MLS Week 22: What We Learned

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

By RYAN BRISTER

MLS logoWeek 22 in Major League Soccer was, in the end, not about the video assistant referees. VAR was a major talking point heading into the weekend as the league unleashed head ref Howard Webb on a weeks long dog-and-pony show. A pair of calls were overturned in 11 games. Much of the focus, though, was on Yankee Stadium on Sunday evening for the latest encounter in the Hudson River Derby.

Villa Outdueled BWP

In a physical Hudson River Derby, David Villa scored his first MLS hat trick to lift New York City (12-7-4, 40 points) over the Red Bulls (11-9-2, 35). Villa scored his first goal after a ball that bounded off the chest of Alexander Ring left him alone, one-on-one with keeper Luis Robles. Bradley Wright-Phillips then led the Red Bull response. BWP scored on both sides of the break to give the visitors a lead. But Villa would score two more, one on a great individual effort, and one on a penalty, to give NYCFC its second win over its rivals this season.

Dallas Destroyed, Again

For the second week in a row, Dallas (9-5-7, 34) suffered a heavy defeat. This time, it came at the hands of the Philadelphia Union (8-10-5, 29), and particularly Ilsinho, who put on a show in the first half. The Brazilian’s backheel unlocked the Dallas defense on the opening goal by C.J. Sapong. Ilsinho added a volley from outside the box minutes later to double the lead. The game featured the first use of VAR in MLS, overturning a Maxi Urruti goal after it was already 3-0.

After Review, Portland Handles Los Angeles

Video review altered the game between Portland (9-8-7, 34) and Los Angeles (6-11-5, 23). Gyasi Zardes apparently gave the Galaxy a 2-1 lead, only for VAR to rule out the goal for his handball. Minutes later, Diego Valeri scored from distance to give the Timbers a lead instead, and they would not look back. Fanendo Adi did not score, but assisted on Alvas Powell‘s second-half goal, which put the game out of reach. The Galaxy have lost six of their last seven games, and the last playoff spot is nine points away.

A Pair of Blowouts

Chicago (12-5-5, 41) got back to winning ways with a 4-1 beatdown of New England (7-10-5, 26). The Fire were efficient with their attack, getting four goals from four different players on only seven shots. Patrick Doody had three assists in Chicago’s ninth straight win at home.

Elsewhere, Seattle (9-7-7, 34) embarrassed Minnesota (6-13-4, 22), 4-0, in front of a sellout crowd in Minneapolis. Clint Dempsey scored twice and had an assist on Will Bruin’s goal. The Sounders are unbeaten in their last seven, and they have risen into a logjam of teams with 34 points in the West, from second to fifth in the conference.

Montreal Rallied

Montreal (7-8-6, 27) pulled closer to the playoff picture in the East with a comeback win over Orlando (8-9-6, 30). Cyle Larin used his strength to produce the game’s first goal, but the Impact were able to turn things around in the second half. Ignacio Piatti scored a penalty shortly after the break, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel broke the deadlock late. It was a much-needed win for the Impact, who are within three points of Orlando and five points of sixth — with games in hand.