The 2014 MLS Season started off in dramatic fashion with two stoppage time goals, a penalty saved and a couple of unexpected blowouts. In other words, MLS is back to being MLS.
The replacement referees used as a result of the Referee Lockout did not struggle though producing zero red cards but there were penalties given with Real Salt Lake, right back Tony Beltran’s foul the most contentious decision made. All in all, there were 26 goals across eight games. That total, combined with the zero red cards, is a good formula for aesthetically pleasing soccer.
Seattle Sounders 1 (Barrett 90+4)
Sporting Kansas City 0
A sloppy season-opener at CenturyLink Field as the rain in Seattle, made the turf too fast for each team to make consistent passes. There were five yellow cards and 40 fouls, combined between the two teams.
Sporting Kansas City nearly scored in the third minute when Graham Zusi’s shot was spilled by Stefan Frei but Frei was able to swipe the ball away from an oncoming Dom Dwyer before he could take a rebound shot. The Sounders’ first chance came after the half-hour when debutant Marco Pappa had a deflected shot parried by a diving Erik Kronberg.
The Sounders would have the first chance of the second half when DeAndre Yedlin put Lamar Neagle through on-goal but Obafemi Martins could not get a foot to Neagle’s cutback towards the far post. It would be Seattle scoring the late goal in stoppage time off of a quick counterattack. Osvaldo Alonso picked up a loose pass and carried the ball to midfield before finding Clint Dempsey who spread it wide to Sean Okoli, making his professional debut at right wing. Okoli’s cross caused chaos amongst the Kansas City defense as Matt Besler headed it up as Aurelien Collin and Kronberg converged. Dempsey headed the loose ball off the bar, got his rebound but could only get a weak shot on-frame. Fortunately for him and the Sounders, Chad Barrett was there to force it in.
It was the fifth time in eight meetings that the Sounders scored a stoppage time goal to get a result against Kansas City. It was also Barrett’s first goal since June 29 of last year. The Sounders will host Toronto FC next Saturday while Sporting Kansas City will face Cruz Azul in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal.
D.C. United 0
Columbus Crew 3 (Arrieta 18, Higuain 27 & 90)
A former defender assembled an impressive back four. That’s the main takeaway from the Columbus Crew’s 3–0 victory in Head Coach Gregg Berhalter’s debut. Fullbacks Josh Williams and Weylon Francis kept D.C. United from securing the wings to cross while the new center back pairing of Michael Parkhurst and Giancarlo Gonzalez prevented United’s new strike tandem of Fabian Espindola and Eddie Johnson from getting a single shot on target.
The Crew controlled the game throughout and took the lead in the 18th minute after a slick passing play down the right wing. Hector Jimenez sprung Williams down the wing with a one-touch through ball and Jairo Arrieta met Williams’ first-time cross with a sliding redirection putting the ball past Bill Hamid. Federico Higuain converted a penalty in the 27th minute after Perry Kitchen hauled down Parkhurst in the area. Higuain scored again in the 90th minute after getting free in the area and first-timing a Justin Meram cross into the bottom corner to Hamid’s right.
Both teams are off next week.
Vancouver Whitecaps 4 (Miller 34 & 77, Fernandez 49 & Morales 89)
New York Red Bulls 1 (Wright-Phillips 90+1)
The defending Supporters Shield winners were put to the sword in Vancouver as they struggled without Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave while the Whitecaps’ new additions made early contributions.
Kenny Miller gave the Whitecaps the deserved lead from the spot on 34 minutes after Richard Eckersley handled inside the area. Sebastian Fernandez added a second early in the second half with a powerful, curling effort that Luis Robles could only get a hand to before it went past him. Miller made it three after running past the Red Bulls’ high line to meet a lofted pass from Pedro Morales and chip it over Robles while Morales added a fourth slotting a first-time shot into the bottom corner on 89 minutes.
Bradley Wright-Phillips beat David Ousted to a cross and flicked it into the vacated net to provide the lone consolation for a Red Bulls team that had possession but could not create chances nor could its temporary back four deal with the Whitecaps in any way, shape or form. Fortunately for the Red Bulls, they will have Olave and Henry available for their home opener against the Colorado Rapids next Saturday while the Whitecaps will face Chivas USA in Los Angeles.
FC Dallas 3 (Castillo 16, Perez 24, Diaz 47)
Montreal Impact 2 (Nyassi 10, Wenger 65)
Oscar Pareja’s debut as FC Dallas Head Coach was a successful one as FC Dallas overcame a sluggish start to score three straight goals and hold off the Montreal Impact.
Dallas had a shaky start, nearly conceding in the third minute as Eric Miller had a shot cleared off the line. They would concede seven minutes after Justin Mapp dribbled past three players on the right wing before lofting a backpost cross that Sanna Nyassi side-footed into the net. They would respond six minutes later as Fabian Castillo got to a loose ball in the box and slotted it past Chris Seitz.
Mauro Diaz forced a penalty after running past Jeb Brovsky and forcing him to foul Diaz from behind. Blas Perez converted to give the hosts the lead. Diaz continued his takeover with a free kick in the 47th minute. He was able to loft and the bend the ball over the Impact wall and in from only 19 yards out to give Dallas the 3–1 lead.
Andrew Wenger cut the Impact’s deficit in half in the 65th minute rising to meet a left-wing cross from Felipe Mertins with a glancing header into the bottom right corner. The Impact had their best chance to equalize in the 88th minute when Hassoun Camera’s powerful, low shot was saved by an outreaching Seitz.
The Impact will stay in Texas and travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo while FC Dallas heads to Kansas City to take on Sporting KC.
Houston Dynamo 4 (Bruin 2 & 13, Garcia 23, Cummings 90+2)
New England Revolution 0
The Houston Dynamo’s experience proved to be no match for the upstart New England Revolution in what was a matchup of two playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Will Bruin should win Player of the Week plaudits for his first half performance as he scored twice and recorded an assist as the Dynamo went 3–0 up inside half an hour. Bruin scored after just 66 seconds with a bouncing half-volley into the bottom corner after using a touch to get away from Jose Gonclaves. Bruin scored the second after Corey Ashe intercepted a week pass from Scott Caldwell on left wing and sent in a far post cross that Bruin was able to slide and volley past Bobby Shuttleworth. Bruin was in on the third as he surged past Caldwell and passed it Boniek Garcia who took one touch to run by Gonclaves before rifling it past Shuttleworth.
Ricardo Clark was unfortunate to not get credited with the Dynamo’s fourth in stoppage time as his shot hit Omar Cummings in the face and wrong-footed Shuttleworth. The Dynamo host the Impact in a rematch of last year’s violent Wild Card game next week while the Revolution head to Philadelphia to take on the Union.
Portland Timbers 1 (Fernández 90)
Philadelphia Union 1 (McInerney 64)
The new-look Philadelphia Union were seconds away from recording the most impressive result of the young season as well as one of their best road victories in franchise history until the Portland Timbers stole an equalizer at the death.
The Union’s midfield trio of Brian Carroll, Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira kept the Timbers’ fancied midfield largely in check throughout the game as they covered enough ground to force Portland to buildup through the flanks instead. However, the Timbers recorded the game’s first chance just three minutes in when Pa Modou Kah’s diving header hit the post.
New-signing Cristian Maidana had the Union’s first key chance after 19 minutes after Maurice Edu was able to run past Kah and cause chaos with a cut back that was partially cleared. Maidana turned and shot but was stopped by a diving Donovan Ricketts, the rebound fell to Sebastian Le Toux who shot it over. The Timbers scrambled to clear the Union’s second key chance as Noberto Paparatto cleared Jack McInerney’s chip off the line.
McInerney would put the Union ahead on 64 minutes redirecting a Maurice Edu header past Ricketts. With less than five seconds remaining in stoppage time, the Union fell asleep on a quickly taken Timbers corner as Carroll’s miss-kicked clearance was headed in by Gaston Fernandez who was unmarked inside the six-yard box.
Neither side were happy with the draw as Timbers captain Will Johnson emphasized his team’s misfiring performance in the postgame interview while the Union were seconds away from becoming the first Eastern Conference team to defeat the Timbers in Portland in almost a full year. The Union will face the Revolution in their home opener while the Timbers host the Chicago Fire.
LA Galaxy 0
Real Salt Lake 1 (Plata 80)
LA Galaxy’s poor finishing, along with a fine performance from Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, spelled a repeat of last year’s Western Conference Semifinal as the visitors were able to come away with a 1–0 win.
Rimando made his first key stop on Robbie Keane 10 minutes in diving to meet Keane’s curling shot to the far post. Rimando’s opposite, Jaime Penedo, also had a good game, starting with a diving stop on a long shot from Javier Morales. Penedo would make another save on Joao Plata’s near post shot on 24 minutes. Keane had his best chance in the 34th minute as he was able to split the defense and beat Rimando but his shot hit the inside of the right post and bounced away. Keane provided Landon Donovan with his first good chance three minutes later, giving him a through ball that allowed Donovan to get behind the defense but his side-footed shot was stopped by Rimando.
Luke Mulholland was unlucky to have his goal wrongly chalked off for offside as he was level with Leonardo and Penedo when he tucked in a loose rebound in the 77th. RSL were fortunate not to fall behind on the ensuing counter as Stefan Ishizaki’s long shot was parried by Rimando. Plata would put RSL ahead in the 80th minute as he ran onto a Kyle Beckerman pass and beat an oncoming Penedo.
The Galaxy were afforded a lifeline in stoppage time as Tony Beltran pushed Rob Friend in the back as Friend rose to meet a deep ball in the box leading to a penalty. Keane stepped up and went to place it to the side netting to Rimando’s right but Rimando read it, dove and pushed it behind for a corner. Rimando punched away the corner and RSL took away the three points.
They will travel to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes in the latter’s season opener while the Galaxy will host Club Tijuana in the first leg of the CCL Quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Chivas USA 3 (Torres 56, McNamara 59, Burling 89)
Chicago Fire 2 (Joya 65, Amarikwa 70)
An uneventful first half between the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA was superseded by a five-goal second half that saw two players score in their MLS debuts.
There were two highlights inside the first 50 minutes. The first was Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson diving to make a good save on a Mauro Rosales free kick. The second was Captain America skydiving onto the field as part of the halftime festivities.
Agustin Pelletieri almost had a goal in his debut but his header was parried away by Johnson seven minutes into the second half. Gonzalo Segares was lucky to not get red-carded after Bakary Soumare’s slip allowed for Erick Torres to get behind the defense but Segares brought Torres down from behind in the box before Cubo could get a shot off. It was only a yellow for Segares but Torres would convert the penalty to give Chivas USA the lead. The Goats would go 2–0 up just short of the hour mark when Thomas McNamara was able to volley in a cross from Leandro Barrera.
The Fire would rally and equalizer scoring two goals in six minutes. Benji Joya, on loan from Santos Laguna, scored with his first touch tapping in a rebound on the far post. Quincy Amarikawa equalized with a 22-yard shot that took a bounce before going past Dan Kennedy’s left arm right around the 70 minute mark.
However Bobby Burling would secure the three points for the hosts as he rose to meet a Rosales corner and sent his downward header past Johnson on a bounce for the game’s decisive goal, two minutes from time. Chivas USA will stay at StubHub Center as they host the Whitecaps on Sunday while the Fire travel to Portland to take on the Timbers on Sunday as well.
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