Monday, March 19, 2012

Football Americana Week 2: Estrada hat-trick fires Seattle to three points

The second week of Major League Soccer action saw the crowning of a new hero in Seattle, two goals for a rather well-known Irishman and a ding-dong match on the banks of the Delaware river.

Montreal Impact picked up their first ever MLS point with a home draw against Chicago Fire. L'Impact took the lead just before the hour mark, their Davy Arnaud rising well to glance home a header and score their first MLS goal. Dominic Oduro equalised for the Fire around 15 minutes later, stealing in to poke home a poacher's goal from six yards. Josh Gardner came close to scoring a 95th minute winner for the home side, hitting the post with a thunderous drive from fully 30 yards in the 95th minute.

AT&T Park in San Francisco was the unusual location for San Jose Earthquakes v Houston Dynamo, and it was the visitors who won the match by a single goal. Chris Wondolowski hit the post from close range early on but in the 13th minute the Dynamo won a penalty when Brian Ching was ploughed into by goalkeeper Jon Busch. Brad Davis predictably found the corner with the resulting spot kick despite Busch's valiant attempt to save it - the shot was just too good to stop.

Portland Timbers couldn't match their Week 1 win, but took a very respectable point home from a trip to FC Dallas. Blas Perez scored his first goal for Dallas mid-way through a spiky first half, tapping home a loose ball after the Timbers failed to deal with a deep cross. Portland equalised in the 51st minute after a comedy of errors in the Dallas defence. Kevin Hartman's clearance went straight up in the air and a mis-controlled ball turned into a through pass for Darlington Nagbe who slotted it home.

Sporting Kansas City turned a good start into a great one with a thumping win over New England Revolution at Livestrong Sporting Park. The Revs were hamstrung from the 14th minute when Stephen McCarthy was dismissed for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity by fouling CJ Sapong, a decision that will certainly have been seen as harsh by New England. Sporting took full advantage, beginning on the half hour. By Graham Zusi's standards a scrappy goal from a yard while sitting on his arse is a little boring, but it set SKC on their way to a comfortable win.

Kei Kamara got the second in the 39th minute, smashing the ball into the roof of the net at the second time of asking after Matt Reis had made a save. Sapong sealed the win after 100 seconds of the second half, sweeping the ball past Reis from a simple cut-back.

David Estrada was the hero for a very impressive Seattle Sounders side at CenturyLink Field, where they won 3-1 against Toronto FC. The first resulted from a wonderful turn by Alvaro Fernandez and Estrada's persistence during a one-man goalmouth scramble, which finished with his first MLS goal. Number two arrived early in the second half, a cool finish at the end of a neat one-touch move but Seattle's two-goal advantage lasted just ten minutes.

Toronto's goal was the pick of the bunch - Ryan Johnson made headway up the right wing, cut inside onto his left foot and swung a fantastic shot in off the very top off the far post. But the Sounders closed the game out with Estrada's third goal, another tidy finish after a cute one-two with Fernandez on the edge of the area.
Real Salt Lake maximised home advantage against New York Red Bulls with a 2-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium. Fabian Espindola gave Salt Lake a deserved lead five minutes before the break, brilliantly springing New York's lazy high line and scoring through Ryan Meara's legs. It was 2-0 just before the hour mark, Luis Gil reacting quickest to a rebound and finding the net.

In LA it was 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps over hosts Chivas USA. Joe Cannon was called into action to superbly turn over a lovely curling shot from Casey Townsend in spite of an injury problem, and later had to be substituted. Jay Demerit scored the game's only goal with a little over 20 minutes left on the clock. The Caps skipper beat Dan Kennedy with a diving header from a badly defended corner.

It took just 19 seconds for the action to hit fever pitch on Sunday in a thrilling game between Philadelphia Union and Colorado Rapids. Philly's Danny Mwanga out-paced Drew Moor and appeared to be brought down by the Rapids defender on the edge of the penalty area - had the foul been given, Moor would have seen red. Jaime Castrillon made it 1-0 to Colorado with a simple finish early in the second half, taking advantage of another horrific error from Zac MacMath.

On 58 minutes Jeff Larentowicz picked up the most predictable red card you'll ever see. In a spiky game, the Rapids midfielder was booked just before half time and you'd have bet your savings on him getting another yellow. When it arrived, he had no complaints after an incredibly clumsy tackle. But rookie Tony Cascio made it 2-0 on the hour after mugging Chris Albright and haring in on goal, watching on as his powerful low shot clipped MacMath's boot and flicked up into the roof of the net.

The Union got back into it with a simple header from Lionard Pajoy, who made no mistake after being found brilliantly by substitute Roger Torres. Despite the Union's onslaught, the Rapids held firm and restricted them to one gilt-edged chance, which Pajoy squandered with 90 seconds left on the clock.

LA Galaxy picked up their 2011 championship rings - American is as American does - ahead of their 3-1 win over DC United on Sunday evening. Robbie Keane took the game by the scruff of the neck with the first two goals, the first a simple tap-in from Todd Dunivant's header and the second an unstoppable left-footed shot rifled across Joe Willis and into the top corner. Marcelo Sarvas made it three with just a few minutes left on the clock, stooping to head home a cross from you-know-who. DC rookie Nick DeLeon's consolation goal, a delightful curling effort off the post, was scant consolation.

No comments :