Another week has passed in Major League Soccer and the unpredictability of the results have not abated yet. This week saw the Colorado Rapids and the Chicago Fire pick up big home wins and reel themselves back into the mix after disappointing results for both teams last time out.
Chicago steamroll the Sounders
Raise your hand if you expected the Fire to roll over Seattle Sounders FC with a big 4-1 win. If you did predict that, you were an anomaly as most people expected at least a draw when these two were set to meet this weekend.
It all started in the 23rd minute when Joevin Jones gave the ball away at the edge of his own area and Tony Alfaro brought down Nemanja Nikolić in a bid to stop the Fire striker from being through on goal. Nikolić sent Stefan Frei the wrong way and the Fire were 1-0 up. Clint Dempsey got the Sounders back to level pegging with a great strike from outside the box in the 28th minute and the teams headed into half-time at one apiece.
The second half was all about Chicago though. 60 minutes in and David Accam made it 2-1 after putting away Michael de Leeuw's cross with a fine finish. Luis Solignac was next on the scoresheet in the 73rd minute after Nemanja Nikolić had failed to control Brandon Vincet's cross into the box. Solignac was on hand to finish from close range and get only his second goal of the season. Nikolić added his second of the night, and his eighth of the season three minutes later after Chicago took advantage of a shaky Seattle backline to make it four. The night ended dismally for the Sounders when Jones picked up his second yellow of the night and left his teammates to see out the game without him.
The Fire were full value for their win against the Sounders especially on their second half performance. Nikolić was unstoppable and is now establishing himself as one of the most in-form strikers in the MLS this year. Accam and Solignac are assisting the Hungarian ably and it has allowed Chicago to attack in a way that they have not had for quite some time.
As for Seattle, they will moan about some iffy calls in the first half that could have gone their way but overall, they were poor and it makes it the second straight loss for the Sounders this season after last weekend's defeat. It leaves the Sounders in ninth place in the Western conference and now looking for answers after what seemed like a good start to the season.
The Rapids give their fans something to cheer about
It has been hard going for Colorado so far this season. Before this weekend, they had only managed one win in eight tries and were looking towards a struggle in moving up the table.
A 3-0 win over the visiting San Jose Earthquakes shifted all the negativity away as the home team found the goals that they had been lacking all season long. The Rapids started off the match brightly and forced Earthquakes' goalkeeper David Bingham into some good early saves. The pressure finally told in the 29th minute when Mohammed Saeid found some space out wide to put in a dangerous cross that Albanian forward Shkëlzen Gashi met at the far post and finished from close range.
Dominique Badji then made it two in the 35th minute after Alan Gordon stole the ball in midfield and Badji used his pace to break away from the trailing defenders and finish well past Bingham's dive. That goal gave a sense of relief to the home fans and the Rapids began to play with more ease. Badji then turned creator in the 56th minute when he slipped the ball through a Earthquakes' defender's legs to find an unmarked Gashi who made no mistake and wrapped things up for Colorado.
A change in formation allowed the Rapids' attack to thrive and gave Gashi, Gordon and Badji the opportunity to combine well at the tip of Colorado's attack. It was also a welcome win for the Rapids, who stay bottom of the West, but now have a platform to build from in the coming weeks. San Jose will look back at their performance in this game as one to forget. The visitors never got going and failed to find a way past a sturdy Colorado backline. The Earthquakes have no problems at home but if they want to go far in the playoffs, they have to find a way to better their away form.
LA rip up the form books, get a win at Red Bull Arena
A 13-match unbeaten streak came to an end this weekend at the Red Bull Arena as the New York Red Bulls fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Romain Alessandrini, who has been tremendous for the Galaxy since his arrival earlier this year, was the pick of the players once again and scored the first of his two in the eighth minute when his free-kick went all the way through and into the far post without a touch.
One minute later and Alessandrini had made it two when his volley was only partially saved by Luis Robles in goal and rolled into the net before anyone could clear it away. Alessandrini then turned creator for LA's third goal after he was fouled in the box by Red Bull's defender Mike Grella and Giovinco Dos Santos made no mistake from the spot in the 78th minute. The Galaxy were reduced to ten men after Bradley Diallo had been sent off and even though Daniel Royer scored late into stoppage time for the Red Bulls, it was too little too late for the home side as they fell to their sixth defeat of the season.
Alessandrini continues to be the brightest light for the Galaxy so far this season and his performance against the Red Bulls exemplified that. The French midfielder now has six goals and four assists in his young MLS career, and seems to be settling in quite nicely to the way the Galaxy play and the league as a whole. The Red Bulls were the definition of meaningless possession against LA and it showed as the the Galaxy found ways to steal possession in midfield and break quickly, which caused the Red Bulls problems all match long. They will need to address that and find a way to start picking up wins again after now going three straight games without a win.
Philadelphia keeps the good times rolling against D.C.
Last week may have seemed an anomaly for the Philadelphia Union but their 4-0 win against D.C. United showed that Jim Curtin's side have turned a corner. Haris Medunjanin opened the scoring in the 39th minute with a bang as he hit a fine shot from about 25 yards out. Things when from bad to worse in the second half for D.C. after Luis Acosta was shown a straight red card in the 55th minute for a careless lunge at Ilsinho.
The Union took full advantage of this and in the 64th minute Oguchi Onyewu rose highest to meet Medunjanin's corner and put the Union 2-0 up. Fafà Picault then made it three with a neat finish into the far corner of the net in the 78th minute and Fabian Herbers capped off a great night for the Union with an effort that looped over Billy Hamid's tall frame and into the top left-hand corner of the goal.
C.J. Sapong was not on the scoresheet for the Union but that will please Curtin as it shows that his team is spreading the goals around and refining their attack as the Union march up the Eastern conference table once again. His opposite number, Ben Olsen, will not be happy with how his team has again capitulated in the second half of games and allowed their opponents to score multiple goals on them. D.C. have now conceded 18 goals in ten matches and cannot seem to stop leaking goals, which keeps them near the bottom of the conference right now.
Toronto FC followed up their midweek win against Columbus Crew SC with a 3-2 win over Minnesota United FC. The home side had to dig deep after Minnesota had matched Sebastian Giovinco's 20th minute penalty and Christian Ramirez' own goal with two goals by Kevin Molino. Tossaunt Ricketts was once again the hero as his winning goal in the 77th minute gave Toronto all three points.
Columbus rebounded from their loss and had Justin Meram to thank as his hat-trick gave them a 3-2 away win against the Montreal Impact. Meram got his first two goals in the 14th and 28th minutes but Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel pulled Montreal level in the second half. Meram left it late to get his third but no one will begrudge him scoring in stoppage time to give his team the win.
The New England Revolution calmly dispatched Real Salt Lake with a 4-0 win, all goals coming in the first half. Scott Cadwell started things off in the fourth minute and his goal was followed up by Kei Kamara in the 18th minute. The Revs continued to slice through a porous RSL backline and Diego Fagúndez made it three in the 34th minute. Lee Nguyen made it four just before half-time and finished off a good half for the home team.
The Houston Dynamo continued to pick up points at home and this time found a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC to move them to the top of the Western conference. Alberth Elis gave the Dynamo the lead in the 15th minute and Eric Torres made it two in the 68th minute. Brek Shea pulled one back for the Whitecaps in the 85th minute but the Dynamo held on for the win.
Latif Blessing was the man of the hour as he helped Sporting Kansas City to a 2-2 draw against Orlando City SC. Blessing scored the first goal of the game in the ninth minute and then Cyle Larin and Kaká put Orlando 2-1 up with goals three minutes apart. Neither side could find the back of the net in the second half until Blessing popped up again with the equalizer in the 74th minute and gave Sporting a share of the spoils.
Atlanta United FC picked up a credible point on the road against Portland Timbers FC and rebounded well from their previous loss. Julian Gressel put the visitors in front in the 46th minute but Liam Ridgewell put Portland back on equal footing four minutes later and that was how the game ended.
New York City FC also traveled to a difficult venue to face FC Dallas and came away happy with their 1-1 draw. Kellyn Acosta scored for FC Dallas in the 20th minute and put the home side ahead. NYCFC did not give up and in the 68th minute, their determination allowed Thomas McNamara to score the equalizer and allow NYCFC to leave Dallas with a solid point away from home.