Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Football Americana Week 5: Kansas City maintain unblemished start

Week 5 of Major League Soccer's 2012 season, and we already have a clear leader in each conference. If neither of those are particularly surprising, the position of 2011's champions most certainly is.

The week got underway at Real Salt Lake, where the hosts needed a first half penalty to see off the expansion Montreal Impact. Justin Braun handled Will Johnson's header on the six-yard line and Paulo Junior's penalty was too accurate for Donovan Ricketts.

Montreal's second game of the week was a 2-1 win over Canadian opponents, Toronto FC. Sinisa Ubiparipovic marked his first MLS game for L'Impact with a calm finish into the bottom corner from 18 yards out. Mid-way through the second period the odds turned further against TFC with the sending off of Logan Emory. Sure enough the Impact went on to score a second through number one draft pick Andrew Wenger's determined run and shot. Danny Koevermans scored Toronto's consolation with a free header in the 88th minute.

Salt Lake picked up a second win of the week at home against Colorado Rapids, who lost 2-0 at Rio Tinto. It was the usual suspects on the scoresheet for RSL, with Alvaro Saborio finding acres of space in the box to score after 20 minutes and Fabian Espindola nipping in to punish a Rapids defensive collapsed - instigated by his own handball - just before the hour mark.

The game between FC Dallas and New England Revolution looked all set to finish goalless but a late rally by FDC produced a win at the death. Dallas had had a goal disallowed in the 77th minute but finally got their reward in the 95th, with Ugo Ihemelu heading home from a free kick.

Thierry Henry and New York Red Bulls continued their goalscoring form with a 4-1 away win over Columbus Crew. It was Kenny Cooper who effectively won the game with an early brace, turning and shooting low in the third minute and doubling the lead ten minutes later with a simple header. Henry slid in the third as if it were a training match just before the break to set up a less eventful second period. The remaining goals came late, Chad Marshall bagging a consolation goal for the Crew with a powerful header before Henry put the finishing touch on another big New York win with a casual control and volley in the 90th minute.

The phenomenal start being enjoyed by Sporting Kansas City just goes on and on, and now they have LA Galaxy's head on a spike at Livestrong Sporting Park, where they defeated the reigning champions 1-0 thanks to a goal by Kei Kamara late in the first half. Kamara exploited slack defending to head in a Bobby Convey cross in the 41st minute for what would prove to be the winner.

Like Kamara and Henry, Chris Wondolowski's in the goals early this season, and he scored another two as San Jose Earthquakes beat Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1. After a goalless first half Sebastien Le Toux gave the Caps the lead five minutes into the second, knocking the ball past Jon Busch from Eric Hassli's lay-off. It took a while for the Quakes to reply but they did so emphatically. Wondo's first goal was a delicious dink over Joe Cannon after a dummy that floored the Whitecaps goalkeeper and was followed up quickly by a lovely diving header by Alan Gordon. Wondolowski made it 3-1 ten minute after scoring his first, this time ghosting away from the far post at a free kick and slotting the ball home with ease.

Unchanged DC United and Seattle Sounders had to settle for a 0-0 draw at RFK Stadium. Hamdi Salihi came close to breaking the deadlock in the middle of the first half, clipping the crossbar from six yards after a brilliant cross by Nick DeLeon. The Sounders hit the post deep into stoppage time, and it was a header from former United defender who missed with the goal gaping after Joe Willis had saved Ossie Alonso's drive.

It took a comeback to see Chivas USA past their hosts, Portland Timbers, who celebrated Kris Boyd's simple goal after Dan Kennedy dropped a cross under a challenge from his own defender in the 16th minute. But the game finished 2-1 to Chivas thanks to Alejandro Moreno's header from Ryan Smith's cross just after half time and Nick LaBrocca's near carbon copy inside the final ten minutes.

Kansas City's impeccable start gives them a six-point lead over New York at the top of the East, with Toronto - now the only team yet to get off the mark in the league - at the bottom. In the West, Salt Lake lead San Jose by three points and LA are the surprise club propping up the table.

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