By: Chris Olszewski
This week saw Major League Soccer get into the full swing of things, and we saw glimpses of how the season could eventually shake out. This included a fair amount of surprises including a resurgent Philadelphia Union (yes, really) and a Seattle Sounders team that’s either just this bad or unlucky.
We begin with this week’s most controversial win. The Vancouver Whitecaps defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-1 in Seattle thanks to a pair of penalty kicks, both converted by Pedro Morales. The first penalty came in the 10th minute after Sounders defender Joevin Jones tripped Whitecaps midfielder Cristian Bolaños inside the box. The second came in the 74th minute after another Sounders defender, this time Chad Marshall, incurred a penalty. Marshall came in with both feet from behind on Whitecaps forward Blas Perez.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Sounders. Midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz put a free kick past David Ousted in the 52nd to level it at 1-1 before Morales’s second PK.
Speaking of free kick goals, those were a large part of the weekend. The four free kick goals scored on Saturday alone are the most scored on a single day in MLS since record-keeping began in 2003. Aside from Ivanschitz’s brace, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe, Real Salt Lake forward Joao Plata and FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz all put free kicks in the back of the net.
Felipe was the big man on the pitch for the New York Red Bulls, and his two goals, including the game-winning free kick, won him Player of the Week honors. Even with Felipe’s outstanding performance, it would take more than the Guatemalan to see off the Houston Dynamo. Sacha Kjlestan also scored to help the Red Bulls to 4-3 home victory.
Real Salt Lake barely escaped with a draw from Portland, giving the Timbers life but eventually coming away with a point after a 2-2 draw. Joao Plata put Real Salt Lake up in the 18th with a free kick goal, but trouble was brewing; in the 31st minute midfielder Kyle Beckerman saw red after spiking Timbers forward Fanendo Adi, and was sent off. RSL forward Yura Movsisyan put the ball in the net in the 58th minute and it looked like Real Salt Lake might pull out a win with 10 men.
Then things got interesting.
First Fanendo Adi put a rebound past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando in the 78th to bring the Timbers within one. Six minutes later RSL defender Jámison Olave became MLS’s all-time leader in red cards after muscling Fanendo Adi to the ground in the penalty box. Adi would then come to pay Real Salt Lake in kind by nailing the penalty.
Mauro Diaz and FC Dallas finally stopped the roll of the Montreal Impact, handing the Impact their first loss by a score of 2-0. Diaz opened the scoring in the 79th with a free kick before Max Urruti scored in the 87th minute.
One free kick that did not find the back of the net was Lee Nguyen. The New England Revolution midfielder hit the left post with a free kick in the 22nd minute. Even the Revolution were already 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union by then, things only got worse for the Revs. In the 36th minute, New England defender Je-Vaughn Watson was given a red card. The Union couldn’t take advantage of too many chances, but forward Charles Sapong scored his second goal of the game in the 33rd minute and forward Sebastien Le Toux scored in the 93rd minute to put away the Revs.
In a battle that had bearing on the top of the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City put away Toronto FC thanks to the most unlikely of goalscorers. Midfielder Brad Davis, once a hated enemy of SKC, scored from a tight angle in the 70th minute to put Sporting up for good. After three wins in three games, Sporting now owns first in the Western Conference.
This is partially due to the Los Angeles Galaxy leapfrogging the San Jose Earthquakes thanks to their 3-1 win in the California Clasico. Young midfielder Gyasi Zardes was the man of the hour for the Galaxy, scoring twice in the 56th and 62nd minutes. San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski scored in the 89th minute give the Earthquakes life but Robbie Keane sunk a penalty in extra time to seal the victory.
On the other side of the country, we saw the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew battle to a scoreless draw, which seems to have become Chicago’s MO in recent years.
Similarly, D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids fought to a 1-1 draw. Colorado midfielder Dylan Powers and DC forward Fabian Espindola provided the scoring.
And finally, the two newest teams in MLS met as New York City FC welcomed Orlando City SC to Yankee Stadium…wherein Orlando forward Cyle Larin promptly wasted no time in continuing his run of good form, scoring only seven minutes into the match.
Here are your updated standings for this week.