After 14 rounds of Major League Soccer action, there is still room for surprises in the league as teams continue to pick up surprising results against those at the top of the conferences.
Vancouver topple Atlanta at home
After losing last week to a penalty, Vancouver Whitecaps FC took the initiative at home to rectify that loss and ended up ending their day with a 3-1 win over Atlanta United FC. The match actually started off differently for the Whitecaps as Atlanta took the lead in the seventh minute when Julian Gressel played a great ball across the six-yard area and found his left-back Greg Garza at the far post, who tucked it away with ease. Vancouver was not cowed by the early goal and pushed for the equalizer almost straight away. Their bouts going forward paid off as in the 31st minute, after a free-kick had initially been cleared by Atlanta, Andrew Jacobson chipped the ball back into the box hopefully and found Kendall Watson unmarked. The big defender held off his marker and well past goalkeeper Alec Kann to make it one-all. Watson then got the second as the first half was ending when he met Cristian Techera's corner kick in the 44th minute and powered home his header. Watson was involved in the third goal as well when in the 68th minute, he nodded on the corner kick which found his central defensive partner Tim Parker who headed it towards goal at close range. Kann made a good stop to prevent the goal but Fredy Montero pounced on the rebound and lengthened Vancouver's lead.
Atlanta may have had most of the possession in the game, something that has been almost synonymous with their team from the start of the season, but they could not create many chances in front of goal from that possession. Instead, the Whitecaps created the better chances and took those chances when they presented themselves to the home side. The win keeps Vancouver in playoff contention and after having come away from mid-week defeat in the Canadian Championship, Carl Robinson and his team will be delighted with their performance this past weekend. Atlanta will now have to regroup and find a better system to implement when they are on the road as their two wins away clearly show. They have the firepower to trouble any team (and some of that power were away on international duty) but they cannot seem to match that attacking threat with their overall dominant possession. This leaves them in eighth place after a bright start to the season for the expansion team.
The 'Revs' dismantle a red-hot Toronto side
Prior to this match, everything that could go wrong for the New England Revolution was going wrong and it seemed like Toronto FC did not have any missteps in them as they juggled duties in the Canadian Championship and the MLS with ease. The Revolution changed those perspectives over the weekend with a great display to earn a 3-0 win over the team sitting on top of the Eastern Conference. Toronto should have taken the lead in the sixth minute when Víctor Vázquez missed a guilt -edged chance at the far post and they paid for that when in the 17th minute, Benjamin Angoua was on hand to score from a corner kick after being left all alone in the box. Justin Morrow could have equalized for the visitors in the 24th minute after Vázquez slipped him through but his effort bounced off the post and away from a tight angle. The 'Revs' had the frame of the goal to thank again in the 34th minute when Armando Cooper let fly from a long way out and watched as his shot cannoned off the crossbar with goalkeeper Cody Cropper clearly beaten. Those chances would come back to haunt TFC again when in the second half, Juan Agudelo and Diego Fagúndez combined on the break before the Uruguayan finished well from the top of the box. The same two players combined again in the 85th minute and after the ball bounced off the crossbar a few times, Agudelo headed in from close range to give the 'Revs' a 3-0 scoreline.
Toronto will look back at this game as one of the missed opportunities and will feel that had Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Tosaint Ricketts not been away on international duty, they could have gotten at least a point from this game. The opportunities that they had created would have turned out differently had a more clinical player been on the end of them and even with the return of Sebastian Giovinco to the lineup, there was only so much to be expected from him as he returned from injury. New England on the other hand, will be pleased with the resurgence of Agudelo and how the team fared after their midweek excursions. He had mainly been a bench player for most of the season but his performance this weekend may give his coach, Jay Heaps something to think about for his net starting lineup. The win also pushes New England close to a playoff spot and they will want to build on this and climb even higher up the table.
A Roland Lamah hat trick pushes FC Dallas past Real Salt Lake
After a poor run of form by their standards, FC Dallas returned to winning ways with a 6-2 route of Real Salt Lake. Roland Lamah was at the heart of the performance as he suddenly found himself in the right places to capitalize on some poor defending by RSL especially in the first half. The Belgian's first goal came in the eighth minute when Michael Barrios cross found him unmarked at the far post, giving him an easy finish into the net. For his second, Maximiliano Urruti found him in space in the 22nd minute as FCD countered on RSL and he finished low past goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel. Lamah's third goal came in the 31st minute when Carlos Gruezo played a fantastic through ball to put him one-on-one with Van Oekel who couldn't stop him from scoring again. The route continued as eight minutes later, Urruti got into the act when he was set free by Victor Ulloa and dinked the ball over a sprawling Van Oekel. Tesho Akindele then made in five in the 43rd minute when his shot went underneath Van Oekel and into the goal. RSL tried to mount an improbable comeback with goals by Omar Holness and Kyle Beckerman but an 89th-minute goal by Jesus Ferreira emphasized FCD's dominance on the day.
The FCD offense had been a little off-color in the last few weeks but came to life against RSL in spectacular fashion. The build up play and the incisiveness in front of goal was something many of their fans had missed watching and would have been very happy with its return. As for RSL, their woes continue and not even Van Oekel's standout performance in goal could stop them from shipping in six goals in one day. This may end up being another long season for a team that was once regarded as one of the top teams in the MLS.
Montreal's counter attacking gets them all three points against the Red Bulls
Even though they were the home side, the Montreal Impact were content to let the New York Red Bulls have most of the ball and then try to hit them on the break. It did not work as planned for the most part as the Red Bulls defended stoutly but the Impact produced one moment to seal the win for themselves in the 67th minute through Blerim Dzemaili. Before all of that, Bradley Wright-Phillips had been denied at point-blank range by goalkeeper Evan Bush in the fifth minute. Dzemaili was then denied a first-half goal in the 31st minute as the ball was deflected into his own net by one of his teammates who had been in an offside position. In the second half, Montreal began to create a few more chances and had Luis Robles not been at his usual high standard, could have had more than the one goal they got in the end. It took some quick thinking and slick passing between Dzemaili and Ignacio Piatti to get the goal Montreal had been looking for and that proved to be enough on the day.
It wasn't the greatest day in front of goal for the Red Bulls and part of that reason was the way that Montreal planned to keep Sacha Kljestan largely anonymous in the game. Kljestan is what makes the Red Bulls tick and the Impact did not give him the time or the space to operate at his very best and thus, also limited the number of looks at goal that Wright-Phillips had throughout the game. The Impact's plan to stay tight and then break quickly yielded the only goal of the game and that was exactly what they were hoping would happen, especially as the Red Bull's majority possession did not trouble Montreal apart from that early Wright-Phillips chance.
Colorado shock Columbus, get their fourth win of the season
The Colorado Rapids produced a gritty performance to get a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC and they had Alan Gordon to thank for getting the late winner. Columbus came into the game on a high after defeating Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday night but it seems as though they expended all of their energy in that game and did not have much left for this game. Not much happened in the first half and it took a deflected Federico Higuaín effort in the second half to bring the game to life. The Argentine picked up the ball near the top of the box and took aim which led to a deflection off of Micheal Azira and wrong-footing the goalkeeper. Azira made up for his misfortune in the 74th minute when he headed Justin Meram's free-kick off the line to keep the Crew within sight for the home side. The Rapids kept looking for the equalizer and it came in the 80th minute when Kevin Doyle finished Marlon Hairston 's cross after a good attacking move by the Rapids. Not long after his goal, Doyle was taken out of the game for Alan Gordon and it was Gordon that found the winning goal. In the 86th minute, Gordon peeled away from his marker at the back post and nodded home from right in front of the goal from Josh Gatt 's cross.
They may have conceded an unlucky goal but the Rapids' defense put on a great performance in front of their fans to earn their third consecutive win at home. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who was filling for Tim Howard, did not have to make too many saves and that was because of those in front of him who limited the Crew's offense. What made the performance even more impressive was how depleted their backline was as they were missing the usual starters so full credit must go to those who filled in on Saturday evening. Columbus will know that they did not perform as well as they could, given their midweek performance but despite the loss, they still sit in fifth and can focus on consolidating their playoff spot.
New York City FC leave it late against the Union
Two goals in the last ten minutes of the match gave New York City FC the 2-1 win against the Philadelphia Union and a welcome relief after their midweek draw. NYCFC had the best chance of the first half when defender Alexander Callens shot towards goal and his effort came off the post and fell to David Villa. The Spaniard picked up the rebound and tried a first-time shot towards goal but Andre Blake pulled off a magnificent save to keep the score at 0-0. In the second half, both NYCFC and the Union could have taken the lead when in the 55th minute Roland Alberg held off a challenge to take a shot on goal on the counter but Sean Johnson cut down the angle well and got enough on the ball to prevent the goal and then in the 67th minute, Villa watched his shot rocket off the crossbar with Blake well beaten. Two minutes after Villa's effort, the Union took the lead as C.J. Sapong found Fafà Picault on the break and the midfielder curled his shot into the far corner. The home team kept creating chances and Blake was on hand again to prevent Villa from equalizing but in the 80th minute, the goalkeeper was beaten by a powerful header by Maxime Chanot from a corner kick. Five minutes later and Peruvian Alexander Callens grabbed the game-winner as another corner kick was not dealt with by the Union and the defender was the first to react and poke the ball home after Blake saved the initial effort.
It was down to the defenders to find a way past Blake in the Union's goal as NYCFC's attackers kept finding the Jamaican, the post or the crossbar with every opportunity they got. They won't mind that as at this point in the season, a win is a win and NYCFC needed to keep their momentum going after faltering this week. Philadelphia is facing an interesting period after recovering from a poor start to the season recently. They have now lost two games in a row and find themselves back near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Sporting Kansas City made short work of Minnesota United FC with a 3-0 win on Saturday. Ike Opara, Jimmy Medranda, and Saad Abdul-Salaam scored the goals on a day that the home side took advantage of a slow and tepid performance by the expansion team.
Diego Valeri was king of Providence Park once again with two goals in the 50th and 94th minute against the San Jose Earthquakes. The win was the fourth the Portland Timbers have gotten at home and has pushed them into fourth in the Western Conference.
Will Bruin came back to haunt his former team as the Sounders bounced back from an awful midweek performance to beat the Houston Dynamo by a goal to nil. Bruin played the match in a brace as he filled in for the Seattle forwards who were on international duty and he put in a great performance.
D.C. United and LA Galaxy ended their match in a deadlock as both goalkeepers, Bill Hamid and Jon Kempin, put on sterling performances to keep the two offenses out. The Galaxy will be the happier of the team two teams as they ended their four-game away run with ten points and pushed themselves closer to a playoff spot.
A contentious red card for Rafael Ramos and a stupid red-card tackle by Antonio Nocerino left Orlando City SC with nine men for most of the second half but the Chicago Fire could not capitalize on their two man-advantage and left Orlando with nothing to show for after a 0-0 draw.