Toronto FC

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP

MLS Snapshot: Shield, Cup favorites TFC torch Timbers, 4-1

Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): Very rarely is a team in MLS capable of running away from the rest of the field — it’s a league designed to create parity, after all — but this Toronto FC side looks as if they intend to smash that very ideal. Greg Vanney’s side thrashed the Portland Timbers, 4-1, on Saturday to go six points clear (for the time being) in the Supporters’ Shield race and announce themselves as favorites for MLS Cup 2017, yet again. Sebastian Giovinco tallied only an assist on the day, while Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley neither scored nor assisted themselves, yet TFC put four (of six shots on target) into the back of the net and extended their unbeaten run to six games. Going back even further, TFC have only lost twice in their last 18 games.

[ MORE: Assessing the top moves of the MLS summer transfer ]

Three moments that mattered

58′ — Morrow beats Attinella near post for 1-0 — Alvas Powell has had… well, a rough season, to say the least. To be fair to Powell, though, he’s far from the only one struggling along that backline.

72′ — Vazquez turns home a cross for 2-0 — When TFC are on, they make it look really, really easy.

76′ — Morrow plays the poacher, makes it 3-0 — As I said about other Portland defenders struggling…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Justin Morrow

Goalscorers: Morrow (58′, 76′), Vazquez (72′), Delgado (87′), Valeri (89′)

MLS at Week 23: Sounders host Sporting KC in giant West clash

Leave a comment

MLS’ two expansion sides will be off this weekend, but that leaves a busy Saturday schedule of 10 matches left to be played.

The leaders in each conference will face tough tests against Western Conference opponents, while all teams in action are looking to pick up points as they chase down playoff spots ahead of October.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET 

Name a team hotter than these two right now. It’s hard to do, right? The Sounders are beginning to look like the team that went out and crushed the second half of the 2016 season — which went on to win MLS Cup — and that’s a scary prospect for the rest of MLS. Meanwhile, it’s still early but Sporting KC isn’t skipping a beat after the Dom Dwyer trade. Peter Vermes’ group are unbeaten in their last nine MLS matches and moved into the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday with a penalty-kicks win over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers — Saturday, 6 p.m. ET 

Greg Vanney’s side had a hiccup in early July against Dallas, but TFC remains the best team in MLS without question. The Canadian club is riding a five-match unbeaten streak at the moment, and last season’s MLS Cup runners’ up boast the best attacking duo in the league with Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. The pair have netted a combined 20 goals thus far in 2017, while adding 10 assists. The Timbers boast an attack that deserves plenty of credit as well though, with the side currently tied for third in the league at 42 goals.

Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes — Saturday, 9 p.m. ET

Of all the MLS sides currently in playoff positions, the Dynamo and Earthquakes are among the worst when it comes to playing on the road. Luckily for the Dynamo, they won’t have to do so when they welcome the Earthquakes to BBVA Compass Stadium, where the club is unbeaten at 8-0-3 in 2017. With the West being so congested and the top seven teams separated by a mere six points, Saturday’s meeting is crucial for both clubs when looking at potential playoff position.

Below is the rest of this weekend’s schedule around MLS (all matches on Saturday).

D.C. United vs. Real Salt Lake — 7 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. Orlando City — 7:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids — 8 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 8 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact — 8 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC — 11 p.m. ET

MLS Snapshots: Shield contenders TFC, FCD slip up in DC, PHI

Photo credit: @PhilaUnion
1 Comment

Philadelphia Union 3-1 FC Dallas

The game in 100 words (or less): The last 180 minutes of soccer have resulted in a pair of losses, by a combined score of 7-0, for the defending Supporters’ Shield winners (and contenders once again) FC Dallas — 4-0 at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps last week, followed by a 3-0 drubbing courtesy of a floundering Philadelphia Union side which entered the weekend with one win from their last five games. Saturday’s game featured the very first call to be made via the brand new video-assistant refereeing system, as Ricardo Salazar went to the field-side monitor and determined an FCD goal should be negated for a foul in the build-up. From the time he made the VAR signal, to the time he announced his decision, 47 seconds had passed during a period of time when the game was already stopped.

[ MORE: Sunday’s MLS schedule is chock-full of important matchups ]

Three moments that mattered

17′ — Sapong finishes a slick piece of build-up for 1-0 — Sapong gets the credit for the goal, but Ilsinho and Haris Medunjanin did all the heavy lifting — particularly Ilsinho for the clever backheel that unlocked the entire FCD defense.

22′ — Ilsinho drives a volley home for 2-0 — You don’t have to blast it on the full volley, as long as you control it and place it perfectly.

68′ — Ilsinho and Sapong clean up Seitz’s mess for 3-0 — Ilsinho’s first 43 games in MLS produced five goals and three assists. Ilsinho’s 86 minutes on Saturday yielded a goal and two assists.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Ilsinho

Goalscorers: Sapong (17′, 68′), Ilsinho (22′), Barrios (90+2′)

D.C. United 1-1 Toronto FC

The game in 100 words (or less): Meanwhile, in America’s capital, the defending Eastern Conference champions (and Shield leaders for 2017), Toronto FC, spotted the league’s (runaway) worst team, D.C. United, an early goal and needed a spectacular own goal in order to reverse their fortunes and rescue a point despite playing 46 minutes with a man advantage. TFC managed just two shots on target all game long. The result moves TFC to five games unbeaten (they’ve lost just two of their last 17), but will result in their Shield lead shrinking, should the Chicago Fire (five points back) or Sporting Kansas City (seven points back) pick up all three points this weekend.

[ MORE: Sunday’s MLS schedule is chock-full of important matchups ]

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Opare heads DCU to an early lead — Kofi Opare rises, and Kofi Opare heads a very deserved opening goal home.

44′ — Sam slides through Mavinga, sees read — Even United’s red cards are earned in a half- or quarter-hearted manner this season…

52′ — Jeffrey clears it off Birnbaum, into his own goal — D.C. United’s 2017 season, in seven seconds…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Bill Hamid

Goalscorers: Opare (6′), Birnbaum (52′ – OG)

MLS Snapshot: Giovinco (x2), Altidore lead TFC in rout of NYCFC

Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP
1 Comment

The game in 100 words (or less): Following up on a stretch of four games which saw Toronto FC win just once, the Reds found their stride once again on Sunday, thrashing New York City FC 4-0 at BMO Field. Sebastian Giovinco bagged TFC’s first (a curling beauty) and second (a free-kick beauty — his 11th of the season, and 50th regular-season goal of his MLS career), followed not long after by Jozy Altidore from the penalty spot (ninth of the season) and Raheem Edwards’ very first MLS goal. NYCFC’s frustrations intensified in the 93rd minute, when Maxi Moralez skied a penalty kick that would have broken up the shutout and reduced the afternoon’s blemishes. The victory sees TFC go five points clear of the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference (and Supporters’ Shield race) with 12 games to go. NYCFC, meanwhile, remain third in the East, with their lead on the fourth-place New York Red Bulls trimmed to just two points.

[ MORE: SKC trade Dwyer to ORL | Sigi back to LA | LAFC hire Bradley ]

Three moments that mattered

32′ — Giovinco curls it far post for 1-0 — Andrea Pirlo tried to close Giovinco down. He really did.

60′ — Bono saves (himself from) Villa’s blast — Alex Bono is more saving his own life than saving Villa’s shot on this occasion. In the end, he managed to do both.

67′ — Giovinco’s free kick is perfect, and it’s 2-0 — At this point, free kicks from 25 yards out are essentially penalty kicks for Giovinco.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (32′, 67′), Altidore (75′ – PK), Edwards (82′)

Chanot, Wallace among missing for NYCFC’s clash at Toronto

Leave a comment

Patrick Vieira’s men have been flying high as of late, but New York City FC’s difficult schedule continues over the weekend north of the border.

[ MORE: NYCFC continues push towards top of PST MLS Power Rankings ]

NYCFC will take on Toronto FC on Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, but the third-place side in the Eastern Conference will have to do so without six first-team players.

[ MORE: MLS Week 22 preview — Sigi makes LA debut against Sounders ]

A number of injuries will keep out regulars like center back Maxime Chanot, winger Rodney Wallace and Ronald Matarrita, while Miguel Camargo, Khiry Shelton and 16-year-old midfielder/defender James Sands are also sidelined ahead of the Toronto clash.

Wallace and Camargo each sustained injuries during the CONCACAF Gold Cup while on duty with Costa Rica and Panama, respectively.

The two sides settled for a 2-2 draw when they last met on July 19 at Yankee Stadium, but an NYCFC victory could mean a strong push for Vieira and Co. towards the top of the East.

As the table stands, NYCFC currently sits just three points Toronto at the top of the Eastern Conference through 21 matches, while the Chicago Fire are lumped in between the two clubs on 38 points.

Meanwhile, TFC will continue to deal with a couple injuries of its own as Steven Beitashour and Benoit Cheyrou remain out with abdominal and calf ailments, respectively.