As Portland Shows, There’s No Place Like Home
Dorothy Gale gave sage advice to any MLS team: there’s no place like home. Every home team in MLS got at least a point this weekend, showing that there is an advantage to playing in front of hometown fans. What that meant for the standings is that when the dust cleared, LA stood atop the Supporters’ Shield standings while New York and Houston look like the favorites in the Eastern Conference. It also means the first loss of the season for Real Salt Lake, days after they lost the CONCACAF Champions League final.
Your weekend summary follows:
Houston Dynamo 4, DC United 1: Just like the United/Red Bulls match last weekend, this was the case of a team on a roll facing a team with questions. Again it was DC’s backline which was the difference, as the youngsters looked disorganized against a hungry Houston attack. The fourth goal on the throw-in was a thing of beauty or embarrassing, depending on your perspective. This week is a big test and better measuring stick for the Black-and-Red; they have the Sounders and Dallas at home. Houston’s Will Bruin had his coming out party with a hat trick, but he was just one of the positives that Dominic Kinnear saw in this match. If they can continue to get production from Bruin and Weaver, as well as something from Ching, they should be a solid bet for a playoff spot.
Philadelphia Union 1, San Jose Earthquakes 0: It was more of a Broad Street Bullies match out there than a soccer match with four yellows and a red being handed out, as well as a few scuffles. Nevertheless, again it was the Union finding a way to win despite being down a man the entire second half on a controversial Jordan Harvey kick to Chris Leitch. Seba LeToux gets his first goal of the season on a penalty. San Jose is struggling mightily right now and desperately need to find some offense to help Chris Wondolowski.
Columbus Crew 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 1: There were a ton of story lines in this entertaining match. The Crew are still undefeated at home and found some offense from Emilio Renteria, who converted a penalty and added another goal nine minutes later. Statistically the match was even except for the time of possession, which saw the Crew control and probe the ‘Caps defense the first half until finding their breakthroughs in the second half. Congratulations to 2011 #1 pick Omar Salgado who got his first MLS goal and almost equalized late in the match. He looked pretty impressive out there, and this was his first start after playing 19 minutes in his last three games.
New York Red Bulls 1, Sporting Kansas City 0: The good news for KC is that they only gave up one goal this match; the bad news is that’s all New York needed for the win. Luke Rodgers is quickly becoming a must pick-up for any MLS fantasy team as he has scored his third goal in three games. New York looked like a team that wanted three points early in this match and after Rodger’s 22nd minute goal, cruised home. Kansas City desperately needs to ride out this long road trip and hope for a Portland-like boost from their new stadium; as of right now it’s tough sledding for the last place team in the East.
Colorado Rapids 1, Chicago Fire 1: What to make of this result? Colorado continues their slide with a poor result against a struggling Chicago team. Andre Akpan got his first MLS goal for the home team shortly after halftime to equalize and grab the point. Again Colorado had the greater bulk of possession but could not take advantage of a Fire squad without Logan Pause and Cory Gibbs. On the other hand, this was a good result for a Chicago team in disarray, and they get the ‘Caps at home this Saturday with a chance to string together some points.
Seattle Sounders 3, Toronto FC 0: For one night, Seattle proved the pundits wrong. The Sounders’ offensive outburst helped them cruise to a good win over struggling Toronto at home, with the early goal from Alvaro Fernandez setting the stage. It was also an excellent Steve Zakuani tribute from the fans, the video of which I posted above. Seattle has a chance to make a statement when they travel to struggling DC this Wednesday; they have never lost at RFK Stadium and a win would boost their momentum.
Portland Timbers 1, Real Salt Lake 0: What does the CCL loss mean for RSL? Will they need some psychological adjustment time to get back on track from the loss? Will this be another season where some early season struggles give the Supporters’ Shield to another team but see them most dangerous at the end of the season? Hats off to Portland, who came to play at home and got their first clean sheet. Kenny Cooper scored his third MLS goal of the season in the 22nd minute for the match’s only goal. Draft pick Darlington Nagbe and DP Diego Chará helped the Timbers dominate possession in the game and thwart the RSL attack.
Chivas USA 3, New England 0: Ouch New England. Just when the Revolution looked to be hitting a stride, they take a knock from the woeful Goats. This game had a weird vibe because of the odd choice by Chivas to pass on Benny Feilhaber last week, but the midfielder was ineffective in this match and at least for one game vindicated Chivas’ decision. This is the type of game where the home team can use it to gain some momentum and the visitors have to shake off a bad performance before a huge match against a visiting Rapids team this weekend.
FC Dallas 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1: This was an odd match due to the herky-jerky nature of play – lightening strikes caused the game to be suspended for an hour before Brek Shea’s game winner with minutes left in the second half. Landon Donovan continued his climb up the all-time goals list when he answered Fabian Castillo’s goal with his own early in the second half. Like Seattle, Dallas continues to roll along without a star player as Schellas Hyndman used Eric Avila in David Ferreira’s role.