MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Colorado Rapids

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One game, 100 words or less – A chance-less first half that showcased an improved Colorado defense gave way to a quick turn, with poor defending on an early second half corner allowing Clint Dempsey to give Seattle a 51st minute lead. Reverting to form that underscored a five-match losing streak they carried into the match, the Rapids began leaking chances, with Martins coming close three times over the match’s final 40 minutes. Though they were unable to double their lead, the Sounders still earned a one-sided 1-0 victory, one that creates some temporary breathing room at the top of the league.

Goals

Seattle: Clint Dempsey 51′
Colorado: None.

Three moments that mattered:

51′ – Dempsey unmarked – The first good chance of the match saw Seattle earn a corner after a ball put behind the defense by Gonzalo Pineda allowed Brad Evans to test debuting goalkeeper Joe Nasco. Off the ensuing corner, Marc Burch forgot he’s not longer a Sounder, giving Clint Dempsey an open volley from the middle of the area. Converting into the right side of goal, “Deuce” gave the favorites a 1-0 lead.

58′ – Martins almost breaks the bar – A suddenly struggling Colorado defense made life worse for itself with a poor clearance from Marvell Wynne. Moments later, Obafemi Martins unloaded on a bouncing ball just inside the penalty area, which the Nigerian’s shot testing the integrity of Nasco’s crossbar. Withstanding that test, the south end’s woodwork kept it 1-0.

90′ – Nasco keeps it close – A blast from Martins from near the edge of the penalty area gave Seattle a chance to (finally) double its lead, but Nasco again came up with a strong save, pushing the ball well wide. Quickly, however, Seattle had the ball at Clint Dempsey’s feet, drawing another save from Nasco. Moments later, Seattle’s strikers were combining on a counter, and while the attack fizzled just inside the final third, the Sounders remained on the edge of their insurance goal.

Lineups

Seattle: Stefan Frei; DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez; Brad Evans (Chad Barrett 75′), Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Lamar Neagle 75′); Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins (Andy Rose 92′)
Colorado: Joe Nasco; Chris Kulte, Thomas Piermayr, Marvell Wynne, Marc Burch; Marlon Harrison (Gabriel Torres 60′), Dillon Powers, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Serna (Charles Eloundou 79′); Deshorn Brown, Edson Buddle

Three lessons going forward:

1. The break didn’t help Colorado – During the first half, the Rapids looked less like a team riding a five-game slump than an underdog trying to survive Seattle. The second half, however, saw them revert to form. Though the first 45 minutes gave Rapids fans reason to hope, Colorado’s weekend off didn’t solve the team’s problems.

2. Seattle’s starting XI seems mostly set – This isn’t major news, but it’s still worth pausing to consider what Seattle will look like going forward. Brad Evans has settled in on the right side of midfield, pushing Lamar Neagle to the bench. Though a healthy Djimi Traoré could eventually supplant Zach Scott in central defense, today’s XI looks like the team Sigi Schmid’s going to bet on. Over the last two weeks, that looks like a bet that should come good.

3. Edges being wasted – Deshorn Brown had only one goal in his last four games, a rate that should have improved today at CenturyLink. Against a back line of Marshall, Scott, and Leo Gonzalez, Colorado had a chance to take advantage of Brown’s speed, particularly on CenturyLink’s gridiron-friendly turf. Except for one, maybe two moments in the second half, that edge was never leveraged, allowing Seattle to enjoy an easy afternoon at home.

Where this leaves them

  • Temporarily, Seattle has a five-point lead in both its conference and Supporters’ Shield standings. Regardless of what happens later this weekend in Carson and D.C., the Sounders will again be top of the table come Monday.
  • Colorado is still three back of fifth in the East, but if Vancouver gets a result tonight against Portland, the Rapids will lose touch with the West’s final playoff spot.

MLS Snapshots: Opara scores a bike, SKC win; SJ thump RSL

Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The game in 100 words (or less): I’m going to start by quoting myself (re: Sporting Kansas City), via Twitter: “This team is better in June than it was in March, and will be better in October than it is in June. Just steadily progressing.” Saturday’s 2-1 victory away to LA Galaxy (just their second road win of the season, and the team’s fourth and fifth away goals in 10 games) is the latest sign of progress for Peter Vermes’ side, as they extend their lead on the rest of the Western Conference to five points. Roger Espinoza and Ike Opara scored the visitors’ goals — the latter coming in spectacular, most unexpected fashion — before the hosts pulled back to 2-1 through Dave Romney late in the second half. LA, meanwhile, sit sixth in the West, one point clear of the wrong side of the playoff cut line.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

22′ — Diop’s howler puts SKC up 1-0 — Sometimes — and this is one of those moments for Clement Diop — you just want the ground to open up and swallow you into the middle of the Earth.

35′ — Opara rides his bike to 2-0 — Ike Opara, a center back, scored a bicycle kick from a long ball played to him by Matt Besler, Sporting KC’s other center back. It’s a sequence of events you won’t see again for a long, long time.

59′ — Smith goes through Feilhaber, who is subbed off — Baldomero Toledo allowed Nathan Smith to stay on the field after this “tackle” on Benny Feilhaber.

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Man of the match: Ike Opara

Goalscorers: Espinoza (22′), Opara (35′)


San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Real Salt Lake

Three Two moments that mattered

13′ — Hoesen blasts a loose ball past Rimando for 1-0 — If you fail to clear the ball anywhere inside 12 yards, you’re probably going to get scored on. Danny Hoesen got all of this one.

68′ — Hoesen sets up Ureña for 2-0 — Hoesen’s speculative through ball found its way into space, and Marco Ureñat took it from there, putting the game away and handing RSL their eighth loss in 11 games.

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Man of the match: Danny Hoesen

Goalscorers: Hoesen (13′), Ureña (68′), Hernandez (90+4′)

MLS Snapshots: Hat trick for Accam; MNUFC come back from 2-0

Photo credit: Chicago Fire / Twitter: @ChicagoFire
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The game in 100 words (or less): All hail King David Accam, the newest superstar of MLS — except, well, you know, he’s been doing this for a couple years now. It’s not his fault you hadn’t already taken notice. For too long, it was Accam and not much else for the Chicago Fire, who finished bottom of the league two straight seasons, in 2015 and 2016. Now, with the likes of Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger joining him in Bridgeview, Accam has ascended to his rightful throne as an MVP candidate. The 26-year-old Ghanaian international strengthened his case on Saturday, bagging three goals and an assist, playing a key part in all four goals, in Chicago’s 4-0 drubbing of Orlando City SC. Accam’s season stats now sit at 10 goals and six assists, for the Eastern Conference’s second-place team. If these kind of performances persist, don’t be surprised when Accam follows in Fabian Castillo’s footsteps, right off to Europe.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

8′ — Accam rounds Bendik for 2-0 — The long-ball distribution from Bastian Schweinsteiger is perfect, but Accam still has a ton to do from there. He corrals the ball with his first touch, quickly goes around Joe Bendik, gets his wits about him and fires through an opening to make it David Accam 2-0 Orlando City SC. This one came just six minutes after his brilliant backheel finish for the opening goal.

52′ — Accam sets up Nikolic for 3-0 — The time and space afforded Accam is inexcusable from Orlando’s midfield remaining players in their defensive half of the field, but the through ball still required inch-perfect precision to find Nikolic.

63′ — Accam converts from the spot — No doubt about this one, as Accam slams home from the penalty spot to complete his much deserved hat trick.

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Man of the match: David Accam

Goalscorers: Accam (3′, 8′, 63′ – PK), Nikolic (52′)


Minnesota United 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

Three moments that mattered

45+2′ — Tchani heads a rocket past Shuttleworth — You’re not going to find many headers with more power behind them than this one from Tony Tchani, anywhere in the world, anytime.

50′ — Calvo heads down and past Ousted — Take, for example, Francisco Calvo’s goal five minutes into the second half… not quite as much behind it.

63′ — Thiesson hits it low, through traffic, for 2-0 — Jerome Thiesson’s equalizer needed eyes to make its way through a penalty area full of bodies.

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Man of the match: Kevin Molino

Goalscorers: Techera (17′ – PK), Tchani (45+2′), Calvo (50′), Thiesson (63′)

MLS Snapshots: Manneh inspires Crew SC; Philly, Atlanta win at home

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
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Columbus Crew SC 4-1 Montreal Impact

Three moments that mattered

17′ — Higuain’s free kick beats Bush — Aided by a slight deflection off the top of the wall, Higuain put a free kick past Evan Bush to give the home side an early lead.

70′ — Manneh makes an immediate impact — The initial ball from Higuain is what you came here for, but the elementary defending by three Montreal defenders is what’ll keep you glued until the very end.

72′ — Manneh sets up Kamara for 3-1 — Kekuta Manneh had been on the field for all of three minutes, and he put a goal and an assist to his name. Most importantly, three points to that of Crew SC.

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Man of the match: Federico Higuain

Goalscorers: Higuain (17′, 88′), Jackson-Hamel (19′), Manneh (70′), Kamara (72′)


 

Philadelphia Union 1-0 D.C. United

Three moments that mattered

28′ — Blake gets down to deny Harkes from distance — Ian Harkes had picked out a spot just inside the far post, but Andre Blake was well up to the task of denying DCU’s homegrown rookie.

31′ — Picault slams Bedoya’s cross — Alejandro Bedoya’s cross has some serious loft on it, which it makes it so tough to keep the ensuing shot low and to hit it with such power. Fantastic finish from Picault.

70′ — Blake stone-walls Neagle from the spot — It’s a pretty poor penalty from Lamar Neagle, but it’s a massive moment so badly needed by Andre Blake who’s been well off his own standard this season. Don’t be surprised if it’s a season-turning save for the talented Jamaican.

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Man of the match: Andre Blake

Goalscorers: Picault (31′)


 

Atlanta United 1-0 Colorado Rapids

Three One moment that mattered

67′ — Martinez turns and beats Howard for the game’s only goal — You can’t give Josef Martinez this kind of space, and this kind of time, around the six-yard box. He’s shown us seven times already this season (in just seven games) how deadly he is from there.

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Man of the match: Josef Martinez

Goalscorers: Martinez (67′)

VIDEO: Accam’s slick backheel puts Chicago ahead

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For the last two years, David Accam has been, in my estimation, the best player in MLS that no one talked about.

[ MORE: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win NY derby 2-0 ]

Understandably so, of course, given the 26-year-old Ghanaian international and the Chicago Fire been rooted to the bottom of the league table for two years running. All of that has changed in 2017, though, as Accam finally has a forward (Nemanja Nikolic) who can not only put chances away, but create space and chances for his teammates, and a solid midfield base which allows him to cherry-pick counter-attacks just that little bit more.

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Entering Saturday’s game against Orlando City SC, Chicago sat second in the Eastern Conference, just four points back of Toronto FC, and Accam’s 7 goals and 5 assists (in 15 games) were a huge part of the why and the how. It didn’t take Accam long — two minutes, in fact, to put Chicago ahead of Orlando with a ridiculous backheel finish to Matt Polster’s cross.