With international play taking center stage this week, MLS played a reduced schedule with just five games over the weekend. Red cards played a big part in two of those contests, so let’s get to this week’s MLS – Big 5.
1) Portland Reps Pacific Northwest in Style
Last week when they hosted the USMNT’s 2-0 victory over Panama, Seattle proved themselves as a big time American soccer city, even if the playing field didn’t. On Saturday the Portland Timbers kept up the Pacific Northwest mojo, as their fans packed cozy Jeld-Wen Field for a nationally televised 1-0 victory over Western Conference leading FC Dallas.
The fans had plenty to cheer about in an end to end contest featuring great saves by two international goalkeepers. When all was said and done, Jamaican national team captain Donovan Ricketts came out on top over Dallas’ Peruvian keeper Raul Fernandez. Fernandez was outstanding, but he could do nothing with Darlington Nagbe’s brilliant, spinning goal in the 52nd minute.
Portland closed the gap on Dallas to two points, with Real Salt Lake between the two, in second place. Dallas played without striker Kenny Cooper who returned to Dallas for a family emergency. Cooper’s father, Kenny Cooper Sr., reportedly suffered a heart attack, and we wish him well.
2) Toronto Win!
In a battle of two miserable teams, Toronto emerged with a 2-1 win over DC United. I suppose then, we shouldn’t be surprised that the winner came on an own goal.
Home team DC scored in the 19th minute on a penalty from Dwayne De Rosario, well earned off of a good run from Nick DeLeon. It was the first penalty kick of the season for DC. Toronto tied it up on a good headed goal from their top scorer Robert Earnshaw on the half hour mark. The Toronto winner came just four minutes before the intermission. Luis Silva whipped in a dangerous free kick that skipped off the helmeted head of DC defender Daniel Woolard for an unfortunate o.g.
DC pushed hard for the equalizer, but TFC keeper Joe Bendik stood tall and Ryan Nelsen’s team picked up just their second win of the season at the expense of his old DC United teammate Ben Olsen. TFC are now 2-7-2 as DC fall to an astounding record of 1-11-3.
3) San Jose and Colorado Both End Streaks as Earthquakes Win 2-1.
San Jose built a rep for physical play and a feisty attitude last season, on their way to the Supporters Shield. 2013 has been a bad one so far for the Earthquakes, costing coach Frank Yallop his job. New coach Mark Watson showed plenty of attitude in a winning debut Saturday in Colorado.
A red card in the 18th minute for the Rapids Abita Harris helped the Earthquakes cause and it gave Watson a chance to show his fiery side, when the coach got into it with Hendry Thomas.
The Quakes were already up 1-0 off of a Steven Lenhart blast, when Harris took out Alan Gordon with a rough challenge. San Jose went up by two on a great goal from Sam Cronin, but Colorado did not roll over, despite being a man down.
Nathan Sturgis headed home a great cross from Brian Mullan to cut the lead in half, but San Jose’s veteran keeper Jon Busch came up big to preserve San Jose’s first win since May 8. The loss was Colorado’s first since April 20.
The bad blood continued after the game with Rapid’s coach Oscar Pareja and Watson exchanging unpleasantries instead of post game handshakes. Chris Wondolowski got involved with Pereja, before cooler heads prevailed.
4) Columbus Shut Out 1st Place Montreal
Table topping Montreal traveled to Columbus minus suspended coach Marco Schallibaum and veteran defender Alessandro Nesta and fell 2-0 to the home team.
Dominic Oduro had a goal and an assist in front of the Crew’s biggest crowd of the season, with Argentine midfielder Matias Sanchez notching the first goal of his MLS career.
Columbus were buoyed by the return of central defenders Chad Marshall and Josh Williams. Saturday’s win brings Columbus level on points with New England, who fell to Vancouver over the weekend. The two teams are on 20 points each, but the Revs are in sixth place by three in goal differential. The two sides sit just two points out of playoff position. Philadelphia, Houston and Sporting KC all have 22 points.
Montreal remain in first with 26 points, one better than NYRB, although the Impact have played three fewer games than New York.
5) Vancouver Erase Two Goal Disadvantage After N.E. Red Card
New England were comfortably ahead, 2-0 on goals from Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe, when rookie defender Andrew Farrell was sent to the showers in the 23rd minute in Vancouver. Whitecaps DP Kenny Miller was in alone on goal when Farrell dragged him down, so Farrell had to go.
Camilo converted the pk and Vancouver were off and running. The Caps scored four straight goals, including two absolute gems from Miller. The Scottish international has largely disappointed since his signing from Cardiff, so Vancouver will be hoping that this performance can get Miller going.