MLS Week 14 Recap: Big wins for Union, RSL

image, PhiladelphiaUnion.com

Amidst Copa America preparations and the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, 13 Major League Soccer teams were in action during midweek. That includes three teams who played the first legs of their Canadian Championship semifinals. In regular season play, Philly and Salt Lake each claimed statement victories.

Philadelphia Union 3-2 Columbus Crew SC

Philadelphia will head into the break with the wind behind their sails after a chaotic win over Columbus. Ola Kamara kept up his hot form with the game’s opening goal, but Chris Pontius responded with a curling goal just seven minutes later. In the second half, a Pontius cross made its way through the box to Vincent Nogueira, who put the Union in front. Rookie Fabian Herbers showed some skill in scoring his first career goal in the 84th minute, and that sealed the result for Philly.

When MLS resumes play in two weeks time, the Union will have gone more than two months since their last loss. They lead the Eastern Conference and any early season doubts about their legitimacy should be fading by now.

New York City FC 2-3 Real Salt Lake

NYCFC’s now-infamous struggles at Yankee Stadium continued with a loss to Real Salt Lake. The hosts dominated the first half, but neither team scored until after the break. Jack Harrison opened his MLS account in the 56th minute. Things then fell apart for the Pigeons. Yura Movsisyan simply outmuscled Jason Hernandez on the equalizer just three minutes later. Burrito Martinez’s go-ahead goal in the 64th took a healthy deflection off RJ Allen. Mix Diskerud hit the crossbar for NYCFC, but at the other end Frederic Brillant put the ball in his own net to double RSL’s lead. A late penalty by David Villa was not enough.

Patrick Viera might take solace in the fact that his side produced significantly more shots and chances on the night, but City’s home woes have made moral victories feel tiresome.

DC United 0-2 Seattle Sounders

The Sounders grabbed their first road win of the year at RFK Stadium Wednesday night. For most of the game, things were evenly-matched, but sloppy. DC had 15 shots, but only two of those required a save. Seattle broke through late. Bill Hamid denied Joevin Jones in the 79th minute, but could not stop Jordan Morris with the rebound. Jones then got a goal for himself in the 83rd, and that was all she wrote.

Portland Timbers 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Portland scored early and held on to defeat San Jose. Liam Ridgewell got his head on a free kick in the 11th minute to put the Timbers in front. This would turn out to be Portland’s only shot on target. Dairon Asprilla was sent off for an elbow just before halftime, and the hosts spent a lot of time without the ball. But the Quakes only got three of their 14 shots on target, and were unable to get an equalizer.

With the win, Portland climbs to within one point of San Jose and the final playoff spot in the West.

FC Dallas 1-1 Houston Dynamo

Amid nasty weather in Frisco, Dallas and Houston played to a 1-1 draw. The game kicked off on a waterlogged pitch with puddles on the field.

After four minutes of whatever that is, the game was suspended for nearly two hours. The pitch was drier when play resumed, and those who stuck around saw Fabian Castillo feed Andrew Wenger on the opening goal in the 23rd minute. Houston proved to be dangerous, however, and early in the second half Ricardo Clark hit a rocket past Chris Seitz for the equalizer. Despite chances for each side, neither could produce a winner.

LA Galaxy 0-0 Sporting Kansas City

Of all the games that happened this week, this was one of them. The Galaxy managed just a single shot all game. SKC was significantly more prolific, but couldn’t find a way to score either. Brian Rowe put his gaffe behind him and made four saves in keeping the clean sheet. Both of these sides, it seems, are ready for vacation.

After a very impressive stretch, the Galaxy are now winless in their last four games. Bruce Arena, your thoughts?

 

Canadian Championship

Toronto FC 4-2 Montreal Impact

TFC jumped all over their rivals from Montreal, but allowed a couple late goals that could make the second leg interesting. Toronto seemed to be the only side interested in the match for about 80 minutes. Jonathan Osorio and Jordan Hamilton both had braces for the Reds as they took a 4-0 lead. But Didier Drogba made his presence felt late, with an assist and then a free kick goal in stoppage time. Given that the away goals rule applies, this tie isn’t over just yet.

Ottawa Fury FC 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

In their first-ever semifinals appearance, Ottawa claimed a big first-leg win over Vancouver. a crowd of 9,057 were barely in their seats by the time Jonny Steele gave the hosts the lead in the third minute. The former Red Bull struck a bullet of a shot from outside of the box into the back of the net. The Fury doubled their lead before halftime through Paulo Jr., who was briefly with the Whitecaps in 2013.

It should be noted that Carl Robinson fielded a significantly weakened lineup, with most Whitecaps starters getting the night off. To that end, 15-year-old Alphonso Davies made an appearance off the bench, becoming the youngest player to ever take the field for Vancouver. It will be interesting to see how different the lineup looks next week at BC Place.