Go ahead. Try to bet on MLS.
NYCFC going down two goals and a man? Bet you wouldn’t bet on them coming back for a draw. Red Bulls and FC Dallas squaring off in north Texas? Only a fool would predict a scoreless draw. Real Salt Lake visiting the winless Montreal Impact? "That’ll end 4-1 to Mount Royal," said nobody ever. Chad Barrett scoring twice for the Sounders in a 2-0 romp at Vancouver? LA Galaxy getting run out of the Citrus Bowl?
Well, you get the point. Here’s a rundown of an unforeseeable Week Eleven in MLS.
Not many people gave Orlando City, coming off three games without a win, including two cringe-worthy losses, much of a chance in D.C. But the Lions hung in there early in this one and took a lead in the 11th minute when rookie Cyle Larin dug a ball out from the midst of a scrum at the top of the box and hammered it into the top corner. Chances are usually few and far between at RFK Stadium, however, and although Orlando City mustered a fair amount of possession in the first half, they couldn’t generate much more in the way of real goalscoring opportunities. With only a one-goal lead, then, a D.C. United comeback always seemed likely. And it began in earnest in the 68th minute when Kofi Opare walked away from his set-piece markers and nodded home a Taylor Kemp free kick. The goal was reflective of a second-half surge from D.C. United that was so convincing that it wasn’t at all unjust when Chris Rolfe lanced a Jairo Arrieta cross out of the air and redirected it past Donovan Ricketts for the winner.
Boy, this didn’t start well at all for NYCFC. Losers of four straight and six of their last seven, the Citizens fell behind early in this one when Razvan Cocis leaned back in the 14th minute and looped a header from a Shaun Maloney free kick into Josh Saunders’s net. Bad went to worse for City just fifteen minutes later when R.J. Allen denied David Accam an obvious goalscoring opportunity after Accam stole Allen’s lunch money. All it took then was Jeff Larentowicz slotting the penalty home and NYCFC seemed just as afloat in this game as they have over the past two months. But, in a turn of events, Mehdi Ballouchy put back the rebound of a David Villa shot just before halftime to give NYCFC a lifeline heading into the locker room. If Chicago’s reaction to going two goals and a man up left something to be desired, they put on a second-half clinic on how to blow a gimmie result. NYCFC came close to equalizing in the 70th minute when Villa got through on goal, but Sean Johnson and the Fire defense reacted just in time to keep out the leveler. Just as it appeared Chicago might get away with a horribly lackluster second half, however, City found their goal when Khiry Shelton found space between the centerbacks in second-half stoppage time and rolled a dribbler past Johnson to deprive Chicago of a thoroughly undeserved three points.
FC Dallas 0, New York Red Bulls 0
Well, it wasn’t the scoreline many expected, but if you can get beyond the scoreless draw, the matchup between the Red Bulls and the Burn was arguably one of the better games of the weekend, as the Red Bulls defense did just enough to keep FC Dallas off the board and to earn a point in Big D. Mauro Diaz started the action in the 16th minute when he slipped a beautiful ball through to Fabian Castillo, but Kemar Lawrence intervened just in time to prevent the likely goal. Lawrence’s intervention was upstaged in the 72nd minute by Felipe, however, who cleared a Michael Barrios shot off the line after the Colombian’s shot beat Luis Robles. Four minutes later it wasn’t timely defending by the Red Bulls that kept the Hoops out, but rather a rare mistake by Castillo when he put a perfectly (albeit unintentionally) teed ball by Kellyn Acosta over the bar. As a result the Red Bulls hung on to their point in Frisco and FC Dallas came away without three points for just the second time in their five-game unbeaten streak.
Montreal Impact 4, Real Salt Lake 1
The Impact jumped out to an early lead in this one with a lightning volley from Laurent Ciman as the ball dropped directly to the Belgian defender's foot in the box off a Montreal corner kick in the 18th minute. The goals kept coming for the Impact as, just one minute later, Marco Donadel knocked a high pass forward for Andres Romero who kept his wits about him and easily chipped the ball over onrushing keeper Nick Rimando. The Impact struck yet again in the 29th and again it was Romero getting the goal, this time knocking home a loose ball after Rimando managed to parry away a close-in shot from Dominic Oduro. The fourth looked to be coming in the 43rd minute as Oduro was knocked over in the RSL box by centerback Elias Vasquez, but Rimando was able to parry away the well-placed, but slow penalty kick attempt from Ignacio Piatti. There was some measure of hope for Salt Lake in the second half as the away side came out with a purpose, pulling one back through a long-range chip from Devon Sandoval just two minutes in. It was not to last, however, as Dilly Duka knocked home an acute angle rebound to put he score at 4-1 in the 78th minute, where it would stay for the rest of the match.
Did the Sounders break the Whitecaps on Saturday night? All season Vancouver had frustrated opponents by playing a low block and looking to get out on the counter. So the Sounders decided to hold the ball deeper in midfield and look to play in behind to test Vancouver’s ability to play an offside trap. Spoiler alert: The Caps failed. The Sounders got on the board early when Clint Dempsey found Chad Barrett running behind the Whitecaps backline thanks to undisciplined line maintenance by Pa Modou Kah. With David Ousted coming off his line with the confidence of Old Gil Gunderson, Barrett easily tapped home with the outside of his boot. With Seattle intentionally sitting in a little bit, then, Vancouver couldn’t get their own players into space - a virtual death sentence for an attack that relies on getting the likes of Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks, and Octavio Rivero out on the lam. As a result, Vancouver was left with one attacking strategy: open-play crosses. And deep ones, at that. The Whitecaps didn’t create many genuine chances. It was all the Sounders needed, then, when Marco Pappa found Barrett over the top in the 38th minute to volley home the Sounders’ second and secure three point in B.C. Place.
This match seemed likely to be typical TFC fare as the proceedings started off with a Giovinco shot off the woodwork and then was soon followed up by an injury to Jozy Altidore that knocked the powerful American out of the match in only the 21st minute. Things got worse for the visitors in the 32nd minute when London Woodberry curled a cross into the TFC box from wide on the right, finding the head of Juan Agudelo who nodded the ball home for the opening goal, making him the third Revolution striker with three goals or more so far this year. Toronto were not done yet, however, and it was their star player who got them on the board. No, not Giovinco. No, Altidore was off injured. No, not Matias Laba. Michael Bradley, of all people, picked up the ball in the heart of the midfield and went on a rampaging run through the New England defense, before slotting a well-placed ball around Revolution keeper Bobby Shuttleworth and into the back of the net. The Revolution bombarded Toronto for the remainder of the half as they looked to end the match with all three points, but the Canadians were able to hold on for the draw.
San Jose Earthquakes 2, Columbus Crew 0
Coming into this match, the Earthquakes looked like the definite underdogs when faced off against a popular dark horse pick in the Eastern Conference in the Crew. Still, things started going the Quakes' way in the 33rd minute when midfielder Mohammed Saeid picked up his second yellow of the match for a hard foul on Shea Salinas. Now a man up, the 'Quakes were able to press their advantage, eventually breaking through in the 55th minute as Chris Wondolowski got on the end of a Jordan Stewart cross and headed the ball home. Five minutes later it was Salinas who would seal the match for the 'Quakes, playing a quick one-two pass in the box with Matias Perez-Garcia before knocking home a hard shot form close range.
Orlando City SC 4, LA Galaxy 0
Orlando City shocked fans around MLS with this result, opening their highest scoring match to date with a headed home ball from former FC Dallas and Chivas USA man Eric Avila in only the 12th minute. The Floridians struck again in the 34th minute as Kaka and Larin broke down the pitch, trading passes back and forth until Larin finally hammered the ball home from just inside the box. Things got worse for LA as keeper Jaime Penedo brought down Kaka in the LA box in the 56th minute, setting up the Brazilian star for a simple penalty shot that he ably converted. Finally, Darwin Ceren put the last nail in the Galaxy coffin in the 73rd minute when his long range shot was redirected around Penedo and into the back of the net, giving Orlando the 4-0 win.
Philadelphia Union 1, D.C. United 0
The Union thought they had started this one off with an early goal as Conor Casey hammered home a volley from the top of the six yard box, only to have the strike called back for what the referee judged to be a handball. Despite being the underdogs by a significant margin, the Union continued to boss the game for much of the match, holding almost 54% of the possession and forcing a string of big saves from D.C. keeper Bill Hamid, including a point blank stop on another Casey shot in the final minute of the first half. D.C. turned it on in the second half, however, getting several chances of their own and even having a goal whistled back as Chris Pontius was called for a foul that caused Maurice Edu to head the ball into his own net. Just when it looked like the match was destined to end goalless, however, the Union struck. Carrying the ball down their left wing in second half stoppage time, Philly fullback Fabinho threaded a low cross through the legs of veteran forward Sebastien Le Toux who let the ball roll to midfielder Zach Pfeffer at the penalty spot where he was able to slot home a near post shot past Hamid.