Week 23 wasn’t quite the high-scoring affair the past few weeks have been, outside of two blowouts at the hands of Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps. But that doesn’t mean nothing exciting happened; Sebastian Giovinco had a mid week hat trick, DaMarcus Beasley got his first Dynamo goal, and DC United set an all-time record for subpar performance. Let’s get to it.
The Impact and the Red Bulls opened up the week by playing to a 1-1 draw in Montreal Wednesday night. Dominic Oduro opened the scoring just before halftime, driving towards goal, slipping the ball to Dilly Duka, then volleying his return pass into the back of the net. In the 52nd minute Mike Grella served in a long cross that Lloyd Sam basically tapped into the goal with his knee as he was falling down in the penalty area. In the 79th minute, the Red Bulls went up a man on Montreal after Laurent Ciman was shown his second yellow of the match. Ciman received yellows for two actions that easily could both have been straight red; an intentional handball to prevent Bradley Wright-Phillips from scoring in the 14th, and then a slide tackle with no chance on the ball in the 79th. However, the Red Bulls were unable to capitalize and ended the game 1-1.
Toronto FC 4, Orlando City SC 1
Orlando continues to participate in blowouts, but this time they were on the receiving end of a 4-1 drubbing from a Bradley and Altidore-less Toronto side. TFC opened it up in the 12th minute on a PK converted by Sebastian Giovinco after he was tripped up in the back corner of the penalty area. 4 minutes later Luke Boden received a cross directly in front of goal and curled it into the top left corner, past the outstretched fingertips of the keeper to tie the match. Giovinco made it a brace in the 56th minute off of a beautiful looping free kick that nestled in the top left corner. Collen Warner snuck a back post header past goal keeper Tally Hall in the 81st, and Sebastian Giovinco completed his hat trick in the 88th with a driving strike.
Portland got back into the win column against the hapless Chicago Fire Friday night, after going winless in their last 4. The only goal of the offensively lacking match came in the 48th minute. Diego Valeri sent a left cross in front of goal that keeper Sean Johnson deflected, but Fernando Adi was in the perfect spot to sneak it under the crossbar. With the Union taking a point from Orlando, Chicago has reclaimed it’s spot as the worst team in the East.
Sporting Kansas City 3, Toronto FC 1
Despite getting back their captain Michael Bradley and striker Jozy Altidore, TFC was unable to build off of their victory over Orlando City Wednesday night. Sporting took the lead in the 22nd minute; Benny Feilhaber made the keeper guess wrong and then delivered a strike straight down the middle of the plate to put SKC up 1-0. Just seconds later Toronto put on a passing clinic that ended with the ball at Michael Bradley’s feet, who slipped it in for the tie. In the 29th, Feilhaber added an assist to his boxscore (are we sure that Jurgen knows this kid is an American?), a free kick that his teammate Kristen Nemeth headed in for the lead. Jacob Peterson tacked in the insurance goal in the 87th off of an assist from Amobi Okugo.
Orlando City SC 0, Philadelphia Union 0
Orlando City broke their streak of goal-fests on Saturday, in a scoreless draw that didn’t feature a ton of action. Cyle Larin had the audacity to not set a new rookie goal-scoring record in this game, though he did have a great header that missed high in the 52nd. Philadelphia gained a point in the table to move up above the Chicago Fire, and former Dynamo Tally Hall did have 4 saves to keep a clean sheet, but, other than that, not a ton happening here.
DC United 1, Montreal Impact 0
This game was awful. After a run of extremely entertaining games, DC was the feature player in a real stinker here. If you’re curious how boring this was, DC United set an all-time MLS record; they won the game only taking one shot.
Columbus Crew 2, Colorado Rapids 1
After a number of close misses in the first half, Colorado took the lead just before halftime off of a free kick from Vincente Sanchez that his teammate Bobby Burling headed in. The Crew’s attack would prevail in the second half, or rather, Kei Kamara would prevail in the second half. His first came ten minutes after halftime, streaking down the sideline and burying it left and low. In the 64th Kamara made it a brace off of a pass from Hector Jimenez.
The Dynamo rose to within 1 point of the red line Saturday with a clutch win over San Jose, their second win over San Jose this season after beating them on the road. Houston took the early lead off of DaMarcus Beasley’s first goal in orange in the 55th minute. Despite going down a man, San Jose struck back in the 70th when Dynamo backup keeper Joe Willis misplayed the ball and Quincy Amarikwa bounced it in off of his chest. In the 77th, Alex Lima buried a pass from new Dynamo player Sheanon Williams to win the game, the Dynamo’s third straight undefeated match.
Vancouver Whitecaps 4, Real Salt Lake 0
The Whitecaps absolutely stomped RSL in the late game Saturday. Just six minutes in, Octavio Rivero got tripped up in the penalty box and easily converted to begin the beating. 5 minutes before halftime, defender Pa Modou Kah, good for two goals last week, finished a nice pass from Kekuta Manneh. Christian Techera was the harbinger of doom for any dream of a RSL comeback in the second half. Techera planted a cross in the 49th and threaded the needle 20 minutes later.
Seattle started this match strong, scoring in just 51 seconds, but in a move so typically characteristic of the Sounders’ struggles, Chad Barrett pulled his hamstring while celebrating his goal. Gyasi Zardes pulled the game even in the 13th, off of a pass from Juninho. Robbie Keane and Galaxy debutant Giovani dos Santos traded goals and assists in the second half to put it out of reach. Right after halftime, dos Santos couldn’t finish a cross in front of goal, but Keane stepped up and banged it in. In the 64th, Robbie Keane threaded a ball forward that dos Santos pounced on for his first Galaxy goal.
New York Red Bulls 2, NYCFC 0
NYCFC continued to struggle Sunday, losing 2-0 to their cross town foes at Red Bull arena. In the 21st, a long pass from Kemar Lawrence was deposited in the net by (who else?) Bradley Wright-Phillips. NYCFC looked to have the better run of play for stretches, but an 85th minute goal by Felipe sealed the victory, which finished a sweep of NYCFC by the energy drink team.
What all of this means for the Dynamo
The two most important games for Houston this week were the Dynamo’s victory over San Jose, which brings them 3 points closer to the playoffs, and the Whitecaps’ spanking of Real Salt Lake. RSL is the team just ahead of the Dynamo in the table, and denying them any points is huge. The combination of Houston’s win and RSL’s loss means the Dynamo leap-frog Salt Lake and now reside in the 7th spot, just 1 point behind Seattle. A Dynamo win and Sounders loss would bring the Dynamo up above the red line for the first time in what feels like an eternity. Seattle has made an art form out of losing lately; they have been on the wrong side of 5 straight. Not 5 straight winless, 5 straight losses.
It doesn’t really matter that Vancouver picked up 3 points; they’re currently the 1 seed in the West and far out of the Dynamo’s reach, as are the LA Galaxy, who occupy the 2 seed. Portland’s win was unfortunate because it puts them 5 points ahead of the Dynamo instead of 2, but Houston just needs to worry about finding a way to get up to 6, and then they can set their targets on Portland.