To the victor goes the spoils in MLS Week 20. Three points were on the table and excluding Portland/Vancouver, someone walked away with those precious points. FC Dallas is the hottest team in the league right now after winning a fourth consecutive match and has scored two or more goals in each game. New England ended their five-game losing stretch with a 1-0 win at home. Seattle continues to drop matches without their MLS All-Star duo of Obafemi Martins (injury) and Clint Dempsey (international duty). Also, Giovinco continues to add to his MLS mixtape in a 2-1 win for Toronto FC.
LA Galaxy 5 – San Jose Earthquakes 2
Steven Gerrard scored on his Major League Soccer debut for the LA Galaxy. Gerrard also assisted captain Robbie Keane as he went on to score his second consecutive hat trick and fourth all-time for the Galaxy.
The night started off very well for the visiting San Jose Earthquakes. Two goals from Quincy Amarikwa inside the 25th minute gave the Quakes an away lead to defend.
The first goal by Amarikwa was well taken. An early counter attacking cross from Sanna Nyassi was side footed into the side netting. Four minutes later Amarikwa found a loose free kick in the goal area and stroked it in for the 2-0 lead.
The Galaxy drew level with the Quakes before halftime. A careless high elbow from Tommy Thompson on Gerrard led to a penalty from Keane. Gerrard scored the equalizing goal after a Baggio Husidic cross was deflected in the path of the former Liverpool captain.
LA turned on the jets in the second half and left San Jose in the dust. Dominating in possession, 66-34, the Galaxy pushed the Earthquakes on their backfoot, which is not what you should let a team coached by Bruce Arena do to you.
It did take sometime, but as the gaps were opening in the second half Robbie Keane was able to get his second goal of the night. A Gerrard set piece near the corner of the goal area was whipped in low on the ground. Keane intelligently flicked the ball into the goal as he made a run across the face of goal. Later, Gerrard took a free kick that stung the outside corner of the goal posts.
Keane scored his hat trick on the night after putting away a second penalty. David Bingham brought down Husidic after searching for a rebound off the post.
The Galaxy improved their record on the season to 9-6-7, while the Earthquakes are now up against a three-match losing streak. LA signed Mexican international Giovani dos Santos to their roster today. The fire power in the City of Angels is looking very dangerous.
San Jose is counting down the days until captain Chris Wondolowski returns from Gold Cup duty. In the mean time, the Quakes have added two young players to the roster: American 21-year old Marc Pelosi from Liverpool and 18-year old Brazilian Matheus Silva.
Next week: LA visit Houston & San Jose visits Vancouver
Columbus Crew 3 – Chicago Fire 1
Columbus and Chicago meet each other twice this week. The Crew managed to steal an away win on Wednesday night thanks to a stunning Kei Kamara header. Fast forward four days and the pair are facing off again at MAPFRE Stadium.
Columbus continued its dominance over the Chicago Fire on Sunday evening, but did bend a little in the process. Frank Yallop said that Wednesday night’s game was their ‘worst display of the season.’ Columbus did increase their possession line over from the first match, but also allowed twice as many chances at goal in the second match, including a goal direct from a set piece. Nevertheless, the Crew managed six points in a double game week. At this time of the season it’s pretty difficult to do that in MLS.
A little bit of MLS league trivia was written in the twelfth second of this match. Sean Johnson made contact with Ethan Finley in the goal area and the referee deemed it to be a penalty, although no card was shown to the goalkeeper. Federico Higuain coolly placed the penalty past Johnson.
Chicago drew level in the ninth minute after David Accam’s free kick redirected off of Justin Meram. It was Accam’s first start since injuring himself on international duty.
MLS’ leading goal scorer Kei Kamara (14) headed home the eventual game-winner. Kamara was left free after a reshuffled free kick was played to the back post. Kamara used his trademark leaping ability to power the header through the flying arms of Johnson.
Chicago began to press the Columbus midfield and created some chances of their own, but could not retaliate on the scoreboard. Ten chances at goal were attempted from 35th minute and 70th. Only three shots managed to find the hands of Steve Clark in that time frame, but never tested the second year starter.
The Crew topped off their performance with a great goal in the 83rd minute. Chad Barson had four Crew teammates to pick out in the goal area. The ball came to Finley who flicked the ball of the post and in for the 3-1 victory.
Thanks to a two game-winning streak for themselves and a two game losing streak for DC United, Columbus is back within reach of the Eastern Conference regular season title that carries a 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League spot.
Chicago is on the opposite end of the spectrum and is statistically the worst team in the league. The bright side for Chicago is that they’re only four points away from a playoff spot and could benefit from the new format.
Next week: Columbus host Toronto & Chicago hosts Orlando
Sporting Kansas City 2 – Montreal Impact 1
Kansas City enjoyed playing against the Impact as Eastern Conference foes in 2014. In three wins over the Canadian opponent, KC outscored Montreal 9-1. The Impact dismantled the Crew last week 3-0 and was looking to pull an upset at Sporting Park on Saturday night.
Things did not go well for the Impact early on in the match. Benny Feilhaber continued his career year for Sporting after finishing a cross from Krisztian Nemeth. Roger Espinoza pressed Marco Donadel in the attacking third and dispossessed Italian to start the play.
Montreal fans may have had some flash back when Dom Dwyer scored the second goal of the match in the 34th minute. Benny Feilhaber recovered a misplaced pass through the midfield and played a brilliant 50-yard through ball to Dwyer. It was the seventh goal that Dwyer has scored on the Impact in four matches.
The Impact showed some of their experience when going down a second goal. The Canadian Champions took control of the game and slowed the pace to a calming pattern.
Ignacio Piatti was able to pull a goal back for the Impact in the second half. Piatti blew by Kevin Ellis after he attempted a tackle outside the area. The space behind the Kansas City backline was eaten up by the Argentine designated player and swiftly finished inside the far post. Piatti’s goal was the only shot on target for both teams in the second half.
Kansas City has risen to the top of the form charts in MLS and leads the league in points per game (1.83 PPG). Peter Vermes’ side is firing on multiple levels even without a healthy first choice full back on either side of defense and the continuing absence of Graham Zusi on national team duty.
Montreal still has games in hand on the rest of the league, but their matches are running low and the results are not coming as hoped. The Impact could be in the market for a big name this summer, but they also need help on the defensive side of the field to make a run for MLS Cup this year.
Next week: Kansas City visit Salt Lake City & Montreal hosts Seattle
Other scores in MLS Week 20:
Chicago 0 – Columbus 1
Seattle 0 – Colorado 1
Toronto 2 – Philadelphia 1
New England 1 – New York City FC 0
FC Dallas 2 – DC United 1
Real Salt Lake 2 – Houston 0
Portland 1 – Vancouver 1
Orlando City 0 – NY Red Bulls 2