Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday MLS: Referee shenanigans cost Red Bulls in LA

Portland Timbers 3-0 Sporting Kansas City
Playoff positions were at stake at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon. A win would get the Timbers above the red line once again, while Kansas City could climb as high as third with the full share of the points.

It was an ugly opening for Portland. The start of the match was rather chippy as both sides tried to figure the other out. Diego Chara took the chippy play a little to far and was sent off for a brainless off-ball foul on Benny Feilhaber in the 13th minute. Any hope Caleb Porter had to trying out his new 4-4-2 scheme had been shredded early. It forced the Timbers into a defensive shell with the likes of Jack McInerney holding down the midfield.

The matc flipped over once again at the 40 minute mark. Sunni Mustivar was shown straight red for a thunderous challenge on Diego Valeri. Both teams would have to finish the match with ten men, meaning there would be a lot of space to work with offensively. Regardless, the two red cards provided one of the more eventful scoreless first halves in recent memory.

The second half was lacking the punch of the frst for nearly 20 minutes until Diego Valeri injected a jolt of energy into the match. A cross from new Lithuanian left back Vytas took a touch of an SKC defender and wafted to Valeri, who hammered home the volley. SKC would put together a couple of minor chances, but Darlington Nagbe would end up playing a major role in Portland's putaway goal in the dying minutes. The recent USMNT debutant broke Benny Feilhaber's ankles before laying off a pass for Jack Jewsbury, who hammered home the insurance goal. Not to be outdone, Fanendo Adi powered his way thorough to a third on the front end of stoppage time.

The emphatic second half lifts Portland into a playoff spot.

Orlando City 1-3 Seattle Sounders
Orlando got themselves off to a roaring start when Seb Hines headed home a seventh minute corner to open the scoring in favor of the home side. That would be the only good thing to happen to them all match, however.

Clint Dempsey took over proceedings in the 14th minute with his game tying goal and he never stopped. His second of the game provided the lead for Seattle in the 37th minute and his hat trick made it 3-1 in the 48th. Not wanting to lose their hard earned advantage, Seattle curled up into their defensive shell fit the remainder of the match and held that 3-1 lead for the duration.

LA Galaxy 0-2 New York Red Bulls
This weekend of MLS action coincides with a most intriguing matchup between two of the league's most storied franchises. Galaxy were also putting their unbeaten home record up against a high quality opponent.

What the first half lacked in goals, it made up for in injuries. First, Robbie Keane took a shot to the face causing a noisy nose. Damien Perrinelle injured what appeared to be his ankle on a challenge from Jeff Larentowicz. Conner Lade had his knee buckle on him. The latter two has to be subbed off, costing Red Bulls two possibly vital subs early on.

Galaxy would have the better chances in the first half, but their only great chance was a Jelle Van Damme goal that was called back on offside. They came to rue that miss in the 68th minute when Gonzalo Veron chipped over the keeper to give Red Bulls the lead. Sacha Kljestan would set up the next one with slick moves down the wing and a nice layoff for Sean Davis for his first goal of the year in the 74th.

The Galaxy would claw back into it. Mike Magee tapped in the hope giver in the 80th minute. It was all hands on deck after that. It left them open on the counter attack and they were lucky to not have hands away a penalty in the 86th for a poor challenge in the box that drew massive shouts from the Red Bull bench. That no call allowed Ashley Cole to find an 89th minute equalizer off a pass from Steven Gerrard.

The Red Bulls will certainly have a case against the officials. In the 90th minute, LA got away with another pretty clear penalty causing manager Jesse Marsch to erupt in fury on the bench before getting tossed from the match. He has a clear beef, too. Both missed calls should have resulted in penalties to the Red Bulls, which likely would have given them the win. Instead, they settle for a tough point on the road and a third place tie with Montreal in the East.

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