MLS Week 22 Recap, Highlights: Giovinco show, LA-NY controversy, more

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RYAN BRISTER

That was fun. Week 22 on the Major League Soccer schedule had a little something for everyone. The weekend saw two hat tricks, two red cards (in the same game), and plenty of controversy in LA.

Toronto FC 4-1 New England Revolution

Sebastian Giovinco is on fire, and so is Toronto FC. The Italian playmaker had another hat trick, his second in 15 days, as the Reds steamrolled New England. As is typical, Giovinco’s goals were impressive. He curled one in from a tight angle on the right in the 20th minute. He curled one over Bobby Shuttleworth from the left side in the 29th. He finished off his hat trick from the spot in the second half. Teal Bunbury and Jozy Altidore scored late, after the show was over.

Toronto has now won four games in a row, counting a 1-0 win over RSL in midweek. Giovinco has seven goals and three assists in that span. His recent form has propelled TFC to second place in the East.

LA Galaxy 2-2 New York Red Bulls

Battered, bruised, and angry, the Red Bulls escaped from LA with just a point. The first half was a bloodbath. Robbie Keane suffered a bloody nose in a collision with Luis Robles, but stayed on. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, had to sub off half their back line due to injury. Conor Lade and Damien Perrinelle left the match. There was seven minutes of stoppage time, but neither team had a goal in the first half.

A minute into the second half, Bradley Wright-Phillips signaled for a substitution. Having used all their subs, the Red Bulls proceeded to take a two-goal lead Gonzalo Veron came on for BWP, and he got the go-ahead goal, a chip over Brian Rowe after Sacha Kljestan played him in. Then Sean Davis doubled the lead with a good curling shot. It’s the first goal in MLS for Davis, who started in place of an injured Dax McCarty.

The Galaxy weren’t dead. Steven Gerrard was given space for a header at the back post, and he bounced the ball down for Mike Magee, who cut into LA’s deficit. Another poorly-dealt-with cross led to a goal for Ashley Cole, his first in four years, to level the match. It’s the second time in a month the Red Bulls have blown a 2-0 lead on the road.

Jesse Marsch was very upset about the refs based on the first half alone, but two uncalled penalties in the second half sent him over the edge. Rowe brought down both Veron and Alex Muyl in the box, but went unpunished, and Marsch, not for the first time, exited the game early.

Portland Timbers 3-0 Sporting Kansas City

Portland broke things open late in a game where both teams went down to 10 men. The game got off to an inauspicious start for the hosts. Diego Chara was sent off in just the 12th minute of the match. But the Timbers held things scoreless with 10 men, and late in the first half Soni Mustivar picked up a red card of his own.
With the teams on a level playing field, Portland took control after halftime. Diego Valeri scored the winner on a snap volley in the 65th. Jack Jewsbury and Fanendo Adi added goals late to make the scoreline more lopsided than SKC deserved.

Colorado Rapids 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Colorado bounced back from a heavy defeat with a comfortable win over Vancouver. The stat sheet reflects domination by the Rapids; they had 23 shots to the Whitecaps’ seven. The first of those to go in wasn’t until the 44th minute, when Marlon Hairston had a tap-in from six yards out. Hairston has four career goals; three of those have come in the last 21 days. He then provided the assist on Dominique Badji’s tap-in in the second half. That was more than enough to seal three points for Colorado.

Vancouver’s three-game road trip ends with just a single point. The Whitecaps will return home Friday to play San Jose.

Orlando City SC 1-3 Seattle Sounders

Clint Dempsey had a hat trick as Seattle picked up a vital win away in Orlando. Dempsey’s three goals were the stylistic opposite of Giovinco’s, all relatively easy after he got in behind Orlando’s high line. It was the hosts who struck first, actually, when Seb Hines headed in a corner kick in the 7th minute. Dempsey got his first in the 14th, then gave Seattle the lead in the 37th. When he scored again just after halftime, OCSC had a very steep hill to climb.

Things would have been very interesting if Orlando had scored midway through the second half. On a well-placed free kick from Kaka, Julio Baptiste’s header came down off the cross bar, and Hines’ rebound attempt went straight into Stefan Frei from just a couple yards out. Seattle survived the scare, and wouldn’t have too many reasons to worry after that.

Nicolas Lodeiro, making his second start for the Sounders, had a pair of assists as he pulled the strings in midfield. Jordan Morris also had two assists, and could have had a goal of his own. Those are positive signs for a Seattle side in need of some.

DC United 2-2 Philadelphia Union

DC snatched a point from Philadelphia in a frustrating game for both sides. The teams traded goals in the first half. Taylor Kemp intercepted a pass in his own end, then went on a sixty yard run downfield before hitting a low shot into the far corner of the net. Tranquilo Barnetta leveled things up with a free kick just before halftime. Bill Hamid expected a cross into the box, and Barnetta’s shot beat him to his near post instead.

Some good work by Ilsinho created the go-ahead goal for the Union. He won the ball off of Luciano Acosta with his strength, then hit something of a no-look pass to slot Chris Pontius in for the goal. Pontius didn’t celebrate against his former team, while Acosta argued that there should have been a foul on Ilsinho.

DC had half an hour to find an equalizer, and the ramped up the pressure as the final whistle neared. Andre Blake made a great double save to preserve Philly’s lead in the 91st minute. But the keeper couldn’t stop Steve Birnbaum’s header in the fourth minute of stoppage time. The defender was unmarked at the back post and worked his header around Blake to grab a point for the hosts.

United are in eighth, and a home draw isn’t quite what they were looking for. They are now winless in their last six matches.

Real Salt Lake 3-1 Chicago Fire

Nick Rimando set an MLS record for wins as Salt Lake trounced Chicago. Rimando now has 181 wins on his career, passing Kevin Hartman for most in league history. Most of the hard work in this one was done at the opposite end, where RSL jumped out to an early lead. Olmes Garcia put the hosts in front with a good finish through traffic in the 14th minute. 14 minutes after that, Javier Morales buried a penalty to make it 2-0.

The Fire forced four saves out of Rimando, and got one by him in the second half. Arturo Alvarez was unmarked at the back post to finish off a cross from Nick LaBrocca, and the Fire were back in the match. But the two-goal lead was swiftly restored. Javier Morales banged a goal off the post and put things out of reach.

Chicago has now gone 36 games—two calendar years—since their last road win. Chivas USA has won on the road more recently than the Fire.

Montreal Impact 1-0 Houston Dynamo

Montreal had to work for it, but took all three points against Houston. The Impact had an edge in possession and shots, but few genuine chances. It would take an individual bit of brilliance from Matteo Mancosu to break the deadlock. He brought a ball down off his chest, off his knee, and then turned and fired low to the far corner, past Tyler Deric and into the net.

With the win, the Impact keep pace with Toronto above them in the standings.

San Jose Earthquakes 0-0 New York City FC

San Jose and NYCFC played to a scoreless draw on Friday night. Both teams were wasteful in front of goal, especially the Earthquakes. The hosts had 19 shots, but of those only four were on target. In addition to the lack of goals, there was a lack of incident: Ricardo Salazar didn’t book anyone over the 90 minutes.