There was a theme in MLS over the weekend: Goals. Lots and lots of goals. If you like goals, you probably enjoyed watching the domestic league. While MLS was saving the Earth with recycled plastic jerseys, I guess, goalkeepers were busy picking the ball out of the onion bag to the tune of 46 goals - and DC United even had a bye week! There was lots of excitement from Americans in the matches, so without further introduction, here’s how the Americans at home fared this weekend.
Kansas City VAR-b-que
If there’s something that VAR has shown, it is that VAR offers referees a chance to be totally heavy handed in the way that they enforce rules. Four minutes to watch a replay to find a handball in the box? VAR can do that, gotta get it right. A player or two contacting another’s head incidentally in a shoving match between two teams after a shady foul leading to two red cards? VAR is here to make that possible and turn a mess of a soccer game into a complete mess of a soccer game, gotta get it right. The game between Sporting KC and the Vancouver Whitecaps was well over before VAR helped make it 9v11, but video review made it completely noncompetitive. Luckily, the game allowed Tim Melia to make an amazing save:
Brek Shea managed to play for 72 minutes and not be sent off despite looking at an SKC player funny. Sporting would win 6-0.
Pass the Poutine
There were some good and bad moments for LAFC players in their game against the Montreal Impact. First the good: Benny Feilhaber’s goal brought LA within one against 10 man Montreal:
Montreal struggling with 10 men on the field. Benny Feilhaber gets another goal back and it’s now 3-2. Game on https://t.co/mR5NnIZ7x6— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) April 21, 2018
The not so good was that Walker Zimmerman and the LAFC defense gave up a hat trick to Ignacio Piatti, including the third goal in which both Zimmerman and Laurent Ciman just watched the Argentine run between the two of them.
MLS Champs Down and out in Houston
The best team in MLS history finds itself in a 2-1 hole heading to Guadalajara in the Concacaf Champions League final and rested its starters against Houston. The result was predictable as Toronto FC fell to the Dynamo 5-1. Even with Andrew Wenger starting at right back for Houston, the - and I’m being generous - “B” squad for Toronto was completely ineffective in nearly every facet of the game. The CCL gambit may see TFC finish much lower in the table than they should be capable of with the team holding just three points from five games on the year.
New York Unlucky in New Jersey
Sometimes the ball just won’t go in the net and for the Red Bulls it went just about everywhere else on Saturday. The team dominated the Chicago Fire but failed to overcome a stunning goal and penalty in the 2-1 loss to the visitors. The Fire didn’t want anything to do with the ball and it worked despite being out-shot and out-played. As for young Americans in the game, Brandon Vincent helped Chicago disrupt the Red Bulls attack and took the corner that led to the first Fire goal. Tyler Adams had a quiet game with just one key pass as a standout defensive performance from Chicago frustrated Jesse Marsch’s team.
Mueller? .... Mueller?
21 year-old forward Chris Mueller again found the net for Orlando City. His goal may have been slightly aided by an ugly defensive slip, but his effort on the finish gave his club an early 1-0 lead. He later assisted Sacha Kljestan’s goal in the 35th minute. It was Mueller’s third goal in seven appearances for Orlando as he seems to have firmly ensconced himself in Jason Kreis’ lineup.
Elsewhere for Orlando City, Dom Dwyer scored his 100th pro goal. For their part, the San Jose Earthquakes are having a difficult time establishing an identity under manager Mikael Stahre. Jackson Yueill made his third appearance this year coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute.
The New England Revolution are quietly turning into a somewhat fun team to watch. They have a pressing style, look to possess the ball, and currently sit in 4th place in the Eastern Conference. While Brad Friedel is nailing the door shut on Lee Nguyen’s career after denying his trade request, illustrating the powerlessness of players in MLS, the team seems to be carrying on. One player that may benefit from that is Juan Agudelo who had a good showing with an assist in the game. Swagudelo showed off a bit of skill in a near miss early in the match:
That would've been a spectacular golazo by Juan Agudelo. Chest control, sombrero over Mensah, and good volley that went just wide. Ambitious effort. #NERevs #CrewSC #CLBvNE #MLS pic.twitter.com/Wz6haXCL5i— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 22, 2018
He wasn’t done with the fancy foot stuff though as he showed on this assist:
In what was a back and forth game, Gyasi Zardes scored to put the Crew ahead 2-1 just before the half. The forward now has five goals and is scoring once in every 144 minutes in 2018 and currently sits tied for second with most goals scored on the year.
Even Rocky had a montage
Jacori Hayes, Matt Hedges, and Reggie Cannon went the full 90 for FC Dallas with Hedges drawing a penalty and keeping a clean sheet. Cannon shinned at right back for the team with an 89% passing accuracy rate while keeping David Accam in check on the right side of the defense.
MLS might consider implementing pro/rel just one time for the Philadelphia Union and send them to the D-League. They were awful and had no ideas against Dallas. Jamacian National Teamer Andre Blake single-handedly kept them in the game; Alejandro Bedoya committed two fouls and scored just 152 on the Audi Player Index in the 2-0 loss to Dallas.
Rocky Mountain Low
It was not the best night for the Colorado Rapids in the first Rocky Mountain Cup match of 2018. Tim Howard got a red card in the 22nd minute and everything would go downhill from there. RSL won 3-0 as American center back pairing Justin Glad and Nick Besler helped keep a clean sheet in front of Nick Rimando. Brooks Lennon started again at right back going the full 90.
Out in Seattle on Sunday the Sounders took on Minnesota United with both Cristian and Alex Roldan lining up for the Rave Green - er, environmentally sound recycled plastic white. Cristian had a standout performance with two assists and generally helped Seattle keep control for most of the game. Will Bruin started for the Sounders, scoring a goal. After serving a suspension, Clint Dempsey came on as a substitute in the 60th minute, chipping in an assist.
For their part, Minnesota United struggled for most of the match forcing manager Adrian Heath to substitute Ethan Finlay at the half. The Loons came alive a bit more when Christian Ramirez checked into the game in the 53rd minute and scored the team’s lone goal in the match, his first of the season.
Goalkeeper duel in the Pacific Northwest
As far as Americans in the final game of the weekend, well - Jeff Antinella kept a cleansheet and Sean Johnson leaked three goals as NYCFC fell to the Portland Timbers 3-0.