MLS Week 28 Recap, Highlights: Donovan scores, Red Bulls collapse, more

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by RYAN BRISTER

Do you like draws? Week 28 in Major League Soccer was a testament to the notion that tied games don’t have to feel like kissing one’s sister. There were thrilling draws, late draws, and, yes, one boring, scoreless draw.

The biggest draw of them all, however, took place atop the East in Toronto.

Toronto FC 3-3 New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls blew yet another two-goal lead, this time in Toronto. Things started so brightly for the visitors, who jumped out to a lead via an own-goal and Bradley Wright-Phillips. But 2-0 has been a bugaboo for RBNY this year, and Michael Bradley pulled one back for TFC before halftime.

Red Bulls fans breathed a sigh of relief when BWP scored again after the break. Wright-Phillips’ 20th goal of the year makes him the first player in MLS history to reach that mark in two separate seasons.

But the lead wouldn’t last. Jozy Altidore powered Toronto to a comeback. First, he rifled in a free kick. Then, with only minutes remaining, he slotted in an equalizer to give TFC a point.

The Red Bulls could have been first in the East with a win. Instead TFC becomes the first team in MLS to clinch a playoff spot this season.

New York City FC 2-2 FC Dallas

NYCFC and Dallas played a thrilling draw that left both teams feeling like they should have won. City had the lead early, with a goal by Tommy McNamara. But Dallas responded well, and they got a goal from Maxi Urruti to tie the game.

Dallas took the lead after halftime. Mauro Rosales played in Michael Barrios, who turned smoothly and finished well. NYCFC thought Barrios was offside, but Tommy McNamara was keeping him on. The Pigeons were able to level the match again thanks to a great ball by Jack Harrison. Khiry Shelton headed it in.

Each team had a player one-on-one with the opposing keeper late. Tesho Akindele split the NYCFC defense, only to have his shot saved onto the post by Saunders. Steven Mendoza broke free in stoppage time, but pulled his shot wide. The game ended without another goal.

Dallas’ Supporters’ Shield chase is slowed by this result, and so too are NYCFC’s hopes of topping the Eastern Conference.

Sporting Kansas City 2-2 LA Galaxy

Kansas City controlled the match, but had to settle for a draw against LA. The Galaxy took an early lead when Emmanuel Boateng found Alan Gordon at the back post. Dom Dwyer had a great chance to equalize just minutes later, but sent his chance over the bar. SKC dominated possession and outshot LA 15-1 in the first half, but trailed after 45 minutes.

For all their patient possession, it was a counter that created Sporting’s equalizer. Dom Dwyer sent an in-swinging cross to the far post, where Jacob Peterson fought to bundle it in. Then, in the 69th minute, SKC caught LA napping with a quick free kick, and Dwyer finished off the opportunity to give his team the lead.

Landon Donovan came off the bench and made an immediate impact. He sparked and finished off a counter attack to bring LA level once more.

Sporting had all the momentum after their second goal; Peter Vermes will be upset at letting two points slip. They drop to sixth in the West as a result.

Seattle Sounders 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Seattle grabbed an important win over Vancouver. The Sounders commanded the run of play, but the Whitecaps were staunch in defense and frustrated the hosts for most of the day. In the 81st minute, Nicolas Lodeiro put a good cross into the box, and Jordan Morris got to it to put the Sounders in front.

Once again the Whitecaps’ attack let them down. Vancouver didn’t manage a single shot on target—though Giles Barnes hit the post in the second half—and they have been shut out in seven of their last nine MLS matches.

With the win, Seattle leap-frogs Vancouver in the standings, but they still have a five-point gap between themselves and the red playoff line.

Portland Timbers 2-1 Philadelphia Union

A quick flurry of goals after halftime tilted in Portland’s favor as they beat Philadelphia. After a scoreless but entertaining first half, the Timbers wasted no time in the second. Darren Mattocks got by Keegan Rosenberry at the end line and pulled back a cross that Diego Valeri turned in.

But the Union were back level before Timber Joey could even rev up his chainsaw. Fabian Herbers overran his dribble, but the ball was left perfectly for Chris Pontius, who powered it home. The match was level for six minutes, until Mattocks beat Rosenberry again, firing in a shot that Fanendo Adi deflected in.

Both keepers put in good performances, but it was Jake Gleeson’s seven saves that earned a win for Portland. With the win, the Timbers maintain a six-point gap with Seattle, and climb above SKC into fifth place.

Montreal Impact 1-3 New England Revolution

New England climbed above the red line with a big win on the road in Montreal. The first time the Impact touched the ball, it was to pick it out of their own net. Kei Kamara put the Revs up in the first minute, and they didn’t look back. Kelyn Rowe scored from outside of the box later in the first half, doubling New England’s lead.

Didier Drogba scored from the penalty spot early in the second half to bring the hosts back into it. But Rowe scored a second and re-established the two-goal gap. The Impact took a whopping 26 shots, but only two of those reached the target.

After this result, Montreal is just two points above New England, fifth and sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Impact are in a deep funk, having won just one of their last seven games. It could cost them a playoff spot if they aren’t careful.

Colorado Rapids 0-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Colorado and San Jose played a dull draw. The two keepers only had to make five saves combined. The Rapids fail to gain ground on Dallas in the Supporters’ Shield race; they remain five points back with two games in hand.

Chicago Fire 2-2 DC United

DC salvaged a draw late in Chicago. After Sean Johnson handled a backpass, United opened the scoring on a rare indirect free kick from just six yards out. The Fire were quick to respond. Razvan Cocis tied the game just three minutes later, and soon the hosts took the lead through David Accam.

After that trio of goals, the score remained the same for more than an hour. DC got an equalizer on a chaotic sequence in stoppage time. Patrick Mullins hit the post with an acrobatic effort, Patrick Nyarko’s shot was saved brilliantly by Johnson, but Bobby Boswell was there to head in the rebound.

DC ends the week in seventh, two points behind New England for the last playoff spot in the East.

Orlando City SC 1-4 Columbus Crew SC

Columbus trampled over Orlando, putting a dent in OCSC’s playoff hopes. Crew SC started the scoring early. Dilly Duka played a pair of teammates in behind the Orlando back line, and Ethan Finlay finished the chance in the sixth minute. An own goal by Seb Hines and a goal for Ola Kamara made things lopsided before halftime.

Cyle Larin scored in the 79th minute to give the home crowd something to cheer for, but it wasn’t close to enough. Kamara would add a second, Columbus’ fourth, in stoppage time. The hosts actually had twice as many shots as Columbus, but Steve Clark made seven saves on the night to prevent them from getting a foothold in the match.

Orlando drops to eighth place in the East, behind DC only on goal difference.

Real Salt Lake 0-1 Houston Dynamo

Houston handed Salt Lake their first home loss of the season. The lone goal was scored by Alex, who pounced on the loose ball when John Stertzer was dispossessed. The Brazilian hit it with the outside of his left foot, past Nick Rimando.

Referee Silviu Petrescu handed out seven yellow cards, including four to the Dynamo for time wasting. But the time wasting was less important than RSL’s struggles in front of goal; of their 15 shots, 13 were off target.

Despite the loss, RSL doesn’t drop in the standings. They are fourth in the West, now three points behind Colorado.