Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday MLS: Sounders score late, Fire, City don't score, Galaxy earn controversial daw

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Seattle Sounders
Houston started off in control of the match. They earned corner after corner with it seeming like the first goal was only just around the bend. On a harmless looking 35th minute throw in, the Dynamo took advantage of Seattle's lazy defending to get in the board. A couple passes brought the ball to a barely away Giles Barnes, who casually looped a shot over a helpless Stefan Frey. That one play really represented Seattle's entire half. They were lazy and couldn't get anything going because of it.

Seattle looked a little better after halftime. Their attack still amounted to long balls forward for Clint Dempsey or Jordan Morris. Whenever they tried to do something a little more carefully planned, Houston's stout defending clogged up any space the Sounders tried to work with.  They routinely failed to penetrate the 18 yard box and failed to take a shot from inside it until the 80th minute. Overall, the Sounders lacked the sense of urgency needed to produce a goal in this one. In fact, Houston looked more like finding a second goal than Seattle did for finding the equalizer until the final five or so minutes of the match. They found their late, late equalizer at the final kick of the match. Chad Marshall earned it at the end of a mad scramble that resulted in a wide open target for the defender.

Seattle will take the late point after earning their first win last week. Houston will feel robbed of the full three points after their defense let them down at the very last second after a strong performance for the rest of the match.

New York City 0-0 Chicago Fire
New York City was taking shots early and often in this one. They did take 19 shots overall while holding 57% of the possession. None of those shots were anything to write home about. The only exception to that was one where David Villa forced a diving save out of Matt Lampson. Chicago's lone moment of hope came when they thought they had scored a winner, but, after some discussion between Mark Geiger and his AR, was called back because Jonathan Campbell used his hand to direct the ball in. In the end, neither side found a goal and they had to settle for a scoreless draw in what will likely go down as one of the more forgettable national television matches of the season.

LA Galaxy 1-1 Portland Timbers
The Timbers brought their goal scoring problems and lack of depth into the StubHub Center to take on LA Galaxy and their old man and injury problems. Portland broke out a 4-2-3-1 formation for the first time this season with Jack Jewsbury seeing his first start of the season and Dairon Asprilla riding the bench. As for he LA injury problem, with Robbie Keane already out a long period of time, it got worse right from the get go tonight. Robbie Rogers injured his hip in an aerial duel with Fanendo Adi and had to be subbed off before ten minutes had gone by.

The first half was a pretty even affair overall. The Timbers held the edge in possession, but Galaxy did a little more with theirs. Most of Portland's attack time was quickly executed, which is how they work best usually. They just weren't able to get many shots at all. They took one in the first half. It was from outside the penalty area and it was blocked. LA looked more likely to score, but even their chances were mostly harmless. They were mostly from distance and rarely with any real pace to them.

On Portland's third shot of the game, Fanendo Adi took a rather harmless looking shot from the corner of the penalty area that hit the one spot in the lower 90 that evaded a diving Brian Rowe in goal. It finished off a counter attacking move off a midfield turnover in the 52nd minute.

LA began to attack with a little more fury after going down a goal. Within a couple minutes of conceding they created a few quality chances for themselves. The final ball may not have been there in any of those attacks, but there was a hint in the air the LA would find an equalizer at some point. Heading into the final 20 minutes, Galaxy were lucky they still had all 11 players on the pitch, Nigel De Jong stomped Darlington Nagbe's ankle in a late challenge and got away with only a yellow card. Nagbe had to be stretchered off and couldn't put weight on his left leg. In truth, MLS officials have certainly sent off players for less this year, and De Jong should have been shown the door for that awful challenge.

The hint of a Galaxy equalizer came to fruition in the 84th minute when a harmless shot from outside took a touch off Nat Borchers and went into the net for a game tying own goal. Portland reacted to the goal by hunkering down and defending with the aim of avoiding a loss. It worked, in the sense that they didn't lose the game. But, Portland will still feel robbed of all three points and possibly one of their most important players for an extended period of time.

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