Monday, March 7, 2016

It Happened in America: The champs win rematch with Crew

New York Red Bulls 0-2 Toronto FC
The MLS season kicked off in suburban New York. They're weren't any first half goals, but Lloyd Sam had his fair share of misses. Those failures would carry on, and spread to other players, in the second half. Every Red Bull opportunity was flubbed by Bradley Wright-Phillips, Mike Grella, or anyone else in a white jersey. The misses even spread over to Toronto. Sebastian Giovinco, who never misses, missed a sitter late in the half. The place where the defending MVP will actually never miss from is the penalty spot, which is how he provided Toronto's first goal in the 82nd minute. Marky Delgado put it away for Toronto on a counter attack just after the clock hit 90 minutes.

Chicago Fire 3-4 New York City
The first goal of the 2016 MLS season went to Thomas McNamara in the tenth minute of this one. His curling effort caught the post and banked back into the goal for an early 1-0 City lead. The Fire got right back into it though. Razvan Cocis's casually slipped the equalizer home in the 19th minute. The tire would not last long. Tony Taylor got City back in front in the 29th. Khiry Shelton made it three goals to the visitors seven minutes later with a most determined run down the left flank.

The goals kept flying of the shelves in the second half. Kennedy Igboananike, one of two Fire players of note left over from last year, put one in four minutes after the restart. Mix Diskerud joined the party with a volley home in the 63rd minute. A David Accam (the other Fire player of note from last year) penalty thanks to a Shelton handball in the box got the Fire back within a goal in the 72nd. Chicago kept playing for one more, but seven goals was enough for this one.

Orlando City 2-2 Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake's season got off to a violent start 20 minutes in when they lost Demar Phillips to a second yellow. RSL would still get the first punch in. Yura Movsisyan was brought down in the penalty area in the 26th minute to set up Joao Plata's penalty kick goal. Then it looked like World War III was going to break out on the pitch. There were fouls, aggressive ones, all over the place. So it was no surprise that Darwin Ceren was shown red for the Lions just before the halftime whistle, meaning it would be ten on ten in the second half.

With all the open space, goals were sure to show up. Joao Plata doubled his account in the 66th minute after a sweet pass from Movsisyan. Orlando found their goals at the last possible moment. What was thought to be a consolation goal shortly before the final whistle from Cyle Larin turned into a lot more. The final action of he match was Adrian Winter's dramatic equalizer to rescue a violent draw for Orlando City. Overall, there were six cards shown between both sides. One red a piece and four other yellow total.

FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia Union
Fabian Castillo, the most fun player on the most fun team, was appropriately the first Dallas goal scorer of the season in the 22nd minute. With Philadelphia holding their own against the Western favorites, it took a substitute to seal the deal. Maxi Urruti did exactly what he did all season on Portland last year, score big goals off the bench. His 79th minute insurance goal guaranteed all three points for Dallas.

Houston Dynamo 3-3 New England Revolution
Diego Fagundez got the post-Jermaine Jones era in New England off to a great start. His third minute blast was the quickest goal of the day in MLS. The Dynamo would find a way back to level pegging just before halftime. Cristian Maidana tired it at one inn the final minute before the break. Andrew Wenger would give Houston a short lived lead in the 50th, but Charlie Davies stomped that out with a 52nd minute tally. Houston thought they had a win thanks to Giles Barnes in the 77th minute, but a stoppage time equalizer from Daigo Kobayashi spoiled the orange party.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Colorado Rapids
A scoreless first half was far from boring as this one continued the opening day trend of violent play. Only one yellow was handed out despite each team accruing eight fouls. The second half waited only seconds to find the goal. Chris Wondolowski headed home a forward lob pass less than 45 second into the half. That's all the Quakes needed to hold on ave defeat lifeless Colorado.

Portland Timbers 2-1 Columbus Crew
Last time we saw both of these teams was in MLS Cup in December. The stages may be lower, but the same intensity was there as Portland looked to cap the their title celebration with a win. Portland had the better chances in the first shatter hour, but Columbus made their presence felt as well. The Timers had a goal disallowed due to an obvious offside call in the 19th minute. It wasn't 30 seconds in like in the final, but Diego Valeri curled home a free kick through massive traffic in the six yard box in the 24th minute to put Portland on the board.

Columbus started to threaten right from the get go in the second half. Several strong and/or acrobatic saves from Adam Kwarasey keep Portland on top. The home team was strong on the counter attack, but all too often the final ball wasn't there for them. The best chance cave when Darlington Nagbe blasted the crossbar just after the hour mark. They would feel the pain from those misses. Federico Higuain buried a bicycle kick in the 68th minute to bring the score level at one. Thankfully for Portland, their transition game would pay off in the 79th when a Dairon Asprilla shot took a deflection and landed right in the lap of Fanendo Adi for a tap in from a yard out.

Columbus was not done trying to get even. In fact Higuain almost had an 84th minute equalizer, but was denied by the same post that saved the Timbers inn the knockout round against Sporting Kansas City. After that Portland was content to defend their way to victory as the monsoon hit Providence Park. It was Portland's first opening day win in four seasons, and the ideal way to start off a championship defense.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-3 Montreal Impact
There would be no Didier Drogba in this turf field in Vancouver, but who needs him what you have Ignacio Piatti? He weaved through the entire right side on the Whitecaps defense to blast home the opener. Dominic Oduro massaged to double the lead before halftime, but the Caps pulled one back through Jordan Harvey in the final minute if the first half to make the second half more of a contest. Vancouver would pressure hard in that second half, but plenty of near misses truly stifled their efforts. What did them in was Ignacio Piatti bagging his brace in the 88th minute. Kendall Waston provided a headed consolation goal off a corner in the final fifteen seconds of play, but it wasn't anything more than that. Piatti was the story in this one. His two goals and and assist earned him a perfect ten rating on WhoScored.

Seattle Sounders 0-1 Sporting Kansas City
Seattle jumped on Kansas City right at the start. Jordan Morris missed a six yard tap in by skying it over the goal. Clint Dempsey was robbed by Tim Melia on a free kick, Melia made another amazing save on the ensuing corner. All this was in the first 20 minutes. SKC stabilized as the first half wore on, and even got a bonus when Seattle left back Oneil Fisher was sent off for a two footed, cleats up tackle in the 42nd minute. It was a borderline call. Yes, the league wants to discourage spikes up tackles, but I don't think that this challenge was aggressive enough to warrant a red. Show Fisher a yellow to warn him and I don't think anyone complains. Instead, the game changes big time heading into halftime.

Ten man Seattle managed to coax some more goalkeeping heroics out of Tim Melia in the first ten minutes of the second half starting. A 53rd minute attack spearheaded by Andreas Ivanschitz resulted in Melia making a fingertip save on the Austrian then a great follow up on Nelson Valdez. That chance was the exception to the flow of the second half. The rest of the time, it was Sporting Kansas City turning the screw in search of the opening goal amidst torrents of rain. With all the actual chances they had, it's a wonder how the one they got actually went in. A slow bumbling shot from Nuno Coelho in the 73rd minute should have been stopped by Stefan Frei with ease. Instead, he failed and it finished one-nil to the visitors.

LA Galaxy 4-1 D.C. United
Lamar Neagle scored a rather soft goal less than five minutes into his MLS career with D.C. United. It was one of those long distance rollers that makes anyone wonder how it went in, That's about as good as things would get for them, though. While they held out for the first half, the second half was a total disaster. While the Galaxy looked old and slow at the start, they looked youthful and energetic by comparison after halftime. Rookie center back Daniel Steres scored on a Mike Magee corer in the 54th minute to start it. Then it was Magee turning goal scorer ten minutes later when he was way too wide open in the penalty area. United were still in the game until the final ten minutes. Andrew Dykstra sealed their fate by tripping Magee in the penalty area to set up a 83rd minute PK for Robbie Keane. Magee capped his Galaxy debut with a headed goal in the 87th minute to finish this awful night for D.C. United.

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