Monday, March 28, 2011

Football Americana Week 2: Real Salt Lake mark their territory

Week 2 in Major League Soccer was characterised by game-changing red cards and one or two goals worthy of any league in the world. Real Salt Lake made the biggest mark on the weekend, thumping LA Galaxy to make sure the big boys know they're still around and still among the best. You can see all the action here.

Houston Dynamo opened the Week 2 scoring in MLS, going into a 1-0 lead against Seattle Sounders. The Sounders had the better early chances but Geoff Cameron put the Dynamo ahead with an extremely fortunate goal after penalty box chaos from a free kick. Seattle saved a point with a little over ten minutes left on the clock, Steve Zakuani knocking in the easiest goal he'll ever score. Tally Hall had a fantastic game in the Houston goal.

After losing to expansion opposition last week, Toronto FC made amends with a home win over Portland Timbers. Javier Martina (pictured) got both goals in TFC's 2-0 win and the second was a brilliantly taken lob after a long pass over the top by goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The Timbers made their presence felt though, both in terms of chances and a bizarre red card to Mikael Yourassowsky, who picked up a second yellow card for time-wasting as he strolled off the pitch to be substituted.

Vancouver Whitecaps were unable to match their Week 1 victory, losing 1-0 to Philadelphia Union in their second game. The Whitecaps designated player Eric Hassli saw red in this one. He picked up his first yellow card for a petulant trip on Danny Califf with the ball safely in the hands of Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, and his second was a lunge at Carlos Valdes and just as unnecessary. The Union took advantage with a Carlos Ruiz tap-in 13 minutes from the end.

Just like the Caps, Sporting Kansas City had a designated player dismissed and followed victory with defeat, theirs against Chicago Fire. Omar Bravo was sent off after a little over half an hour for a professional foul on Gaston Puerari after working back from an free kick that he had taken, and Diego Chaves blasted in the penalty. Puerari got the second himself six minutes later, slotting neatly past Jimmy Nielsen.

KC fought back and made it 2-1 through Matt Besler just after the break, but Marco Pappa's unbelievable solo dribble and finish restored the Fire's advantage. Teal Bunbury made it 3-2 by finishing a one-on-one with the goalkeeper but Chicago took all three points.

DC United felt aggrieved after their 2-1 defeat at New England Revolution because the Revs were lucky to be 2-0 up after quarter of an hour. Referee Baldomero Toledo missed a clear handball by Zack Schilawski as he controlled the ball to make it 1-0, and the penalty that Shalrie Joseph converted was questionable (but probably fair). The Revolution had started far more brightly but DC went on to play some good football and will be disappointed that they didn't find the net until the last couple of minutes, when Charlie Davies made it three goals in two sub appearances, this one again from the spot. United' Dejan Jakovic picked up a spectacularly harsh red card in the dying moments.

At Crew Stadium Columbus Crew and a weakened New York Red Bulls side had to settle for a goalless draw. Columbus had the better chances (although Will Hesmer had to make the best save of the match) but New York defended doggedly when called upon and deserved their point on the road.

An early Chris Wondolowski double saw San Jose Earthquakes to a 2-0 away victory at FC Dallas. He controlled, turned and lashed in his first superbly after just four minutes, and by the mid-point of the first half had made it 2-0 with a glancing header past Kevin Hartman. Milton Rodriguez missed a couple of golden opportunities to reduce the difference.

Real Salt Lake destroyed LA Galaxy at Rio Tinto, beginning the rout by racing into a 2-0 lead inside ten minutes. Andy Williams knocked in the first after 75 seconds and Javier Morales (pictured) got the second from the penalty spot, but not before a deflected David Beckham free kick had cannoned off the post. Morales get a second before half time, firing home an unstoppable drive from a throw in from which the Galaxy gave him far too much room.

Paulo Junior got the fourth, tapping in from Fabian Espindola's low cross, and there was nothing left for LA but a consolation, which Juan Pablo Angel passed into the net to open his account for the Galaxy.

Robin Fraser's Chivas USA slumped to their second defeat, losing out to Colorado Rapids on the night that Gary Smith's side unveiled their 2010 MLS Champions banner. Quincy Amarikwa's finish after springing the offside trap made the difference for the Rapids.

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