MLS Week 23 Recap: RBNY sweeps NYCFC, more


MLS Writer

After a couple of frantic weeks in Major League Soccer, the goal-scoring frenzy slowed down just a touch for week 23. Still, the top scorers were up to their usual tricks, and one notable name grabbed his first goal in the league. The weekend came to an end with the third Hudson River Derby, which had a similar story to the first two.

New York Red Bulls 2-0 New York City FC

The Red Bulls hung on at home to complete a season sweep of their neighbors.

The visitors came out of the box with great energy, and had multiple chances to take an early lead. At Yankee Stadium in June, they scored in their opening flurry, but they couldn’t take advantage on Sunday. That would cost them, because the Red Bulls took the lead after 20 minutes. Kemar Lawrence’s cross somehow got through the legs of Jefferson Mena to Bradley Wright-Phillips for the opening goal. BWP has 10 goals this year, including four against NYCFC.

The next hour would be rather worrisome for most of the sold-out crowd. City pressed and threatened to find a way through the Red Bulls’ back line, forcing RBNY to play a lot on the counter. The DP trio of David Villa, Frank Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo all had complaints about the refereeing over the course of the match. Lampard thought he should have earned a penalty, but was instead told to get up by Ismail Elfath.

It felt for a long while like another goal was coming in this match, and eventually it arrived for the Red Bulls. Mike Grella nutmegged Lampard on a run that ended with a sideways pass to Felipe, who still had a lot to do before scoring at the near post. With that, the result was sealed, and the Red Bulls would remain the kings of New York.

LA Galaxy 3-1 Seattle Sounders

Giovani Dos Santos’ Galaxy debut couldn’t have gone much better. He notched a goal and an assist as LA took care of a depleted Seattle side.

The Sounders were once again playing without Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins, but they ended their four-game goalless drought less than a minute into the match. Chad Barrett turned in a great cross from Erik Friberg, and then, as he wheeled away in celebration, grabbed his hamstring. He would have to leave the game, a sign of the times for Seattle these days.

LA’s firepower proved too much for Seattle to handle. In the 13th minute, Gyasi Zardes scored the equalizer. Following a corner kick, the ball bounced out to Juninho, who delivered a great cross. Zardes did well to put it on goal with the outside of his right foot. Zardes later helped keep the match level with a goal line clearance.

It would remain level until the second half, when the Galaxy pulled away. A Zardes dummy freed up space for AJ DeLaGarza to cross from the right, and in traffic the ball bounced off Dos Santos to Robbie Keane for the go-ahead goal. Sixteen minutes later, Keane returned the favor with a through ball that put Dos Santos in on goal. He finished his first MLS goal with aplomb.

It’s a familiar story for the Sounders, who have now lost five straight games in MLS play. The cavalry is coming, but this stretch has left their playoff positioning on unsure footing. For the Galaxy, this game can be viewed as a warning sign to the rest of the league.

Toronto FC 1-3 Sporting Kansas City

A shorthanded Sporting KC grabbed a significant road win from Toronto over the weekend.

Already missing Dom Dwyer and Roger Espinoza due to suspension, SKC ran into further trouble when Graham Zusi came up with an injury during warmups. But they would score first after Jackson committed a penalty in the 20th minute. Benny Feilhaber scored from the spot.

The next time SKC touched the ball, it was to pick it out of their own net. On the ensuing kick off, Toronto put together a fluid, nine-pass move that ended with Michael Bradley finishing off Sebastian Giovinco’s assist.

Another set piece produced Kansas City’s second goal, but it wasn’t entirely how they drew it up. Feilhaber hit a low ball into the box that Krisztian Nemeth attempted to flick on. But his header instead looped high up into the air, over Joe Bendik and down into the net. SKC would take a 2-1 lead into the half.

In the 80th minute, after a pair of great saves by Tim Melia to preserve the lead, Jozy Altidore missed a free header at the back post that could have leveled the match. Seven minutes later, Jacob Peterson would put the result out of Toronto’s reach with strong left-footed shot.

Toronto FC 4-1 Orlando City SC

Giovinco powered Toronto once again as the Reds slammed Orlando on Wednesday night.

Giovinco earned a penalty in the 11th minute, and scored in the 12th. Aurelien Collin committed the foul in the box to bring the diminutive Italian to the ground, and Giovinco made him pay with a well-taken penalty.

Toronto’s lead would not last, however. Five minutes later, Luke Boden curled a shot towards Bendik that the TFC keeper could not prevent from going in. Bendik got a hand towards the floating shot, but could only paw it into the top corner of the net.

The match remained level for about forty minutes, into the second half. Then, as he is wont to do, Giovinco took over. His free kick in the 56th minute kissed the inside of the post on its way into the back of the net. By my count, Giovinco has three goals from direct free kicks this season.

Late in the game, Toronto got the insurance goals they were looking for. Another set piece, this time in the form of a short corner, produced Jonathan Osorio’s cross to Collen Warner in the 80th minute. Warner somehow managed to head it down off his own leg and into the net.

Giovinco has two hat tricks this season; TFC had a total of one in their first eight seasons.

Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 Real Salt Lake

Vancouver looked like a team that spent the week at home, while RSL looked like a team that had a midweek trip to Guatemala. The Whitecaps found their scoring touch in a dominant win.

Salt Lake’s performance was not good enough to really complain about anything, but it should be noted that they were hard done by a penalty call early in the game. On a free kick, Octavio Rivero fell to the turf and Justen Glad was deemed to have shoved him there. It didn’t appear that way on replay, however. Rivero scored the penalty and the Whitecaps were in front.

Vancouver wouldn’t score again until the 40th minute, when some nifty footwork by Kekuta Manneh opened up space for a cross that needled it’s way through traffic to the hot feet of Pa Modou Kah. After one goal in his first 58 games in MLS, Kah now has three goals in his last two.

The Whitecaps sealed the result early in the second half. Jordan Harvey raced down the left wing and while his cross eluded Octavio Rivero, Cristian Techera was there at the far post to tap it in. Eight minutes later, Techera scored his second from the much greater distance of 20 yards from goal.

As in the first meeting, which wasn’t nearly as lopsided, RSL had a player sent off late. Abdoulie Mansally earned a straight red with a lunging challenge in the 88th minute. Insult to injury for the visitors.

With the win, the Whitecaps remain atop the Western Conference standings. Four goals is a season-high total for them, and the victory is their third straight in MLS.

Montreal Impact 1-1 New York Red Bulls

The Red Bulls earned a hard-fought road point from Montreal, but might be disappointed with that result.

New York would have felt quite good about their first half perfomance on the road if not for Dominic Oduro’s goal in the 42nd minute. Oduro played a good through ball for Dilly Duka, who left it behind for Oduro to finish off. For the speedy Ghanaian, it was a rare exquisite finish from the top of the box.

But if the visitors’ first half performance was deserving of a better scoreline, they quickly righted the wrong after halftime. Lloyd Sam was falling to the turf as he bundled in a cross from Mike Grella to level the match in the 52nd minute.

Both teams had chances to take the full three points, but the Impact’s hopes took a hit when Laurent Ciman earned his second yellow for a tackle on Sal Zizzo in the 79th minute. His first yellow was for a handball early in the match, and some Red Bulls fans and players thought that should have been red for denying a goal scoring opportunity.

The Red Bulls failed to do much from the run of play while up a man, which has been something of a trend this season. Still, they had a chance late in stoppage time with a free kick from just outside the box. Felipe, the former Impact player, hit the post with his attempt, and the referee immediately blew the final whistle.

Montreal Impact 0-1 DC United

Montreal made a single mistake over the course of 90 minutes. Bill Hamid made zero, and DC stole a victory from Stade Saputo.

In the 13th minute, United’s goal began with a gift from the Impact. Marco Donadel’s backpass had too much zip on it for Victor Cabrera to handle, and Jairo Arrieta pounced to take the ball away. Chris Rolfe, one-on-one with the keeper, slipped his shot past Evan Bush. No one could have known at the time that this would be the only shot DC had all game.

The run of play could not have been tilted more in Montreal’s favor. They amassed 25 shots to DC’s one, but Hamid made eight saves on his return from injury to preserve the slender lead. Didier Drogba watched the match from the stands, and with all the chances they created, Montreal could have used a finisher of his quality.

Winning despite a statistical disparity is nothing new for DC, who maintained their lead in the Supporter’s Shield race with the win. It was a rough week for the Impact, who turned two home games into just a single point. Still, they hold sixth place in the East with three games in hand over Orlando.

Colorado Rapids 1-2 Columbus Crew SC

Once again, Colorado let an early lead slip at home, and Columbus benefited to the tune of their second road win of 2015.

Columbus had a chance to jump in front first in the 16th minute, but was denied twice by the crossbar. Kei Kamara powered his header off the bar, and the rebound bounced to Frederico Higuain, who also hit the crossbbar with his header. The Rapids escaped, and late in the first half took the lead on a more accurate header by Bobby Burling.

But as against LA, Colorado collapsed in the second half. Kamara tied Giovinco for the league lead in goals with a great left-footed finish from a tight angle in the 52nd minute. A clever pass from Tony Tchani provided the assist.

Clint Irwin robbed Kamara of his second goal of the night with a great reaction save on a close-range header in the 64th minute. But just 10 seconds later, Kamara got on the end of a Hector Jimenez cross and gave the Crew a lead they would not relinquish. His 17 goals are the most in MLS this season.

With Colorado pressing forward, there was more space available for Crew SC’s counters, and Axel Sjoberg paid the price by picking up his second yellow to slow down Kamara in the 90th minute.

Portland Timbers 1-0 Chicago Fire

Portland stopped their skid with an uninspiring victory at home over the Fire.

The lone goal of the match arrived early in the second half. Will Johnson played a remarkable cross-field pass to Diego Valeri on the right wing to open the field. Sean Johnson got a hand to the ensuing cross, but couldn’t keep it from reaching Fanendo Adi who turned it towards the net. Adi’s tenth goal of the season eclipses his total from last year in the same number of games. He did not, as is customary, go on to score a second.

Portland entered the Friday night match winless over their last five, with just two goals in that span. A 1-0 win at home over one of the league’s worst teams is not the prettiest result, but they will take it.

Houston Dynamo 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Houston climbed closer to the playoff picture with a win over San Jose.

All the scoring in this one came after halftime. DaMarcus Beasley looked like a younger version of himself with a winding run and finish to give Houston the lead in the 55th minute. He cut in between Victor Bernardez and Marvell Wynne and beat David Bingham to the near post with his left foot. It’s the first goal Beasley has scored in MLS since 2003, with the Chicago Fire.

Things got worse for the Earthquakes when Fatai Alashe earned a second yellow card and was sent off in the 60th minute. Alashe could easily have been given the boot for his first yellow card challenge.

The Quakes showed resiliency and fought back to equalize. Quincy Amerikwa took advantage of a whiff by Joe Willis (in for an injured Tyler Deric and scored his fourth goal in five games for San Jose.

The Dynamo, however, would not be denied. Boniek Garcia’s through ball freed up Sheanon Williams on the right wing, and his low cross made it all the way through to Alex for a tap-in winner.

With the win, Houston is now up to 31 points on the year, just one back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They also have a game in hand on the Sounders.

Orlando City SC 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Neither team could find the net or three points in a sloppy game in Orlando.

The best chances for both sides perhaps came in a thirty second span in the 70th minute. In Orlando’s box, Cristian Maidana cut inside on Aurelien Collin, only to have his shot denied by Tally Hall. After scrambling to get the ball clear, Orlando raced down the field and Cyle Larin was just inches away from getting on the end of Carlos Rivas’ final cross.

The rest of the game was not nearly as frantic or entertaining, to the detriment of both sides. Three points would have been vital here for either team.

  • Niche Chavez

    I am officially ordering a Call to Arms for my fellow NYCFC fans!

    Let’s all drink black coffee, sip win, smoke and get exhausted easily like Pirlo!

    It’s a call to arms!!!!!!!!!

  • Nacho Sanchez

    But we’re still genuine, grassroots and hip! I mean 8th place? That’s just temporary. We’re on the move!

  • Limpard

    that’s right!, when my fitness gets back up it will be just in time for the off season, oh maybe I can be loaned back to Manchester for that and then take another 2 months off in the middle of next MLS season?…

    • nova

      Why not take a trip down to Australia to Melbourne City Football Club for the winter on a loan??? It can easily be negotiated!

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