MLS Roundup: Sporting climbs to first in East; RSL stays undefeated

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Two things have characterized the first seven weeks of Major League Soccer’s season: draws; and late goals. Saturday, MLS’s first nine-match day of the season, delivered plenty of both. With five draws and seven goals after the 75th minute, MLS was its predictably competitive self, with only one game decided by more than one goal.

Starting with Houston’s draw at Philadelphia, the day’s first four matches ended deadlocked, with the Galaxy’s visit to BC Place in Vancouver seeing both teams score in the last quarter-hour. Chicago and San Jose, drawing against New England and Colorado (respectively), saw ties keep them out of the win column, while D.C. United had reason to feel aggrieved after generous officiating allowed Giancarlo Gonzalez to stay on the field.

With the Costa Rican on the pitch, the Crew produced on the day’s five last gasp goals, with scores just before the final whistles swaying results in Vancouver, Columbus, Dallas, Salt Lake, and Los Angeles.

Here’s how the seventh Saturday of the MLS season played out:

Philadelphia Union 0-0 Houston Dynamo

A strong first half from the Dynamo gave way to a more dangerous Union in the second, with Andrew Wenger nearly snaring full points for the home team in stoppage time. The Dynamo had their own near miss in the first half when Will Bruin rattled Zac MacMath’s upright. Come full-time, both teams saw their winless runs prolonged. Neither team has claimed victory since week two.

Chicago Fire 1-1 New England Revolution

For the second time in three weeks, Chicago failed to convert a penalty kick in stoppage time after Bobby Shuttleworth’s save on Juan Luis Anangonó relegated the Fire to the sixth straight draw. Toward the end of regulation, Chris Tierney had a chance to give New England its second win in a row, but a big stop from Sean Johnson left the Revs deadlocked for the fourth time this season.

Colorado Rapids 0-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Two teams, one shot on target, no goals, with only a long distance shot from Colorado rookie Jared Watts testing either goalkeeper. The best chances of the match, however, came in the first half, with a first minute header from Alan Gordon going off the crossbar before Chris Wondolowski missed goal with a close range chance in the 38th minute.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-2 LA Galaxy

One of Los Angeles’s strongest performances of the season was undone by a defensive error and a late equalizer. Scores from players carrying LA’s attack — Robbie Keane and Stefan Ishizaki — gave the visitors two leads, the second coming after Jaime Penedo’s error gifted Darren Mattocks a goal. In the 86th minute, Kekuta Manneh’s 19-yard shot into the lower right hand corner gave the Gambian his second game-tying goal of the season, sending LA home with a draw.

Columbus Crew 1-1 D.C. United

Giancarlo Gonzalez was controversially allowed to stay on the field after a clear DOGSO (denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity) foul in the 73rd minute. In the 90th minute, Juan Guzman’s generosity came back to hurt United, with Héctor Jiménez’s Manneh-esque goal giving the Crew a point. United is now unbeaten in four.

Sporting Kansas City 4-0 Montréal Impact

Matt Besler’s 31st minute long throw forced Calum Mallace’s own goal, giving Sporting the 1-0 lead they’d sit one for 40 minutes. Starting in the 71st, the defending champions got goals from Aurélien Collin and Dom Dwyer (two), completing one of the most one-sided games of the young season.

FC Dallas 2-1 Toronto FC

Issey Nakajima-Farran’s early goal was pulled back in the 37th minute by Matt Hedges, whose near post header off a Michel corner sent the teams into halftime tied at one. Though they dominated possession throughout, Dallas had to wait until the 88th minute to craft their winner, with chaos after a late restart allowing Blas Pérez to finish from close range. Toronto has lst three of their last four.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Portland Timbers

The Timbers’ best performance of the year went for naught when a defensive breakdown allowed Ned Grabavoy to beat Donovan Ricketts in the 78th minute, giving the Western Conference champions their third win of the year. Five months after meeting in the conference finals, RSL is undefeated ,while Portland is winless through seven rounds.

Chivas USA 1-2 Seattle Sounders

For the third straight week, Seattle’s high-priced striker duo delivered in the closing minutes. Running onto a late Clint Dempsey through ball, Obefemi Martins chipped an oncoming Dan Kennedy, giving Seattle its fourth win of the season. Assisting on both Sounders goals, Dempsey has played a part in six of his team’s last seven scores.