Luis Silva

MLS Snapshot: Montréal Impact 2-4 D.C. United

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bNdHKH_LOw]

One game, 100 words (or less): Montréal and D.C. United came into tonight’s game averaging a combined 2.2 goals per game, but by the 21st minute at Stade Saputo, they’d already raced past that mark on their way to a six-goal half. Unfortunately for the hosts, an injury time penalty converted by Luis Silva completed the attacker’s first half hat trick, sending D.C. into intermission up, 4-2.

Montréal’s own chance from the spot gave the hosts a chance to half the lead in the 76th minute, but when Patrice Bernier nailed the post, D.C. was on its way to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Three moments that mattered

1. 33′ – Fabián Espíndola stays on – This year, we’ve mostly seen good Fabián Espíndola, a trend that continued as the Argentine collected three assists over Wednesday’s first 39 minutes. Six minutes before he set up Silva’s second, however, Espíndola could have been sent off after raking his studs across Felipe Martins’ left Achilles, a foul made worse for the fact the ball was dead at the time.

Apparently paying the Montréal midfielder back for a foul just after kickoff, Espíndola would have left his team with 10 men had the officials caught the retribution. Since the cameras, meaning D.C.’s leading scoring will likely draw a suspension.

2. 45+3′ – Luis Silva competes his hat trick – The Impact looked like they would make it to halftime down one before a spurt of D.C. activity left them pinned in their defensive third. That activity paid off in the third minute of stoppage time when an Espíndola restart from deep on United’s left led to a foul by Hassoun Camara, giving the visitors a chance to double their lead from the spot. When Silva put his third of the half into the left side of goal, Montréal went into halftime needing more than the next goal.  Down two, they now needed to change things up.

source: Getty Images
Patrice Bernier’s chance to bring Montréal back into Wednesday’s match went off the left post, condemning the Impact to a 4-2 loss. (Photo: Getty Images)

3. 76′  – Bernier misses from the spot – The handball call against Davy Arnaud was harsh, but when your hand’s above the ball an opponent controls, it’s pretty easy for an official to conclude it should have been somewhere else. The resulting attempt, however, produced a ball don’t lie moment that sided with Arnaud. Missing against the left post, Patrice Bernier was unable to reduce D.C.’s lead to one.

Three lessons going forward

1. So about these defenses – During the first half, they played like sixth graders the day before summer break. That make for an entertaining game, but neither coach will be happy with what he saw. The World Cup break was not supposed to start this soon.

2. Good Fabi; Bad Fabi – Espíndola has been D.C.’s best player this season, but with that performance comes responsibility. For example, what is D.C. supposed to do when their leading scorer is suspended for the team’s next game, especially if Eddie Johnson is still out? Conor Doyle will likely partner Silva in attack, but that’s still a downgrade that could have been avoided. It should go without saying, but I suppose it doesn’t: Don’t rake your studs down a guy’s Achilles … ever.

3. Does Luis Silva need to be in the starting lineup – Perhaps, but tonight’s hat trick shouldn’t future that claim so much. One goal came from a penalty kick he had no part in earning. Another was a blast from distance that Heath Pearce may still be backpedaling away from.

This first goal, though? If that’s what we can expect from more Espíndola and Silva, then head coach Ben Olsen may want to consider a switch. At least, it gives him an option if Johnson’s production doesn’t pick up.

Where that leaves them

  • Montréal is still in last place in the East with only 10 points in 15 games.
  • D.C. United is in first place. No, seriously:

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Frei leads Sounders to first MLS Cup title in penalty kicks

Seattle Sounders forward Nelson Valdez, left, and Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley challenge for the ball during first-half MLS Cup final soccer action in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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TORONTO — With tackles that matched the bitter temperature, Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders had little trouble providing intensity.

Goals were another story.

In a game only its champion could love, XXXX defeated XXXX in penalty kicks at BMO Field on Saturday after 120 minutes of 0-0 play with precious few threats on goal.

After the teams traded goals to start PKs, Michael Bradley flubbed his shot right to Stefan Frei. But Clint Irwin stopped Alvaro Fernandez’s shot, Seattle’s third attempt, to keep things 2-2.

It went to bonus kicks, and Justin Morrow hit the bar to set the table for Roman Torres. Yes, the big man, and he nailed it.

The first chance belonged to Altidore, who took a classy ball from Giovinco and had his far post shot deflected off Roman Torres for a corner.

Giovinco had trouble with his service in the cold, and a fifth minute offering was returned by Joevin Jones on a long counter which finished in the hands of Clint Irwin.

Seattle gained its footing and held the ball deep in Toronto’s end, but wasn’t able to trouble Irwin. Jonathan Osorio was next to trouble a keeper, though ex-Reds backstop Frei collected his effort.

A scary moment arrived in the 27th minute, as Giovinco ripped a left-footed effort into Roman Torres’ face just inside the 18. The Sounders defender fell hard (and surely the 25 degree weather didn’t help the impact).

Justin Morrow then supplied a lofted cross from the left fringe that Altidore headed down to a sliding Frei. Still 0-0, 30′

Service left a lot to be desired on set pieces, and Giovinco earned a free kick before firing it off the wall in the 39th minute.

Giovinco teed one up right after the break, but hit it off the outside of the net with the outside of his boot and it remained scoreless.

Though the chances remained scarce, the hosts had a few. Bradley picked out Giovinco with a diagonal ball that the Italian slid square for Altidore. The striker was held from getting to the ball, but no call came and Toronto won a corner that came to nothing.

The chippy play continued, and the chances remained few. Seattle called upon Andreas Ivanschitz  and Toronto turned to Will Johnson and ECF hero Benoit Cheyrou. Extra time seemed predestined, and so it came to pass.

Cheyrou won a corner with a left-footed shot just after play resumed. Giovinco teed him up for a similar chance three minutes later, but Frei collected the low offering. That was about it for the first 15 of ET.

Toronto’s third sub was Tosaint Ricketts, and he took a ball out of the air from 15 yards only to miss wide of the right post. Kicks were looming. Ricketts then picked out Altidore in the center of the box, but Frei flew to palm the headed ball off the line.

Seattle nearly went on top via a deep throw-in, as Lodeiro spied Torres at the back post and Beitashour whiffed on his attempted clearance. Irwin grabbed the loose ball first.

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WATCH: Stefan Frei made the most amazing, unbelievable save in ET

Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei reacts as time runs out in the second half of the second leg of an MLS Western Conference soccer finals game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Commerce City, Colo. Seattle won 1-0 to advance to the MLS championship game. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Words simply fail at at a time like this.

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Stefan Frei made the best save you’ll see for quite some time, 108 minutes into MLS Cup 2016, to deny Jozy Altidore on the doorstep. The distance covered across the face of goal, the leap, the stretch, the strong hand underneath the ball … it’s all straight out of a Hollywood film which you’d question its legitimacy.

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MLS Cup 2016 will be decided on penalty kicks.

FT — MLS Cup 2016: TFC, Sounders headed to extra time

Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco, left, battles Seattle Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan during second-half MLS Cup final soccer action in Toronto, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
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After 90 minutes of knock-down-drag-out soccer, MLS Cup 2016 is headed to extra time.

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The score, just as it was when proceedings kicked off at BMO Field nearly two hours ago, is 0-0. Toronto FC have had the majority of the game’s chances, but never really threatened Stefan Frei and the Seattle Sounders’ superbly organized defense. Seattle, on the other hand, managed all of three shots in the first and second halves combined, the first of which didn’t come until the 76th minute.

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PST’s very own Nicholas Mendola is reporting live from a frigid, frozen BMO Field (gametime temperatures in the low-20s), so make sure you follow him on Twitter, right here, and check back to PST for live updates, full-match recap, and post-game reaction from every angle.

FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup 2016 — Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders

KANSAS CITY, KS - DECEMBER 07:  The Philip F. Anschutz trophy is seen on the field before the start of the match between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City in the 2013 MLS Cup at Sporting Park on December 7, 2013 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images
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279 days after First Kick, it’s all come down to this: MLS Cup 2016, between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders, a pair of first-timers in MLS’s postseason title decider.

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Fighting out of the red corner, it’s Sebastian Giovinco (4 goals, 4 assists in five playoff games in 2016), Jozy Altidore (5 goals, 4 assists) and Michael Bradley. Fighting out of the blue (and Rave Green) corner, it’s Nicolas Lodeiro (4 goals), Jordan Morris (2 goals, 1 assist) and a suddenly stout Sounders defense (3 goals conceded).

[ MORE: TFC, Sounders present unique tactical challenges for each other ]

PST’s very own Nicholas Mendola will be reporting live from a frigid, frozen BMO Field (gametime temperatures expected to be in the low-20s), so make sure you follow him on Twitter, right here, and check back to PST for live updates, full-match recap, and post-game reaction from every angle.

Who: Toronto FC vs. Seattle Sounders
What: MLS Cup 2016
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: BMO Field, Toronto, Canada
Why: To crown a champion