MLS Week 8 Review: Sounders, Timbers pick up important wins

The two Cascadia sides produced strong performances this weekend to jump start their seasons.

MLS Week 8 Review: Sounders, Timbers pick up important wins
Gustav Svensson scored an early goal of the week contender | Source: soundersfc.com

Major League Soccer continues to roll on and the headlines this weekend were dominated by Seattle Sounders FCPortland Timbers FCSporting Kansas City and Los Angeles FC.

Seattle Sounders 3 - 1  Minnesota United

Will Bruin set the Sounders on their way against Minnesota | Source: soundersfc.com
Will Bruin set the Sounders on their way against Minnesota | Source: soundersfc.com

The Sounders may not have been at their very best but they managed to produce when it mattered to pick up their first win of the season against Minnesota United FCRomán Torres came closest to opening the scoring in the 20th minute but he lifted his close range header over the crossbar and into the stands. Minnesota did not tighten up their backline after that scare and it allowed Gustav Svensson the opportunity to score an absolute screamer in the 22nd minute. Will Bruin made it two three minutes later after Cristian Roldan had gotten to the byline and found the big striker inside the six yard area. Minnesota rallied in the second half as Miguel Ibarra tested Stefab Frei for the first time in the 56th minute and then Christian Ramirez made it interesting in the 66th minute when nodded home into the far corner from close range. Francisco Calvo should have put Minnesota level in the 89th minute after finding the ball at his feet due to Frei completely missing a cross into the box. The defender however could only place his hot into the side netting. Jordy Delem then wrapped up the win for the Sounders after winning the ball in midfield and then being played in by Clint Dempsey to score Seattle's third in stoppage time.

It wasn't an easy win for the Sounders but at this moment, they'll take the wins however they get them. Having Osvaldo Alonso and Clint Dempsey in the team once again certainly helps but it was the play of Svensson and Roldan that built the platform for the Sounders' win. Minnesota will look back at this game as an opportunity missed as they had cthe chances to not only level the game but maybe outright win had they been more clinical in front of goal. Calvo's chance in particular will remain in their minds as they travel back to Minnesota this week.

Portland 3 - 0 NYCFC

Larrys Mabiala celebrates his first goal of the season | Source: timbers.com
Larrys Mabiala celebrates his first goal of the season | Source: timbers.com

The Portland Timbers continued their upward curve with a massive win against New York City FC. NYCFC may have controlled the possession and the tempo of the game but it was the Timbers who were the most clinical in front of goal and thus, earned their second win of the season. Sebastián Blanco showed the Timbers counter-attacking strategy early on as he broke from midfield and kept running before firing his effort over the crossbar in the third minute of the game. Blanco had another opportunity two minutes later from close range but he put his shot wide of the near post. The Argentine then made it up for it with a looping header that fooled Sean Johnson in goal for NYCFC and opened the scoring in the 26th minute. Fanendo Adi then made it two when he tucked home Diego Valeri​'s deflected effort in the 38th minute. David Villa had NYCFC's bets chance of the half in the 40th minute but his strike went just wide of the goal, allowing Portland to go into half-time two-nil up. Larrys Mabiala then put Portland out of sight in the 66th minute when he headed Valeri's corner kick powerfully into the net.

Blanco was key to everything Portland did against NYCFC and more than deserved his goal in the match. Portland also showed the rest of the league how you can beat NYCFC, no matter how much possession they hold. As for the away side, Johnson didn't cover himself in glory as he was at fault for the first two goals. NYCFC will know that they will have to use their overall control of games more wisely and be able to find the back of the net more regularly to avoid similar defeats to this one.

Sporting KC 6 - 0 Vancouver

Not many would have expected this scoreline but Sporting KC completely routed Vancouver Whitecaps FC to keep their unbeated streak going. It could have all been so different too had Yordy Reyna taken his one-on-one chance against Tim Melia in the seventh minute but the Sporting goalkeeper kept Vancouver out early in the game. The Whitecaps were punished for not taking their chance when Johnny Russell put the home side ahead in the tenth minute with a cool inside step finish. Russell then made it two with a deflected shot in the 16th minute and you feared for Vancouver then. Jimmy Medranda then hit a belter of a shot in the 30th minute to make it three and it was all downhill after that for Vancouver. After an altercation in the midfield around the 40th minute mark, both Reyna and Efraín Juárez were given straight red cards for unsportsmanlike conduct and you knew Vancouver's afternoon was only going to get worse from there. Marcel de Jong then brought down Russell inside the penalty area in extra time which Ilie Sánchez failed to convert as Stefan Marinovic stepped up to make the stop. After half-time though, Sporting continued to pile on the misery as Russell got his hat-trick with an audacious chip from a narrow angle in the 48th minute. Cristian Lobato and Yohan Croizet then finished the job for Sporting with goals in the 54th and 77th minutes of the game.

Although much of the focus will be on Vancouver's double dismissal, Johnny Russell had an outstanding game for Sporting and even against 11 men, would have probably put in a similar man of the match performance for the home side. Vancouver will know that had Reyna taken his chance, the story may have been different but after that early miss, the Whitecaps were completely overshadowed by Sporting and the red cards only made matters worse for the visiting side.

Montreal 3 - 5 LAFC

The Montreal Impact and LAFC provided plenty of goals for fans and neutrals alike to talk about in a 5 - 3 thriller that left LAFC as the victors. The first half was all about Montreal however as they raced out to a two-goal lead thanks to Ignacio Piatti. Piatti was on hand to get to Tyler Miller's parry first in the ninth minute and slotted the ball into the roof of the net, giving both Miller and his defenders no chance of stopping the goal. Miller was again involved in the second Montreal goal as he brought down Piatti in the 15th minute of the game. The Argentine then dusted himself off before knocking the penalty past Miller's dive to put the Impact up by two. Laurent Ciman put LAFC back into the match with a great free-kick in the 24th minute that left Evan Bush grasping at thin air. Victor Cabrera then received his marching orders in the 32nd minute for denial of a goal scoring opportunity foul inside his own area but Marco Ureña knocked his penalty off the post and away, preventing LAFC from being on equal terms with Montreal. Bush came up big again in the 36th minute when he stopped Carlos Vela at point blank range and then Piatti made LAFC's task seem insurmountable in the 43rd minute when he rifled his shot past Miller to earn his hat-trick.

Ignacio Piatti's brilliance could not stop the Impact from losing this game | Source: lafc.com
Ignacio Piatti's brilliance could not stop the Impact from losing this game | Source: lafc.com

The second half saw LAFC come out as a more dangerous team and playing a man up certainly helped. Benny Feilhaber put LAFC back within one in the 52nd minute when he was found inside the box by Ureña. Jukka Raitala then scored an unfortunate own goal five minutes later to put LAFC on level terms and it was the catalyst the away side needed to go on and win the game. Vela converted a second penalty for LAFC in the 83rd minute and Latif Blessing made sure of the points in the 89th minute when Bush fumbled a simple catch and allowed the forward to nip in and score into an empty net.

Montreal were a man down for the entirety of the second half but the way they capitulated after being up by two goals will be a little concerning. They may not have been able to keep LAFC out completely but they also should not have been open enough for the away side to score four goals. LAFC have now picked up four wins out of six away games which bodes well for their season. If they can consolidate their home form as well, they will have a great season for a new expansion team.

Quick hits

Real Salt Lake 3 - 0 Colorado Rapids: It took the hosts until the latter stages of the second half before they could find the opening goal. Joao Plata scored a penalty in the 82nd minute, Damir Kreilach  made it two seven minutes later and Albert Rusnak scored in stoppage time to give RSL a big win over their rivals.

FC Dallas 2 - 0 Philadelphia Union: FC Dallas kept apace with NYCFC with a solid home win against the Union. Mauro Diaz converted from the spot in the 64th minute and Maximiliano Urruti added the second in the 74th minute to give FCD the win.

Houston Dynamo 5 - 1 Toronto FC: The Dynamo took advantage of Toronto's spilt focus at the moment and hammered their point home with a big win. Mauro Manotas, who is having a great start to his 2018 season, opened the floodgates in the third minute and Leonardo made it two in the seventh. The second half saw Houston pile on the misery with goals from Eric AlexanderAlberth Elis and Romell Quioto while Mitchell Taintor got Toronto's consolation goal in the 52nd minute.

LA Galaxy 0 - 2 Atlanta United FC: Atlanta came out of LA after giving a good account of themselves away from home. Atlanta kept LA's offense quiet while their own stars, Josef Martínez and Miguel Almirón, made sure of the points by adding their names to the scoresheet in the 22nd and 94th minutes of the game.

Orlando City SC 3 - 2 San Jose Earthquakes: Florian Jungwirth​brought San Jose within a goal of a draw away from home with a brace in the latter part of the second half but it was a case of too little, too late. Chris Mueller put Orlando ahead as early as the second minute and Sacha Kljestan gave the home side a two-nil lead with a goal of his own in the 35th minute. Dom Dwyer scored what would turn out to be the game-winner in the 69th minute and helped his team to another home win.

New York Red Bulls 1 - 2 Chicago Fire: Chicago can come away from this weekend full of confidence after finding a way past the Red Bulls in their own patch. Aleksandar Katai got Chicago's first in the 30th minute and Nemanja Nikolić made it two in the 69th minute. Chicago managed to hang on even after Bradley Wright-Phillips pulled one back for NYRB in the 80th minute and left New York City with all three points.

Columbus Crew SC 2 - 2 New England Revolution: The two sides traded goals before ending it all with two goals apiece. Andrew Farrell put Columbus ahead with an own goal in ninth minute but Teal Bunbury brought the Revs back into the game with a goal in the 14th minute. Gyasi Zardes, who is enjoying a new lease of life in Columbus, made it two for the hosts in the 43rd minute but again, New England brought themselves level with a goal by Christian Penilla in extra time at the end of the first half.