After a midweek that saw just six of the 13 Western Conference teams in action, including the Whitecaps loss in Minnesota and all of them with 1-0 scorelines, all the teams in the West were in action over the weekend.
And the results have certainly tightened up the standings in the West even more, and the Eastern Conference is also bunching up quite nicely.
Here’s how this weekend’s action played out…
LA GALAXY 2 – 0 AUSTIN – The Western action got underway on Saturday afternoon in Carson, California as the MLS new boys from Austin headed to the conference’s most successful side, the LA Galaxy. Chicharito won a penalty for the home side in the 25th minute, picked himself up to take it, but Austin keeper Brad Stuver produced his first ever penalty save as a professional to deny the Mexican.
It just felt like a matter of time before the Galaxy would open the scoring though and it came in the 35th minute when Austin defender Hector Jimenez threw himself at a long ball forward, completely missing it and injuring himself in the process. That allowed Sebastian Lletget to get onto the ball and the veteran coolly curled it past Stuver for the opener.
Austin were all huff and very little puff, and didn’t seem to have the same spark as in some of their previous games. Kekuta Manneh came on to try and give them something and he drilled a shot narrowly past around the midway mark of the second half. It does feel that despite all of their bluster out of the blocks, the longer the campaign goes on, they may suffer from some of the traditional expansion team woes in terms of squad quality. Things may be very different once they are allowed to play at home of course.
LA weren’t looking any great shakes either mind you, but they doubled their lead in the 77th minute when Chicharito grabbed his 7th goal of the season, finishing off a lovely Julian Araujo cross. The fact that that was the first shot on target from either side in the second half tells you everything you need to know about this one, although they did have a late effort from Kevin Carbral chalked off for offside.
MINNESOTA 1 – 0 DALLAS – Buoyed by their first win of the season against Vancouver midweek, Minnesota were looking to build on that and finally get their MLS season really up and running, but despite peppering the Dallas goal with 27 shots in this one, it looked like they were going to be left disappointed, with the game still goalless deep into injury time.
Dallas had the better of the opening minutes before Minnesota took over as the main attacking threat. Emanuel Reynoso had a couple of looks at goal but it was the visitors that had a great chance to open the scoring just after half time when Jader Obrian headed wide when all alone in front of goal.
Minnesota pushed hard for the breakthrough and Reynoso and Robin Lod had chances. They even had a handball shout on Matt Hedges in the box dismissed. But with time running out and a share of the points looking likely, up popped Lod to poke home a 94th minute winner, pouncing on a loose ball in the six yard box after a goalline block. A big win for the Loons that moved them out of last place for the first time this season.
COLORADO 3 – 1 HOUSTON – Vancouver’s next opponents, Houston Dynamo, headed from the Texan heat to the Colorado altitude and rang the changes resting some of their big guns and giving youth the chance to start.
And this certainly looked a far different Dynamo side than some of their other performances this season. The Rapids gave the five man Dynamo defence a torrid time in the first half. A Sam Vines strike and a header from birthday boy Diego Rubio had them two up by the 36th minute, before some sloppy Colorado defending allowed the ball to come to Christian Ramirez, and he drilled home a low one three minutes later to pull one back for Houston.
Cole Bassett then quickly restored Colorado’s lead when Houston keeper Marko Maric pissed about at the back for the third time in the game and his attempt to clear was charged down by Bassett, rebounding into the empty net.
The second half was calmer, with Tab Ramos making a quadruple substitution for the Dynamo on the hour mark and brining on some more familiar faces. There were a couple of good half chances for both teams, but no more goals, and Colorado came away with their third straight win.
RSL 0 – 0 NASHVILLE – The only West v East battle this weekend really was a case of nothing to see here. When the MLS YouTube highlights show a number of blocked shots, simple clearances, and goalkeepers easily collecting the ball, then you know the match wasn’t exactly action packed. Nashville had a shot saved on the line with about ten minutes remaining, but that was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock. This was one to quickly forget.
SAN JOSE 0 – 2 PORTLAND – The Earthquakes faced their second Cascadian opposition in the space of four days as the Timbers headed to California in the last of the Saturday match ups. And once again San Jose came away with nothing to show for their efforts.
And it was Portland who got out early in this one, with Yimmi Chara firing them in front just five minutes in when he lobbed the San Jose keeper. The home side dominated play for the rest of the first half, notching up 72.4% possession but they were unable to turn that pressure into a goal.
The second half started in much the same vein, and San Jose thought they were going to get back on level terms after winning a penalty for handball just past the hour mark. The league’s all time leading scorer Chris Wondolowski stepped up, but could only look on as Timbers debutant Logan Ketterer turned the ball away.
Ketterer only joined Portland on an emergency loan from El Paso this week after Jeff Attinella was ruled out with a season ending injury. The keeper not only saved a penalty, but he kept a clean sheet on his MLS debut. earning Portland all three points, finally secured when Marvin Loria rose to head home the Timbers second in the 72nd minute.
SEATTLE 2 – 0 LAFC – This battle between two of the big guns, and favourites, in the Western Conference rounded off the weekend’s action on Sunday night and saw the Seattle Sounders steamroller continue unabated.
It was a pretty dull first half to be honest, with Brad Smith having the best chance three minutes before the break, but squandering a great opportunity in front of goal. The second half certainly had more spark as Seattle found that other gear they always seem to find these days.
Xavier Arreaga headed home the opener from a corner in the 57th minute, before an unmarked Smith waltzed in to head home the second in the 73rd minute. Seattle saw out the game quite comfortably after that, with LAFC still not firing on all cylinders and needing to get a spark of their own going from Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela.
Those results kept Seattle’s lead at the top to four points, ahead of the LA Galaxy in second. Kansas City’s two wins in a week has seen them move up to third, level on points with Colorado and three back now of Seattle. San Jose, Houston, and Salt Lake make up the rest of the playoff places, with Vancouver falling out of the top seven for the first time this season, finishing the weekend in 8th.
ELSWHERE AROUND MLS
NYCFC 1 TFC 1 – New York will wonder how they didn’t come away from this one with all three points after dominating possession (59 to 41%) and shots (13 to 7). They had six shots on target but just one goal to show from it and that came in the 53rd minute when it wasn’t so much Alex Bono as Alex oh no. The already under fire TFC keeper fumbled a free kick and Jesus Medina tucked the ball away.
NYC had the ball in the net in the 71st minute when Bono kicks the ball off the back of Medina, it bounces into the empty net, but referee David Gantar called it back for obstruction. NYC were furious and even more sore when Nova Scotia’s Jacob Shaffelburg scored his first MLS goal with a nice finish.
This could be Toronto’s last home game in Orlando. The murmurs are that they are wanting to be in new surroundings after the June break before it gets too hot in Florida.
ATLANTA 1 – 0 MONTREAL – Montreal will come away from this one angry at themselves and frustrated to be leaving Georgia empty handed, and so they should be as all of their good work was undone in the final minute of this one due to poor decision making.
Montreal held their own for much of the match and had some of the better opportunities to break the deadlock, coming closest when Kamal Miller crashed one off the bar just after half time.
With the game four minutes into stoppage time, Erik Hurtado sparked a break, playing the ball inside to Sunusi Ibrahim, and with a man either side of him as far better options, the Nigerian selfishly tried to do it all himself, saw his weak attempt blocked, and Atlanta immediately went up the pitch and Marcelino Moreno headed home the 94th minute winner, sending the 40,116 fans in attendance into a frenzy.
CINCINNATI 2 – 3 MIAMI – Bottom of the East, winless, and with just one solitary point to their name to start the season, wasn’t how FC Cincinnati would have envisioned opening their impressive new stadium. And I’m not sure many would have envisioned Brek Shea scoring the first goal at it! Entertaining game between two not great teams.
New England finished the weekend on top of the pile, following their 1-0 win over Columbus on Sunday, who look a shadow of the MLS champs from last year. The Revolution have a two point lead over Orlando, 1-0 winner themselves on Sunday at DC United, with the Lions moving up seven places over the weekend.
There’s nothing much separating the five teams occupying the other playoff playoff places in the East, with NYC, Atlanta, Montreal, Philadelphia, and Miami all on eight points. Chicago and Cincinnati remain winless at the bottom.