Sunday, November 1, 2015

It Happened in America: Red Bulls, Crew, FC Dallas all get crucial away goals

DC United 0-1 New York Red Bulls
The first have was quite passive from both sides. Bill Hamid in the United goal was the busier of the two keepers, but the chances weren't overly threatening on either end. 

The Red Bulls came out in the second half with guns blazing, although it took them until the 72nd minute to get the goal. Dax McCarty was the provider as he got free behind the DC defenders taking on a Sacha Kljestan free kick. McCarty's falling header was taken with no hostile present nearby and was an easy goal. United never truly threatened, even when down a goal and with the clock ticking down towards their demise.

New York got more than just their away goal to carry into the second leg at home next weekend. They earned a clean sheet to give them a huge advantage going forward. They did take a bit of a knock when Damien Perrinelle had to be carted off the pitch in the 51st minute. They should survive the second leg anyway. DC United's backs are really against the wall here.

Portland Timbers 0-0 Vancouver Whitecaps
The Timbers were a little short handed here as starting goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was forced to sit out this one with the flu. This would make their quest for a clean sheet a little more difficult, but for the first half their backline of Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers were plenty up to the task. The Whitecaps were trying to attack with pace using short passes through the middle to set up Octavio Rivero and Kekuta Manneh, but the Timbers center backs shut them down well in the first 45. On the offensive end, the Timbers game of crosses was thwarted by Vancouver's Kendall Watson and Tim Parker.

The Timbers controlled the run of play when the rains came in the second half. Their best chances came in the 72nd and 89th minutes when David Ousted barely got his fingertips to a masterfully taken Diego Valeri free kick. In the penultimate minute, substitute Maxi Urriti got ahold of a through pass, bead Ousted with his shot, but got nothing but the far post. 

A scoreless draw suits Portland just fine. they kept Vancouver off the away goals scoreboard, which gives them an advantage in next Sunday's second leg. One goal may well be enough to see them through the Conference Finals. Getting that one goal, however, could prove difficult.

Montreal Impact 2-1 Columbus Crew
Didier Drogba has been the Impact's hero in the tail end of the season, but he played the goat midway through the first half in this one. In the 33rd minute, in an attempt to clear a long ball into the Montreal penalty area, the Ivorian headed his clearance straight to Federico Higuain, who bolted a shot right into the net. Thankfully for the home team, they equalized four minutes later when Patrice Bernier headed home a corner for his second goal of the playoffs.

Montreal was able to control the run of play through much of the second half. They got their second goal in the 77th minute on a turnover created and finished by Johan Vanegas. The Costa Rican stole from Michael Parkhurst in the midfield to set up a two on one with him and Drogba. Instead of passing to the superstar, Vanegas took the shot himself and beat Steve Clark low inside the far post. Minutes later, it almost became 3-1 to the home team when Drogba launched a free kick that Clark managed to reach and tap over the bar.

Although the Crew lost the overall battle tonight, they did get a crucial away goal to make thier home leg a little easier. Knowing Montreal's struggles away from the Stade Saputo this season, it is far from inconceivable to think they can comeback and win the round next weekend. The Impact will probably try a defensive game to keep Columbus off the board while trying to steal a goal on the counter or from a piece.

Seattle Sounders 2-1 FC Dallas
FC Dallas was ruling the game early on and they got their opening goal just as the Emerald City Supporters were warming up. Fabian Castillo latched onto a long ball and calmly slid a shot past Stefan Frei right in front of the Seattle hooligans in the 17th minute. Dallas had their away goal, and the energy had been sucked away from CenturyLink Field. That energy would return as Seattle's attack picked up around the half hour mark. They would get a series of half chances that all ended up blocked or sailing just wide of the target instead of giving them a first half goal.

Seattle came out in the second half trying everything they had to find an equalizer. It came in the 67th minute when Andreas Ivanschitz, instead of passing as he had done all game, decided to do the dirty work himself and fired a shot past Jesse Gonzalez to even the score at one. After some thrilling end to end action, the Sounders got a goal in the unlikeliest of ways for them. Having been the only MLS team to not score a goal from a direct free kick in the regular season, it was sort of shocking when Clint Dempsey fired one into the top right corner in the 87th minute. In truth, Gonzalez probably could have done more to make the save. Seattle continued to press behind the now ruckus crowd, but a satisfying two goals would be all they would get.

The Sounders, after looking down and out for much of the match, turn things around and earn an advantage heading into the second leg. Dallas will take the away goal, but they really should have held on for a more favorable result in this one. 

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