Saturday, April 9, 2016

It Happened in America: The struggle continues for Crew and Red Bulls

Montreal Impact 2-0 Columbus Crew
The Crew have been defined by poor finishing ability so far this season. They are amongst the worst teams in converting key passes and shots into goals, and that didn't change against the Impact. As has become the norm for Columbus, close calls were the order of the day in the first half at Olympic Stadium. Ignacio Piatti drilled a post. Kei Kamara and Justin Meram were victims of turf bounces. Several other shots for both sides did not miss the target by very much. 

In the second half, Montreal managed to get one of their close calls to go in. Hassoun Camara headed home a 48th minute corner for Montreal's goal. The calm half continued with the Crew barely putting up a fight and Montreal sealed the points in the 86th minute on a counter attack that was finished with an easy cross and closs header from Kyle Bekker.

New England Revolution 1-1 Toronto FC
Kelyn Rowe's powerful 14th minute header gave New England a 14th minute lead. They would remain ahead through halftime, but Sebastian Giovinco made sure Toronto would get back on level pegging. He received a pass from Jozy Altidore on a counter attack before taking a deflected shot that bumbled into the net. 

Toronto was overall pretty wasteful in possession compared to New England. Despite nearly 60% of the ball, they were outshot 13010 with only one of those 10 on target. The Revs certainly should have pulled off the victory, but a disallowed goal and some strong goalkeeping kept it even at the end.

D.C. United 4-0 Vancouver Whitecaps
D.C. United was still looking for their first win, and Vancouver have trouble scoring goals without the help of sometimes fraudulent penalties. This looked to be a good situation for United, but the Great Dane, David Ousted, in goal for Vancouver proved again why he is one of the best goalkeepers MLS has to offer. He robbed Fabian Espindola of a point blank shot in the 33rd minute to keep this game scoreless. It's a good thing Ousted was around, too. Vancouver was pretty slow on defense and United was able to cut through them on a couple of occasions. One of those occasions featured Chris Rolfe nearly scoring. He would have if not for Ousted's intervention. Thankfully for D.C., Espindola provided the follow up tap in for a 39th minute go ahead goal. 

United kept the pressure on after the break and Espindola collected home his brace in the 54th minute. A corner came in and found the head of Steve Birnbaum, but his attempt knocked off the crossbar and fell right to Espindola and his wide open net. Vancouver began to push forward as the clocked ticked on, but their lack of finishing ability prevented goals from being scored. A 68th minute scramble was their best chance, but a post and a miss of an open net did them in. Alvaro Saborio's 88th minute and stoppage time insurance goals didn't exactly help either.

New York Red Bulls 0-2 Sporting Kansas City
Red Bulls have been off to a slow start and Sporting Kansas City just lost their first match of the season last week. These two are clearly on the opposite ends of the success spectrum. SKC got things started in the 17th minute with Benny Feilhaber's first of the season on the end of a transition move that New York didn't exactly retreat back to defend.. The Red Bulls were then on the front foot for the remainder of the first half, but got themselves nothing more than close misses and a Sacha Kljestan post right at the whistle. 

Sporting would double their lead at the hour mark with a rather harmless looking throw in that New York failed to defend well. It fell right to the feet of Dom Dwyer on the doorstep for the easy tally. The Red Bulls thought they had an in to regain something in this match in the 63rd minute. Bradley Wright-Phillips got the chance to take a penalty after a cross was stopped with an SKC hand in the box. Tim Melia was up to the Englishman's challenge, though, and he made a big save. 

Poor finishing would sum up the day for Red Bulls. Of their 22 shots, only six were on target and none, outside of the penalty, actually forced a huge save out of Melia. If you take away the four goal outburst against Houston, New York has scored zero goals in the other four matches played. That's pretty sad.

FC Dallas 2-2 San Jose Earthquakes
FC Dallas wasted no time getting their first chance of the game. It took 17 seconds for them to call David Bingham into making a huge save. Despite this quick start, San Jose got off to a more effective one. Alberto Quintero blasted home the opening goal on a San Jose counter attack in the fourth minute. After that, the frantic pace slowed down heavily and Dallas settled in with the majority of possession in the first half. Their efforts were rewarded in the 35th minute when Ryan Hollingshead was brought down by Shawn Francis in the penalty area to set up Tesho Akindele's spot kick goal.

The Quakes would get the lead back early in the second half. Chris Wondolowski put them in front by collecting a Quincy Amarikwa through pass and slipping an easy shot into the goal in the 55th minute. The lead wouldn't last for long. Dallas levelled on a 62nd minute own goal off Victor Bernardez. Fabian Castillo played the cross in that found the head of Bernardez and turned into what looked like a perfect strike into the net. The chances then came flying in for the home team. Between the goal and the 70th minute Dallas probably could have scored two or three times had a few bounces in the Quakes' penalty area gone their way.  Despite all those scoring chances, nothing went in and the two sides settled for a draw. 

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Colorado Rapids
The first salvo in the Rocky Mountain Cup would go down at Rio Tinto Stadium. Colorado would get the more and better chances in the first half, but neither team was able to find a goal. RSL would control the majority of possession in the second half, and they even started to get a few more shots. They wouldn't find a goal during any sort of sustained attack, however. Joao Plata got RSL on the board after some miscommunication between Colorado's keeper and their backline that allowed Plata to collect a loose ball and walk it into the gaping net. Yura Movsisyan thought he had the second goal in the 83rd minute, but the offside flag was wrongly raised against him. The officiating error would not come back to haunt anyone since Colorado failed to get anything going in their quest for a comeback.

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