Author: Richard Farley

Colorado Rapids v FC Dallas

Highlights: Win over Colorado provides glimpse of what a healthy Dallas can do

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It will be easy to look at tonight’s final stats and say FC Dallas’s 3-1 result exaggerated its edge on Colorado, but by the time the team was up 2-0 (12th minute), the Rapids, had yet to force a save from FCD goalkeeper Raul Fernández. When Fabián Castillo increased that lead in the 55th minute, Colorado had only tested the Peruvian twice. Pablo Mastroeni’s team may have ended the night with a 24-7 edge in shots (5-4, on target), but the visitors were unable to break through before Gabrial Torres’s 86th minute penalty conversion. The Rapids never gave its hosts a reason to change approach.

It’s the second game tonight a game’s gone that way – the second where focusing on possession (62 pct. for Colorado, in this case) or shots provides a deceiving view. Much as we saw from the United States in this summer’s World Cup, game state matters, and when you have a defense you trust, sometimes the low-risk approach is the best one. It may lead to some lopsided numbers, but there’s a key to understanding those statistics: a one-goal game, at any point in the match, is a lot different than one that rests on even footing.

Particularly for a team like Dallas, who saw Mauro Díaz return to the starting lineup tonight, playing on the back foot is no disadvantage. With Díaz and Fabián Castillo, Pareja has two of the best counterattacking players in the league, and with a defense that lacks stars, it makes sense for FCD to eschew risk for organization. Dallas blocked eight shots tonight (including big stops from Hedges and Michel), a product of their willingness to set up behind the ball.

The formula that worked tonight isn’t always going to be there. Matt Hedges, of all people, put them up early, while Michel, another returning part, converted moments later from the spot. But with Walker Zimmerman also returning to the Dallas lineup , the Toros had the personnel to sit on that edge. When Castillo took advantage of a Rapids mistake early in the second half, Dallas could take its foot off the pedal.

The team still has some room to improve. Once Jair Benítez comes back, Zach Loyd may be shifted from left to right back, pushing Je-Vaughn Watson forward. Then again, Pareja could have done that tonight, had he elected to start Adam Moffat and push Michel out of midfield. Regardless, the FC Dallas is getting its weapons in uniform, talents that allow the team to see out results like tonight’s.

It was reminiscent of the team that burst out of the gates this spring, only instead of feasting on the East and scraping by against the West (as they’ve done though most of their eight-game unbeaten run), Dallas put up a decisive line against a fellow playoff contender. As the team continues to get healthy, there’s the potential for more to come.

MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew 2-3 Toronto FC

Jonathan Osorio
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One game, 100 words (or less): For the second time this season, Toronto visited Crew Stadium without Jermain Defoe, and for the second time this season, the Reds leave Ohio with a victory. Thanks to goals Gilberto, Jonathan Osorio, and Luke Moore, TFC never trailed, answering equalizers from Federico Higuaín and Justin Meram with Moore’s 84th minute winner. In game which saw both sides with stretches of control, Toronto’s execution (and some Crew failings) in front of goal was the difference, allowing the Reds to claim their third win of the year over Columbus, 3-2.


Columbus: Higuaín (p.k.) 47′, Meram 81′
Toronto: Gilberto 43′, Osorio 59′, Moore 84′

Three moments that mattered:

45+2′ – The Comeback, Part I – After a lazy giveaway and a lack of urgency in the 43rd minute, the Crew allowed Gilberto to put Toronto in front, and edge that only lasted four minutes. After Justin Morrow was whistled for a handball in the first minute of stoppage time, Higuaín buried his ninth goal of the season, wiping his team’s slate clean after a poorly conceded goal.

81′ – The Comeback, Part II – After more suspect Crew defending allowed Jonathan Osorio to finish into an empty net just before the hour, the Crew received a blessing: A cross from Justin Meram that left Joe Bendik in no man’s land. Electing to stay on his line as the ball came in from his right, Bendik was frozen as the cross flew over Aaron Schoenfeld’s head six yards from goal and inside the far post, giving Meram an unlikely equalizer.

84′ – The final response – When a team responds to two equalizers by finding a way to claim full points, it’s easy to say something like “they wouldn’t be denied,” but on Luke Moore’s winning tally, the cliché applied. Jumping to the ground and away from goal on an 84th minute corner, the former Chivas USA man headed in the winner from just over five years out, shrugging off his mark to deliver Toronto’s 3-2 win.


Columbus: Steve Clark; Eric Gehrig (Aaron Schoenfield 79′), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp, Tony Tchiani, Ben Speas (Justin Meram 64′); Federico Higuaín; Adam Bedell (Jairo Arrieta 63′)
Toronto: Joe Bednik; Warren Creavalle, Nick Hagglund, Doniel Henry, Justin Morrow; Dominic Oduro (Jackson 61′), Michael Bradley, Collen Warner, Jonanthan Osario; Luke Moore (Kyle Bekker 92′), Gilberto

Three lessons going forward:

1. Lines of delineation – As we saw with Toronto’s recent struggles against D.C. United, the results leave no doubt about the different in quality between the Reds and Columbus. Ryan Nelsen’s team has took all nine points from the Crew this season, securing eight goals in three games. Just as there’s a clear difference in quality between the East’s second and third place teams, Columbus have shown themselves to be on a lower level than Toronto.

2. Life alright without Defoe – When it was announced Toronto’s leading scorer would be out for 2-3 weeks, we ran the numbers. On Saturday, the Reds defied those results. This was the first time this year Toronto has scored more than two without Defoe in the team.

3. Lack of … something, from the Crew – After the game, Gregg Berhalter said there were “four or five” sub-par performances from his team, and when you see the nature of the Crew’s goals, you see a game that could have been worse. For all its quality in some places on the field, Columbus only generated four shots on target. Toronto had eight.

Where this leaves them:

  • The loss means Columbus drops one place in the East, with Philadelphia’s win pushing the Union into the top five.
  • Toronto firms up its grip on third place, now sitting four points clear of the fourth place Red Bulls.

MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Montréal Impact

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One game, 100 words (or less): Amid a summer surge that’s taken the Union from bottom dwellers to postseason aspirants, Jim Curtain’s team gave a “taking care of business” performance, one reminiscent of a team transitioning from insignificance to contention.

Claiming the lead after 12 minutes, the home side took advantage of a ineffective Montréal to double the lead just past the hour mark. Though the last place Impact found consolation late, they failed to make their hosts pay for an approach that ceded 68 percent of the ball.

Philadelphia held on for a 2-1 win, running its unbeaten streak to five, while Montréal fell for the sixth time in a row.


Philadelphia: Sebastien Le Toux 12′, 63′
Montréal: Maxim Tissot 79′

Three Two moments that mattered:

12′ – Relegation-worthy stuff – After a week were the idea promotion-relegation continued to wilt on the vine, Montréal provided some defending that would draw laughs from the second division. After Matteo Ferrari headed a set piece behind Zac MacMath’s goal, Philadelphia quickly launched a goal kick into the Impact’s half, with Le Toux’s pursuit causing trouble for Patrice Bernier and Krzysztof Krol. Just when it looked like Montréal had recovered, miscommunication on a headed back pass allowed Le Toux to step in, round Troy Perkins, and finish into an open net. Embarrassingly, Montréal was down one.

63′ – Coast-to-coast – Once again, Montréal provides almost no resistance as Philadelphia tried to come out of its own end, only this time, instead of a goal kick leading directly to a score, the have to Union string together a whole four passes. At the end of the exchange, Le Toux catches Perkins guessing, rolling a shot from near the top of the penalty area into the right side of goal.

It was one of only two shots the Union put on target all day, but even after Maxim Tissot halved the lead in the 79th minute, the Union maintained their passive control. Up early, the Union could afford to sit back an wait for Montréal to beat them. By the time that happened, it was too late for the Impact to make up the difference


Philadelphia: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Ethan White, Carlos Valdes, Raymon Gaddis; Brian Carroll, Maurice Edu; Sebastien Le Toux, Vincent Nogueira (Fred 86′), Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 62′); Conor Casey (Brian Brown 72′)
Montréal: Troy Perkins; Eric Miller, Wandrille Lefebvre, Matteo Ferrari, Krzysztof Krol; Patrice Bernier, Gorka Larrea; Justin Mapp (Maxim Tissot 75′), Felipe Martins (Dilly Duka 67′), Andrés Romero, Jack McInerney (Anthony Jackson-Hammel 67′)

Three lessons, going forward:

1. Carlos Valdés’s impact? – The Colombian international made his long-rumored return to Philadelphia this week and instantly went into the first team. The move helped stymy Montréal, holding a team that dominated possession to three shots on target (11 total). Valdes’s nine clearances were over four-times as many as partner Ethan White (2).

2. The trickle down effect – Amobi Okugo was odd-man out today, with Valdes’s acquisition creating a crowded situation at the back and in midfield. Today, Curtain moved Edu into the middle and Okugo out of the team, with Brian Carroll keeping his spot in the XI. Between Christian Maidana and Brian Brown, Philadelphia has similar depth further up the field. The shakeup in defense, however, may have an effect further of the field.

3. Three points or bust – Philly took advantage of Montréal early and waited for an Impact threat that never surfaced. On the back of last week’s performance against Toronto, Frank Klopas’s team looks like an obligatory three points. Teams that slip against them will have no excuses when the missed points impact impact their playoff hopes.

Where this leaves them

  • With Toronto winning in Columbus, Philadelphia’s now in fifth place in the East, albeit with one more game played than the Crew or Revolution.
  • After its 14th loss of the season, Montréal remains eight points behind Chicago or ninth in the Eastern Conference.

Quick turnaround won’t keep Cahill, Henry, Wright-Phillips out of New York’s lineup

Thierry Henry 4
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It’s not that Wednesday’s game was that taxing, though based on the efforts Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, and Bradley Wright-Phillips gave during the MLS All-Stars’ 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in Portland, Ore., the trio of Red Bull veterans would be forgiven for carrying tired legs back to New Jersey. Cahill’s hard-nosed play helped set the tone for a surprisingly contentious evening, while Henry’s effort on the FieldTurf of Providence Park was cited as an example by his All-Star teammates. With Wright-Phillips a part of the crew that helped kill off the team’s win, all three did more than stroll through a half’s worth of soccer.

No, it’s the travel that may really get them tomorrow in Chicago. At home to New England last Saturday. In Portland by Sunday. Back in New Jersey on Friday, and set to play in Bridgeville, Ill. tomorrow, the three veterans, who’ll carry a combined 99 years into tomorrow’s game, have barely had a chance to sit still, let alone relax and recover.

Speaking to the league’ website, Henry, 36, concedes he’s feeling the effects:

“It wasn’t easy, I will be honest,” Henry said. “…I’m not going to complain that’s what we like, that’s what we love to do. Having said that, it’s not an easy one but you have to perform under any circumstances. We’re going to try to do that, it won’t be easy against Chicago. … Hopefully we can do something and recover well.”

Or, perhaps Mike Petke could rest them? Undoubtedly, the Red Bulls boss will look for a chance to get his veterans off the field, but amid a tight playoff race in the East, days off are a luxury few teams can afford.

“It would’ve been tough to play [Saturday],”Petke told “I think, with any indication from practice today, if they are not ready yet, they are very close and, by [Sunday], they should be.”

As for Chicago, no Fire players were on the All-Star team, leaving the likes of Mike Magee, Harry Shipp, and Sean Johnson eight days to recover and prepare for the Red Bulls’ well-traveled stars.

Riquelme scores in his Argentinos Juniors debut

juan roman riquelme
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Argentina’s second tier hasn’t gotten this much love since River Plate was dominating the Primera B, but with Boca Juniors legend Juan Román Riquelme having joined Argentinos Juniors, the circuit’s going to get a lot more attention this season. With today’s 1-0 victory against Boca Unidos, the former Barcelona and Villarreal creator has already brought some positive attention to the recently relegated club.

On Saturday, Argentinos’ quest to rejoin the Primera got off to a good start, albeit not without significant help from Boca Unidos goalkeeper Matías Garavano. Late in Saturday’s game at Estadio Diego Maradona, Riquelme’s blast after a long diagonal bounced up and over the diving keeper, allowing what should have been an easy, near-post stop to decide the teams’ match in Buenos Aires. The victory gave Argentinos the early lead in Group A of the Primera B.

As you can see, above, Riquelme’s reaction wasn’t exactly elation. It was more “soccer games are long.” Regardless, the Argentine icon is already paying dividends for his new club.