Tag Archive: 2013 MLS



FORMER Derby County winger Giles Barnes never fulfilled his obvious potential in England, but he is certainly showing signs of doing so across the pond. Pushed forward to play up-front by Houston Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear, his club are reaping the rewards: Barnes’ brace in the 3-1 defeat of the Seattle Sounders was arguably the standout performance of the round and the goals made him Houston’s joint-top scorer this season.

This was Clint Dempsey’s first start for the Sounders, but it was the Houston Dynamo attack who stole the headlines in this clash. They didn’t take long to grab the lead: on 16 minutes, Will Bruin forced his way through the Seattle defence and drew ‘keeper Michael Gspurning before cutting back to strike partner Barnes, whose shot beat two defenders on the line.

Barnes lets fly during his impressive two-goal salvo against Seattle (pic: Sports Illustrated/CNN)

Four minutes later, Barnes spectacularly bettered that effort with a strike that would be crowned Goal of the Round. Picking the ball up 30 yards from goal, the 25-year-old took one touch to set himself and drove a thunderbolt into the top corner of Gspurning’s net. The Austrian custodian saved well from Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis to keep his team in the game on 30 minutes, before Dempsey’s first meaningful contribution saw him link up well with Mauro Rosales and force Tally Hall into a decent save.

Seattle improved after the break and pulled one back on 65 minutes when Shalrie Joseph headed in Marc Burch’s free-kick – helped by Hall’s bizarre decision to try and block the effort with a star-jump. However, Houston refocused and sealed the win 10 minutes later, Bruin netting from close range after Warren Creavalle had thumped a header against the bar. Sounders’ Lamar Neagle almost halved the deficit again late on, but he could only hit the post.

Perhaps the only man who rivalled Barnes’ performance this round was LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane. The Irishman’s stunning hat-trick powered the Galaxy to a 4-2 win at home to Real Salt Lake. Goalless at half-time, six second-half goals transformed this game from bore draw to an end-to-end thriller. There’d been little to write home about until Joao Plata’s 53rd minute opener, the Salt Lake midfielder nutmegging Galaxy ‘keeper Jaime Penedo after Ned Grabavoy’s clever flick. Perhaps shocking the hosts into action, the lead lasted just three minutes: Keane was given room to turn Carlos Salcedo (not to be confused with the similarly-named ex-Fulham defender) and curled into the bottom corner.

From the Galaxy’s next attack, Real defender Chris Wingert was forced into a brilliant chested clearance off the line to deny Landon Donovan’s chip, but Salt Lake were rocking and could only hold out until the 67th minute. LA sub Sean Franklin found himself in acres of space on the right, and his cross picked out Keane, who was on hand to touch the ball past a static Nick Rimando. Eight minutes later, it was three: Donovan’s corner from the left was met by 6ft 5in defender Omar Gonzalez, who saw his header flash past Rimando and immediately turned to taunt his marker, Nat Borchers.

With five minutes to play, Keane rubbed salt into Salt Lake’s wounds with a classy fourth, collecting Franklin’s through ball and lobbing the onrushing Rimando to complete his hat-trick. Galaxy’s onslaught continued, and Kenny Mansally had to slide the ball off the line to prevent Todd Dunivant from adding to the scoreline. The visitors did restore some credibility five minutes into injury time when Robbie Findley poked home, but RSL boss Jason Kreis will be disappointed with his side’s haphazard defending.

If it all happened in the second half in that game, the action was packed entirely into the first in the Portland Timbers’ 2-1 win over FC Dallas. The Timbers took advantage of RSL’s slip-up to cut Real’s lead at the top of the Western Conference to three points. Diego Valeri missed a great chance to put the hosts in front 20 minutes in, but the midfielder made amends six minutes later, sending over a corner from which Ryan Johnson drew first blood. Dallas took just 60 seconds to find a reply as Mauro Diaz capped some neat build-up play with a cool finish.

The action continued to come thick and fast, and on 33 minutes the Timbers had their winner. Again, Valeri was at the heart of things, prodding a pass into Darlington Nagbe, who finished with aplomb. With Portland having at least two games in hand on most of their Western Conference rivals, Caleb Porter’s men will be quietly confident of success this year.

Diego Valeri starred in Portland’s win over FC Dallas (pic: MLSSoccer.com)

It all went according to the form book in Montreal, where the third-placed Impact claimed a 2-1 victory against bottom club DC United in the Eastern Conference. Andres Romero almost made the breakthrough for the hosts with just three minutes on the clock, but DC’s Bill Hamid made a good block, and 60 seconds later United had to clear off the line from Felipe. It appeared DC were living on borrowed time, and Montreal duly got their goal on 43 minutes, veteran striker Marco Di Vaio finding the top corner after Felipe’s dummy had taken out two defenders.

Di Vaio missed an even better chance on the hour after running onto DC defender Daniel Woolard’s underhit backpass, but the Italian dragged wide when clear through. The perpetually impressive Luis Silva had the visitors’ first real opening soon after, skipping past a challenge and stinging Troy Perkins’ palms from range. On 81 minutes, Silva went one better, unlocking the Impact defence with a clever ball, and Conor Doyle bent a quality finish around Perkins and into the top corner for the equaliser.

Their joy was short-lived: two minutes later, Montreal grabbed a deserved winner when Patrice Bernier launched a ball into the left channel for Di Vaio to run onto and the 37-year-old expertly cut inside Dejan Jakovic before arcing the ball into the far corner. At an age where most of his peers have retired, Di Vaio is now well and truly in the running for the MLS Golden Boot.

The New England Revolution and the Chicago Fire were separated by just a point coming into their clash at the Gillette Stadium. The Fire’s Mike Magee squeezed a shot against the post on 17 minutes after good work from beefy Ecuadorian Juan Luis Anangono, but it was the Revs who took the lead shortly after half-time with one of the more unique goals you’ll see all season.

Striker Juan Agudelo – set to join Stoke City in January – ran onto Chris Tierney lofted through ball and improvised a brilliant back-heeled lob over advancing Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson. Chicago defender Bakary Soumare looked to have saved the day with his acrobatic clearance near the goal-line, but ref Edvin Jurisevic ruled that the ball had crossed the line. It was an excellent finish from Agudelo, but he loses points for describing the goal as “a little South American swag”.

The Revs squandered a great chance to confirm the points on 88 minutes when Jose Goncalves squared for the unmarked Kelyn Rowe but the midfielder somehow contrived to miss the open goal. Rowe’s blushes were spared in injury time when he slotted home from a similar situation, this time after Saer Sene’s shot had been spilled by Johnson. The game was marred by an ugly confrontation after the final whistle involving players and coaching staff from both clubs in which the Fire’s Soumare and the Revs’ Sene were both sent off.

Federico Higuain’s second consecutive brace helped the Columbus Crew to defeat Toronto FC 2-0. Columbus got a deserved opener on 19 minutes as Bernardo Anor’s shot was well saved by Joe Bendik but Higuain was on hand to pounce on the rebound. The overworked Bendik had to be at his best to stop Anor and Dominic Oduro from extending the lead before half-time, but his saves counted for little as the Crew wrapped up the win in the second half.

Toronto ‘keeper Joe Bendik’s heroics counted for little as his side were outclassed by the Columbus Crew (pic: Toronto FC)

On 67 minutes, Higuain sealed the deal in style, wrapping his foot around the ball to chip Bendik – despite the ‘keeper barely being off his line. They may be neighbours in the Eastern Conference – occupying eight and ninth place respectively – but there’s a big gulf in class between these two sides based on this showing.

Further up the Eastern Conference, high-flyers New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union cancelled each other in one of those MLS rarities, a goalless draw. This was the league’s first 0-0 for a month, and with the Red Bulls welcoming Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill back from injury, few would have seen it coming. The Union came closest to claiming the points when Sebastian Le Toux smashed against the bar, while Jonny Steele was the hosts’ brightest spark, narrowly missing two chances late on.

The Colorado Rapids enjoyed a 2-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps, but it was the visitors who began brightly, with Rapids custodian Clint Irwin forced into saves by Russell Teibert and Kenny Miller early on. After riding that storm, Colorado took the lead on 36 minutes, Deshorn Brown taking advantage of slack marking from Lee Young-Pyo to head debutant Vicente Sanchez’s cross in at the far post. The Rapids made sure of the win on 79 minutes thanks to Edson Buddle’s heavily deflected shot which wrong-footed Caps ‘keeper David Ousted.

Sunday’s only game saw the San Jose Earthquakes nick a surprise win over Eastern table-toppers Sporting Kansas City. Kansas’ Jimmy Neilsen produced a superb one-handed reaction save to prevent Clarence Goodson from opening the scoring on 25 minutes, but he could do nothing about the winner early in the second half, Chris Wondolowski burying a header from Steven Beitashour’s cross.

San Jose survived a strong penalty appeal just minutes later when Beitashour enveloped Kansas’ Soony Saad in a bear-hug to stop him from reaching a loose ball, but they held on for an impressive win. Sporting clearly don’t enjoy this fixture: they haven’t won at San Jose since August 2000.

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The 22nd week of this season’s MLS had a bit of everything: a seven-goal thriller, some questionable refereeing (with three debatable penalties in the aforementioned game) and some half-forgotten Brits resurfacing on the other side of the pond. Once again, the league demonstrated its growing ability to entertain, and it’s little surprise that attendances are on the rise across the country.

Real Salt Lake, fresh from an eventful 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City in which they conceded the winner in the 97th minute, travelled to the New York Red Bulls hoping for a more straightforward contest. However, this was anything but straightforward. With each side challenging at the top of their respective division, this game was always likely to be important, but few could have predicted the end-to-end goalfest that followed.

Real’s Alvaro Saborio (left) grabbed a hat-trick but still ended up on the losing team. (Picture: bleacherreport.net)

The Red Bulls opened the scoring on 11 minutes when Tim Cahill yet again proved his aerial ability, launching himself at a Thierry Henry free-kick and heading between ‘keeper Jeff Attinella’s legs. The goal was made all the more impressive by the fact that just minutes earlier Cahill had been lying injured on the sidelines, seemingly unlikely to continue. Real had clearly not learned their lesson, because just 12 minutes later, another Henry set-piece caused panic in the visitors’ box. Henry’s free-kick from the right was cleared to the edge of the area, but Abdoulie Mansally was adjudged – somewhat harshly – to have dragged Red Bulls’ Brandon Barklage to the floor in trying to clear the ball. Fabian Espindola coolly chipped the resulting penalty down the middle to double the advantage and leave Real on the brink.

Just when it seemed like the Red Bulls would take a two-goal lead into the interval, Salt Lake were awarded a slightly fortunate spot-kick of their own. Olmes Garcia broke through from the wing and collided with centre-back Markus Holgersson, and Alvaro Saborio converted the penalty to ensure his team grabbed their lifeline with both hands.

The start of the second half saw a calmer contest, but events became frenzied once more late on. On 80 minutes, Saborio scuffed a low shot past Luis Robles after good work from substitute Luis Gil and suddenly Real were level. The Red Bulls were still reeling from that setback when their visitors broke again on the other wing, with Joao Plata – also fresh off the bench – tearing down the left before centering for Saborio. The Costa Rica international had options but went alone, avoiding two tackles before brilliantly improvising a prodded shot into the top corner. Real celebrated like it was the winner – and with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, it looked that way.

However, New York’s Fabian Espindola had clearly not read the script. With 88 minutes played, the Argentine launched a solo attack on the left, trying to push-and-run his way into the box before going to ground only too happily under the attention of two defenders. He was fortunate to have been given the penalty, but Espindola made no mistake from 12 yards, putting considerably more power into this spot-kick than his first-half chip.

Incredibly, the Red Bulls weren’t done there. By the fourth minute of stoppage time, Salt Lake were understandably looking tired, and failed to cut out an attack in midfield. The ball was worked out wide to Barklage, and his inch-perfect cross was met by Dax McCarty’s flying header: 4-3. Having lost to an injury-time goal for the second week running, Real boss Jason Kreis will have to be careful to keep dressing room morale high.

There was further refereeing controversy in Vancouver as the Whitecaps lost 1-0 to the Philadelphia Union. The hosts were reduced to 10 men with just eight minutes played following an ugly altercation between Vancouver’s Jun Marques Davidson and Union midfielder Keon Daniel. As Davidson attempted to flick the ball clear from the foetal position, Daniel stormed in, launching a dangerous kick. Davidson was understandably furious and retaliated with a headbutt – for which he was sent off – but referee Baldomero Toledo inexplicably failed to remove Daniel from the field as well.

Davidson mid-headbutt on Keon Daniel – ref Toledo looks terrified. (Picture: theprovince.com)

Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Caps battled well and dominated for much of the game, with Russell Teibert, Kekuta Manneh and ex-Rangers striker Kenny Miller all going close, but they were made to pay for their wastefulness when Philadelphia sub Antoine Hoppenot delivered a cruel blow on 85 minutes, finishing well from Aaron Wheeler’s backheel.

DC United had no-one to blame but themselves for another abject performance against the New England Revolution. United took a rare early lead through Luis Silva, but once again surrendered the points when the Revs’ Dimitry Imbongo and Diego Fagundez scored in the second half. It’s not looking good for the MLS’ worst team: DC have now lost four of their last five games and have several players ruled out through injury.

Toronto FC claimed their first win for six games, beating the Columbus Crew 2-1. The Crew took the lead on 17 minutes when, after fine build-up in midfield, Dominic Oduro’s powerful shot from near the sideline somehow beat Joe Bendik, but Ryan Nelsen’s Toronto turned things round with two late goals. Jonathan Osorio’s 87th minute equaliser (set up by ex-Reading winger Bobby Convey) looked to have rescued a point for the Eastern Conference strugglers, but things got even better when Convey was on hand again to tee up Andrew Wiedeman to clinch a 94th minute winner.

High-flying Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy met at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, with the Rapids prevailing 2-0 on home turf. The Galaxy were beaten by a goal either side of half-time: former Wigan midfielder Hendry Thomas headed home Dillon Powers’ corner on 41 minutes, before Powers himself made the game safe two minutes after the interval. It’s been a fine first season in the MLS for Powers – who only joined the Rapids from the Austin Aztex in January – but his performance here was overshadowed by one of the season’s most bizarre refereeing decisions (and there’s been a few).

In the first half, the Galaxy’s Juninho skipped past a defender before being unceremoniously dumped to the ground by Hendry Thomas. Juan Guzman pulled out a yellow card; Thomas, already on a booking, no doubt prepared to make the long walk to the dressing room. Imagine his, the Galaxy’s and the spectators’ surprise, then, when Guzman thrust the card in Juninho’s face instead, accusing him of simulation!

The Montreal Impact finally got back on track with a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City ending a five-game barren run. Having won last week with a goal in the 97th minute, Kansas got a taste of their own medicine here when the Impact’s Blake Smith (another MLS newcomer) converted from Marco Di Vaio’s through ball in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Cam Weaver (right) seems unsure how to react after scoring his first goal since May 2011. (Picture: mlssoccer.com)

There’ll likely be no-one happier than Houston Dynamo forward Cam Weaver this week, after the 30-year-old scored his first goal for over two years in the 1-1 draw with Chicago. Weaver’s opener on the hour was cancelled out by the much more prolific Mike Magee two minutes later. Both sides suffered serious injuries, with Houston’s ex-Hearts winger Andrew Driver forced off with an achilles injury, before Fire midfielder Alex followed suit later in the first half.

Saturday’s final game saw the San Jose Earthquakes claim a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers, a crucial three points in the Earthquakes’ bid for a play-off place. San Jose defender Victor Bernardez – on spot-kick duty in Chris Wondolowski’s absence – converted from 12 yards on 55 minutes, and Steven Lenhart doubled the advantage soon after from a quickly-taken free-kick. Darlington Nagbe pulled one back for the Timbers to set up a tense finale, but even after the hosts’ Marvin Chavez was sent off for two yellow cards in one minute (the second for blocking the taking of the free-kick he had given away), they were unable to find an equaliser.

The Seattle Sounders saw off Chivas USA in Sunday’s only fixture. Chivas, recently accused of discrimination against non-Spanish-speaking players, took the lead through new signing Erick Torres early on, but Brad Evans levelled the score on 23 minutes. The Sounders grabbed all three points thanks to Lamar Neagle’s second-half goal, and playmaker Mauro Rosales will be pleased to have got the assist after the Argentine’s recent poor form had put his future at Seattle in doubt.

The MLS All-Stars will play Italy’s AS Roma in the annual All-Stars game on Wednesday, 31 July at Kansas City’s Sporting Park. Roma’s participation marks the first involvement of an Italian team against the MLS’ best. Kansas coach Peter Vermes will lead the All-Stars, whose squad includes Thierry Henry, Landon Donovan and Marco Di Vaio. Tim Cahill and Robbie Keane were initially included, but withdrew because of injury.