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Thursday 26 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 11 - Of Offensive Struggles, Shut Out Streaks, Penalty Kicks, and a Mad Six Minutes in New York.

    Three matches were played this midweek all on Wednesday evening. Seattle fell 1-0 to FC Dallas at Qwest Field; Brek Shea scored the lone goal in the 18th minute. Seattle, decimated by injuries, has struggled to amass any offense this season. They attempted 19 shots last night, out shooting Dallas 15-3 in the second half, yet they failed to hit to get the necessary equalizing goal. It was only the 3rd time they have been shut out in their 13 matches. The real issues is regular scoring, the last time Sounders had a multi-goal game was April 30th, when they Toronto FC visited and fell 3-0, that was only the 3rd match that Seattle had scored more than 1 goal.     Injuries to Steve Zakuani, O’Brian White, Nate Jaqua and Mauro Rosales, as well as the preseason departure of Blaise N’Kufo, has decimated the Seattle attack leaving Fredy Montero as the go-to guy, a role with which he has not always been comfortable. He will need to step up his prosperity in front of goal if Seattle wishes to push for the title this season.

    On the other side of the ball FC Dallas have battled through their injury concerns to be undefeated in 7 matches, starting with that in which playmaker David Ferreira was ruled out with a broken ankle. Their last loss was April 17th when they visited Timbers in Portland and fell 3-2. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman earned himself a nice 37th birthday present, his MLS record 99th clean sheet, Dallas’ 5th in a row, culminating in a new club record of 489 minutes and counting of shut out football. Both teams play again this weekend, Seattle will be hoping to hit the back of the net regularly as they travel to Salt Lake for a tough Western Conference tie, while Dallas return to Texas to visit Houston Dynamo in the first Texan derby of the season.

    Landon Donovan won the 3 points for Los Angeles as his penalty kick was enough to seal a 1-0 victory over Houston. Chris Birchall’s errant shot caught Lovel Palmer’s arm and a penalty for handball was called. Donovan’s league leading 8th goal of the season, all scored in the last 7 matches, was all that was needed, but now he’s off to join the US national team for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup, will LA’s good form, 3 wins, unbeaten in 5, continue without their star? Houston’s attack was stifled as LA double-teamed their distributor Brad Davis, Birchall and right back Sean Franklin suppressed the pinpoint crossing of Davis, negating the aerial prowess of the Dynamo’s towering forward line. Short rest for both squads as LA travels to New England to play the Revolution, while Houston hosts Dallas, both on Saturday night. A controversial penalty opened the scoring in New York and it was Colorado who benefitted. A blown call, as Roy Miller weakly fouled Andre Akpan with a shoulder charge well outside the 18 yard box, the referee Jorge Gonzalez pointed to the spot. Jeff Larentowicz stepped up only to have his attempt saved by Greg Sutton, remaining in the Red Bulls goal for the second straight match.  The Ginger Ninja followed up on the play and slotted the rebound past the prostrate Sutton.

    The first of Larentowicz’s brace on the night kicked off a mad 6 minutes in the Big Apple. Thierry Henry, nursing a bum knee, replied 2 minutes later in the 29th collecting a pass from Dwayne De Rosario beating Matt Pickens in the Colorado goal. Colorado went back in the lead 3 minutes later as a well disguised free kick, Pablo Mastroeni rolling the ball out to a sneaking Larentowicz who blasted it through the startled wall and past Sutton. Just a minute later, Luke Rodgers was threaded through by Roy Miller, chipping over an onrushing Pickens to level the score at 2-2. Those 6 manic minutes were all the action the match could take, and it ended with that same score. New York must collect themselves and attempt to remedy their weakness on dead ball situations as they travel west to Vancouver, while Colorado, still undermanned in attack, returns home to host Sporting Kansas City.

The Fine Print

Left back and gentleman Todd Dunivant played in his 200th MLS match, congratulations are due to the good man.

US Open Cup action this week saw Chicago Fire and Sporting Kansas City advance to the tournament proper. Tuesday night Chicago bested San Jose on penalties 4-5 after goals from Orr Barouch and Yamith Cuesta drew them level as Earthquakes went ahead on goals by Ellis McLoughlin and Justin Morrow. Wednesday night saw KC hammer an under strengthed New England 5-0, their first ‘home’ match in Kansas City at a local high school field in front of 1228. Former first overall pick and defender, Chance Myers, netted a brace, as did CJ Sapong, with Aurelien Collin netting the other.

Portland Timbers lost 2-0 to AFC Ajax in front of a sold out crowd of 18,627 at JELD-WEN Field Wednesday night.

New York v Colorado 2-2; Seattle v Dallas 0-1; Los Angeles v Houston 1-0.

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