Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Football Americana Week 18: Philadelphia beat New England to go clear

With apologies for a week off (Football Americana was relocating yet again), here's your weekly helping of Major League Soccer recappery.

Like this column, Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake had an unexpected weekend on the sidelines after their game was called off due to heavy rain, so it was Seattle Sounders and Colorado Rapids who kicked off the weekend's action with a barnstorming 4-3 Sounders victory. Wells Thompson put the Rapids ahead after just 60 seconds, taking advantage of a weak clearance to fire low past Kasey Keller. Alvaro Fernandez equalised in the seventh minute and did well to stay strong before beating Matt Pickens for 1-1. Despite the setback and the loss to injury of Conor Casey, it was Colorado who took a lead into half time thanks to Jeff Larentowicz's crisp shot in off the post.

After the break, the Sounders took complete control. Mauro Rosales' cross was teased home by Roger Levesque to equalise, and Fredy Montero's diving header on the line made it 3-2. Rosales slotted in the fourth a minute later but Colorado did give their hosts a scare thanks to Caleb Folan's poacher's goal.

No such excitement in Ohio, where Columbus Crew and San Jose Earthquakes played out a 0-0 draw in which goalkeepers Jon Busch and Will Hesmer were completely in control throughout. The scoreline was identical between FC Dallas and DC United. Marvin Chavez should have won it for Dallas in the 67th minute and Jackson's late effort clipped the crossbar, but it was United who created the better of few chances in a less than stellar match. New York Red Bulls and Chivas USA also drew 0-0, their goalless draw in Carson doing little to raise the excitement levels this weekend.

Portland Timbers ended a long winless run and furthered Chicago Fire's even longer winless streak at home, winning the second meeting of these two this season from the penalty spot. Jorge Perlaza was fouled just inside the box in the middle of the first half and the referee blew his whistle without hesitation. Captain Jack Jewsbury took the spot kick and smacked it past Sean Johnson to score the only goal of the game. Chicago's Yamith Cuesta was sent off in the second half after picking up two yellow cards, the first for a tackle from behind and the second for a body-check on Jewsbury with the Timbers attacking.

Houston Dynamo almost held on to a 1-0 lead over Sporting Kansas City against the odds, but succumbed late on with just nine men on the field. Brad Davis scored their goal inside ten minutes, bending in a lovely free kick from 25 yards. Their first dismissal came a few minutes after the break, when Colin Clark was given a straight red for a disgraceful two-footed assault on Aurelien Collin, and Brian Ching earned the second with 20 minutes to go with a trip on Collin that was both petulant and vicious and gave no indication of an intention to win the ball. Inevitably, it was defender Collin who equalised for Sporting, firing a deflected shot low from outside the area with boos ringing around Robertson Stadium.

The week's action ended with Philadelphia Union's 3-0 away win over New England Revolution. Philly took the lead after 11 minutes, when Carlos Ruiz volleyed into the roof of the net from inside the six yard box. Carlos Valdes doubled the lead with a close range finish from another far post nod-down. Steve Nicol's awful day got worse when Benny Feilhaber (him what's in the picture) was sent off mid-way through the second half. Sheanon Williams put the icing on the cake, playing a neat one-two with Danny Mwanga to score his first MLS goal in stoppage time.

That win takes Philadelphia two points clear of New York in the East with two games in hand. Columbus also have those two games and are a point behind the Red Bulls in third. New England stay bottom.

In the West, LA are a point ahead of Seattle and four ahead of Dallas in third. Four losses on the spin for Vancouver leave them bottom of the Western Conference and of a hypothetical single table.

Those tables are here and you can see all the action at MLSsoccer.com.

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