Photo credit: Minnesota United / @MNUFC

MLS roundup: Another winner for Zlatan; Quintero’s debut goal

Leave a comment

A roundup of, plus a few quick thoughts about, all of Saturday’s action from around MLS…

[ MORE: Other MLS Things — The Archive ]

Chicago Fire 0-1 LA Galaxy

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played all of 127 minutes since arriving in LA, and he’s got three goals to his name, including the winner at Toyota Park, but more importantly the Galaxy have won six points from the big Swede’s first three games in MLS. Saturday’s 1-0 win away to Chicago was anything but pretty — blame the freezing, windy conditions if you require a scapegoat — but it’s a step forward for last year’s last-place finishers nonetheless.

The Ibrahimovic-Ola Kamara partnership is, predictably, a work in progress, not at all unlike the Perry Kitchen-Jonathan dos Santos duo in central midfield. Alas, there’s more than enough talent (on paper) for LA to finish top-three or -four in a weak Western Conference (they’re up to second, now three points behind Sporting Kansas City), and they’ve arguably the biggest difference maker in league history to lean on down the stretch.

Portland Timbers 3-2 Minnesota United

Here are two statements that are undeniably true: the Timbers are a very talented team that can’t keep a clean sheet to save their lives (just seven since the start of the 2017 season — 40 regular-season games) and are almost as bad at closing out games with a late lead; Minnesota have some fun attacking pieces, including debutant and goalscorer Darwin Quintero, but they’re still a trainwreck defensively, individually. Thus, we should have known Saturday’s clash at Providence Park would be a thoroughly wild, nonsensical affair, because it was all on display on Saturday.

For the third straight game, Portland went ahead early on and (almost, this time) proceeded to cough up their lead and drop points. Fortunately for Gio Savarese, who got his first MLS win on the night, Minnesota couldn’t convert any one of a number of quality chances to get back to 2-2 early in the second half, and the hosts bagged a third almost completely against the run of play. Well done to Bill Poni Tuiloma, though, for an unbelievable finish on this own goal.

New York Red Bulls 3-1 Montreal Impact

If their was any doubt about the Red Bulls’ trophy-chasing credentials following last week’s CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Chivas de Guadalajara, Jesse Marsch’s men put them to bed on Saturday. Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the scoring after five minutes, but Montreal drew level through Jeisson Vargas not long after the half-hour mark. Alejandro “Kaku” Romero put the home side ahead again, in emphatic fashion, just before the hour mark.

Elsewhere in MLS

San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 Houston Dynamo
Colorado Rapids 2-0 Toronto FC(‘s Reserves)
D.C. United 1-0 Columbus Crew SC
New England Revolution 0-1 FC Dallas

Red Bulls lament “almost impossible” failure to advance past Chivas

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Leave a comment

One, two, three, four… all the way up to 20 shot attempts to Chivas Guadalajara’s one.

New York Red Bulls, as it turns out, were agonizingly close to qualifying for an All-MLS CONCACAF Champions League Final.

[ MORE: Toronto advances from Azteca ]

Yet manager Jesse Marsch saw his side not manage a goal over two legs despite 20 shots in Wednesday’s scoreless second leg, allowing Chivas a 1-0 aggregate win and two dates with Toronto FC for a berth in the Club World Cup.

“It’s almost impossible, right, the way the game plays out,” Marsch said after the game, courtesy RBNY. “It’s almost impossible that you can somehow not find a way to score a goal and find a way to be so dangerous around the goal all night long but not make that final play.”

“I told the team after the game that I was very proud of them, very proud of them. I thought they established themselves in the series as the better team, a very good team. And that this group has a really bright future. I told them I would go down swinging with them, any day, any day. It’s a bitter pill to swallow right now. We had our hopes very high that we can push it over the hump and really, you know, make a run at this all the way to the end.”

It was difficult to watch because the match had the feel of an inevitable Red Bulls goal and the first MLS vs. MLS CCL Final yet didn’t deliver for Marsch and Co.

Sometimes a club doesn’t get its just desserts.

Dominance without finish: RBNY drops out of CCL

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Leave a comment

Dominant, sure, but the New York Red Bulls could not find the goals they needed to reach the CONCACAF Champions League final.

Tuesday’s second leg in New Jersey saw RBNY fail to overcome a 1-0 deficit suffered last week in Guadalajara, drawing Chivas 0-0 (0-1 on aggregate) at Red Bull Arena.

Total control didn’t lead to finish, including a 73rd minute blast from inspired attacker Derrick Etienne Jr. and an 80th minute offering from Kaku.

[ MORE: Man City-Liverpool recap | 5 things | Pep reacts ]

The Red Bulls outshot Chivas 20-1. That’s not a joke.

CCL: TFC holds lead against America, Red Bulls seeking turnaround

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

Tuesday night could prove to be a historic one for MLS, but the two clubs representing the league need to finish their business.

The storylines have been drawn out. The task is simple for both Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls. Earn a victory (or in TFC’s case a draw or 1-0 defeat) and the two sides will be on a collision course in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

[ MORE: How will Man City, Liverpool line up on Tuesday? ]

TFC played its first match against Club America brilliantly, and Greg Vanney and his team came away with a 3-1 win that has the reigning MLS Cup champions in the perfect situation as they head to Mexico for the return leg.

Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore continue to play at a high level in the tournament, with the attacking duo having combined for five goals in as many CCL matches.

Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have a bit more challenging task, although far from impossible, as they aim to overcome a 1-0 defeat last week to Chivas in Guadalajara.

Jesse Marsch’s Red Bulls have conceded just three goals in five CCL matches this season, giving the home side on Tuesday a distinct advantage when coupling its defensive prowess with the fact that they boast one of the best goalscorers in the competition with Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Also, Chivas will be at a disadvantage after captain Jair Pereira was suspended by CONCACAF over the weekend for violent misconduct late in the first leg.

CONCACAF issues punishments for Toronto, Club America, Pereira

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The fallout from Toronto FC and Club America’s tunnel fracas, well, it could have been worse considering Miguel Herrera’s claims.

Herrera made wild claims that police had struck his players during the midpoint of TFC’s 3-1 win over America in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg.

[ MORE: Robles finds positives for RBNY ]

Seeing that no one was arrested or detained in Canada, it’s no surprise that most of the charges will hit pocket books (assuming pocket books are active in the CONCACAF community and world at large). From MLSSoccer.com:

“After due examination of the evidence gathered during their investigation and based on the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Regulations, and the FIFA Disciplinary Code, the Committee determined that Toronto FC and Club America clearly infringed the Competition Regulations, specifically Art. 52 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code which covers team conduct. In levying the fines for general team misconduct during the halftime of Tuesday’s semifinal match in Toronto, the Committee expressed that it considers the clubs’ conduct unacceptable, as it departs from the principles of Fair Play,” the confederation explained in a release on the fines.

The other CCL semifinal, featuring Chivas Guadalajara and New York Red Bulls, has yielded a 2-match ban for Chivas’ Jair Pereira, who appeared to grab the throat of RBNY midfielder Sean Davis. Chivas will have to navigate Tuesday’s away second leg without the defender, with RBNY trailing 1-0.