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MLS Saturday wrap: Quakes keep firing; Toronto, SKC falter

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MLS doesn’t have too many days like Saturday, with four away teams collecting wins on a seven-match docket.

The surprise is lessened a bit by the identity of the losing hosts: struggling Vancouver, Colorado, and Sporting KC: Wow, that last one is taking some getting used to, isn’t it?).

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In a league where only two of 24 teams are above .500 on the road (DC United and LAFC), it’s still saying something about a hot weekend in these United States of America (and Canada).

Columbus Crew 2-1 Montreal Impact

The Crew’s early advantage looked like business as usual by halftime, as Caleb Porter’s struggling men conceded in stoppage time, but David Accam netted right after the break to give Columbus a much-needed three points.

Toronto FC 1-3 Houston Dynamo

TFC opened the door for New England or Orlando City to climb into the top seven by going into an early hole and failing to rally. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore came off the bench, the latter scoring, but the Reds did little on Alejandro Pozuelo’s day off and the Dynamo get a big road win to move without touching distance of a playoff position.

This is not adequate defense.

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Chicago Fire

Marco Fabian scored a beauty and Anthony Fontana also netted as the Union assured themselves another week atop the Eastern Conference. Chicago remains winless away from home.

Sporting KC 0-2 FC Dallas

What in the world is going on? SKC could not find the net with more than one of their 17 shot attempts, and fell five points back of a playoff spot. Worse, the hosts allowed sixth-place Dallas to move five points clear of them.

Colorado Rapids 1-2 New York City FC

It didn’t take long for youngster Sebastian Anderson to go from hero to goat, as the soon-to-be 17-year-old gave the Rapids a sixth minute lead before taking a red card 27 minutes later. Heber and Alexandru Mitrita scored late in each half to drive NYCFC’s dreams of the top spot in the East. The visitors are now seven points back of first, but have four matches-in-hand on Philadelphia.

Real Salt Lake 1-1 Minnesota United

Darwin Quintero and Marcelo Silva traded goals in a fair result.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1-3 San Jose Earthquakes

Make it three-straight wins for the Quakes, who rode Cali Clasico momentum and overcame an early Doneil Henry goal through Vako, Chris Wondolowski, and the in-form Magnus Eriksson.

Russell hat trick snaps Sporting KC’s win streak (video)

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Struggling, short-handed Sporting KC needed a star show to kickstart its summer, and Johnny Russell was ready to go.

Maybe the 29-year-old Scotsman was feeding off the buzz of his old club Derby County preparing for the Championship Playoff Final, but Russell scored thrice as Sporting took care of Seattle 3-2 in Washington on Sunday.

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The right winger scored his fifth, sixth, and seventh goals of the MLS season as Sporting won its first match since March 30.

Russell scored 35 goals with 34 assists in 205 matches with the Rams, but has destroyed that mark with KC. He now has 19 and 16 in 55.

Seattle loses ground on LAFC in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, while KC is now within four points of the playoff places.

 

 

Three things from MLS Saturday

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Chris Wondolowski’s 4-goal haul helped him set a new career standard in Major League Soccer, while Ethan Finlay haunted former club Columbus.

Aside from those wins for San Jose and Minnesota, what else did we find out on Saturday?

Houston stays hot while preparing for road-heavy stretch

Wilmer Cabrera’s Houston Dynamo have been sizzling at home — even for host-happy MLS — with a 6W-2T record to start the season boosting the club into fourth out West.

On Saturday, it was two-goal burst in two minutes that pushed Houston past Wayne Rooney‘s opener for DC United (Only Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have more goals this season than Rooney).

USMNT-hopeful Memo Rodriguez scored the first of the two goals, while Tommy McNamara came off the bench for the second.

Houston plays four of its next five away from Texas, though the matches are forgiving enough. The lone home match is versus Sporting KC. Where will they sit come the start of July and a visit from the New York Red Bulls.

Croizet, Nemeth tomfoolery costs 10-man Sporting KC in stoppage time

Vancouver got a wild winner deep into stoppage time thanks to Derek Cornelius, but the match probably should’ve never gotten to that point.

Krisztian Nemeth took a red card for a studs-up tackle, but Sporting KC nearly navigated that mess.

Yohan Croizet is just as much at fault for the loss as Nemeth, as the midfielder tried to chip the keeper from 60 yards when he could’ve headed for the corner or just kept possession.

Instead, Vancouver’s Maxime Crepeau handled the effort and the ‘Caps broke the other way to pick up a point at Children’s Mercy Park.

Tired Seattle collects gritty point in possible Cup preview

Away and on a half-week’s rest as opposed to their hosts, Seattle earned a deserved point in its meeting with East-leading Philadelphia.

The Union out-attempted Seattle 20-6 and had goalkeeper Andre Blake back in the fold, but Stefan Frei and the Sounders held firm to pick up their 26th point. That’s second-best in MLS.

NY Red Bulls falter late, fail to capture first away victory

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Both teams held a lead over the course of the 90, but the New York Red Bulls will most rue wasting the points as they conceded in the 88th minute to drop points in a 2-2 draw with Sporting KC. Gianluca Busio tapped in the critical goal, giving the home fans something to cheer about while condemning the visitors to yet another disappointing road trip.

New York looked to have found the breakthrough in the 17th minute, but Michael Murillo’s shot came with both Bradley Wright-Phillips and Cristian Casseres Jr. were clearly in an offside position as the shot snuck through to the back post. That would prove costly as the hosts went down the other end and went in front minutes later.

Off a 24th minute throw-in, Krisztian Nemeth collected with his back to goal and fed a streaking Johnny Russell who broke along the end line and powered home a low drive from a tight angle. It was more of the same for the Red Bulls who have suffered through defensive lapses this young season, failing to win a road game to this point and losing three straight coming in.

In the second half, the Red Bulls brought things back level courtesy of Sporting KC’s absurdly high line. With the defenders almost at the halfway line, Daniel Royer made a run down the left and Casseres pinged a perfect ball right in stride. With Royer completely free on goal, he touched around Tim Melia and finished from a tight angle.

Sporting KC came extremely close to retaking the lead soon after, but Russell fired wide with a great opportunity to strike. Surprisingly, with 19 minutes to go, Red Bulls boss Chris Armas withdrew Wright-Phillips in favor of 23-year-old striker Brian White. The change paid off almost immediately for the visitors. Another high back line saw Kaku deliver a delicious ball from the deep left flank and White reached it before his mark Matt Besler, heading the ball into the far post for his first goal this season.

Unfortunately for Armas, the defense faltered late yet again. A set-piece goal tied it late in the 88th minute, as Graham Zusi collected a punch from Luis Robles and fired a shot towards goal that deflected right to the feet of Gianluca Busio for an easy tap-in on the line. That brought the game back level and scuppered New York’s chance for its first away win of the season.

To boot, Kaku was sent off in the 94th minute was sent off for blasting the ball into the crowd from close range on the touchline, earning him a petulant red card that could affect New York’s selection in the near future.

With the draw, the Red Bulls have just five points on the young season, with just one win to boast. Sporting KC, meanwhile, would also rue losing a lead, but the point pushed them to seventh in the West with nine points.

CCL Rewind: Monterrey too much once again for Sporting KC

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The odds were never in their favor.

Sporting KC scored two first half goals but they couldn’t defend against mighty Monterrey, falling 5-2 on the night and 10-2 on aggregate in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. Monterrey showed what MLS is missing with clinical finishing on the counter attack and for the most part, strong, resolute defending.

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While the result was expected, after Monterrey’s thumping 5-0 first leg win, it showed that even when Monterrey had little to play for, they could still put one of MLS’ best teams to the sword.

Sporting KC opened the game with attacking vigor and it resulted in a pair of goals from Gerso. In just the sixth minute of the match, Gerso chopped home a cross from Johnny Russell on the volley to put Sporting KC in front on the night, and in the 29th minute, Gerso was quickest to the ball after a shot was parried towards him by Monterrey goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero.

But even with the goals and the forward momentum, Sporting KC had no answers for the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori, Aviles Hurtado and Rodolfo Pizarro. Funes Mori finished with two goals with Hurtado, Pizarro, and Miguel Layun each scored one goal.

The defeat, in embarrassing fashion, is another stark reminder of how far off MLS clubs are from those at the top of the Liga MX table. Last year’s CONCACAF Champions League final between even a struggling Chivas de Guadelajara side and Toronto FC showed that MLS was even a ways off in that battle. This time, it wasn’t even close.

It’s unclear what has to change moving forward. Should MLS start their season earlier? Should they allow for more DPs? Should teams be able to spend as much money as they want? Obviously, MLS has the long-term view on the growth of soccer, and it would be unwise to burn this shining star out quickly instead of creating sustained success. But without any changes, it will be more of the same as Mexican clubs continue to improve along with MLS sides.