New England increased the longest winning streak in MLS this season to six matches against NY Red Bulls in midweek, but then had it put to bed by Montreal on the weekend. The Red Bulls claimed the first ticket to the MLS Playoffs with a strong performance at Portland. Columbus took three precious Eastern Conference points away from DC United at RFK Stadium Saturday night. After scoring 4 or 5 goals on every team this summer, LA Galaxy are winless in their last three matches, including Real Salt Lake’s 3-0 throttling on Saturday. Finally, Chicago let go of head coach Frank Yallop after they lost 1-0 to Orlando City.
New York City FC 3 – San Jose Earthquakes 2
28,000+ at Yankee Stadium almost witnessed a three-goal, second half lead by New York City Football Club slip away.
The unexpected scoring catalyst for NYCFC was Ned Grabavoy. The veteran MLS midfielder scored twice in 13 minutes to jump start a second half lead for the home team. The first goal was a fortunate finish to the back post that had a little help from a Clarence Goodson deflection. Grabavoy’s second was a strong and dominate header in the 6 yard area.
High dollar designated players David Villa and Frank Lampard both provided wonderful assist on the two goals. Villa scored his own in the 65th minute to give New York City a 3-0 lead. It was the Spaniard’s 16th goal of the season and his 8th assist on the year. Both figures are yearly highs for the expansion team.
San Jose nearly took apart NYCFC’s three-goal advantage in the span of five minutes. The Earthquakes’ midseason acquisition, Quincy Amarikwa, leaped above the crowd and emphatically headed in a loose ball for San Jose’s first goal. Three minutes later, Amarikwa intercepted a poor back pass and shockingly missed an empty net off the post.
In the 75th minute, New York City’s midfielder Angelino took down Amarikwa in the goal area. The referee quickly pointed to the spot for a penalty. Chris Wondolowski scored for San Jose to tie NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis on the MLS All-time scoring chart.
With two big (momentum value) wins for New York City FC this week, they are keeping their playoff hopes alive. Fortune will have to smile on NYCFC very fondly, but the again, anything is possible in MLS.
San Jose faces a must win match at home verse Salt Lake City next weekend. This match will ultimately decide who would be in line to leap frog Portland (zero wins in last four matches) if they continue to drop points from that sixth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Next week: New York City visit Vancouver & San Jose hosts Salt Lake
Toronto FC 3 – Colorado Rapids 1
The Sebastian Giovinco Show was on full display at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon. Two quick first half goals by the Italian superstar and one from Damien Perquis faded Colorado’s chances of making a late run into the MLS Playoffs.
The lone bright spot for the Rapids came in the 40th minute. Dillon Powers’ header got Colorado on the score sheet, but that can not save the Rapid’s miserably dry season. Will Pablo Mastroeni be there next year to influence some change on this squad? Many don’t think so.
Sebastian Giovinco quickly ate up space on the dribble when given the opportunity. Colorado’s lack of a midfield presence in the 14th minute was the perfect example. After shrugging off a Lucas Pittinari challenge at the midfield strip, Giovinco strolled all the way to the top of the Colorado goal area and struck low and through the hands of Clint Irwin. 1-0 TFC, easy peasy.
Jonathon Osorio left a fantastic flick on to Giovinco in the 18th minute who calmly and clinically finished into the far corner. The Italian turned provider in the 38th minute with the assist on a corner kick header by Perquis to finish the match 3-1.
The two goals were Giovinco’s 19th in total for the league campaign and his 14th assist as well. Giovinco is a man crush of mine forever now and he will be a sure bet for the league’s MVP award, come November.
While the first half of the match was flooded with goals, the second half was flooded with water and TFC enjoyed wading out the three points.
Toronto may clinch their first trip to the MLS Playoffs in team history in the next two weeks. Home games against the bottom dwellers of the Eastern Conference (Chicago & Philadelphia) will be on the horizon. Those matches are followed by two more home matches against the current Eastern Conference leaders (NY Red Bulls & Columbus).
Next week: Toronto host Chicago & Colorado visits Houston
Sporting Kansas City 3 – FC Dallas 1
Benny Feilhaber’s sizzling free kick and Dom Dwyer’s laser finish will hopefully jumpstart Sporting Kansas City’s postseason run (and US Open Cup Final appearance).
After being out blazed a combined 10-2 in the past two trips to Sporting Park, Oscar Peraja led FC Dallas into Friday night’s headliner with a 5-3-2 formation. The backline held Kansas City to its own demise of possession with only a single good chance headed wide by Dwyer.
The second half changed tactically when FC Dallas difference makers Fabian Castillo and Tesho Akindele come off the bench. Only, the difference that was made this time was counteractive to Peraja’s wanting. The rearranged formation reopened the gaps for Sporting to exploit once feed the ball to the elusive Benny Feilhaber. A minute after Akindele entered, Feilhaber drew and scored a fabulous free kick that evaded young homegrown goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez. The goal re-energized the home crowd.
Gonzalez rushed out of his goal later in the 76th minute to challenge a diagonal pass, only to collide with Dwyer without winning the ball. Feilhaber doubled his goal tally from the penalty spot. With that goal Feilhaber is the first Kansas City player to score 10+ goals and 10+ assists in a single season since Josh Wolff in 2005.
Another simple goalkeeping error led to a goal in this match. This time it was by Kansas City’s own homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin. Victor Ulloa’s shot from just outside the goal area brought Dallas back into the game at 2-1. The strike snuck between the arms of Kempin and trickled into the goal behind him.
Just to make sure that Dallas was not thinking of coming back, Dom Dwyer unleashed a thunderbolt into the top right hand corner. Paulo Nagamura’s sharp ball into the goal area opened up just enough space for Dwyer to claim his 10th league goal of the season.
Sporting Kansas City were Supporter Shield favorites four weeks ago. Their winless streak was snapped, but it will be tested shortly here on Wednesday night against Houston.
Dallas visits LA and will encounter Conference leaders Vancouver twice in October. Those are certainly matches to circle on your calendar as the race for the Supporter Shield and Playoff bye week come into sight.
Next week: Kansas City visit Houston & Dallas visits LA
MLS Week 29
New York City FC 2 – Toronto FC 0
New England 2 – NY Red Bulls 1
San Jose 1 –Montreal 1
Montreal 3 – New England 0
DC United 1 – Columbus 2
Vancouver 0 – Seattle 3
Chicago 0 – Orlando 1
Real Salt Lake 3 – LA Galaxy 0
Portland 0 – NY Red Bulls 2
Philadelphia 2 – Houston 0