MLS Week 27 recap, highlights: Drogba’s big night, more

IMAGE, MONTREAL IMPACT SITE

With a shortened schedule to vaguely accommodate FIFA’s international break, there was still a fair amount of action in Major League Soccer over the weekend. The Western Conference playoff picture was reshuffled once again by the weekend’s results, but the big show was held in Montreal.

Montreal Impact 4-3 Chicago Fire

Didier Drogba made his first start for the Impact and led the way with a hat trick as Montreal edged Chicago.

Drogba used his physicality to open his MLS account in the 27th minute. He shrugged off a challenge from Eric Gehrig in receiving a cross, and finished with his right foot. But the Fire responded well, and won a penalty nine minutes later when Maxim Tissot tripped Harry Shipp in the box. Jeff Laurentowicz leveled the match.

Sean Johnson will want Montreal’s second goal back. He came off his line for a corner kick he could not reach, and the ball sailed over his head to Wandrille Lefevre for a header at the far post. Again, Chicago responded quickly, and Gilberto leveled the match before halftime.

Kennedy Igboananike had the assist on Gilberto’s goal, and on a corner kick in the 59th minute, he scored one of his own. Chicago’s lead would be short-lived, because this is when Drogba took over. He equalized with his left foot after a quick free kick just two minutes later. Then, when a powerful volley left Johnson stumbling, Drogba completed his hat trick with his head.

It wasn’t exactly pretty, but Mauro Biello got the three points he needed in his first match in charge of the Impact. If they take care of their games in hand, they should make the playoffs.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Toronto FC

Finally healthy, Seattle got the win they needed against Toronto.

 Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins picked up where they left off months ago, and combined on the opening goal just six minutes into the match. Dempsey lofted a ball over Toronto’s back line, and Martins beat Chris Konopka to give the Sounders the lead.

Despite playing on the road without Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, Toronto put up a good fight. A 59th minute cross from Ashtone Morgan was headed in by former Sounder Eriq Zavaleta, and TFC had the match level after an hour. It’s Zavaleta’s first goal in MLS.

But this was a match Seattle had to win, and they made sure that they did. Konopka had to make seven saves on the night, but that wasn’t enough. After stopping Martins on a breakaway in the 77th minute, he could only watch as Dempsey chipped the rebound into the net for the winning goal.

The Sounders climbed to fourth place in the West with a win, albeit with more games played than the three teams immediately behind them. Toronto dropped below New England into fifth.

Columbus Crew SC 0-3 FC Dallas

A lineup filled with homegrown players perfectly executed their gameplan and stunned Columbus.

After a slow, sloppy start, the game livened up with controversy 25 minutes in. Zach Loyd and Jack McInerney made contact in the box, and Baldomero Toledo whistled for the penalty as the Columbus forward hit the turf. Replays showed that Toledo got it wrong; McInerney went down too easily. But Dallas was spared the injustice when Frederico Higuain sent the penalty kick wide left.

It was the second time in as many games that Dallas benefited from a missed penalty. As they did against RSL, Dallas promptly scored at the other end. David Teixeira won the first header and Atiba Harris was there at the near post to head in the game’s first goal.

At home and down a goal, Columbus controlled possession as they pushed for an equalizer. Dallas’ defense held strong and absorbed the pressure, and without Kei Kamara, the Crew lacked a natural target to play into. In the second half, they left themselves exposed to Dallas’ deadly counter.

After a bit of prolonged pressure from Columbus, an aimless clearance from Atiba Harris found the speedy feet of Michael Barrios. Barrios split the center backs and held off Michael Parkhurst for about thirty yards before scoring. Just a few minutes after, Barrios again led a quick counter, but was denied by Steve Clark. The ball bounced out to David Teixeira who finished the job.

Both teams were without significant players, and Oscar Pareja responded to the challenge by starting five homegrown players, an MLS record. His faith in the youth was rewarded with a win that lifts Dallas right into the thick of the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield races.

New England Revolution 3-0 Orlando City

New England dominated a shorthanded and slumping Orlando side.

Tally Hall managed to keep the Revs off the board for most of the first half, but they eventually found a shot he couldn’t stop. It was a very pretty goal that put the hosts in front; Charlie Davies chested a long ball down for Lee Nguyen, who looped it in to the box for a charging Diego Fagundez. The 20-year-old scored his second goal in as many games.

The second half was more of the same. Hall had five saves and kept Orlando in the game, but the Revs put it out of reach late. Juan Agudelo finished off a well-worked piece of play to double the lead in the 84th minute. In stoppage time, Chris Tierney put a bow on things with an assist from Lee Nguyen. Nguyen had assists on all three goals, and now has a career-high eight on the season.

These teams are heading in opposite directions: New England hasn’t lost in their last six games. But Orlando, with their playoff hopes fading, hasn’t won over that same span.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-2 Philadelphia Union

San Jose’s winning streak came to a sudden end after they let a second-half lead slip away against Philadelphia.

The teams combined for just one shot on target in a dull, scoreless first half. It took an hour for the first significant action of the match, when Fabinho reached up to get his hand on a cross and gave the Quakes a penalty. Chris Wondolowski buried it, as you’d expect.

But an Earthquakes defense that hadn’t allowed a goal in more than 440 minutes was unable to maintain the lead. Conor Casey jumped up to head in a cross from Ray Gaddis in the 74th minute, ending San Jose’s shutout streak and leveling the match for the Union. It would be Casey’s head again on the winner, as he flicked in a free kick from Tranquillo Barnetta.

With the loss, San Jose finds themselves back below the red playoff line in the west, three points behind Seattle with a game in hand. The Union have as good a shot as any challenger to Montreal’s hold on the final playoff spot in the west, but those games in hand will be hard to overcome.

 


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  • soccerfan

    Drogba is just too much of a player for.mls ….

  • Jasipati

    You cropped my head out of the picture ! I’m the guy who’s being punched in the belly by Didier Drogba :)


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