MLS Week 17 Recap, Highlights: NYCFC take derby, more

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RYAN BRISTER

There were plenty of fireworks over the long weekend in Major League Soccer. A shame, then, that few were left over for the trio of games on July 4th. On Sunday, all eyes were on New York, where the team in blue got their breakthrough.

New York City FC 2-0 New York Red Bulls

NYCFC got the monkey off their backs, beating their Hudson River rivals for the first time in five tries. Jack Harrison was the unexpected hero for City. He scored the opening goal with a good bit of skill off a deep corner kick. There was a long period from this point where the visitors seemed to have a bit of an edge over the run of play. But they produced just one clear-cut chance from this: a golden opportunity that Felipe headed well wide. Four minutes later, Harrison led a quick break and fed David Villa for the backbreaking second goal.

The game had been testy throughout, but the Red Bulls let their frustration get the better of them at this point. Chris Duvall was handed a straight red for a high challenge on Andrea Pirlo. Whatever hope the Red Bulls had of coming back was effectively neutered by going down to 10 men.

With the win, the Pigeons now sit upon an unfamiliar perch: first place in the Eastern Conference.

Montreal Impact 3-2 New England Revolution

Montreal overcame a big early deficit in beating New England. Kei Kamara scored in midweek for the Revs, and didn’t stop on Saturday. He had goals in the 18th and 33rd minutes, giving the visitors a healthy lead. They would not keep it. After a poor clearance by Andrew Farrell, Michael Salazar headed the ball in to pull one back for Montreal before halftime.

Salazar scored again right after the break, and the Impact were level. They had far fewer shots than New England, but made theirs count. The go-ahead and winning goal came from the spot. Brad Knighton brought Ignacio Piatti down in the box, and then say Piatti put the penalty past him.

Sporting Kansas City 3-2 Columbus Crew SC

Sunday evenings in Kansas City always seem to provide excitement, and this week was no different. Sporting won a wild game on a late goal. They were behind first, however, thanks to Ola Kamara’s goal.  The game shifted early in the second half on a decision by Ted Unkel. He sent Tyson Wahl off and awarded SKC a penalty after the Columbus defender brought down Dom Dwyer in the box. Benny Feilhaber scored the penalty, and the hosts took the lead on Graham Zusi’s goal seven minutes later.

For being down to 10-men, the Crew put up a full-sized fight. A good turn and through ball by Tony Tchani set up Kamara for his second of the game. The visitors would not be able to hold on to the result, though. A corner kick in stoppage time led to the winning goal for SKC; Ike Opara headed the ball back across goal for his center-back partner.

FC Dallas 4-0 Orlando City

Dallas scored four on the Fourth as they diced Orlando. Walker Zimmerman opened the scoring on a corner kick in the 10th minute. The corner kick was poorly defended, and unnecessary in the first place.

Dallas had their way with Orlando in the opening half, and could have had more than just a second goal. Michael Barrios doubled their lead, beating Joe Bendik with a good chip. They could have had more before the half; they got more after. Matt Hedges was unmarked on a free kick, and made it 3-0 with his head. Fabian Castillo picked up a goal late to rub things in.

Orlando’s performance left a lot to be desired at the back, but it was also the first time they’ve been held scoreless this year.

Real Salt Lake 1-1 DC United

DC rescued a point at the death in Salt Lake. The hosts produced the lions’ share of chances, but the breakthrough didn’t come until after halftime. Burrito Martinez slipped through a set of DC defenders and chipped Bill Hamid for the game’s opening goal. But United kept RSL within striking distance, and eventually got their rewards. On a corner kick in stoppage time, Jared Jeffrey headed in the tying goal.

This is not the first time this season RSL has let a lead slip away late.

LA Galaxy 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

LA picked up their first win since May on Monday night. Robbie Keane returned to MLS with a screamer of a goal, curled from outside the box into the top corner of the net. The Whitecaps had their chances in the first half, but couldn’t capitalize. And so, right after the break, they found themselves 2-0 down. Jeff Laurentowicz pushed his way into space on a corner kick and headed in LA’s second goal. Nigel De Jong was later sent off for one of his trademark awful tackles on Blas Perez. The Whitecaps could not capitalize on 15 minutes spent up a man.

Of note for the Whitecaps: Kekuta Manneh did not start due to “coach’s decision.” Worth keeping an eye on that.

Toronto FC 1-1 Seattle Sounders

Toronto and Seattle finished level after a match in which both teams could have had more than just one goal. TFC was without Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, with Sebastian Giovinco forced to lead the charge. He missed one of Toronto’s best chances of the first half, but would set up their goal in the 60th minute. His shot was stopped by Stefan Frei, but the rebound fell to Jordan Hamilton, who buried it. The Sounders struck right back, one minute later. Namely, Jordan Morris did the striking, with a stellar curling goal.

An away point is nothing to scoff at if you’re Seattle, but the gap between themselves and sixth only grew this week.

Colorado Rapids 0-0 Portland Timbers

Tim Howard kept a clean sheet on his Colorado debut, but the Rapids were unable to score themselves. Howard needed to make just two saves, but also had work to do coming off his line. There were some nervous moments; Fanendo Adi hit the post in the first half, and Ned Grabavoy did so late in the second half. Jake Gleeson made four saves at the other end to preserve a draw for Portland.

Along with Orlando, the Timbers were one of two teams who had not yet been shut out in 2016 entering the weekend. That’s over now.

Houston Dynamo 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Cristian Maidana got the best form of revenge against his former team, lifting Houston to victory over Philadelhpia. The game was scorless for 90 minutes, but not uneventful. The Dynamo had more chances than their guests, but Andre Blake did well to keep them out. Josh Yaro received his second yellow late on what appeared to be a dive by Mauro Manotas. But it was a foul by Warren Crevalle deep into stoppage time that proved pivotal. That set up a dangerous free kick which Maidana took perfectly.

It’s a win for the bottom team in the West over what was the top team in the East.

Chicago Fire 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Chicago picked up a rare win Friday night over San Jose. There wasn’t much action on goal, but it did tilt the Fire’s way. John Goossens scored the goal, and it was an impressive one at that. He took a weak clearance on the volley and hit it through his teammate’s legs and into the back of the net. That’s all the Fire needed; the Earthquakes never really shook things up.