Week Two of the MLS season shed some light on who can contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while throwing a couple of surprises in the Western Conference.
Toronto FC, Houston Dynamo and the Philadelphia Union each recorded impressive wins while the Portland Timbers dropped points at home for the second straight week and the San Jose Earthquakes surprisingly continued their growingly unsurprising ability to score important goals in stoppage time.
Philadelphia Union 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 31’)
New England Revolution 0
The Philadelphia Union built off of an impressive performance at Portland with a sound performance against the New England Revolution in their home opener.
The Union had their first chance 18 minutes in when a Maurice Edu header was cleared off the line. Sebastien Le Toux had a golden chance to open the scoring five minutes later when Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth spilled a cross but Le Toux could not get a shot off. Shuttleworth did well to parry a Jack McInerney redirection a minute later but could not get to Leo Fernandes’ cutback allowing Le Toux to tap in at the half-hour mark.
Zac MacMath kept the Revolution off the board seven minutes later kicking out a Diego Fagundez shot but was fortunate when Fagundez could not control the rebound and shot it over. The Revolution would only muster five total shots in the entire game and not have a chance as good as Fagundez’s. They will look to turn things around in their home opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps while the Union travels to Columbus to take on the Crew.
New York Red Bulls 1 (Thierry Henry 57’)
Colorado Rapids 1 (Vicente Sanchez PEN 72’)
Pablo Mastroeni made his debut as Colorado Rapids head coach and was fortunate to come away with a point after a controversial penalty went his team’s way allowing them to take a point.
The Rapids almost took the lead after 17 minutes as right-winger Dillon Serna dribbled past Red Bulls left back Roy Miller and fired off a shot that was pushed over the crossbar by Luis Robles. Robles had to parry a Nick LaBrocca effort from 35 yards in the 33rd minute as the Rapids settled into the match early on.
However, the Red Bulls would take the lead 12 minutes into the second half as Thierry Henry’s diving header went between the legs of a diving John Berner. Berner atoned 10 minutes later by rushing out and forcing Lloyd Sam to overhit his chip.
The Rapids earned a penalty shortly after 70 minutes when Jamison Olave was judged to have fouled Marvin Chavez from behind while Chavez chested the ball down inside the box. However replays showed Chavez going to ground a little too easily for most people’s liking. Nonetheless, Vicente Sanchez beat Robles to his left and gave the Rapids a share of the points.
The Rapids will have their home opener against the Timbers on Saturday while the Red Bulls head to Chicago to take on the Fire on Sunday.
Seattle Sounders FC 1 (Clint Dempsey 68’)
Toronto FC 2 (Jermain Defoe 17’, 24’)
Jermain Defoe scored a first half brace in his debut for Toronto FC while Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar each made their debuts as well while Clint Dempsey scored his first goal in 2014.
Defoe opened the scoring after 16 minutes as he ran into the right channel and onto a perfectly weighted throughball from Jonathan Osorio before placing a first-time finish past goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Defoe scored the second seven minutes later after pouncing on a poor backpass from Sounders right-winger Marco Pappa, wrong-footing center back Djimi Traore and beating Frei to his left. Toronto nearly made it 3–0 two minutes later but Frei did well to tip right-winger Álvaro Rey’s shot over the crossbar.
Cesar made his first key save with Toronto seven minutes into the second half kicking away Sounders striker Obafemi Martins’ sidevolley after a quick Seattle counterattack. Martins had another great chance on the hour mark but TFC center back Steven Caldwell blocked his far-post shot. The Sounders would get their goal in the 68th minute off of a quick right-wing attack as Martins passed to Dempsey who freed up some space on the edge of the box before putting a low, powerful shot past Cesar to his left. Despite seeing their lead halved, Toronto was able to safely see the game out. They will have their home opener next Saturday against D.C. United while the Sounders head to Quebec to take on the Montreal Impact.
Sporting Kansas City 1 (Aurélien Collin 81’)
FC Dallas 1 (Matt Hedges 90’)
Two defenders scored off of set-pieces late in the second half as FC Dallas managed to take a point from Sporting Park, never an easy feat.
Graham Zusi and Paulo Nagamura were each rotated out of the Sporting Kansas City lineup by head coach Peter Vermes after they helped the hosts record a 1–0 win against Cruz Azul in midweek. Zusi’s replacement at right wing, Sal Zizzo, almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a chip that went across the face of goal for C.J. Sapong to convert but Matt Hedges cleared Sapong’s attempt. Zizzo had another chance in the 12th minute after Sporting KC forced a turnover deep in Dallas’ half allowing him to turn and shoot but Chris Seitz parried the shot away. Dallas’ best chance of the first half came in stoppage time when Blas Perez’s shot from the top of the box beat Erik Kronberg but went wide of Kronberg’s right post.
The hosts would open the scoring in the 81st minute as center back Aurélien Collin was left unmarked in the danger area to head in a Benny Feilhaber corner. However Dallas would reply on the stroke of fulltime as Matt Hedges rose above Matt Besler to meet a Michel freekick and head it past Kronberg and result in more dropped points in stoppage time for Sporting KC. They will head to Mexico City to take on Cruz Azul in the Second Leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal on Wednesday while Dallas hosts Chivas USA next Saturday.
Houston Dynamo 1 (Will Bruin 40’)
Montreal Impact 0
Will Bruin led the Dynamo to their second win in as many games as he scored the lone goal in their home win against the Montreal Impact.
The Dynamo nearly took the lead inside ten minutes for the second straight game as winger Andrew Driver met forward Giles Barnes’ cutback but his shot was right into an oncoming Troy Perkins who rushed out from his goal. Andrew Wenger had a great chance for the Impact on 38 minutes but his shot was right at goalkeeper Tally Hall. Will Bruin gave the hosts the lead two minutes later when he freed up some space for a shot from outside the box that took a deflection and wrong-footed Perkins.
The Impact had their best chance to equalize in the 63rd when Wenger toe-poked a loose ball in the box towards goal but his effort was cleared off the line by right back Kofi Sarkodie. It would be the closest the Impact would get as their two-week trip to Texas ends with zero points to show for it. They host the Sounders on Saturday while the Dynamo are off next week.
San Jose Earthquakes 3 (Chris Wondolowski 6’, Victor Bernardez 75’, 90’+5’)
Real Salt Lake 3 (Kyle Beckerman 11’, Joao Plata 32’, Kyle Mulholland 45’+4’)
The San Jose Earthquakes are doing it again. The Earthquakes have scored stoppage time goals in each of their two competitive games in 2014 and upped their total of second-half stoppage time goals to 17 in all competitions since 2012.
The Earthquakes took an early lead in the game’s sixth minute when Chris Wondolowski redirected a Shea Salinas free kick past Nick Rimando but the lead would only last five minutes. Kyle Beckerman responded for Real Salt Lake with a low, curling shot from 25 yards that hit the post to Jon Busch’s right before going in. RSL would take the lead in the 32nd minute through Joao Plata who worked a give-and-go with Luis Gil to get inside from left wing and eventually beat Busch to his right. The visitors would extend their lead on the stroke of halftime when Luke Mulholland took advantage of a rebound given up by Busch to score his first goal in MLS.
The hosts would get a goal back through center back Victor Bernardez who headed a Salinas corner past Rimando with 15 minutes left. The Earthquakes were fortunate not to give up an instant reply as Alvaro Saborio saw his shot hit the post from close range. Steven Lenhart nearly provided the equalizer in the 89th minute but he could only direct his header across the face of goal. The Earthquakes were down to their last chance with seconds remaining in stoppage time when Bernardez was able to get to a loose ball in the box and fire in the equalizer.
It is the second straight game that the Earthquakes have scored a goal in the 95th minute to salvage a draw but they will need to score at least one goal as they face Toluca in the second leg of their Champions League Quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday with the tie level at one. Real Salt Lake will head to Los Angeles to take on the Galaxy on Saturday.
Portland Timbers 1 (Gastón Fernández 79’)
Chicago Fire 1 (Jeff Larentowicz PEN 19’, Patrick Nyarko Red Card 86’)
The Portland Timbers dropped points for the second straight game at home as Gastón Fernandez scored the equalizing goal for the second consecutive game.
The Timbers were frustrated by the Chicago Fire’s ability to clog the midfield throughout the game. It was a tactic that led to the hosts having the bulk of the possession but made the visitors dangerous on the counter and when they went route one.
It was through this tactic that the Fire was able to take the lead when Alex was able to latch onto a long ball over the top of the Timbers’ defense and force Noberto Paparatto to clumsily barge into him from behind and give away the penalty. Jeff Larentowicz calmly rolled the ball past Donovan Ricketts’ left while Ricketts dove to his right allowing Chicago to take the lead after 20 minutes.
The Timbers created more chances in the second half with Maximiliano Urruti and Steve Zakuani each failing to convert on chances created by Diego Valeri. Portland’s best chance came after Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson and center back Bakary Soumaré failed to deal with a routine ball at the top of the box but Timbers midfielder Will Johnson missed the open goal in a completely inexplicable scene.
Portland eventually equalized when Johnson parried a Darlington Nagbe shot right to Fernandez who slotted it into the open net 11 minutes from time. The Timbers would finish the game up a man after Patrick Nyarko was sent off for a second yellow card in the 86th minute, just 22 minutes after coming on as a substitute. Despite Nyarko’s bush league play, the Fire come away with a point and will host the New York Red Bulls on Sunday while the Timbers travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids on Saturday.
Chivas USA 1 (Erick Torres 45’, Agustín Pelletieri Red Card 13’)
Vancouver Whitecaps 1 (Kekuta Manneh 81’)
The Vancouver Whitecaps came down to Earth after being the toast of MLS after their opening day win as they were lucky to come away with a point against ten-man Chivas USA.
Chivas USA went a man down less than a quarter hour into the game after midfielder Agustín Pelletieri’s hard challenge on Pedro Morales. Pelletieri came in on Morales after Morales took a heavy touch but Pelletieri showed his studs and took a hard, downward stomp on Morales’ foot leading to the first direct red of the MLS season.
Despite playing with ten men, Chivas USA kept the Whitecaps at bay for much of the game and took a deserved lead just before halftime when Erick Torres’ shot deflected off of Jay DeMerit and wrongfooted David Ousted. The hosts almost doubled their lead six minutes into the second half when Leandro Barrera was stopped by an onrushing Ousted.
Darren Mattocks nearly equalized for Vancouver in the 65th minute as his weak shot beat Dan Kennedy but was cleared away by a hustling Bobby Burling. Mattocks would initiate the play that led to the Whitecaps’ eventual equalizer as he intercepted a pass on the left wing, ran into the Chivas USA area and cutback for Kekuta Manneh who slotted out of the reach of Kennedy’s right arm.
Manneh’s goal salvages a point for a Whitecaps team that would have had to look at their toes in embarrassment if they failed to score. Vancouver will head to New England to take on the Revolution while Chivas USA finish their two-game homestand with four points and will travel to FC Dallas on Saturday.
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