Home sweet home.
That’s not what MLS teams were saying in Week Nine, as only three of ten teams earned maximum points on their home turf.
Here’s a rundown of the action around MLS in Week Nine.
Quality over quantity. That’s the lesson the New York Red Bulls learned on Wednesday evening as the Colorado Rapids went into Red Bull Arena and came away with a point. The Rapids got on the board early in the 25th minute when Dillon Powers’s set piece from the left bent (after a very, very nominal touch from the head of Gaby Torres) inside a helpless Luis Robles’s far post. The Red Bulls pulled even five minutes later, however, after Mark Geiger pointed to the spot when Bradley Wright-Phillips went down under modest contact from Bobby Burling while trying to reach for a Mike Grella pass that was, frankly, behind Wright-Phillips. By many metrics the Red Bulls were the manifestly better team in this one, but Colorado was well organized and were nearly rewarded for their discipline in the 35th minute when Luis Robles got just enough on Dominique Badji’s breakaway shot to watch it dribble tantalizingly off the post. The Rapids’ game plan was nearly undone in the 64th minute, however, but the bar dutifully denied Sacha Kljestan’s curler. In the end, the Red Bulls had little to show for their 64% possession, 574 passes, and 20 shots, as Colorado came away with a point that, frankly, didn’t feel undeserved.
Mauro Diaz may be the Timbers’ best hope to turn 2015 around. If Diego Valeri can do for Portland what Diaz has done for the Burn, everything will turn out just fine for the Timbers. The Diaz-less Hoops were dreadful. But with their Argentine playmaker patrolling the middle, as Friday night showed, FC Dallas is one of the best teams in MLS. FCD opened the scoring early on when Ryan Hillingshead picked the ball up on the break and fired inside a poorly-reacting Tyler Deric’s far post for the ninth-minute opener. The Burn doubled their advantage 12 minutes later when Diaz set Fabian Castillo free down the right wing where he cut the ball back for David Texeira, who flicked inside the far post. Giles "Don’t Call Me Guy-les" Barnes brought the Dynamo back into the game in the 32nd minute when his bending free kick from 25 yards out evaded Dan Kennedy and tucked into the side netting. But, again, despite plenty of possession for Houston, the Burn were the more dangerous team in this one by lightyears. Diaz made sure everybody knew of FC Dallas’s dominance in the 52nd minute when he made Houston pay for giving him a foot of space and the top of the box. And, with that, the meltdown was on as Houston conceded their fourth just three minutes later when Castillo toe-poked the ball post Deric.
Not all games were created equal. Credit to you if you could make it through the highlight reel of this one, much less the whole match.
Chris Wondolowski scored a goal. He was certainly in an offside position when Shea Salinas played the ball through, but the only question is whether the offside was nullified by Kyle Beckerman or Jamison Olave deliberately playing the ball. I have my doubts, but, especially with respect to Olave, it’s a close call. Oh, and Victor Bernardez scored a goal, too, but it counted for Real Salt Lake. The goals were typical of the game; like the whole affair, they were ugly and, in hindsight, probably just shouldn’t have happened.
Two consecutive road wins against Eastern Conference foes have Toronto FC heading into their home opener with nine points and some wind in their sails. But, as it has been throughout much of 2015, it wasn’t always pretty for the Reds in Philadelphia on Saturday. What was beautiful, however, was Giovinco’s 34th-minute free kick that beat an eventually reacting John McCarthy. The Union were close to breaking even just before halftime, however, when Cristian Maidana’s left-footed strike rocked the bar. What TFC lacked in overall quality, however, Giovinco made up for with audacity, as five minutes after the break he almost doubled the Reds’ lead with this absurd chip. To be fair, though, the Union were the better team in this one and should have been level in the 79th minute when Fernando Aristeguieta nodded home the apparent equalizer only to have the referee’s assistant flag him offside despite appearing level with Colleen Warner.
D.C. United 2, Columbus Crew 0
D.C. United earned one of the most impressive results of the weekend in their comprehensive victory over a recently impression Columbus Crew side at RFC Stadium. The Black-and-Red opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Chris Rolfe orchestrated a picture-perfect counterattack that ended with Fabian Espindola easily putting the ball past Steve Clark. United doubled the lead in the 40th minute when Sean Franklin snuck back post on an Espindola corner and tapped home. Crew SC weren’t about to pack up and go home, however, as the visitors largely controlled the second half and looked like they may be able to crawl back in the game if one of their several second-half chances (most notably a 53rd-minute Federico Higuain header that fizzed just wide) had found its way in.
New England Revolution 2, New York Red Bulls 1
The Revolution opened the scoring early in this match between two of the East's high flying sides. In just the 9th minut, fullback London Woodberry sent a cross into the Red Bulls box that Charlie Davies emphatically thumped home with a diving header. The Revs extended their lead to 2-0 in the second half as, in the 60th minute, Teal Bunbury capped off a quick, six-pass move with a powerful near post finish. The Red Bulls almost managed to claw their way back into this one, however, when Sacha Kljestan broke in behind the Revolution defense and coolly slotted the ball home after beating the onrushing Luis Robles to the ball. Now only down a single goal, the Red Bulls had further chances, including a shot from former Montreal Impact player Felipe that Bobby Shuttleworth was able to save, but could not find the equalizer and left town with zero points. Tensions flared up after the match, with designated player and USMNTer Jermaine Jones having stern words with members of the Revolution, particularly Anatole Abang who replays showed pushed Jones in the face. Jones later claimed that Felipe made disparaging remarks about his family.
LA Galaxy 1, Colorado Rapids 1
Without Robbie Keane, the LA Galaxy were only able to get a single point at home against the Rapids, despite holding almost as much possession as the Timbers did this weekend. In fact, it was the Rapids who opened the scoring at the StubHub Center this weekend as Gabriel Torres ran onto a ball played behind the Galaxy defensive line and managed to pick out the back of the net around Jaime Penedo in the 40th minutes. The Rapids were almost able to extend that lead in the 65th minute when it appeared that Dominique Badji was in behind the defense, only to have the Senegalese rookie shanked his shot so badly that it was actually further back toward the Colorado goal by the time it ran out for a throw-in. Finally, LA managed to grab the tying goal in the 75th minute as the always impactful Alan Gordon made space for himself on a corner served into the Rapids box and knocked home the ball with a strong, headed shot. For a moment it looked like the Rapids would grab the lead a second time, however, but Sam Cronin's finished off free kick was ruled offside.
One-time dangerous scorer Dom Dwyer had the first huge chance of this one in the 31st minute as he got free of his man inside the Chicago box only to put his ensuing free header off a Feilhaber chipped-pass wide of goal. SKC got another chance off a header just two minutes later as Kevin Ellis got on the end of a free kick, only to slam his effort off the underside of the crossbar. Finally in the 75th minute SKC managed to finish off one of their headed chances as Pablo Nagamura rose to meet a cross in the center of the Chicago box and head the ball home past Sean Johnson for the match's only goal. Although the Fire tried to fight back into the match, David Accam took the phrase too literally, earning a red card after pushing Jalil Anibaba in the face in the 89th minute.
NYCFC continued their now-seven match winless streak alive in this match thanks to a flurry of quick strikes from the Sounders. The first goal from Seattle came in the 23rd minute as Obafemi Martins broke in behind the back line of NYCFC and clinically slotted the ball past Josh Saunders in goal. In the 54th minute NYC showed signs of life as Chris Mullins found Mehdi Ballouchy in the Sounders box for a near post finish that tied the game. It was Clint Dempsey that would break the deadlock, however, knocking home the ball from just inside the NYC box in the 58th minute of play. Finally, the Sounders sealed their victory in the 66th minute when Dempsey capped off a long spell of possession by springing Martins free behind the back line of NYC with a ridiculous back-heel pass. Martins ran onto Dempsey's ball and knocked it home, leaving Saunders no chance to make the save. To close the match out, Kwame Watson-Siriboe picked up his second yellow of the night and got his marching orders in the 89th minute.