Major League Soccer – Week 4

by Michael Orr

new england

Michael Orr reports on Week 4 of MLS action as DC United recorded a huge win and Thierry Henry bagged his first hattrick on US soil.

Friday March 30:
DC United 4 – FC Dallas 1
With just one point to show from its first three games, DC United rebounded in a big way, blasting FC Dallas 4-1 at RFK Stadium in Friday’s nationally televised game. Though possession was even and each side put at least seven shots on target, DC found ways to score while Dallas could only once. Maicon Santos, the Brazilian forward who moved to DC from Dallas in the offseason, scored the first and last goal for United. Dallas equalized when Blas Pérez scored just before half-time but it was not nearly enough to stem the second half onslaught. Rookie Nick DeLeon scored on the hour and assisted on Danny Cruz‘s goal just six minutes later to put the match out of reach. Maicon finished the job in the 73rd before Dallas midfielder/assistant coach Daniel Hernandez was sent off for a second yellow in the 77th minute. After winning its opener, Dallas have taken just one point from the past three games.

Saturday March 31:
Toronto FC 0 – Columbus Crew 1
Bernardo Anor scored the lone goal in a Trillium Cup match between Columbus Crew and Toronto FC at BMO Field. The Crew, who relinquished the Trillium Cup for the first time in four years in 2011, bagged the three points when Anor dispossessed Julian de Guzman at midfield in the 78th minute. His half-field run and goal came against the run of play as homestanding Toronto controlled much of possession and chances throughout. The away victory pushes Columbus into third place in the Eastern Conference with six points while Toronto remain the only club in MLS without a point in league play. In fairness, the Reds are still active in the CONCACAF Champions League, traveling to Mexico for the second leg of the semi-final mid-week.

Philadelphia Union 0 – Vancouver Whitecaps 0
The return of Sébastien Le Toux came with mixed emotions for Philadelphia Union supporters, as they cheered their former star striker and booed manager Peter Nowak for trading him. Yet neither side could muster a goal in this nil-nil draw between the Union and Vancouver Whitecaps at PPL Park. Le Toux should have won the game for Vancouver in the 83rd minute but his shot sailed over the crossbar – an attempt emblematic of the day for both sides. The point for Philadelphia is their first of the season while the Whitecaps remain one of only two unbeaten clubs through four games in 2012.

Red Bull New York 5 – Montreal Impact 2
A back-and-forth game turned in the favor of the home side in the second half as Thierry Henry recorded his first MLS hat trick and Red Bull New York defeated expansion Montreal Impact 5-2 at Red Bull Arena. The visitors started well and led both 1-0 – thanks to Sanna Nyassi – and 2-1 – through Justin Mapp‘s first Montreal goal – before New York’s second half explosion. After Henry opened scoring in the first half, Kenny Cooper scored his fourth goal of the season (already half-way to his total of eight in Portland last season) in the 48th, Henry got his second in the 56th, Mehdi Ballouchy made it four in the 72nd and Henry finished off his treble a minute from time. Though the Impact have just one point through four games, they will certainly take heart in their first half performance, particularly against a strong New York side. The second victory of 2012 moves Red Bull to second place in the Eastern Conference, six points shy of Sporting.

Seattle Sounders 0 – San Jose Earthquakes 1
In front of 38,301 at CenturyLink Field, Chris Wondolowski netted his fourth goal of the season, a 24th minute penalty, to give San Jose Earthquakes a surprising 1-0 win over previous unbeaten Seattle Sounders. That the Earthquakes were the first side to take points from the Sounders, and to do it in Seattle, was one of the biggest shocks of this strange weekend in MLS. But that it was Wondolowski who scored is hardly surprising. The 29-year old has the most goals in MLS in the current decade and if not for Theirry Henry’s aforementioned hat trick, would be atop the league’s scoring table once again. After a poor season in 2011, the Earthquakes are tied for first place in the Western Conference with Salt Lake.

Portland Timbers 2 – Real Salt Lake 3
Speaking of Real Salt Lake – they managed goals from Jonny Steele (89′) and Kyle Beckerman (90’+) to come from 2-1 down and stun Portland Timbers 3-2 at Jeld-Wen Field. Two second half Darlington Nagbe goals, the second of which is likely to win MLS Goal of the Week, helped Portland come back from a half-time deficit imposed by an Álvaro Saborío penalty. Yet the Timbers folded in the game’s dying moments, just as they did so often in 2011, allowing two goals and throwing away what would have been an important three points. The late victory allowed Salt Lake to keep pace with San Jose atop the Western Conference and eke out a measure of redemption after dropping points at home last week. Portland have just four points from four and have lost consecutive matches.

LA Galaxy 1 – New England Revolution 3
The most unlikely result of the weekend came at the Home Depot Center as supposedly lowly New England Revolution battered LA Galaxy 3-1. Kelyn Rowe and Chris Tierney (pictured) scored before a quarter-hour had passed and Saër Sène scored his second goal of the season in the 65th minute for a 3-0 lead on the double holders. Robbie Keane did pull one back for the home side in the 78th minute but it was nowhere near enough to overturn the early deficit. For a club that did not score in either of its first two matches, the Revolution are now up to fifth place in the Eastern Conference and have six points to show for their four games. The Galaxy are on just three points from three and are in seventh place in the Western Conference in the early going.

Sunday April 1:
Colorado Rapids 2 – Chicago Fire 0
Second half goals from Omar Cummings and newly-signed Kamani Hill were enough to give Colorado Rapids all three points in a 2-0 victory over Chicago Fire at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The win is the third of the season for the Rapids, bringing them level on points with Salt Lake and San Jose atop the Western Conference. The loss is the first of the young season for Chicago, which has played just three games to this point. The 26-year old Hill, just signed by Colorado on March 28, had struggled to find time in Europe over the past five years at clubs like Wolfsburg and Vitória Guimarães. If his debut is any sign of things to come, Hill could be an upgrade over departed Caleb Folan.

Chivas USA 0 – Sporting Kansas City 1
In the weekend’s final game, Sporting Kansas City made it four wins in four games with a 1-0 defeat of Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center. Graham Zusi recorded his fifth assist of the season as 2011 Rookie of the Year CJ Sapong headed in a 47th minute goal to secure all three points yet again. Sporting are already six points clear of second place in the Eastern Conference and show no signs of easing up. Chivas could not recapture the plucky resolve that saw them defeat Real Salt Lake away last weekend, leaving the Goats with just those three points after four games.

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