MLS Roundup: Can Anyone Stop the Seattle Sounders?
Clint Dempsey and the Seattle Sounders are looking like the best team in Major League Soccer. Plus, Nick Rimando struggles a bit and what the heck is wrong with Portland?
April 28, 2014
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THE GAME YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN
The Seattle Sounders’ 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the team from the Pacific Northwest is the most entertaining MLS side to watch right now.
Obafemi Martins opened up the scoring in first-half stoppage time when he played a great through ball to Clint Dempsey. Dempsey then drew Rapids goalkeeper Clinton Irwin out from his goal and shot under him from a tight angle. A backpedaling Drew Moor managed to keep the ball out of the goal, but Lamar Neagle was there to put in the rebound for his third tally of the season.
The Sounders built on its lead right after halftime. Demspey could have had an Assist of the Season contender for his 47th-minute flashy pass to put Marco Pappa in sight of goal. Irwin could only parry Pappa’s shot, which bounced into Dempsey's path for a simple finish.
The United States captain found his second of the match just five minutes later when Chad Marshall’s header fell to him in front of the six-yard-box. Dempsey perfectly looped his header over the keeper for the Sounders third goal of the day.
The Rapids scored in the 62nd minute when Nick LaBrocca’s through ball put Dillon Serna one-on-one with Stefan Frei. The 21-year-old showed the composure of seasoned pro by flicking the ball over the sliding goalie for his first professional goal.
The final goal came in the 75th minute when Neagle quickly threw in to Martins, who weaved around Colorado’s disorganized back-line to side-foot a shot into the goal. This was the third straight win of the season for the Sounders. The loss ended Colorado’s three-game unbeaten streak and was the team’s first away defeat this season.
GOALS OF THE WEEK
This week’s honors go to Sebastian Fernandez’s long-range goal to give Vancouver a stunning 94th minute equalizer against Real Salt Lake. The Uruguayan’s knuckleball from around 35 yards out swayed and dipped and slipped under a diving Nick Rimando. Take a look below:
The goal capped off a spectacular late two-goal comeback from the Whitecaps, and a disappointing lapse of concentration from RSL, who had dominated for most of the game.
Martins’ quick goal to put the Sounders 4-1 up earns him another honorable mention:
Along with Bradley Wright-Phillips’ 180-degree turn-and-volley to put the New York Red Bulls level 1-1 with the Columbus Crew:
WHEN A DRAW FEELS LIKE A LOSS
Saturday evening's 2-2 draw between RSL and the Whitecaps brought ecstasy for Vancouver and disappointment for RSL. The hosts were two goals up within the first 10 minutes thanks to the strike partnership of Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio.
After picking up the Player of the Week honors for his efforts last weekend, Rimando seemed less spectacular this week. Eight minutes before failing to stop Fernandez’s goal, the 34-year-old spilled a shot from Darren Mattocks, which the covering Nicolás Mezquida put away for a poacher’s finish (Mezquida was fortunate not to be flagged offside though). Watch and cringe:
Still one shy of tying the MLS all-time clean sheet record, Rimando is the popular choice for the third keeper spot on the World Cup squad, behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. His uncharacteristically shaky Saturday isn't likely to hurt his case—everybody is entitled to a bad day at the office every once in a while.
STANDINGS AND STATS
With Sporting KC losing 2-0 at the New England Revolution, a draw was all Columbus needed to move back to the top of the Eastern Conference. With 11 points so far this season, Sporting are level on points with D.C., New England, and New York.
The Sounders move ahead of FC Dallas on goal difference to top the Western Conference after Dallas’ 4-1 loss to D.C. United. Real Salt Lake, the only undefeated team left this season, sit in third.
Dempsey’s two goals lift his season total to eight and returns him to outright top-scorer. Look out Group G!
Loyd Sam and Martins head the assists leader board with four each.
OTHER NEWS AND EVENTS
In New York’s 4-0 win over Houston on Wednesday, Bradley Wright-Phillips became the first Englishman to score a hat trick in MLS, forever cementing his place as that quiz night question you’ll always get wrong because you were so sure it had to be Jermaine Defoe. Adding the goal against Columbus, Wright-Phillips netted four goals this week, moving his season total to five.
Rev’s forward Teal Bunbury came back to haunt his former employers when he opened the scoring against Sporting KC. It wasn’t pretty, but you take what you can get against the defending champs.
Sporting defender Aurélien Collin’s red card is sure to stir up debate about the league’s refereeing this week. While players always put themselves at risk when they leave their feet like he did, the benefit of slow motion replays made the challenge appear like more of a yellow card offense. This was the Stylish One's second red card of his career.
The Portland Timbers and the Chicago Fire are now the only two remaining winless teams in the MLS.
Nick Kariuki is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.