Monday, April 11, 2011

Football Americana Week 4: Philly show the Red Bulls how it's done

An incredible EIGHT (tabloidy!) red cards were shown in Major League Soccer this weekend, and perhaps the fact that none of them went to Philadelphia Union players, who were particularly prolific in dismissal terms this time last year, might go some way to explaining their impressive start to the season. Here's the roundup of all the action in Week 4.

Vancouver Whitecaps picked up two of the three red cards dished out in their 1-1 home draw against New England Revolution. Gershon Koffie was sent off just before half time for leading with the arm in an aerial challenge with the Revs' Pat Phelan, and the Caps' DP Eric Hassli (pictured) would soon follow.

He was lucky to get away with a yellow card for a far more dangerous elbow on Kevin Alston than Koffie's, but his second booking was pure comedy. Camilo was brought down in the area and Hassli dinking in the penalty before celebrating by removing his shirt to reveal an identical shirt - name, number and all (except for sleeve length). Second yellow card and off, and that's a remarkable five yellow cards in three Caps appearances for the Frenchman.

Revs rookie AJ Soares got an extremely harsh straight red for fouling Atiba Harris in the corner but the visitors got their point against the nine men thanks to a stoppage time equaliser from Ilija Stolica, a few minutes after having one disallowed for offside.

The Revolution went on to get two more reds in their second game of the week, a 2-0 home defeat against Real Salt Lake. Chris Schuler's opener could have been avoided, as it resulted from a corner that was conceded by Ryan Cochrane when he could've just as easily given away a throw-in. Paulo Junior got the second with a crisply finished one-on-one just after the break. Shalrie Joseph was sent off with twenty minutes to go for his part in a ridiculous spat with Kyle Beckerman off the ball. Will Johnson's late tackle on Phelan earned him a first yellow card, and the pair were later sent off together when Phelan's disgraceful tackle on Robbie Russell provoked an angry reaction from Johnson, who got his second booking.

Seattle Sounders finally got their win, beating Chicago Fire at Qwest Field. O'Brian White opened the scoring  with a great header, only for Diego Chaves to equalise. Steve Zakuani's cool finish for 2-1 proved the winner.

FC Dallas had got the weekend action off to a great start with a 3-0 victory over Colorado Rapids, the team who defeated them in the 2010 MLS Cup final. Ugo Ihemelu got the scoring going with an opportunist's finish after the Rapids failed to clear a corner in the middle of the first half. David Ferreira's irresistible chipped finish made it 2-0, and the Colombian (pictured) added a third with a tap-in straight after the kick-off in the second half.

The stuttering start endured by New York Red Bulls continued with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of I-95 rivals Philadelphia Union. One goal was enough to settle it at PPL Park and it came courtesy of substitute Roger Torres in the middle of the second half after the Red Bulls' new superstar Juan Agudelo had hit the woodwork twice in the first. 19-year-old Torres fired past Bouna Coundoul just seconds after coming on, making the Red Bulls pay for Tim Ream's mistake at the back.

DC United and LA Galaxy played out a 1-1 draw at RFK. The Galaxy took an early lead, Mike Magee heading home a David Beckham corner. Just before half time Beckham put in a horrible scissor tackle on Josh Wolff, which should have earned him a red card, and the most vocal United objector, Santino Quaranta, would later be dismissed himself. Despite losing a man to two late bookings, United found a controversial last-minute equaliser. Sub Charlie Davies cruised into the box before going down after minimal contact from Omar Gonzalez - the penalty was given and Davies deftly scored his fourth United goal, his third from the spot. Jovan Kirovski picked up a red card after the final whistle for dissent.

Chivas USA and Columbus Crew also drew, but had to settle for a goalless game at the Home Depot Center. Eddie Gaven squandered the best chance of the game for the Crew, allowing the goalkeeper a decent save when he should have buried it.

There was another draw between San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto FC, with former Chivas man Alan Gordon opening the scoring for the Reds through a scrappy prod home in the 27th minute. Simon Dawkins rolled in the equaliser ten minutes later to earn a point for the Earthquakes.

In the final game of the weekend the Whitecaps headed for Texas to face Houston Dynamo and left with nothing. Cam Weaver scored first for the Dynamo ten minutes after Danny Cruz saw a fantastic solo effort hit the bar. Vancouver took just a minute to equalise, Chiumiento and Camilo again linking up and the Brazilian's turn in the box was sublime. Parity was shortlived, however, thanks to Bobby Boswell's goal before half time. Rookie Will Bruin all but made the game safe for the Dynamo with a cool finish 15 minutes from time after a great pass by Brad Davis.

With four weeks played, Philadelphia lead the East with nine points from four games. In the West, Salt Lake have won three out of three and are above Colorado on goal difference. Every team in MLS is on the board, but Chivas and Portland are yet to win. You can see all the Week 4 action at

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