MLS week 17 recap, highlights: Big wins for RBNY, Timbers, Quakes

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RYAN BRISTER
MLS Writer

Rivalries do not necessarily create close matches. In Major League Soccer’s rivalry week, the much-hyped matches contained moments of drama, but were defined more by emphatic, statement-style victories. The Red Bulls, Timbers, Earthquakes and Dallas all grabbed the local bragging rights with both fists.

New York City FC 1-3 New York Red Bulls

Just as in the first derby, the home side jumped out to an early lead. NYCFC applied pressure to the Red Bulls that they seemed unable to deal with. The goal came just six minutes in. Mix Diskerud got to the loose ball first after a corner, and crossed it back into the box. Andrew Jacobsen flicked it on, and TommyMcNamara controlled it and hammered it home.

On the narrow pitch at Yankee Stadium, the Red Bulls were still able to find space out wide for their fullbacks to fire in crosses. In particular, the Red Bulls’ attack went through Kemar Lawrence, though sometimes there wasn’t anyone on the other end of his crosses. At halftime, the Red Bulls had outshot NYCFC, but couldn’t get one on target.

The Red Bulls’ momentum carried on through halftime, and their breakthrough came on a cross from the left. Sacha Kljestan cut it back for Bradley Wright-Phillips, who volleyed it in for his first goal in six matches. As strong as NYCFC’s first-half start was, the Red Bulls doubled it after the break. Seven minutes into the half, they took the lead. Anatole Abang headed down the cross for Chris Duvall.

The visitors didn’t seem satisfied with just two. BWP hit the post with a shot in the 56th minute, and then was denied by Josh Saunders one-one-one in the 65th. The third goal wasn’t scored by Wright-Phillips, but instead Matt Miazga. The 19-year-old defended David Villa well all game, and headed in Kljestan’s free kick in the 73rd minute.

NYCFC made an effort to fight back from their two-goal deficit, but Luis Robles came up big to deny them the foothold of a second goal. On the counter, the Red Bulls nearly scored a fourth, but Manolo Sanchez was denied by the same post BWP hit earlier.

After a four-game losing streak, the Red Bulls appear to have rediscovered stability with a pair of wins. Conversely, the derby loss brings City crashing down to earth after three wins in a row.

Portland Timbers 4-1 Seattle Sounders

Seattle hung in for more than an hour, but the scoreline eventually reflected Portland’s superiority in a raucous Cascadia clash.

Darlington Nagbe put the Timbers in front with a thunderous strike from 25 yards out. Nagbe hadn’t scored yet this season, but has always been capable of rockets like that. Portland was rightfully ahead after 12 minutes, and only a few good saves from Stefan Frei prevented things from getting out of hand in the first half.

But a Sounders side that has struggled to score without Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins found success on a set piece. Lamar Neagle got free at the back post on a free kick in the 38th minute, and volleyed it in for an equalizer. The goal was very much against the run of play, the only shot on target Seattle to that point. It was also the first goal Portland had allowed at home in more than four matches.

Portland didn’t let the equalizer dissuade them. The second half was like the first, in that it was dominated by the Timbers. Still, it took until the 74th minute for the go-ahead goal. Nagbe made a powerful run into the box, but this time laid the ball off for Fanendo Adi. Adi opened up his body and curled a shot into the top corner to give the Timbers a deserved lead.

Then, as he so often does, Adi scored a second. Providence Park was still celebrating his first goal when he finished off a run of his own with a strong finish from outside the box. Adi grabbed Timber Joey’s chainsaw for his celebration. He now has seven two-goal games in MLS.

The party in Portland was not done. In stoppage time, with the result secure, Rodney Wallace added the finishing touches. His first goal of the season capped off a joyous victory for the Timbers, their first in MLS over Seattle since 2013. The Sounders have now lost three games in a row without their big stars, and have more ahead before Dempsey returns from Gold Cup duty.

San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 LA Galaxy

In front of 50,422 at Stanford Stadium, the Earthquakes put on a commanding performance against their in-state rivals.

After a strong start by the hosts, LA got on the board first. Juninho hit a 30-yard shot hard and low past David Bingham in the 17th minute, and it looked like the Galaxy might continue their winning ways. But the lead lasted just 11 minutes until Mattias Perez Garcia found Chris Wondolowski, who hit a powerful volley for the equalizer.

Perez Garcia and Wondo set the pace for the second half, which the Earthquakes completely controlled. MPG had the corner-kick assist on Clarence Goodson’s go-ahead goal in the 53rd minute. It was Goodson’s first goal in eight seasons in MLS.

Cordell Cato increased the lead with a left-footed goal in the 72nd minute. But neither goal was as impressive as the way San Jose stifled the Galaxy and erased any thoughts of a comeback. LA had just two shots in the second half; one was blocked and the other went off target.

For as imposing as the Galaxy have looked at home, they have yet to win away from the Stubhub Center. With the loss they drop to 0-5-5 on the road this season.

FC Dallas 2-0 Houston Dynamo

Fabian Castillo produced both goals as FC Dallas claimed El Capitan for the third year in a row.

Lightning delayed the Friday night match by over an hour, leaving a fairly small crowd despite the rivalry. The home fans were treated to a pair of first half goals that effectively sealed the match early.

In the 33rd minute, Castillo controlled a long ball down the left wing, dribbled his way into the box, and sent in a low cross that was deflected by Jermaine Taylor into the Dynamo net. Just nine minutes later, Castillo was played in by Mauro Diaz for the second and final goal of the night.

Dallas has won the last six Texas Derbies, including two Open Cup matches, in a streak that goes back to 2013. Heading into this one, however, they were winless in five MLS matches.

Toronto FC 0-0 DC United

Despite TFC’s efforts, they couldn’t break through in a rainy, windy, scoreless draw against DC.

The game was played in miserable conditions, with constant rain and 20 mile-per-hour winds throughout the match. That favored DC, who set out to limit the hosts opportunities. Toronto outshot DC 18-4, but both teams had only three shots on target. Toronto missed on some good chances, but never really had a clear-cut shot that should have been a goal.

Once again, Sebastian Giovinco was the target of physical play. He was only fouled three times, but also suffered an off-the-ball challenge from Perry Kitchen that the referee didn’t see, but the Disciplinary Committee might.

DC has an 11 point lead now on the Eastern Conference, but it should be noted that they’ve played more games than anyone else. Toronto, for example, has five matches in hand.

New England Revolution 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

The Revs couldn’t overcome a controversial call and lost at home for the first time this season.

Cristian Techera played a role in both Whitecaps goals, which came early. The Revs came out strong, and produced most of the early chances, but a mistake at the back put the visitors in front. London Woodberry headed a cross into space in his own box, and Techera was the quickest to react and put it by Bobby Shuttleworth.

The opening goal was in the 18th minute, and in the 29th, Techera had a chance at a second. He was played in behind the Revs’ defense by Jordan Harvey. Andrew Farrell reached out and made the slightest contact with Techera on the arm, and the diminutive Uruguayan went to the turf. Farrell was on a yellow card, but the ref went straight for his red for denying a goal-scoring opportunity. Octavio Rivero scored the penalty.

The 10-man Revolution put up a solid fight in the second half. David Ousted made eight saves on the night, and without him the result would have been much different. The Revs didn’t get a reward for their efforts until the 84th minute, when a Teal Bunbury shot slipped through Ousted’s grasp. Juan Aguedelo had a pair of late chances to get an equalizer, but Ousted saved one and the other was headed over the bar.

The Revs are still second in the Eastern Conference, but their recent form doesn’t reflect that. New England is 1-5-4 in their last 10 matches, and has now lost three in a row.

Real Salt Lake 2-2 Columbus Crew SC

Four goals and a red card marked the draw between Salt Lake and Columbus.

RSL scored first with one of the best set-piece goals you’ll ever see. The free kick was played along the ground to Kyle Beckerman, who flicked it towards Joao Plata. Plata headed it back across goal where Olmes Garcia was waiting to tap it in. Feel free to watch that one again and again.

Columbus was able to level the match before halftime. Ethan Finlay got down the right wing and pulled a cross back into the box. It got through to Tony Tchani, who finished about as well as if Kei Kamara had received it. Finlay now has nine assists on the season, the most in MLS.

Things got a little sloppy in the second half. RSL retook the lead when Emanuel Pogatetz and Steve Clark failed to communicate and let Sebastian Jaime beat both of them to a ball that should have been simple.

Columbus took advantage of a shocking lack of defensive organization for the equalizer. A relatively simple build-up created a two-on-one situation in RSL’s box. Frederico Higuain placed his cross well, and Finlay was able to beat Nick Rimando to it.

Jordan Allen entered the game as a substitute and left with his first MLS red card for a two-footed tackle on Tchani. That creates another test for Salt Lake’s depth, as they’re already battling injuries and international play.

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Montreal Impact

The Union and Impact played an entertaining draw in front of a small, wet crowd at PPL Park.

Philadelphia opened the scoring with a pretty piece of attacking play. Cristian Maidana chipped the ball into the box for CJ Sapong, who held his ground against a defender and tapped it back to Eric Ayuk. The teenager hit a powerful shot into the far side of the net, and went into his usual handspring celebration.

Ignacio Piatti equalized the match in the 28th minute, when the weather was at its worst, with an impressive individual effort. He recieved the ball in a crowd of Union defenders and made a couple good moves to open up space for a shot at the top of the box.

Jack McInerney came off the bench to score against his old team in the second half. He received a good pass from Andres Romero, cut into space, and fired his shot around Sylvestre. McInerney celebrated and was booed for the goal, suggesting that there’s no love lost between him and Philly.

But Jack Mac’s goal would not hold up as the winner. Following a corner kick in the 76th minute, Fabinho hit a rocket shot through traffic that Evan Bush just got in the way of. Maurice Edu was there to control the rebound and put it into the net, leveling the score at two.

Both teams had a player sent off in the second half. Patrice Bernier picked up his second yellow card in the 67th minute, three minutes before McInerney’s go-ahead goal. After Philly had equalized, Ayuk was sent off for his second yellow.

The draw leaves both teams on the outside of the playoff spots in the East. That fact is more worrisome for Philly, who has played five more games than Montreal.

Sporting Kansas City 2-0 Colorado Rapids

SKC took care of business at home against the most futile team in the Western Conference.

Chance Myers made his first start in MLS since tearing his Achilles’ tendon last May. He made the most of the moment with a 32nd-minute assist on Krisztian Nemeth’s opening goal. Myers pulled the ball across from the right wing to Nemeth at the top of the box, who finished well with his first touch. It’s the seventh goal of the year for the Hungarian, on just seven shots on target.

SKC doubled their lead in the second half, and again it was a cross from the right wing that did the trick. Benny Feilhaber put in a cross towards Kevin Ellis, but it was Sam Cronin, of the Rapids, who turned it into the net. Ellis, who had an own goal the week before against RSL, will know that feeling well.

Sporting KC is undefeated this year at home, and they have games in hand on the three teams in front of them on the Western Conference.