Chris Rolfe

MLS Cup Playoffs: DC United 2-1 NE Revolution

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The game in 100 words (or less): D.C. United pulled off the first upset of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs in coming from behind to beat the New England Revolution, 2-1 at RFK Stadium Thursday night (Can a higher-seeded team winning be considered an upset? The majority of the MLS community was on the Revs in this one). Juan Agudelo scored a stunning overhead kick inside the first quarter-hour, but Chris Pontius and Chris Rolfe responded with goals of their own as United slowly clawed their way back into the playoff picture after nearly going down 3-0 inside the first half-hour. Jermaine Jones was sent off during second-half stoppage time for making contact with referee Mark Geiger, who had yet another… interesting game of his own. If the Montreal Impact beat Toronto FC on Thursday, United will face the no. 1-seed (and bitter rival) New York Red Bulls in the conference semifinals. If TFC triumph in Montreal, it’ll be no. 2-seed Columbus Crew SC for the Black and Gold.

[ MORE: MLS playoff predictions | Preseason predictions revisited ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Agudelo’s spectacular bicycle kick makes it 1-0 — The goal of the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs was the very first goal scored during the postseason. We don’t have to debate this now, tomorrow or anytime. Just watch and marvel at what you’ve witnessed.

45′ — Pontius heads it deftly past Shuttleworth — Fabian Espindola whipped in the dangerous ball from the free kick, Pontius positioned himself perfectly among the crowd and applied the deft flick toward the back post, which left Bobby Shuttleworth scrambling and hopeless.

83′ — Rolfe caps a silky move with a simple finish — United won’t be accused of playing attractive soccer very often, but this bit of interplay between Nick DeLeon and Espindola is just delightful. Rolfe, who missed a penalty kick not even 10 minutes earlier, made no mistake with the finish this time.

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

Man of the match: Chris Rolfe

Goalscorers: Agudelo (15′), Pontius (45′), Rolfe (83′)

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 2-0 DC United

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The game in 100 words (or less): The ground can’t be much further down for D.C. United, who are in total free-fall mode, can it? Ben Olsen’s side has now lost five of their last six (one draw) since winning the strangest game in MLS history back on Aug. 8. Back at the sight of their last victory, Stade Saputo in Montreal, United dropped three more points on Saturday, this time to the suddenly streaking Montreal Impact, by a final score of 2-0. Didier Drogba scored twice more for the Impact (WATCH HERE), bringing his tally to seven goals in six MLS appearances. Saturday’s win gives the Impact nine points from their last three games and extends their current unbeaten run to six games (four wins, two draws). Now just one points behind Toronto FC for fifth in the Eastern Conference, with a game in hand on every side currently within reach, L’Impact could very well host their knockout round playoff game next month.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 30 | Week 29 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Drogba scores a stunning free kick — 30 yards, over the wall, past Bill Hamid, into the top corner… not a problem for Drogba. Not a problem at all. WATCH HERE

11′ — Drogba breaks ankles, makes it 2-0 — Turnover in midfield, Drogba picks the ball up near midfield, dribbles 50 yards, breaks Steve Birnbaum’s ankles and lifts the ball over Hamid… again, not a problem for Drogba. Not a problem at all. WATCH HERE

12′ — Bush’s double save thwarts Espindola, Rolfe — Much like that unlikely victory over the Impact last month, United had one real scoring chance on Saturday. Evan Bush made a strong double save to keep out Fabian Espindola’s powerful blast from wide left and smother Chris Rolfe’s follow-up right in front of goal.

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

Man of the match: Didier Drogba

Goalscorers: Drogba (4′, 11′)

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 3-1 DC United (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For the first time since Andrea Pirlo became a regular start for New York City FC (only three games, admittedly), Jason Kreis’s men are winners following a 3-1 victory over league-leading D.C. United at Yankee Stadium Thursday night. Frank Lampard missed yet another game with a minor injury, but it was NYCFC’s two active Designated Players who led the way in a second-half comeback. Pirlo picked up his first MLS assist on the night, while David Villa bagged his 14th goal of the season. NYCFC’s shoddy defending persisted through the first 45 minutes before United went into full-on bunker mode while clinging to a 1-0 lead after halftime. With the victory, NYCFC (27 points) remain eighth in the Eastern Conference but inch closer to sixth-place Montreal (28, three games in hand), while United’s (44) hold onto a two-point lead in the race for the Supporters’ Shield despite their three-game winning streak coming to an end.

[ USOC semifs: PHI 1-0 CHI | SKC 3-1 RSL | MLS Team of the Week | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Rolfe and Saborio counter quickly after Pirlo’s giveaway — NYCFC midfielder Pirlo notched his first MLS assist (of the secondary variety) in the 36th minute of this game, when his through ball for United’s Chris Rolfe led to a quick, deadly counter attack the other way. So what if Pirlo passed it to a member of the wrong team? He was brought to MLS to create goals, at least he’s doing his job.

51′ — Villa, Poku and Tommy Mac combine for the equalizer — Watch this ridiculous pass by David Villa. Seriously, watch it! MLS defenders are out of position like that all the time, but so few MLS players can punish them for it. Villa is one of the few. Kwadwo Poku does well to round Bill Hamid and find Thomas McNamara in the goalmouth.

80′ — Pirlo to Villa and NYCFC have themselves a lead — When Pirlo was signed, it was undoubtedly done with visions of his elegantly lofted through balls finding the feet of Villa for goal after goal after goal en route to winning multiple MLS Cups sneaking into the sixth and final playoff place. In the 80th minute, Pirlo and Villa connected for the first time, 293 minutes into their time together.

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

Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Saborio (36′), McNamara (51′), Villa (80′), Poku (88′)

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 0-1 DC United (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): D.C. United will either win the 2015 MLS Cup, or we’re all going to die of boredom watching them try. On Saturday night, Ben Olsen’s Black and Red topped the Montreal Impact, 1-0, at Stade Saputo, which isn’t all that astonishing in and of itself — they have led the Supporters’ Shield race for much of the season. Then there’s this statistical nugget, which states United are now the only team in Major League Soccer history to win a game in which they took just one total shot. Essentially, United turned in the least competent attacking performance in the history of MLS. Did you watch MLS in the 90s? How about the early- and mid-2000s? “Least competent attacking performance in MLS history” is really saying something! We will always have this for as long as we may live.

[ MORE: MLS transfer deadline day roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

13′ — Rolfe capitalizes on a bad, bad turnover — As it turns out, turning the ball over 35 yards from your own goal with no defenders between the opposition attackers and your goal is a bad soccer strategy. When Jairo Arrieta and Chris Rolfe combined to turn over Victor Cabrera in that part of the field, it was easy work for the latter to give United an early lead.

34′ — Hamid makes a huge one-on-one save against Romero — Andres Romero was clear in on goal with only Bill Hamid standing between himself and a 1-1 scoreline. Hamid, who’s missed eight games this season due to injury, reminded everyone yet again the stark difference between a backup and a superstar in the making.

73′ — Hamid with another huge one-on-one stop — Either Bill Hamid is the best goalkeeper in MLS, or every shot ever taken on his goal is hit squarely into his chest. Dominic Oduro couldn’t have had a better breakaway chance to equalize, and Hamid could not have cared less.

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

Man of the match: Bill Hamid — Consider the above two saves. Consider that without Hamid making those saves, it’s very easily 2-1 in favor of Montreal. Hamid made another monster save in the 85th minute that we didn’t even have room above to feature.

Goalscorers: Rolfe (13′)

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 16

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Week 16 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season in the books, and the latest round of MLS games left no shortage of shocking results, more shocking results and late, late drama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Week 16 MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

This week’s MLS Team of the Week is full of goalscorers, like David Villa and Chris Rolfe, who each bagged twice over the weekend; serial assisters, like Javier Morales and Gyasi Zardes, who each set up a pair of goals over the weekend; and clean sheet-keepers, like David Outsted, who saved two Bradley Wright-Phillips penalties on Saturday, and a defensive trio doing their part in shutouts elsewhere.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always. I’m not afraid to defend my picks.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — Week 16

Goalkeeper: David Ousted (Vancouver Whitecaps)

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Defenders: Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes)

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Midfielders: Matias Perez Garcia (San Jose Earthquakes), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Juninho (LA Galaxy), Marco Donadel (Montreal Impact)

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Forwards: David Villa (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Chris Rolfe (D.C. United)

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