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Friday, 6 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Round 7 - Of Broken Ducks, Homecomings, Injuries Overcome, Streaks Continued, Defense, & a Hangover in Portland

Ducks were broken this weekend in MLS. Vancouver’s young striker, Omar Salgado, first pick overall in the 2011 Superdraft, scored his first professional goal in his first start, from a left sided Terry Dunfield cross. Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux, scored his first of the season from the penalty mark, following a handball by San Jose’s Jason Hernandez. Early season struggles to get on the score sheet put to rest after a dynamic season last year, leading the Union with 14 goals and 11 assists in 2010, to earn his side a 1-0 victory. FC Dallas’s Columbian DP, Fabian Castillo, scored his first goal for his new team, curling a flicked header from Andrew Jacobsen into the corner of the net. Chivas duo Nick LaBrocca and Marcos Mondiani both registered in Chivas USA’s 3-0 victory over New England; LaBrocca with a header from a Ben Zemanski cross and Mondiani with an unorthodox volley from a Alejandro Moreno pass. Sophomore Colorado striker Andre Akpan notched his first MLS strike, collecting a through ball from Omar Cummings and rifling into the far corner to level the match. In the Friday night match, Houston’s rookie striker, Will Bruin, notched his first career hat trick, helping his team demolish DC 4-1.

     Portland’s DP Diego Chará and 2nd Overall Pick, Darlington Nagbe, made their first starts for the club, helping earn a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.  Newly acquired midfielder Je-Vaughan Watson and Koke both made late game appearances for Houston, who had been looking to add pieces to their squad.

     Disappointing homecomings for Pat Onstad and Bobby Convey, as Onstad’s DC were stomped by the Dynamo in Houston; Convey’s return to Philly was soiled by his demotion to the bench while his team’s struggles continued and they lost. Vancouver’s away support of Team Nanchoff, some 200 friends and family of Michael Nanchoff, and the Michigan based family of defender Greg Janicki were disappointed with a 2-1 loss in Columbus. Janicki played the entire match, while oddly Nanchoff, nursing a groin injury did not even make the trip, though his ‘team’ did enjoy themselves cheering on the ‘Caps.

     Houston’s Bring Ching and Kansas City’s Ryan Smith both made appearances following injury layoffs, Ching subbing on in the 81st minute, while Smith came on for the entire second half. Seattle and Dallas, who both suffered devastating injuries last week, losing their stars, Steve Zakuani and David Ferreira respectively, were able bounce back from that disappointment and win this week’s matches. Uruguayan DP Alvaro Fernandez stepped up for the Sounders, scoring their opening goal; Brad Evans added a brace and Nate Jaqua got his first start of the season in a 3-0 massacre of Toronto FC, while Eric Avila filled in the attacking midfield  role vacated by Ferreira in his side’s 2-1 victory over LA in the rain and storm.  Seattle honored their injured Zakuani, holding up his number 11, as US fans did for Charlie Davies, in the 11th minute, chanting his name. Dallas paid tribute to their fallen comrade when Castillo held aloft a Ferreira jersey in celebration of his goal.

     DC United was again blown out, allowing 8 goals while scoring just 1 in their last 2 league matches. They have still never won in Houston, who extended their undefeated streak to 6 games. Seattle is similarly unbeaten in 6. Chivas USA continued their domination over New England; they have outscored the Revolution 11-0 in their last 4 meetings, and have compiled back to back league wins to extend their undefeated streak to 4. Colorado and Chicago drew, as they did in both fixtures last season; Chicago has yet to either keep a clean sheet or be shut out the year. Columbus and Vancouver continued in opposite directions, the Crew, undefeated since First Kick (6 matches), while the Whitecaps have not won since opening day (7 matches).

     The staunch defensive game of the Philadelphia Union held strong, down a man for 50 minutes following the ejection of defender Jordan Harvey for an apparent stamp on San Jose’s Chris Leitch. Kansas City was able to field the same back four in consecutive games for the first time following the cancellation of the red card to defender Aurelien Collin on the basis of mistaken identity. KC’s defense was aided by this slight familiarity and performed much better as they battled New York. They did suffer some bad karma, when Stephane Auvray’s hand on the shoulder of Dwayne De Rosario resulted in a Rafa Marquez penalty kick, though keeper, Jimmy Neilsen was able to make the save. With their 1-0 victory, New York has not allowed a goal in their last 3 matches, outscoring their opponents for that stretch 8-0. Chicago Fire backup keeper, Jon Conway, made his third straight start, in place of the youngster Sean Johnson, in his team’s 1-1 draw in Colorado.

     The league’s most dominant team, Real Salt Lake, suffered their first defeat of the season against an energized Portland Timbers. Salt Lake was returning to league play for the first time in three weeks following the disappointing 0-1 (2-3 aggregate) loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final, shattering their 37 match home winning streak and their chance at glory in the Club World Cup. Several key players, Fabian Espindola, Robbie Russell, and Jamison Olave, were rested and the game was lost.

Houston v DC 4-1; Philadelphia v San Jose 1-0; Columbus v Vancouver 2-1; New York v Kansas City 1-0; Colorado v Chicago 1-1; Seattle v Toronto 3-0; Portland v Salt Lake 1-0; Chivas v New England 3-0; Dallas v Los Angeles 2-1.

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