MLS Week 12 Recap, Highlights: Upsets The Story

Image, PhiladelphiaUnion.com

by RYAN BRISTER
MLS Beat Writer

Week 12 compressed the standings in Major League Soccer. The teams entering the week with the best records sputtered and struggled, while some of the lowest teams in the league found wins. Parity is sometimes a cliche in MLS, but it was on full display this week.

New England Revolution 1-1 DC United

The Revs wore red, and saw red twice in a heated draw with DC United on Saturday.

Near the end of a first half in which the Revs produced the majority of the chances, they finally got on the board. Juan Agudelo headed Chris Tierney’s corner right into Bill Hamid, but the rebound was put in by Charlie Davies. He now has five goals on the season, which is more than he’s scored in any one year since 2011

The trouble for New England began in minute 52. Chris Tierney left his studs up as he went in for a tackle on Chris Pontius. Mark Geiger didn’t hesitate to pull out a red card. Six minutes later, Lee Nguyen used his elbow in a battle with Davy Arnaud, earning his second yellow. The Revs would have to play the final 42 minutes with just nine players.

For a while, New England held strong. Andrew Farrell was a rock in defense, clearing out DC chances.  Jermaine Jones was active, leading the charge forward whenever the Revs got the ball, killing valuable time. But the challenge of keeping the three points proved too hard in the end.

Jairo Arrieta got the breakthrough for DC in the 80th minute. New England’s shorthanded defense afforded Taylor Kemp far too much space up the left wing, and his low cross was turned in by Arrieta. The Costa Rican didn’t start, but proved useful off the bench.

The Revs were able to limit the damage there. A draw for them is a good result considering the amount of time they spent down to nine men. It leaves them a point behind DC for first in both the Eastern Conference and MLS.

Real Salt Lake 2-0 New York City FC

Jason Kreis’ return to Salt Lake proved unpleasant, as RSL handed his new team a thorough 2-0 defeat.

Twice in the  opening half hour, Josh Saunders came off his line to stop an RSL player who had broken in behind the defense. When it happened a third time, he couldn’t prevent John Stertzer from getting his first MLS goal. Stertzer was loosed by a flick-on header by Devon Sandoval that Shay Facey failed to deal with.

There were a couple signs of hope for NYCFC in the first half. Mix Diskerud hit the bar with a laser of a shot off his right foot, for example. But after Alvaro Saborio’s goal early in the second half, the visitors never really looked capable of mounting a comeback the way they did last week against Chicago. They finished the game with just a single shot on target.

There was good news beyond the result for RSL. Joao Plata came off the bench for a brief appearance, his first since suffering a foot injury in the preseason.

NYCFC has now gone 10 games in a row without a win. Four other first-year teams have had equal or worse streaks in MLS history, so their struggles aren’t unprecedented.

Montreal Impact 2-1 FC Dallas

Montreal began the game with the fewest points in MLS, while Dallas began with the most. It didn’t matter as the Impact notched their second straight home win.

Montreal went up on a first-half penalty. Andres Romero was pushed over in the box by an overeager Moises Hernandez in the 24th minute. Ignacio Piatti scored from the spot to put the hosts in front. Early in the second half, Piatti had the assist with a gentle lay-off to Jack McInerney outside the box. McInerney hit the ball along the ground and into the far side of the net.

The Hoops pulled one back from a scramble in the box in the 77th minute. Evan Bush made a save on Tesho Akindele, but Matt Hedges was there to smash the rebound into the top of the net to make the game 2-1. Dallas had multiple good chances at an equalizer in stoppage time, but Bush and the Montreal defense formed a wall in front of the goal that would not crack.

With multiple games in hand, the Impact aren’t that bad off. Just five points separate them from Orlando and the final playoff spot, but the Lions have played four more games.

Toronto FC 1-0 Portland Timbers

Sebastian Giovinco scored early and that proved to be all Toronto needed against Portland.

The goal came in the fifth minute. Giovinco hit a left-footed bomb from well outside the box that flew into the net. So far, the Italian has lived up to his hype; he already has five goals and four assists in MLS.

TFC had plenty of chances to increase their lead, but none of them made it into the net. Adam Kwararsey made five saves for the Timbers on the day. Chris Konopka seemed less busy in Toronto’s net, but he too had five saves. The best of the bunch was a diving stop of Dairon Asprilla in the 82nd minute.

TFC’s 13 points have them fifth in the Eastern Conference. They’ve only played 10 games, less than many other teams in the conference. Portland, meanwhile, has the same number of points in a much tougher conference. It’s going to be difficult for Caleb Porter and his team to keep their heads above water.

New York Red Bulls 0-2 Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union visited their closest neighbors and came away with a 2-0 win on Sunday.

The Red Bulls hit the post twice in the first half. Felipe received a cutback pass from Mike Grella at the top of the box in the 27th minute, but just missed the net with his shot. Then, near the end of the half,Grella fired a curling shot from a tight angle that hit the far post. The best save of the half, however, belonged to Luis Robles, stopping Maidana after a poor Roy Miller giveaway.

The second half was a wholly different story. The Red Bulls attack sputtered, rarely able to get the ball past the midfield early after the break, and Philly took advantage on the counter. Vincent Nogueira redirected a Cristian Maidana shot between his legs and past Robles for the opening goal in the 57th minute. Five minutes later, Fabhino pounced on a lazy pass by Felipe, and kept running until he could cross the ball to a wide open CJ Sapong for the second goal.

The Red Bulls made an effort at cutting into the lead, but their second half performance was anemic and not what was required for the job. Anatole Abang whiffed on the best chance they had, a cross inside the six-yard box late.

It’s the first time in seven tries that the Union have won at Red Bull Arena, and they are the first visiting side to do so this season. Kemar Lawrence suffered a hamstring injury in the first half and had to be replaced by Connor Lade, adding injury to insult for the Red Bulls.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 Orlando City

36,224 fans showed up at Levi’s Stadium to see a pair of penalties leave San Jose and Orlando level.

After a largely dull first half, there was plenty of action after the break. Brek Shea was sent off for a studs-up tackle six minutes into the half. But down a man, Orlando earned a penalty. Cyle Larin beat David Bingham to a bouncing ball in the 62nd minute, earning a punch to the head and a penalty for his efforts. Kaka dispatched the penalty with ease.

Just a couple minutes later, another bouncing ball produced a penalty at the opposite end. Darwin Ceren went through Jordan Stewart trying to win the header, and Allen Chapman blew his whistle. Chris Wondolowski put the penalty away, the 100th goal in his MLS career.

LA Galaxy 1-0 Houston Dynamo

How important has Alan Gordon been to the Galaxy? He played the hero again with a stoppage-time winner against Houston.

Fast-forward to the 92nd minute. Robbie Keane, who came off the bench for his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury early in the year, lofted a cross towards the far post. Gordon outmuscled DaMarcus Beasley to get to the ball, and his header went high into the air before coming back down in the far side of the net. Gordon has four goals on the year, with two of them coming in extra time.

Houston will feel like they got robbed of a potential equalizer, however. Oscar Sorto was given a straight red for a tackle from behind in the 95th minute, which replays showed occurred inside the box. The referee instead gave Houston a free kick, which was easily cleared.

Columbus Crew SC 2-2 Chicago Fire

A week after blowing a 2-0 lead, the Fire bounced back from that same scoreline to grab a draw in Columbus.

Kei Kamara jumped to the top of the golden boot race with a brace on Friday night. He struck early, with a simple tap-in from an Ethan Finlay cross in the eighth minute. That was his eighth goal on the year, and he headed in number nine from a corner kick in the 55th minute. Kevan George had the flick-on in Kamara’s direction on Frederico Higuain’s cross.

That’s when things started going south for Columbus. Just three minutes later, David Accam cut the lead to 2-1. The Ghanaian headed in a Kennedy Igboananike cross that was deflected and bounced up over Emanuel Pogatetz. Back in the game, the Fire pushed for an equalizer. They had 18 shots, though only four of those were on target.

When Quincy Amerikwa smashed a half-volley off the post in stoppage time, it looked like the Fire wouldn’t be rewarded for their comeback attempt. But in the 94th minute, Jason Johnson was the hero. His perfectly placed header bounced into a low corner, out of Steve Clark’s reach.

This is a draw that feels like a loss for the Crew. There’s no reason for letting things slip at home against a relatively weak Fire team.

Sporting Kansas City 4-2 New England Revolution

New England scored first, but Sporting KC stormed back to mark an impressive victory in midweek.

The Revs jumped in front in the 11th minute. Kelyn Rowe made the most of a bad giveaway, promptly putting Juan Agudelo through on goal. Agudelo weaved his way past Kevin Ellis and Tim Melia to score his fourth goal of the year.

But SKC responded three times before the first half was over. In the 29th minute, Dom Dwyer worked Jermaine Jones over on a cross, chesting it up, turning, and finishing on the volley. 10 minutes later, Krisztian Nemeth beat Jones to a header on a Benny Feilhaber free kick, turning it in to give SKC the lead. In the 43rd minute, a tug by Jose Goncalves on Dom Dwyer was enough to earn a penalty, which Feilhaber put away.

Kansas City added one more just 20 seconds into the second half. Jacob Peterson somehow beat Kevin Alston to a long ball down the right wing, then slid it across the ground for Nemeth to get his second. The Hungarian has five goals this year for Sporting.

The Revs were able to get one back in the 64th minute. Scott Caldwell applied a good finish to Charlie Davies’ cutback towards the center of the box. But it was only consolation in the end.

Seattle Sounders 0-0 Sporting Kansas City

Five times, the Sounders have found an extra-time winner against SKC. They couldn’t do it a sixth, and Saturday night’s match ended scoreless. Seattle, playing without Obafemi Martins for the second straight week, had 10 shots, but only one of those was on target. Sporting was only a little better, forcing a save on just three of nine shots.

With the draw, SKC has six in 12 games so far this season.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

The Rapids won at home for the first time since last July on the back of Lucas Pittinari goal.

The lone goal in a game delayed by lightning arrived in the 51st minute. Dillon Powers slid a ball into Gabriel Torres’ feet in the box. Torres flicked it up towards Lucas Pittinari, who volleyed it into the back of the net. The beautiful goal was a good reward for the Rapids producing better chances throughout the match. Vancouver had four shots on target, all of them from outside the box.

After a hot start to the season, the Whitecaps seem to have hit a speed bump. They’ve grabbed just four points from their last five matches, and are now behind Seattle in the standings.

 

 


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