Week 2 of Major League Soccer saw most teams lose their First Kick jitters and played a lot more openly. Only eight matches were on the schedule this week. CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinalists (DC United & Montreal) and their league opponents were given a week off, but that didn’t mean the scoring was going to decrease. The average goals per game increased from 1.6 to 3.1 in Week 2.
Portland Timbers 2 – 2 Los Angeles Galaxy
In the most dramatic game of the weekend, the Los Angeles Galaxy traveled to Providence Park in Portland. In 2014, the Timbers drew their first four home matches of the season and drew 0-0 with Real Salt Lake last week to start the season. Unfortunately the quality of atmosphere doesn’t automatically give you three points in this league and the MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy have arguably the greatest mental strength of all teams in North America.
Both teams had a hard time creating quality chances on goal in the beginning. It was the counter attack style of play from Portland that lead to the first breakthough. Darlington Nagbe touched on a Diego Chara pass to Rodney Wallace. Wallace drew the attention of designated player Omar Gonzalez out wide and played through Fernando Adi, who rounded his run behind Gonzales. With only the keeper to beat, Adi placed it the ball sweetly into the side netting.
LA had three great chances to draw the game on level terms in the second half. The Galaxy controlled almost all of the ball for the first 20 minutes of the second half. Young US national team prospective striker Gyasi Zardes had a few chances in the game to grab a goal. With his third shot of the match and his only chance on net, he found his goal. Jose Villareal found the ball out wide and played a problematic early cross just over the shoulders of the Portland defense and Zardes flew into the 6-yard area to beat the Timbers to it.
Momentum continued with Los Angeles as they searched for a second goal away from home, however they could not capitalize again on their ownership of possession.
The speed of Nagbe has been well documented by followers of the league and in the 90th minute it was what separated Nagbe from late Galaxy sub Todd Dunivant. After receiving a well placed long ball into the goal area of the Galaxy, Nagbe laid off a pass across goal for the oncoming Adi who slipped it past through two LA defenders for the lead. But the champions didn’t give up as if it was a golden goal.
Two minutes into stoppage time the Galaxy won a corner and tied the game off of an Alan Gordon header. Gordon used all of his strength and 5 inches of leverage over the defending Jorge Villafana to drop a header from the penalty spot into the corner of the net.
Next week: Portland is away to Sporting Kansas City & Los Angeles hosts Houston Dynamo.
Seattle Sounders 2 – 3 San Jose Earthquakes
Seattle ran riot in the first week of MLS. San Jose was beaten 1-0 at Dallas. Two different results, but it would be the efforts of a ten-man Quakes team that would give the Sounders their first loss of the season.
How long does it take Clint Dempsey to score? 24 seconds. Which is what he did against San Jose. Before you could grab a drink and sit down for the game Seattle led 1-0. Just like this match introduction.
San Jose may have been caught early, but came right back. The Quakes looked dangerous in a couple moments and captain Chris Wondolowski managed to head a ball off the woodwork. Wondolowski had another chance in the 13th minute that he wouldn’t squander. Quakes right back Marvel Wynne played a give and go with Sanna Nyassi that opened Wynne up for a cross on the byline. Wondolowski took that cross down and rifled it into the corner to tie the game at 1.
Wondolowski, in true Wondo fashion, pounced on a poorly placed back pass by Seattle center back Brad Evans. The captain took it first time with his weaker foot and roofed it past Stefan Frei.
A second half red card to San Jose’s center back Victor Bernardez gave the Sounders some room, but not enough for the win. San Jose’s goalkeeper David Bingham managed to save 6 shots from Seattle in the second half after not being called to action since the 1st minute of play.
The Quakes manage to score while down to ten men thanks to new designated player Innocent Emeghara. The 25-year-old Nigerian played a tight one-two with Adam Jahn and showed some technical skill to play his way on the dribble from midfield into the goal area for the finish.
Seattle’s Obafemi Martins scored in the 86th minute to finish the scoring. Andy Rose spun off the Quakes back four, level, and played the ball to a waiting Martins for the tap in.
Next week: Seattle has a bye week & San Jose hosts Chicago
Real Salt Lake 3 – 3 Philadelphia Union
Both of these teams settled for goalless draws in their opening matches of the 2015 season. The RSL home opener must have been a little confusing if you were a first time visitor to the Rio Tinto Stadium. Lots of goals in this one, but maybe not the ways you would think.
Both teams had early chances to get on the board first. Salt Lake was the first to take the lead off of a Javier Morales free kick outside the goal area. Union goalkeeper Rais M’bolhi seemed to have the corner covered, but a slight deflection from Raymond Gaddis in the wall lifted the ball into the corner.
The game took an odd turn as two defensive deflections lead to goals for Union newcomer Fernando Aristeguieta. The first came from a Cristian Maidana cross that was deflected back toward RSL keeper Nick Rimando. Rimando did well to get a hand to it, but could only push it out as far as Aristeguieta who finished. A second deflection from Chris Schuler five minutes later from a Maidana throw landed comfortably at the feet of Aristeguieta inside the goal area. This time he still had to beat Rimando and did so with conviction to the far post.
Into the second half, RSL continued to out possess the Union. Left back Tony Beltran was able to draw a few fouls that lead to the next goal for Salt Lake. A whipped in cross by a Morales free kick bounced off of Olmes Garcia’s knee and was headed in by a diving Jamison Olave.
Unfortunately Olave goes from hero to villain in less than 3 minutes. Another cross in transition from Maidana lead to a desperate touch from the veteran centerback. Rimando reacted to covering the ball, but could only hopelessly watch it redirect into the goal.
The biggest talking point of this game came in the 86th minute. Luke Mulholland dribbled his way into the goal area and appeared to leave his feet to make a desperate challenge to regain lost positioning over the ball. However, the referee believed that Maurice Edu fouled Mulholland and rewarded RSL with a penalty. Alvaro Saborio stepped up and buried the penalty to draw Philadelphia.
Next week: Salt Lake has a bye week & Philadelphia hosts FC Dallas
FC Dallas 3 – Sporting Kansas City 1
New York City FC – 2 New England 0
Columbus 2 – Toronto FC 0
Houston 0 – Orlando City 1
Chicago 0 – Vancouver 1
Here are your Goal of the Week nominees! My personal favorite is the Innocent Emeghara finish. It was similar to David Villa’s (who took Player of the Week honors), but Emeghara gets the nod since he made Brad Evans look silly with that cut back to his right foot. Leave your winner in the comments.