MLS Week 24 Wrap-Up: Late Heroics at Sporting Park

New York City FC took home 3 points from conference leaders DC United in a rare Thursday night MLS match. The Red Bulls opened a five points gap between themselves and Columbus after beating Toronto FC 3-0 at home. Houston was not prepared to deal with New England after two weather delays at Gillett Stadium. Nat Borchers helped the Timbers steal three points from his old home in Salt Lake, while most people were trying to figure out what the heck was going on in Kansas City.

Sporting Kansas City 4 – Vancouver Whitecaps 3

‘I Believe that We Will Win!’ rang from the crowd at Sporting Park as Kansas City and Vancouver entered added time on Saturday evening. Whether or not they truly believed, we’ll never know, but Sporting pulled off an incredible comeback at home, once again. Paulo Nagamura’s brace in the final seven minutes of the game gave Sporting an important three points in the Supporter’s Shield race.

Vancouver bossed Kansas City around their own park for the entire first half. High pressure to the Sporting backline lead to errant midfield passes that the Whitecaps turned into counter attacking goals.

Kekuta Manneh scored both first half goals for Vancouver. The first came after he intercepted a poor touch by Soni Mustivar and raced 60 yards to finish 1v1 against Tim Melia. Then Manneh managed to wiggle away from Kevin Ellis and headed home a perfectly placed early cross from Steven Beitashour in the 41st minute. The second goal from Vancouver really put a dagger in the heart of the Kansas City faithful. Sporting Park was silenced as halftime rolled around.

Things picked up for the home team after Mustivar and Ellis combined to nod in a goal from inside the 6-yard area in the beginning of the second half. This excited the crowd until substitute Pedro Morales’ sublime free kick silenced the stadium again.

Vancouver took their 3-1 lead into the 80th minute of the match. There things would change when Dom Dwyer drifted away from Pa Modou Kah and headed home the second goal for Sporting. There wasn’t any time for a selfie or backflips, Dwyer and Kansas City continued their offensive runs straight back to the halfway circle and pressed for an equalizing goal.

Within five minutes KC had their equalizer from the timely Paulo Nagamura. The Brazilian was set up at the top of the goal area in the 86th minute by Chance Myers. The finish was well place into the far side netting and past the outstretched David Ousted.

Nagamura turned a less than outstanding performance into a performance that every ticket holder will never forget. After 94st minutes, Mustivar made amends again for his poor distribution in the back by placing a cross perfectly in the path for Nagamure who headed in the game-winning goal.

This stunning 4-3 game may possibly go down as the most entertaining game of the season. If it doesn’t then I can’t wait to see what game beats it.

Sporting holds onto their 16-game unbeaten record at Sporting Park in 2015. Mustivar’s two assists were his first in MLS. Tim Melia did very well to keep Vancouver at three goals on the evening. KC’s back five have not kept a clean sheet in their past seven matches in all competitions.

Vancouver still lead Kansas City by two points in the Supporter Shield race, although KC does have three games in hand to overtake them in the table. Manneh’s brace was his first multi-goal game since October of 2013 when he scored a hat trick.

Next week: Kansas City host San Jose & Vancouver hosts FC Dallas

Philadelphia Union 3 – Chicago Fire 3

Philadelphia and Chicago both needed a win in what would eventually become a six-goal draw. These two teams looked to distance themselves from the bottom of the table, but there they will remain for at least another week.

Chicago dominated the early marks of possession and influence over the Philadelphia midfield in the first fifteen minutes. Twice a 50/50 ball was won by the Fire and lead to the eventual Patrick Nyarko cross to Kennedy Igboananike for a 1-0 lead.

Cristian Maidana had six assists in the past six MLS matches coming into Sunday’s primetime matchup. Maidana would record his second hat trick of assist this season against the Fire. The first to Fernado Aristeguieta on a corner kick and the second assist went to Fabinho’s redirected strike that put the Union in front 2-1.

In the second half, Igboananike would provide Nyarko with a goal this time for Chicago. After separating himself from his defender, Igbonanike drove a low cross through the 6-yard area for Nyarko to stab home to draw the game level.

The two teams would spend the final half hour of the match trading shots. Chicago had a difficult time getting theirs on goal. Meanwhile, Sean Johnson performed extremely well under the conditions of a shot on goal almost every other minute.

Philadelphia managed to find what they hoped would be the winning goal in the 90th minute. Sebastian LeToux received the ball wide in the goal area and stutter stepped his defender to find room for a low shot that skipped past Johnson.

The fourth official added five minutes of extra time to the match and Chicago knew they had plenty of time to get a goal back. How they would get a game tying 3rd goal was incredible. Twice, the ball was on the goal line (but not over) before being played back into the goal area. Igbonanike would find the loose ball and place it into the roof of the Union goal to draw the game in an incredible fashion.

Both teams have to be disappointed to walk away with a draw, but the ball don’t lie. Supporters from each club have shown displeasure towards their owners in regards to the way their respective clubs are headed. Hopefully these two sides can pull together a string of results and make the playoff race an entertaining spectacle that it should be.

Next week: Philadelphia visit Montreal & Chicago hosts Colorado

Seattle Sounders 4 – Orlando City 0

It’s pretty fair to say that Orlando City did not enjoy their time in Seattle this weekend. The Lions went down to ten men in the first half and were not able to get a shot on goal to challenge Stefan Frei.

Obafemi Martins scored a brace to lead Seattle in his first game back from a groin injury. Martins is still regaining fitness after his injury kept him out of the starting lineup for two months. In only an hour of play on Sunday night, the designated player sparked the Sounders, who were winless in the last five league matches (club record).

18-year-old Tyler Turner only lasted 40 minutes into his 5th career MLS start for Orlando. The young right back received two yellow cards that could have been avoided. Already down 1-0 at the time, Seattle would then take over the game and keep the ball in Orlando’s half for the majority of the second half.

Orlando City’s crown jewel, Kaka, has produced little to speak of in the past couple of months in MLS. Injuries have plagued the expansion franchise, which has lead to a limited amount of reliable support around the former Ballon d’Or winner. If the Lions were able to make a move before the rosters freeze, they may still squeak out a spot in the MLS playoffs.

Speaking of midseason replacements, Seattle cashed in on the score sheet with their three major summer signings. Erik Frieberg assisted Nelson Valdez’s first MLS goal from a set piece to take a commanding 2-0 lead.

Thomas registered his first Sounders goal and assist in MLS. The assist went to Martins for his second goal in the 62’ minute to make it 3-0. The final goal of the match, by Thomas, was in added time. The newest member of the Sounders, Panamanian international Roman Torres, assisted that goal to cap off a rejoiceful 4-0 win at Century Link field.

Seattle seems almost back to full strength and will be a force to reckon with as the playoff race picks up steam. Seattle will need the added help they received this summer. If Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins’ are both absent to injury again, who knows when the next Sounders victory will be.

Next week: Seattle visit Salt Lake & Orlando visits Toronto

Other scores in MLS Week 24:

New York City FC 3 – DC United 1

San Jose 1 – Colorado 0

NY Red Bulls 3 – Toronto FC 0

New England 2 – Houston 0

FC Dallas 1 – LA Galaxy 2

Real Salt Lake 0 – Portland 1

As a set piece taker in old playing days, I certainly have to go with the Pedro Morales free kick for Vancouver. David Villa and Andrea Pirlo certainly both showed class of the World Cup champions that they are on their goal too. It’s a pretty close call this week. Hope you enjoyed the roller coaster that is MLS. See you next 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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