluster Galaxy midfield. The Whitecaps, however, did not opening the scoring until the second half when Kekuta Manneh was given too much time at the top of the box in the 56th minute and rolled the ball past a surprised Jaime Penedo. Vancouver's second goal came ten minutes later when Octavio Rivero tapped the ball into the net after Penedo parried Nicolas Mezquida's cross right to the Uruguayan young DP's feet. The win puts the Whitecaps in the all-important position of Supporters Shield leaders after five games.
A Javier Morales free-kick goal was enough to see the visitors to a 1-0 away win at Avaya Stadium. A foul outside the box put Morales in a deadly FK spot just before the half, when, although the Argentine playmaker put his initial effort off the wall, he volleyed a swerving second crack into the back of the net. The Earthquakes had a number of chances to equalize, including an Adam Jahn attempted backheel (it went just as well as you’d think), but couldn’t pull level. In fact, the net the Quakes came closest to putting a ball into was their own, but Victor Bernardez was there to spectacularly clear the ball off the line. Despite some uninspiring performances to date, the win moves RSL up to third in the West while the one-time Cinderella Earthquakes sink to 7th.
This match started strange and ended stranger as SKC snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. In just the 3rd minute, Philly went up 1-0 on a corner kick that, at first, looked like it had been heroically cleared off the line by Jalil Anibaba, but was instead ruled to have crossed over it by the linesman. Making things even more awkward: it was SKC midfielder Jacob Peterson who scored the goal. The games' next goal came on a corner kick as well as, in the 16th minute, Philly keeper Rais M'bolhi got tangled up with his defenders, leaving Dom Dwyer to head home his first goal of the season. The Union grabbed the lead back just two minutes later through yet another set piece as striker Fernando Aristeguieta managed to head home a curled in free kick.
The score would stay at 2-1 for the next 72 minutes, until one minute into second half stoppage time, when SKC pumped a series of desperate balls into the Union box until Anibaba managed to head one down and just out of the reach M'bolhi to tie the game up. SKC were not done there, however. In the 94th minute, SKC got one final corner kick and sent it into the box where Matt Besler flicked it on to the back post for a waiting Kriztian Nemeth, who knocked it home for the win. Worth noting in this one, early in the second half both teams had goals called back with the Union being whistled for being offside and SKC for a foul.