MLS Week 21 Recap: Colorado’s streak ends, more

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RYAN BRISTER

Most of Major League Soccer’s 21st week was packed into Sunday. Nine games were played, with some important results for the playoff picture. But, perhaps the most interesting result of the weekend came from the sole game on Saturday.

New York City FC 5-1 Colorado Rapids

The streak is over, and in tremendous fashion. NYCFC put an end to Colorado’s 15-game unbeaten streak with a dominant performance at Yankee Stadium. The Pigeons had four players suspended for the match, including David Villa, but it didn’t seem to faze them one bit. Frank Lampard put City up in the 28th minute, and the Rapids were in deep after going down a man. Michael Azira was sent off for a second yellow in the 37th minute.

Tony Taylor put things seemingly out of reach before halftime, making things 2-0. The floodgates didn’t open up until late. Steven Mendoza scored in the 75th minute, and Lampard picked up a second in the 81st. NYCFC then earned a penalty, and Lampard was able to complete his hat trick. He has eight goals on the year, in as many games. Shkelzen Gashi’s late goal was very little consolation.

The losses to their rivals sting, but City has shown an ability this year to bounce back from poor results. That has them atop the Eastern Conference.

Seattle Sounders 1-1 LA Galaxy

Brian Schmetzer’s first game in charge of Seattle ended with a draw. The Sounders showed a spark, and controlled much of the play. They wouldn’t find a breakthrough until after halftime, when Christian Roldan hit a powerful shot from outside the box that Brian Rowe couldn’t keep out. It could easily have been more than one for the Sounders, but a pair of huge blocks by Jelle Van Damme kept the Galaxy in reach. His efforts allowed LA to grab an equalizer through Sebastian Lletget in the 78th minute.

Both teams had opportunities to win the game in stoppage time. Robbie Keane chipped Stefan Frei, but had his attempt cleared away by Chad Marshall. At the other end, Jordan Morris skied a great chance on the doorstep, in what would be the final kick of the game. The result is not quite the win Seattle needed, but it does put a stop to LA’s winning streak.

FC Dallas 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Dallas kept rolling with a win over Vancouver. The hosts were on the front foot early on, but they wasted their chances in the first half. The Whitecaps weren’t so lucky after the break. Kellyn Acosta pounced on a loose ball to give Dallas the lead in the 56th minute. Acosta turned 21 this week, and what a week it was for the All-Star. Just three minutes later, Maxi Urruti got in behind Vancouver’s back line and doubled the lead.

Texas has never treated the Whitecaps well; they have just one point in the state since joining MLS in 2011. Dallas now sits six points clear atop the West, but they have played three more games than the teams chasing them.

Philadelphia Union 1-2 Real Salt Lake

Salt Lake went east and won a wild match against Philadelphia. The visitors had an encouraging first-half performance, creating most of the early chances, but fell behind just before the break. CJ Sapong tried to post up on Aaron Maund in the box, and earned a penalty for his trouble. Roland Alberg scored from the spot.

In the second half, RSL would reverse their fortunes in very pretty fashion. Joao Plata’s curling rocket caught the underside of the bar, bounced down and in, leveling the match in the 47th minute. It wasn’t long before Javier Morales was chipping Andre Blake to give Salt Lake the lead. Nick Rimando made just three saves, but two were in quick succession late to preserve the lead.

Chicago Fire 2-2 New York Red Bulls

Chicago could not hang on in a draw against New York. The Red Bulls went in front first. Sean Johnson hesitated on an incoming cross, and Matt Polster put the ball behind him. It’s the second straight week where a gaffe by Johnson has led to a goal for Chicago’s opponents.

Things very quickly fell apart for the visitors. Shortly after an injury scare for Luis Robles, the Red Bulls keeper was beaten by a low shot by David Accam from outside the box. Dax McCarty then had to limp off the field with a knee contusion. Polster was able to redeem himself before halftime, scoring on a diving header into the correct net.

That scoreline persisted for nearly 45 minutes. Chicago bunkered down and prevented any real chances despite the Red Bulls’ huge edge in possession. But the first shot on goal for the Red Bulls came in the 90th minute, and leveled the match. Bradley Wright-Phillips hammered in a bouncing cross to help the visitors to a road point.

Toronto FC 3-0 Columbus Crew SC

Toronto stomped on Columbus. The Reds started early. It was the eighth minute when Sebastian Giovinco took an ambitious shot from very far out, and it deflected off of Tsubasa Endoh’s back in a way that made it dip and curl into the far side of the night. Endoh gets credited with that goal; Giovinco would score one of his own in the 24th minute. A good lay-off pass by Jay Chapman set him up for a difficult outside-of-the-boot finish from the top of the box.

Jozy Altidore came off the bench in this one, and ended up scoring his first goal of 2016. Giovinco, for good measure, also had the assist on that goal. Whatever slump he may have been experiencing is certainly over. Unlike the slump the Crew are going through.

Orlando City SC 3-1 New England Revolution

Jason Kreis got a comeback win for his first game as Orlando’s head coach. You can’t have a comeback without first falling behind; New England took the lead in the 19th minute. Kei Kamara broke away from Orlando’s back line at midfield, and did not stop running until the ball was in the back of the net. The Revs were the better team in the first half, but would come to regret not scoring a second.

Whatever Kreis said at halftime, it worked. In the first minute of the second half, Cyle Larin tied the match. The Canadian has 11 goals in this, his second year. Kevin Molino put the Lions in front in the 64th minute, and then made sure of the win with a goal in the 83rd.

After so many draws, especially at home, this is a big win for OCSC. They are now level on points with the Revs for sixth in the East.

 Sporting Kansas City 1-0 Portland Timbers

Sporting took a narrow win over Portland Sunday afternoon. It was an evenly-matched game throughout, and the difference came on a set piece. For the second week running, Jacob Peterson got his head on a corner kick and found the back of the net.

The Timbers nearly rescued a draw late. Jack McInerney’s curling effort bounced off the crossbar in the 90th minute. SKC will say that’s some form of karma for last year’s famous double-post penalty in Portland. They take the three points, and now sit five above Portland out west.

DC United 1-1 Montreal Impact

DC controlled the match but only managed a draw against Montreal. Patrick Mullins made his first start for DC after being traded from NYCFC, and he made a good first impression. The Impact remained within striking distance, but their hopes took a hit when they went down to 10 men late. Didier Drogba, with the ref standing right next to him, kneed Marcelo Sarvas in the back and was promptly shown a straight red card.

And yet, down a man, Montreal would get an equalizer. Hernan Bernardello, recently reacquired by the Impact, scored for the first time in MLS. His 86th minute goal would salvage a point for the Impact. United is now winless in five games.

Houston Dynamo 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Houston and San Jose played to a draw in the final game of the weekend. Alex had a busy first half. He picked up a yellow card, which will have him suspended for the Dynamo’s next game. But in stoppage time, he opened the scoring with the game’s first goal. The Earthquakes would fight back, and Chris Wondolowski scored before the hour mark.

The Quakes are unbeaten in their last three games, but remain four points out of the playoff spots.