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Friday, 27 April 2012

MLS Weekly Review – Midweek Round 8 – Of Faulty Penalty Kicks, Elbow Locations, and Canadian-Argentine Flicks.

    A single midweek match on Wednesday night saw Dallas welcome Salt Lake to their eponymous stadium in Frisco, Texas. Both sides returned to action on short rest, having lost on Saturday night to Vancouver and San Jose respectively.

    Disappointing results aside, each club would be missing key contributors: Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, and Blas Perez were suspended for the match – red cards for the Salt Lake duo and a retroactive punishment for an elbow on Jordan Harvey in Vancouver for the Dallas centre-forward – while Dallas first-choice goalkeeper Kevin Hartman missed a second consecutive match with back spasms, forcing Chris Seitz in goal.

    A relatively dour first half saw Dallas take the initiative without really threatening the virgin score-line. Fabian Castillo twice had good looks at goal, only to be thwarted by Nick Rimando and a goal-line block by his teammate Scott Sealy, who could not get out of the way of Castillo’s powerful blast. Bobby Warshaw did have the ball in the back of the net from a scramble following a Daniel Hernandez free-kick, but saw his effort called off for a supposed foul on Rimando by Zach Loyd.

    Controversial though that call may have been, it was nothing compared to what referee Geoff Gamble concocted just before first half stoppage concluded.

    Another Hernandez free-kick was cut out by the boot of Tony Beltran, it ricocheted off fellow defender Chris Schuler straight back at the right-back, who was off-balance and going to ground. The ball struck off the back of his elbow or forearm and Gamble bolted, pointing to the spot.

    Interpretation of the game’s laws is entirely up to the individual, but too many refs in MLS are on the lookout for chances to blow their whistle. Salt Lake saw the awarding of a penalty as extremely harsh and Brek Shea capitalized on the chance, taking to the spot, sending a right-footed shot low to the keeper’s left after sending Rimando diving the other way.

    The second half followed shortly until again misfortune disrupted play. Dallas’ Panamanian defender Carlos Rodriguez went to ground awkwardly following an innocuous challenge with Kyle Beckerman. The combination of the angle to the ground and the unintentional knee of Javier Morales, whom he collided with, dislocated his elbow, forcing a lengthy stoppage as he received treatment and was carried from the pitch.

    Another gruesome injury took some of the impetus out of the match, until Salt Lake’s youthful reinforcements were able to impress their will on the result.

    Luis Gil came on for Ned Grabavoy and Emiliano Bonfigli joined him for Paulo Junior some quarter of an hour later.

    Making only his second appearance for the club – his first lasting only a minute of regulation – the Argentine forward soon broke down the left channel behind the Dallas back-line, running onto a deliciously weighted chipped-pass from Canadian Will Johnson to slot a low shot past Seitz at the near-left-post.

    Three minutes into his cameo; a first goal in MLS drew his side level. 1-1 is how the match would finish; extending Salt Lake’s run of having never won in Texas in eighteen trips all-time to the Lone Star State in league play.

    MLS returns to the pitch this weekend with a full slate of nine matches that will see all teams bar Kansas City in action.


Dallas v Salt Lake 1-1.

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