It was cold in most areas of the continent this weekend. New England used the yellow ball in the snow, Vancouver kept the roof over BC Place and Chicago battled against 26 mph winds against Philadelphia. The weather didn’t help on field play, but it was certainly not the most prohibiting factor of competition this weekend.
Regardless of a FIFA International break, a full slate of Major League Soccer fixtures was scheduled. MLS headquarters continues to ignore FIFA International breaks when scheduling league fixtures. MLS clubs are required to release international players for these breaks. 58 players were missing league-wide due to international call-ups.
Real Salt Lake 2 – 1 Toronto FC
Second half substitutions created an exciting finish at Rio Tinto Stadium Sunday night. Real Salt Lake secured a win thanks to homegrown player Jordan Allen’s first professional goal. Allen’s header capped off a frantic final five minutes with chances at both ends of the RioT.
Salt Lake’s Holmes Garcia found himself free on goal in the 87th minute with his team leading 1-0. Garcia choose to shoot with fineness, but Toronto FC keeper Joe Bendik comfortably saved it.
After a minute of possession Toronto lulled the Salt Lake defense. Substitute Jackson dribbled free through the midfield and played a give-and-go with fellow substitute Bright Dike. Dike’s layoff split the RSL center backs and Jackson beat Antinella for the goal.
The veteran lead Real Salt Lake squad was not backing away from the late charge of Toronto. In the 89th minute 19-year-old substitute Jordan Allen scored to reclaim the lead for RSL. Javier Morales’ cross was floated in towards Allen and he nodded it down past Bendik. TFC’s Nick Hagglund picked up the late run by Allen into the goal area, but miss interpreted Morales’ cross.
Morales also assisted Luke Mulholland’s opening goal in the 38th minute. The two goals were very similar; floated balls to the back post and headed down unchallenged.
With injuries to the back line and a suspension to Justin Morrow, Toronto had to rely on a makeshift defensive group. Hagglung and Ashton Morgan made their first appearances of the season last week as substitutes in Columbus. Clement Simonin was only signed from TFC II earlier this week.
Toronto was also without Designated players Jozy Altidore & Michael Bradley. Sebastian Giovinco played all 90 minutes for the Reds. The Italian had 3 shots on goal & 2 key passes.
Next week: RSL away to San Jose & Toronto FC away to Chicago
Montreal Impact 2 – 2 Orlando City SC
An early season game in Montreal means a visit to Olympic Stadium. In previous seasons of MLS, we have seen high profile players like David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane refuse to play on artificial turf surfaces. This is not the case for the new Brazilian Designated player Kaka, who was instrumental in the comeback for Orlando City this weekend.
Things started off kind of funny in Montreal. Orlando defenders Seb Hines and Sean St. Ledger both handled the ball off of a corner. Ignacio Piatti placed the 14th minute penalty kick past Donovan Ricketts for the Impact’s first goal of the season.
Jack McInerney had a moment of brilliance in the 27th minute. McInerney pounced on a loose ball inside the goal area while Orlando defenders were unsure of who was playing the ball. A cheeky lob over the on-coming Ricketts felt sweetly into the net for their second goal of the afternoon.
Orlando did not travel all the way to Montreal to give up. Quickly — and I emphasize — quickly scored twice. Kaka and Pedro Ribeiro combined for an assist and a goal apiece. The goals were 1 minute and 22 seconds apart from each other.
The first goal was given from Kaka in the goal area to Riberio. A quick instep pass beat Montreal goalkeeper Eric Kronberg through traffic. Then fast forward 60 seconds to Ribero leading Kaka into the goal area. Two soft touches from the Brazilian drew the Lions even with the Impact, 2-2.
Kronberg had little to do in his first match with Montreal. His only save came from a volley by Kaka. It was Orlando’s only non-scoring shot on goal, but could have easily been the difference.
Orlando City was only able to dress 15 players with 7 missing for International duty.
Next week: Montreal have a bye & Orlando hosts DC United
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – 1 Portland Timbers
Cascadia Cup holders, the Vancouver Whitecaps were able to get their 2015 Cup campaign off to a good start. The Whitecaps managed their first win over Portland in the MLS era last year after 4 draws and 4 losses since 2011. This one could have been another draw in the hat for Portland, but a new face in Vancouver helped rescue a result for Vancouver.
Coming off of two straight clean sheets, Vancouver keeper Daivd Ousted was called into action early by the high-speed Portland counter attack. A sizzling low drive from George Fochive was headed inside the posts until Ousted swept his lines free. Ousted made 4 saves in the game which tied his season high.
My favorite moment of the weekend happened in the 15th minute. An intelligently won free kick by Octavio Rivero was converted by Nicolas Mezquida. A curling, dipping freekick was up & over the jumping wall while beating the Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey. Just before taking the free kick, Mezquida steps to the side of the ball looking down towards the empty corner foreshadowing where he would then score.
After the opening goal, the possession would be held and consumed by the Timbers. Portland would search and search for an equalizing goal. The Timbers registered 36 unsuccessful crosses throughout 90 minutes and was not able to capitalize on their 7 corner kicks.
All of the hard work from Portland did eventually pay off. In the 82nd minute Rodney Wallace played a cross through the 6-yard area that was pushed away by Ousted. The push was not enough to clear the goal area and Fernando Adi cleaned up the loose ball and tied the game for the Timbers. The Timbers looked destined to draw for their fourth consecutive time this season.
Carl Robinson’s Whitecaps were not to be out done at home. The head coach used his final substitution of the night on veteran Robert Earnshaw, a clinically known goal poacher that only signed for the team this week.
Earnshaw was able to get that goal and the win for Vancouver. A swift pass from Pedro Morales split four Timbers players like an axe. Earnshaw danced on the line of offside and calmly dinked the ball over a rushing Kwarasey.
The late game heroics from Earnshaw gave the rushing Whitecaps their third straight win.
Next week: Vancouver hosts LA Galaxy & Portland hosts FC Dallas
Other scores in Week 4:
New York City FC 0 – Sporting Kansas City 1
New England 2 – San Jose 1
DC United 1 – LA Galaxy 0
Columbus 1 – NY Red Bulls 2
FC Dallas 0 – Seattle 0
Houston 0 – Colorado 0
Chicago 1 – Philadelphia 0
Leave a comment below, let me know what goal was your favorite this weekend or what was your favorite moment from the fixtures this weekend. I’ll let you know how I feel after!