It was another entertaining weekend around MLS, with a slew of derbies, more golazos, some exciting comebacks, and a lot of talking points. Let’s dig into some of those and, Whitecaps aside, round-up the best of the rest in the MLS West.
REAL SALT LAKE 1 – 2 SAN JOSE
The action got underway on Friday night with an entertaining game between RSL and San Jose. RSL have played some nice football this year, and deservedly took the lead two minutes before half time with a fantastic goal from Rubio Rubin, who controlled the ball on his chest to set up a stunning bicycle kick finish.
San Jose never really looked like they’d get back into the match but then their talisman did the business for them, with Wondo striking twice in the space of four minutes to secure all three points.
He grabbed his first in the 83rd minute when he pounced on a rebound after slow reaction from the RSL defence, who just let Wondo run in and put the ball away. His second was a beautiful header, where he was allowed to rise unchallenged. Big win for the Quakes.
DALLAS 1 – 1 HOUSTON
The first of nine Texan derbies this season and it produced a 1-1 draw and not a lot of excitement really. Fafa Picault scored from the spot to open the scoring for Houston against his old club in the 34th minute, then Jader Obrian tied things up eight minutes later, and that was about it.
LA GALAXY 2 – 1 LAFC
On the whole, these games have not disappointed in terms of entertainment value and this was another one. A good old fashioned derby, aided and abetted by the enthusiastic crowd in attendance. And another derby win for the Galaxy. Deserved too.
Chicharito opened the scored in the 11th minute, finishing well and getting back on the scoresheet after his week of failing to do that. LAFC turned it on a bit more in the second half and one of their own key marksmen, Diego Rossi, finally got his first goal of the season in the 62nd minute to level things up.
LAFC had kind of felt in the ascendancy but the Galaxy stepped things back up and retook the lead through Jonathan Dos Santos with 11 minutes remaining, off a Chicharito assist. And he was just allowed to run in unmarked to fire home.
Both LA sides still have some major areas of concern defensively, but the Galaxy are looking a much better side under Vanney.
COLORADO 3 – 2 MINNESOTA
Wow. If you want to talk about games of two halves, here’s exhibit number one from this week. The Whitecaps opponents on Wednesday sunk to a fourth straight defeat and who knows what toll this one might take on them mentally and physically.
It was all going so well for the Loons. They were two goals up and looking comfortable just past the midway point of the first half. Emanuel Reynoso had fired them into a 17th minute lead with a stunning free kick, and Hasani Dotson doubled their lead seven minutes later in a well worked goal started by pouncing on a Colorado giveaway and finished with some poor picking up of Dotson in the box after a quick counter.
So far, so very good, but Minnesota had pressed hard and really taken the game to Colorado in the first half. The energy they expended was about to cost them and they tired dramatically, looking a shadow of themselves in the second half.
The Rapids were fired up after the break but the woodwork and goalline clearances made it look like luck maybe wasn’t going to be on their side. But they finally pulled one back in the 57th minute through Kellyn Acosta’s long range screamer, and you felt that the momentum has firmly swung and there was more to come from Colorado. There was.
Cole Bassett poked the ball home for a 71st minute equaliser after Minnesota’s Canadian keeper Dayne St Clair failed to hold onto the ball in the slippery conditions, then after that there was only going to be one winner.
Danny Wilson rose unchallenged to head home what was to be the 82nd minute winner and Colorado even had a goal disallowed after that for offside. Quite the comeback, and quite the collapse for Minnesota. Interesting, Colorado had just four shots on target, and scored three. Minnesota had three, and scored two. Efficient I guess!
There’s a lot of questions heading into their midweek clash now with the ‘Caps. How crushing will this defeat be on them mentally? Will it get the reaction Adrian Heath will demand? The players looked drained in the second half. Can they recover enough in the four days or will there need to be squad rotation. Does Heath even have the necessary bodies to allow that?
Also has to be questions around whether St Clair may lose his place. He hasn’t played badly in these four games but there have been errors. Often when a coach is looking to try something to spark a team and a defence, a change comes at the back.
Adrian Heath afterwards was naturally frustrated. Said “we are what we are” and highlighted that they need to eradicate mistakes at the back. Also said he was “at a loss” at how they can play so well in the first half and then so poorly in second. Wouldn’t blame altitude, but felt they needed to move ball quicker, pass forward and not back, and stop the silly giveaways – “we made too many poor choices and right now they’re affecting us”.
PORTLAND 1 – 2 SEATTLE
The second Cascadia derby of the season. I was looking forward to this one, especially with fans back in the stands for a Cascadian Cup clash, but the first 55 minutes failed to live up to expectations. I’ve found that with many of these matches of late. The last 35 minutes though were action packed.
Raul Ruidiaz missed a great first half chance to put Seattle ahead, but was goalless at the half. Ruidiaz also had a great chance to put Seattle ahead at the start of the second and fired wide, but not as good as Diego Valeri for Portland just before the hour mark, who missed a penalty TWICE. The first was saved by Stefan Frei, but was called back by VAR for the Sounders keeper coming off his line. Valeri then hit the rebound off the left post, tucking home the rebound, but as no Sounder had touched the ball, the goal was ruled out. Seattle’s Nouhou Tolo was clearly encroaching on both spot kicks, though was only called for it on the first, hence the retake.
A huge let off for Seattle, who then went up the pitch and won a penalty of their own when Ruidiaz was brought down in the box. Picking himself up to fire home the opener.
Jeff Attinella then went off injured for Portland, to be replaced by Hunter Sulte, the tallest ever goalkeeper to play in MLS apparently! That didn’t really help him when Fredy Montero (who else?) headed home Seattle’s second in the 79th minute.
There was still time for Ruidiaz to have a goal disallowed for offside, cracking finish btw, and an equally cracking stoppage time free kick from Bill Tuiloma to pull one back for Portland, but that was too little, too late and the Sounders machine goes rampaging on.
SPORTING KC 2 -1 AUSTIN
Austin’s impressive start to the season continued in Kansas City, but they ultimately couldn’t fend off all the second half KC pressure and went down to a stoppage time defeat.
Jon Gallagher got on the end of a Jared Stroud through ball and fired past John Pulskamp too give the expansion side a 7th minute lead, with a little bit of a lucky bounce helping him. Then it was a wide open game, end to end, and very enjoyable.
Gianluca Busio and Daniel Salloi had a couple of efforts saved in quick procession for KC, but Austin responded right away with Tomas Pochettino crashing a long range dipper off the bar in the 34th minute. Salloi had another good chance at start of second, firing just past far post as Kansas dominated the play.
Austin’s captain Alexander Ring was sent off in the 67th minute for a second bookable offence, and he was lucky not to have been sent off earlier for a tug on Busio as he raced in on goal. KC then turned up the heat and created a slew of chances, the best falling to Andreu Fontas, who headed over from close range.
The equaliser finally came with seven minutes remaining, when Ilie Sanchez rose well to head home a Johnny Russell corner, then you feared the worse for Austin, and it came in the last second of normal time when Gadi Kinda headed the home side ahead.
KC were good creatively but their final passes and final shots let them down. Don’t underestimate what a comeback win like this can do for a team though. From a Vancouver point of view, they look susceptible to quick counters and switched off defensively after both goals.
All of that leaves Seattle out in front in the Western Conference by a solitary point. Vancouver finish the weekend in fourth place, three points back off first place, with just two point separating 4th to 11th. Minnesota remain bottom, winless and pointless ahead of the Whitecaps trip there on Wednesday.
AROUND THE REST OF MLS
Four weeks in to the new season and Western Conference teams remain unbeaten against Eastern Conference opposition. It is a small sample size of only seven matches, but still. Five wins for the West in those games after the ‘Caps win over Montreal on Saturday.
Toronto FC’s bad start continues with a pretty poor performance and a 2-0 defeat at NYRB. The last game you can put down to possible CCL fatigue, so they need to regroup asap and start putting results together quickly. They are still just four points out of the playoffs, and have a game in hand, so not exactly panic stations just yet. One of three winless teams in the East right now, but with the additions they made this week, it’s hard to see them not climbing the table soon.
Inter Miami kicked off the Sunday action with an entertaining all-Eastern encounter against Atlanta United. Josef Martinez got his first start and subsequently his first goal of the season. Atlanta badly need him back to his old ways asap. Game finished 1-1 but Miami seemed to be denied a clear penalty in the closing moments, that VAR must not have deemed to be as clear and obvious as I did!
NYCFC and New England Revolution are out on top in the East with seven points and a one point lead over the chasing pack. Orlando, Nashville, and Columbus remain unbeaten. Just two points separate 1st to 9th.
And the other big rumoured news this weekend was that of Columbus changing their name, dropping the Crew, and becoming Columbus SC. A new supposed logo was also apparently leaked, which looks awful.