MLS Week 25 Recap, Highlights: Portland romps, more

image, Timbers.com

By Ryan Brister

Rivalry week in Major League Soccer delivered more than its fair share of storylines. There was the usual Cascadia clash, a testy game in Toronto, and real stakes in the Rocky Mountain Cup. This week’s recap begins in the Pacific Northwest, where Portland exacted some revenge.

Portland Timbers 4-2 Seattle Sounders

One week after being trounced in Seattle, the Timbers returned the favor. Portland had an explosive first half, scoring four goals before the break. Vytas got the first goal, heading in a free kick in the 16th minute. The hosts kept their foot down, and would add goals by Fanendo Adi, Lucas Melano, and newcomer Steven Taylor.

The Sounders could have been forgiven for going home after all that, but they showed some life. Goals by Andreas Ivanschitz and Jordan Morris cut the deficit in half just six minutes into the second half. The Timbers would extinguish the fire, however, and avert disaster.

With the win, Portland keeps hold of sixth place in the West and opens up a three-point gap to San Jose. Seattle is four points back.

Real Salt Lake 2-1 Colorado Rapids

Salt Lake took second place in the West with a win over their Rocky Mountain rivals. Colorado stunned the home crowd early, taking the lead in the fifth minute. Shkelzen Gashi pounced on a rebound given up by Nick Rimando, and put the Rapids in front. It’s the earliest goal in a game this season for Colorado. 

But while the Rapids have largely been able to see out leads this year, that was not the case Friday night. RSL pulled one back before halftime. A deflection got the ball to Demar Phillips on the back line, and he pulled it back for an easy finish by Yura Movsisyan. The Armenian striker had more work to do to give Salt Lake the lead. He found just enough space at the edge of the box, and lifted the ball into the top corner. 

Movsisyan had two chances at a hat trick from the penalty spot, but couldn’t convert either. He missed the first, and Tim Howard made an impressive save on the second. Colorado wouldn’t take advantage of these breaks, and RSL held on for the win. 

RSL climbs over Colorado with the win, but the Rapids still have two games in hand.

Orlando City SC 2-1 New York City FC

Jason Kreis’ current team defeated Jason Kreis’ old team on Sunday night. The game began amidst torrential rains, which created some sloppy play. But the weather would dissipate, and the game came into its own. Kaka scored the opening goal after half an hour, taking advantage of a mistake by Josh Saunders.

NYCFC would equalize early in the second half. A Frank Lampard shot was parried by Joe Bendik, but only as far as Steven Mendoza, who smashed in the rebound. But the parity would not last. Kaka was taken down by Maxime Chanot in the box, and scored his second from the spot.

Kevin Molino had a chance to seal the result for Orlando in the 71st minute, but an incredible sliding clearance by Ronald Matarrita kept the ball out. That allowed NYCFC to stay in the match, but they couldn’t get a second.

Orlando needed the win to stay within shouting distance of DC United and the final playoff spot.

Toronto FC 0-1 Montreal Impact

Just when things seem to be firing on all cylinders for Toronto, a game like this happens. TFC fell to Montreal despite spending the second half with a man advantage. The first half was cautiously played, but turned testy just before the break. A confrontation after a foul led to Callum Mallace being sent off for a shove. Mauro Biello was not happy.

 TFC has struggled this year breaking down sides after a red card, and that was the case again Saturday night. It didn’t help their cause that Sebastian Giovinco left the game with an apparent groin injury.

Having failed to produce chances, Toronto fell victim to a route-one move at the other end. Dom Oduro controlled a goal kick for Ignacio Piatti, who broke in and scored, stunning the home crowd. The goal gives the Impact their first-ever regular season win at BMO Field.

New York Red Bulls 1-0 New England Revolution

It wasn’t particularly pretty, but New York defeated New England. The Red Bulls spent the first half knocking on the door, but unable to get a goal. Kemar Lawrence hit the post, and Brad Knighton made a couple of saves to keep New York off the board.

The Revs had more juice after the break, but it was then that the Red Bulls found their goal. An extraordinary effort by Alex Muyl won the ball in New England’s box, and after Brad Knighton saved the first shot, Bradley Wright-Phillips buried the rebound.

That one goal would be enough for the Red Bulls. There were shaky moments in the remainder, but the Revolution failed to create any clear chances. New England has been shut out in four straight games now. New York moves back into third place with the win; they are unbeaten in nine.

DC United 6-2 Chicago Fire

DC unloaded on 10-man Chicago, putting up a six pack of goals. The first half was wild enough for two; DC had a 3-2 lead and a man advantage by the time it was over. Their first goal came on a well worked move, finished off by Luciano Acosta. That was 25 minutes into the match, and it opened the floodgates.

Michael De Leeuw equalized from distance for Chicago. The Fire then went down a man due to a very silly red card by Khaly Thiam. Patrick Mullins scored twice late in the half, but Razvan Cocis’ deflected goal kept things interesting just before halftime.

After the break, DC didn’t look back. Patrick Nyarko, who set up the first two goals, scored one of his own with an acrobatic effort on a corner kick. Mullins finished off his hat trick in the 74th minute. Nick DeLeon came off the bench and put the icing on the cake, scoring DC’s sixth.

Orlando City SC 1-2 Toronto FC

Toronto had a successful trip south in midweek, defeating Orlando on a late goal. The Reds took the lead early on with a goal by Tosaint Ricketts. Rickets got in behind Orlando’s back line on a throw-in at midfield and could not be caught before finding the back of the net.

The Lions leveled things up in the second half, when Cyle Larin headed one in off the post. But it would be TFC’s night in the end. Jozy Altidore made a well-timed run to get on the end of Sebastian Giovinco’s through ball, then dribbled past Joe Bendik and scored. Bendik earlier had a great reaction save on his former teammate, but couldn’t stop that.

Because of this win, Toronto holds first place in the East. It is the latest in a season they have ever been atop the standings.

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Sporting Kansas City

Kansas City went down to nine men in a loss to Philadelphia. The Union came out strong, and had several good chances in the opening half hour, but none of them turned into a goal. SKC seemed to calm things down from there, but Jimmy Medranda picked up a second yellow in the 59th minute.

With their opponents a man down, Philly would get their goal. And what a goal it was; Roland Alberg fired it in from outside the box. Roger Espinoza was later given a straight red (he was already on a yellow card). In stoppage time, Tranquillo Barnetta made sure of the win.

It was a two-loss week for SKC, who also fell in a CONCACAF Champions League game in Vancouver. The Union had the opposite sort of week.

Columbus Crew SC 1-2 Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia notched a key win in Columbus on Wednesday night. All the goals came in the last half hour of the match. Fabian Herbers struck first for Philly, following up on his own blocked shot and putting his second attempt into the net. Herbers has two goals in his first MLS season; both have come against the Crew.

Adam Jahn was credited with a goal in a chaotic sequence that tied the match. Tony Tchani’s header was saved onto the bar by Andre Blake, but in the scramble for the rebound Jahn hit the ball off Warren Creavalle on the goal line. The goal was given, but it might not have fully crossed the line.

The Union made a moot point of the controversy, scoring just a minute later. Keegan Rosenberry got forward and scored the winning goal.

FC Dallas 3-1 Houston Dynamo

Dallas responded well to falling behind, and won the Texas Derby. Houston really controlled the opening minutes of the game, and they took the lead in the 19th. Alex dribbled past two defenders and fired a rocket into the top corner.

Dallas would turn things around in the span of a minute in the second half. First, a handball in the box awarded them a penalty and the game-tying goal. Raul Rodriguez committed the handball; Mauro Diaz scored from the spot. Then, Maynor Figueroa delivered a perfect 60-yard ball to Michael Barrios, who was fast enough to catch up to it and chip Joe Willis.

After the initial shock, the Dynamo came back and had a spell of pressure around Dallas’ goal. But that pressure would be broken, and on a counter in the 79th minute, Barrios curled in a goal to secure the win for the visitors.

Despite sitting in last place, this is just the second home loss of the year for Houston. They take this year’s El Capitán on goal difference, but that’s merely consolation.

Montreal Impact 1-1 DC United

DC held their ground and earned a point in Montreal. United got on the board late in the opening half. Donny Toia was ruled to have tripped up Patrick Nyarko in the box, and Lamar Neagle scored the ensuing penalty. Bill Hamid only made three saves, but they were impressive ones.

The Impact had twice as many shots as their guests, and would eventually find a breakthrough. Hassoun Camara scored the equalizer in the 77th minute. DC would later go down to 10 men due to a red card by Kofi Opare, but they held on for the draw.

Chicago Fire 2-2 LA Galaxy

Chicago and LA had an entertaining midweek draw. Three goals came in a ten minute span late in the first half. Gyasi Zardes opened the scoring, capitalizing on a poor clearance in the 31st minute. But a rebound by Arturo Alvarez and a penalty kick by David Accam had the Fire in front heading into halftime.

The Galaxy were significantly outshot on the night, and had just under half the possession. But they were able to come away with a draw. Giovani dos Santos came off the bench and made an impact, scoring the equalizer in the 69th minute.

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Seattle Sounders

Houston and Seattle played to a draw on a hot, sticky night in Texas. It took more than the first half for the teams to really get going. The hosts took control of the match, and took the lead in minute 75. Andrew Wenger had the goal, and it looked like it would be the winner. But in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Nicolas Lodeiro scored for the Sounders to earn the visitors a point.

The Dynamo finished the match with 23 shots to Seattle’s six, but a goal apiece means a point apiece. The Sounders could argue they should have had more; a chance in the 84th minute was cleared off the line, but on replay it was difficult to tell whether it should have been ruled a goal.

Columbus Crew SC 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Columbus picked up three points against San Jose. Justin Meram had himself a day in helping the Crew to victory. it was his cross that found Ethan Finlay’s late run at the back post on the game’s opening goal. Late in the game, with Columbus hanging on to their lead, Meram earned and then scored a penalty to secure the three points.

The win only goes so far for Crew SC; they are still six points out of the final playoff spot.

LA Galaxy 0-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver held LA to a scoreless draw Saturday night. The Galaxy saw both Steven Gerrard and Jelle Van Damme leave the match in the first half. They only had one shot on target in that first half. The Whitecaps came closest to scoring, when Erik Hurtado’s header bounced up off the crossbar in the eighth minute.

A solid defensive performance prevents what could have been a fifth straight loss for Vancouver. LA is quietly struggling, having failed to win in six games in August.

San Jose Earthquakes 0-0 New England Revolution

Neither San Jose nor New England could manage a goal, stifling their hopes of moving up in the standings.  Kei Kamara hit the post in the 60th minute, but that would be as close as either team came to finding the back of the net. Combined, they managed just four shots on target over 90 minutes.