The Soccer Desk

MLS Weekend Rewind: Defoe Stars, Quakes Escape (Again)

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The stars were out for the second week of MLS action, which offered another round of classy strikes, dramatic finishes, and, naturally, a 95th-minute leveler from the San Jose Earthquakes. Here’s a recap of the weekend’s games.

Defoe Marks Dream Debut with Brace as TFC Top Sounders

Ex-Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe didn’t need long to make his presence known–in the space of 24 minutes, the star signing tallied a brace that would eventually lift Toronto FC to a huge 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. The Englishman–making his debut alongside U.S. international Michael Bradley–displayed his nose for goal by finishing off Jonathan Osorio’s through ball and punishing Seattle for a defensive error moments later. Although the hosts settled and eventually pulled one back through Clint Dempsey, it wasn’t enough to salvage a point against the Canadian side

Union Edge Revolution Behind Le Toux Effort

The Philadelphia Union, buoyed by Sebastien Le Toux’s first strike of the season, continued their impressive start with a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution at PPL Park. Following an early spell of pressure, the hosts notched the opener as Leo Fernandes beat Andrew Farrell and teed up Le Toux for a simple finish on the half-hour mark. Despite a great opportunity for Diego Fagundez in the first half, New England failed to beat Zac MacMath on the day–the goalkeeper earned his first shutout of the season with three saves as Philadelphia moved to 1-0-1.

Honors Even Between Red Bulls and Rapids

A contentious penalty call made the difference between three points and one as the Colorado Rapids fought back to draw 1-1 with the New York Red Bulls. Jamison Olave’s 72nd-minute foul on Marvin Chavez allowed Vicente Sanchez to level the match with the ensuing spot kick, a goal Mike Petke and the rest of the Red Bull Arena faithful will feel hard done by. Earlier, Thierry Henry’s diving header looked to have the hosts on track for a hard-fought victory–however, the battling Rapids never quit and managed to dampen the celebrations of last season’s Supporters’ Shield.

Deja Vu: Sporting Concede Late, Again 

After conceding a 90th-minute winner to Seattle last weekend, Sporting Kansas City gave up another late, late effort as FC Dallas fought back for a 1-1 draw at Sporting Park. This time, defender Matt Hedges did the honors by heading Michel’s curling free kick past Eric Kronberg, a strike that canceled out Aurelien Collin’s own set piece header minutes earlier. Hedges also produced a crucial block in the game’s dying moments to preserve the result, which kept Dallas undefeated on the campaign.

Bruin Tally Edges Dynamo Past Impact

Will Bruin continued his hot start to the season with the lone goal in the Houston Dynamo’s 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact at BBVA Compass Stadium. After bagging a brace last weekend, the forward struck in the 40th minute when his shot took a fortunate deflection off of Impact defender Eric Miller and found the back of the net. Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall took care of the rest, racking up four saves while denying Andrew Wenger multiple one-on-one chances. With the win, Houston remained the only side in both conferences to maintain a 100 percent record through two matches.

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Will Bruin celebrates his eventual game-winning goal during the Houston Dynamo’s 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact. (Jason Fochtman/AP/The Courier)

Quakes Pull Off Another Miraculous Escape

Another late comeback for the San Jose Earthquakes? You guessed it. No strangers to stoppage-time escapes, the Quakes needed a 95th-minute Victor Bernardez effort to salvage a pulsating 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake at Buck Shaw Stadium. Following Chris Wondolowski’s opener, three consecutive strikes from Kyle Beckerman, Joao Plata, and Luke Mulholland seemingly put the game out of reach. But the hosts fought back through Bernardez, who netted with 15 minutes ago before forcing home the equalizer in dramatic fashion. Strangely, after Alan Gordon rescued the Quakes against Toluca in midweek, Saturday’s result was the second-straight match in which San Jose netted a 95th-minute leveler.

Fernandez Leveler Saves Timbers

With his second late leveler in as many games, Gaston Fernandez is certainly endearing himself to the Timbers Army–this time, the Argentine scored a 79th-minute equalizer to hand the Portland Timbers a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Providence Park. Following Jeff Larentowicz’s opener from the spot, the hosts controlled most of the play and eventually found their reward when Sean Johnson parried Darlington Nagbe’s effort into the path of Fernandez. The Fire did well to keep their precious point, though, especially with Patrick Nyarko’s dismissal and a Portland barrage in the final few minutes.

Ten-Man Chivas Pick Up Point Against Whitecaps

Chivas USA followed up last weekend’s win over Chicago by earning a 1-1 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at StubHub Center. Oddly, they did so with the visitors holding a man advantage for nearly the entire match after Agustin Pelletieri was sent off in the 13th minute. No matter, though–the hosts took the lead through Erick Torres and controlled most of the proceedings until the Whitecaps finally struck through Kekuta Manneh with ten minutes to play.

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Biggest Winner of the Weekend

Toronto‘s trip to Seattle couldn’t have gone much better–with three points in hand and a sparkling debut for Defoe, the Canadian side announced their ambitions in style. Fellow debutante Bradley also turned in a solid performance, keying the midfield alongside Jonathan Osorio and providing the pressure that led to TFC’s game-winner. It’s just one game, but the new duo of Designated Players seem to be taking well to MLS play.

Biggest Loser of the Weekend

Two weekends, two matches, and two late goals conceded by Sporting KC–for all of their good work over 90 minutes, Peter Vermes’ side just hasn’t been able to close out a league match so far. On Saturday, Hedges’ leveler in stoppage time nicked Dallas a point when Sporting looked to have scored a late winner of their own. The defending champions’ mark of 0-1-1–in addition to their late defensive lapses–won’t please Vermes, who reiterated that letting games slip away “is not who we are.”

Player of the Weekend

He didn’t find the scoresheet, but Mauro Rosales played a crucial role in Chivas’ draw with Vancouver, especially after the Goats were reduced to ten men after ten minutes. The midfielder’s distribution and involvement–he had over 80 touches in all–sparked the home side’s opener while helping under-manned Chivas surprisingly dominate the Whitecaps.

Upcoming Game of the Weekend

It doesn’t sound quite right, but next weekend’s fixture between Chivas and Dallas will feature the Western Conference’s second and third-placed sides, respectively. With the confidence building under a pair of first-year head coaches, both sides seem to be taking well to their new systems and have gone unbeaten in their first two matches. Saturday’s game kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on MLS Live/MLS Direct Kick. 

Feature photo credit: AP