MLS Week 18 Wrap-Up: Keane and Villa Light Up on July 4th

July 4th matches have been a staple in MLS for as long as I can remember. On this night you have three American teams matching up against three Canadian teams and spoiler alert: America won all three!

LA Galaxy 4 – Toronto FC 0

LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane

Image: USA Today Sports

Both teams were missing players due to international call-ups. Of course, that doesn’t mean that this game is missing all its firepower. In my opinion, the two most exciting players in MLS were still on the field; Robbie Keane for LA Galaxy and Sebastian Giovinco for Toronto. On the day, it just simply wouldn’t be about Giovinco this time. Keane is back and the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player made his case for retaining his title.

Sebastian Lletget was awarded a penalty after being lightly touched from behind by Warren Creavalle. Regardless of the severity of the foul, Keane placed his penalty perfectly into the top corner with conviction.

Giovinco had an opportunity to score another audacious goal in the 20th minute by chipping the Galaxy’s goalkeeper Brian Rowe. Giovinco battled with AJ DeLaGarza just enough to off-put his sense of balance, which forced his shot over the goal.

Keane’s second goal of the evening came in the 41st minute. A well-worked team goal (as always) by the Galaxy ended in a sweet, simple finish for the captain.

Toronto came out of the half time break hot and ready to change the game to their favor. Rowe finely dealt with TFC’s two quick shots on target. This was Rowe’s second shutout this season for LA. The first came on the opening weekend of the season.

Justin Marrow made a mistake that took the air out of Toronto FC’s halftime momentum. The winger played a dying back pass to goalkeeper Chris Konopka from half field. Keane saw the situation developing from 30 yards away and made a veteran effort to intercept the pass, round Konopka and slid the ball into the open net. The 59th minute hat trick by Keane is his third all-time for the Galaxy.

Lletget was able to get his name on the scoring sheet for the fourth time in his past five matches for LA. The early season acquisition is proving to be full of value with or without their MVP from last season.

LA has a lot of weapons that are going to score goals. Without the help of Landon Donovan this season, the Galaxy continue to score and win with the leadership of Bruce Arena. Continue to watch them rise in the Western Conference table with the help of English international Steven Gerrard later this month and the rumored reception of Mexican international Giovani dos Santos, pending an MLS roster rule change.

Toronto will be without American internationals Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley until after the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The fate of Toronto’s postseason hopes lies within the remaining matches that are after the tournament where all three magnificent designated players can help carry the incident-prone squad.

Next week: LA host San Jose & Toronto visits New York City

Colorado Rapids 2 – Vancouver Whitecaps 1

Vancouver sat atop the Western Conference standings coming into Saturday night’s holiday matchup while Colorado sits on the bottom of the table. At the end of the evening neither team would move down or up the table, but the result would not be defined by previous form.

As the sun was setting over the Rocky Mountains the Colorado Rapids brought out their fireworks early, with a goal in the second minute against Vancouver. Vincente Sanchez made good use of his first start since May. Sanchez stroked home a cross that was put in by Luis Solignac.

Colorado put Vancouver on the back foot early. In their last match Colorado only completed 45% of the offensive third passes. That may have been drilled into the players during the week and was certainly being enjoyed by the 18,356 fans that made it out to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Vancouver would make the most of their only shot on goal in the first half. After being outplayed by the last place team in the conference for the first twenty minutes, Kekuta Manneh found an awkwardly dropping ball at the back post. The striker buddle it in for the equalizing goal and got the Whitecaps back into the game.

Each team put one effort on goal during the second half. While Clint Irwin made the save on his end, the luck of the Irish was with Kevin Doyle for the first time in his MLS career. The new designated player for the Rapids headed the ball from beyond the penalty spot and off the post and in.

The Doyle goal gave Colorado their third win of the season and gave the Rapids fanbase something positive to talk about during the holiday weekend. Many pundits have already written off Colorado, but it would be a great to see them show signs and the belief of the underdog 2010 MLS Cup-winning side. Don’t forget who the captain was in 2010; none other that current Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni.

The Whitecaps run of three straight wins ended in Commerce City. A streak that was soured by the loss of Pa-Modou Kah to a calf injury in the 28th minute.

Next week: Colorado host Salt Lake & Vancouver hosts Kansas City

Montreal Impact 1 – New York City FC 2

June was a great month for New York City supporters. A three game winning streak brought the team out of the cellar and back into playoff contention. Montreal still holds a few games in hand on their Eastern Conference foes, but that short stack is beginning to dwindle. The CONCACAF Champions League finalists may have lost a little momentum after last week’s hot double game week.

The first half hour of this match belonged to the Impact. There was little done by New York City besides the saves that were made by Josh Saunders to keep his team equal.

David Villa scored a goal against the run of play to give NYCFC a lead going into halftime. The Spanish striker picked up the ball on the left side of goal and drove towards the byline before shooting to the far post and underneath Evan Bush.

The Impact were having a difficult time converting their opportunities, but Ignacio Piatti took full advantage of a penalty kick in the 77th minute. The pressure from the Impact was mounting and mounting. An unfortunate handling of the ball in the goal area by Thomas McNamara helped the Impact get onto the scoreboard.

A moment of brilliance by David Villa sealed the deal five minutes later. A lazy tackle by Oyongo set up a set piece that was bent beautifully into the lower right corner of the goal. Villa’s brace for New York City helped the club win against another Eastern Conference foe away from home.

The Impact may be slipping in form on the table, but there is still good things happening on the field. With a few added pieces to the back line during the summer and it will be interesting to see if they can make it far in the MLS Playoff as they did in the Champions League last spring.

New York City is adding to their lineup this summer. Next month you’ll have to keep your eyes out for new additions Frank Lampard (yes, finally) and Andrea Pirlo. These two will be feature heavily on NYCFC and league promotional material for the remainder of the season. Let’s hope that the aging veterans will still have some left in the tank to take the mound at Yankee Stadium, come October.

Next week: Montreal host Columbus & New York City hosts Toronto FC

Other scores in MLS Week 18:

Houston 1 – Chicago 1

Seattle 1 – DC United 0

Columbus 2 – NY Red Bulls 1

FC Dallas 3 – New England 0

Real Salt Lake 1 – Orlando City 1

Portland 1 – San Jose 0

Have your pick for Goal of the Week!

 

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About the author: Henry Hauck

 

I love watching American soccer grow, I collect official match balls & dabbling in photography.

Website: http://hhfooty.com/

 

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