West coast, best coast.
It’s true in life and it’s certainly true in MLS, as six Western Conference teams headed east in Week Ten and came home with 13 out of 18 possible points.
Here’s a rundown of the Week Ten MLS action:
The first half was rather pedestrian with most of the chances coming off of set pieces and very few run-of-play chances. The second half saw most of the action from the run of play, and, early in the half, it was the home team that was knocking on the door early on when Rico Clark’s left-footed drive from the top of the box would have found the inside of the far post but for the efforts of a diving David Bingham. San Jose found the back of the net in the 54th minute when Adam Jahn nodded in a Shea Salinas free kick with the help of some cringe-worthy set-piece defending by the Dynamo. Houston had their chance to earn at least a point in the game when the Dynamo were awarded a penalty three minutes after giving up the goal when Boniek Garcia was taken down by Bingham in the box, but Bingham redeemed himself when he guessed the right way on Giles Barnes’s spot kick and palmed the shot away.
In a game missing both Robbie Keane for the Galaxy and Javier Morales for Real Salt Lake, this was always going to be a low-scoring affair, even if most might not have pegged it for a scoreless draw. There were chances for both sides, of course, but with Jaime Penedo and Nick Rimando in goal the quality just was not there for anyone to get on the scoresheet. Both keepers came up big; Rimando touching an Alan Gordon header over the bar at one end of the pitch and Penedo laying out to block a deflected near post blast from Alvoro Saborio. The scoring looked like it would finally get started late in the match when the Galaxy were awarded a penalty in second half stoppage time, but Rimando was again equal to the challenge, palming away Juninho's low, hard attempt to preserve the draw.
After dominating the first 15 minutes of play, the Revolution opened the scoring in the 19th minute when Charlie Davies picked up the loose ball after Amobi Okugo was caught in possession in their own half, easily blew past Aurelien Collin and Seb Hines, and hit a low, hard shot past Donovan Ricketts. The Revs could have doubled their lead off a 41st-minute corner kick, but London Woodberry’s initial header hit the post while Davies’s follow-up in front of an open net was denied by the bar. The Lions were better in the second half and controlled much of the run, but New England broke through with their second goal in the 71st minute when substitute Kelyn Rowe picked off a poorly chested ball from Rafael Ramos and slotted past a helpless Ricketts. Orlando pulled one back in the 75th minute when Ramos redeemed himself with a dangerous cross that found Cyle Larin at the top of the six-yard box. The Lions pressed for the equalizer and eventually found it n the 90th minute when the Revs failed to fully clear a free kick, giving Luke Boden enough time to settle the ball and pump it back into the box where a crashing Aurelien Colin was able to pull Orlando level to share the points.
Colorado Rapids 1, San Jose Earthquakes 1
From the start in this one the home side were the aggressors, holding possession and taking shots, but finding little joy in them. In fact, it was the Earthquakes who would strike first, finding Chris Wondolowski alone at the back post with a bouncing ball that the wily forward tucked home around keeper Clint Irwin and the scrambling Colorado backline.The Rapids looked like they would pull one back late in the first half as Dillon Powers broke down the pitch, eventually feeding in striker Gabriel Torres for a one on one shot against keeper David Bingham, only to see the 'Quakes keeper shut him down. The Rapids came even closer in the second half as towering centerback Axel Sjoberg got a head on a long Rapids corner kick, sending it toward goal only to see Bingham sprawl out to swat the ball away and out of bounds. The breakthrough finally came in second half stoppage time off the Rapids' 12th corner of the match, when another Rapids defender got a head to a cross: this time it was James Riley who sent a looping header toward the far post, dipping down just over the defenders and just under the bar to tie the match up.
Chicago Fire 1, Real Salt Lake 2
Real Salt Lake traveled to Chicago hoping they could turn around a five game winless streak. They were able to open the scoring in the 13th minute when Jordan Allen played a very good square ball to Alvaro Saborio who settled and took the shot in one motion for the opening goal. Real Salt Lake doubled their lead 11 minutes after the restart int he 56th minute. RSL earned their goal after a great show of passing in the attacking third which ended with Devon Sandoval playing the ball across the open goal to Luke Mulholland who hit a slide tackle shot into the goal. Chicago earned their consolation goal in the 88th minute when Elias Vasquez was overzealous in his desire to win the ball and took Shaun Maloney down as he was carrying the ball away from the goal and the endline. Jeff Larentowicz hit the perfect PK and beat Nick Rimando who had guessed the correct way.
DC United 1, Sporting Kansas City 1
Kansas City almost opened the scoring in the early going off a sliding shot from Jacob Peterson, but the winger's shot slammed off the crossbar. Kansas City continued to generate the majority of the match's chances going forward, despite holding only 45% of the possession. When D.C. did get a chance, however, they made it stick as former Akron player Perry Kitchen found Chris Pontius with a long, cross-field ball that the United winger knocked back into the center of the box for Jairo Arietta to knock home. Sporting were quick to answer, however, as Roger Espinosa cut a sharp ball into the center of the D.C. box from wide on the Kansas City left, putting it right at the feet of the onrushing Dom Dwyer, who buried it with a first time shot to tie up the match.
The weekend’s most lopsided game looked for a moment like it would be a little bit more competitive, as the Whitecaps came out of the gates flat and conceded the game’s first real chance to the Union when Andrew Wenger found his way to the end of a Eric Ayuk cross at the back post, but David Ousted came up with one of the best saves of the MLS season to keep things level. From there, it was all ‘Caps. Vancouver opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when Pedro Morales got in behind the Union defense and collected a pass from Cristian Techera and easily put it around Union keeper d’jour Brian Sylvestre and into the net. The Whitecaps doubled the lead just 12 minutes later when Octavio Rivero picked off a Union back pass and easily beat Sylvestre for the second. Although the game felt just as over as it was at halftime, referee Ismail Elfath provided something to talk about when he issued a debatable straight red card to Richie Marquez in the 78th minute for a poor, but hardly bone-crunching tackle on Techera. Not that it mattered, however, as the Union weren’t coming back in any event, a point that was only reinforced three minutes later when Darren Mattocks did the dirty to Maurice Edu before depositing the ‘Caps third into the back of the net.
Columbus Crew 3, Seattle Sounders 2
The Columbus Crew are starting to flex their muscles, as Greg Berhalter’s side has now won three of four, with their only loss being a 2-0 loss to conference-leading D.C. United in which the Crew looked like the better side for the majority of the game. Kei Kamara, who is benefitting mightily from being a lone forward ahead of a dominant attacking midfield, started the fun on Saturday in the 10th minute by heading home Waylon Francis’s cross. Crew SC nearly doubled their lead in the 21st minute when Federico Higuain found Justin Meram on a ridiculous through ball, but Stefan Frei was there for the stop. Instead of going two up, the Crew found themselves level moments later when Clint Dempsey bent a shot from 20 yards just inside Steve Clark’s post. The Crew took control out of halftime, however, and regained the lead in the 49th minute when Higuan ran through a seam through the Sounders set-piece defense and slotted past Frei. Kamara finished his brace and doubled the lead ten minutes later when the new Crew striker finished Hector Jiminez’s short cross in front of goal. The Sounders made some comeback noises in the 75th minute when the Seattle attack carved up the Crew defense and found Obafemi Martins in front of goal. Clark denied Oba’s initial effort, but Dempsey put away the rebound despite appearing offside on the Martins's shot. The comeback wasn’t to be for Seattle, however, as the Crew made them the only Western Conference team to return from their road trip without at least a point.
FC Dallas 2, LA Galaxy 1
The defending champions’ slow spring continued on Saturday evening, as the Galaxy coughed up a late lead in Frisco to fall to sixth in the Western Conference. With both teams dealing with injuries (Matt Hedges and Zach Lloyd for Dallas while Robbie Keane remains out for LAG), the first half was a conservative affair with Dallas reluctant to expose its makeshift backline and the Galaxy afraid that a concession may be an insurmountable deficit without their talisman. The only serious (legal) chance of the first half came in the 36th minute when Fabian Castillo found space in front of the Galaxy backline and bent a ball toward the far post only to have Jaime Penedo make the diving stop. Los Angeles thought they’d gone up in just four minutes later when rookie Ignacio Maganto fought his way onto the end of a poorly cleared free kick, but Tommy Meyer (who was blocking Dan Kennedy) was adjudged passively offside. The Galaxy put their noses in front for real after halftime, however, when Gyasi Zardes perfectly nodded a Stefan Ishizaki corner inside Kennedy’s far post. But from there LA went into full meltdown mode. Dallas pulled level in the 77th minute when Mauro Diaz chipped the entirety of the Galaxy defense (and most of the midfield) to Blas Perez, who chested past Penedo and tapped the ball home. The Burn pulled ahead for good just nine minutes later when Dan Gargan failed to close down Tesho Akindele, who punished the Galaxy by bending a right-footed shot inside the far post.
Toronto FC 1, Houston Dynamo 2
"Home is where the heart is." Whoever coined that phrase is not from Toronto, as the Reds laid an egg in their home opener at a newly renovated BMO Field. TFC was purely dreadful in the first half, as the Dynamo team without Brad Davis came into Toronto and dominated the Reds, pulling ahead just before halftime on a clear penalty drawn by DeMarcus Beasley when Michael Bradley won nothing from a challenge in the box and Boniek Garcia put home the rebound of his very poorly taken penalty. The Dynamo doubled their lead out of the locker room by way of a marathon run from Giles Barnes down the left side and into the box, where he fed Will Bruin for the finish. Even in the face of a 2-0 deficit, TFC took another 20 minutes to wake up. But wake the Reds eventually did with the help of some standstill Dynamo defense, as Jozy Altidore easily headed home a Jonathan Osorio cross in the 76th minute. Toronto pushed for the equalizer with their first burst of motivated play of the game, but it was too little too late to salvage even a point.
The New York derby, such as it is, doesn’t appear to be terribly close right now, as the Red Bulls handled the Citizens on Sunday afternoon despite playing down a man for the better part of an hour. Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in just the fourth minute when he tapped home a doggedly-worked cross from the byline by Lloyd Sam. The Red Bulls appeared to be off to the races after the goal, keeping most of the ball and creating the better of the chances. That dominance seemed like it would crumble in the 36th minute when Metros centerback Matt Miazga was sent off after picking up his second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on the break. But City’s stars weren’t out on Sunday night, as despite the man-disadvantage the Red Bulls largely kept their foot on the game. The Red Bulls doubled the lead in the 52nd minute when Sam found Sacha Kljestan on the break, who sent the ball in front of goal for BWP to send home. Eventually, after Jason Kreis took both David Villa and Mix Diskerud off the field (the former continues to show signs of attitude problems), NYCFC showed some fight, and in the 76th minute Patrick Mullins pulled a goal back for the Bronx Bummers. But City couldn’t break the Metros’ bunker from there, and retreated across the river with little to show for their late push.