This week in Major League Soccer demonstrated just how much parity exists in the league as an expansion franchise dominated the defending MLS Cup champions. Meanwhile, one of the league’s most recognizable stars approaches an amazing record, a plethora of US Men’s National Team stars squared off in New England, and several stoppage time goals provided some dramatic finishes throughout the league. If you missed any of the action, we’re hear to get you caught up. Here are the most interesting things to happen in MLS this week:
Just five days after losing to rivals Red Bull New York, NYCFC returned home to face the Chicago Fire. It’s been a horrid stretch for the Citizens of Manchester New York, having lost six of their last seven games. Thirty minutes into this game and it looked like the losing streak would inevitably continue as City found itself down two goals and playing with only ten men. Left back R.J. Allen saw red for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. With team morale already low and the odds stacked against them, the outcome of this game looked bleak. Then NYCFC midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy pulled the hosts within one just before halftime, making a turnaround just a bit more feasible. After the break, NYCFC played some high octane footballl in search of an equalizer. Perhaps in response to being pulled early from the previous game, stars Mix Diskerud and David Villa picked up their individual work rates and lifted their team. The equalizer finally came in the third minute of stoppage time by way of super sub Khiry Shelton. Yankee Stadium erupted into delirous celebration as their club pulled off an incredible comeback.
With his fifth minute assist against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Clint Dempsey now has a goal or an assist in ten straight regular season games. The USMNT captain is having another masterful season for the Seattle Sounders and is currently the joint top scorer in MLS. With another point in his next game, Dempsey will tie the all-time MLS point streak held by Ronald Cerritos, Roy Lassiter, and Mauricio Cienfuegos. The Gold Cup in July will test the Sounders depth when they lose Dempsey to international duty, but if they can tread water until he returns it should be smooth sailing until October. Seattle again appear to be one of the best teams in all of MLS, and with Dempsey and Obafemi Martins clicking on all cylinders this could finally be the year the Sounder win the cup.
On paper Toronto FC vs. the New England Revolution looked to be a mouth-watering match up for American Soccer fans. Both sides feature prominent US National Team players both past and present. The once promising striker tandem of Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies would meet for the first time as opponents. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones have partnered each other numerous times at the international level, but on this day would go head to head in the midfield. Unfortunately, the Altidore/Davies reunion only lasted twenty minutes as the former was forced off due to a hamstring injury. Not only does the injury hamper Toronto’s long term plans, but could affect Altidore’s status for the upcoming Gold Cup. One candidate to replace him if he’s unable to go is Rev’s striker Juan Agudelo. His thirty-second minute header gave New England the lead. The aforementioned Bradley tied the game in the fifty-third minute with a brilliant individual run and finish from the right side of the penalty area. Much like these clubs share several USMNT stars, they shared the points on the night. The game was intense and enjoyable to watch.
Losing a legend such as Landon Donovan is a tough obstacle to overcome. Couple that with Robbie Keane being sidelined with an injury and you have an unrecognizable LA Galaxy team. Bruce Arena has been forced to play numerous inexperienced players to fill the gaps left by last year’s two biggest stars. With the two best creators no longer able to help the surrounding cast, players like Gyasi Zardes who enjoyed success in 2014 are finding it difficult to produce in 2015. Expansion side Orlando City took advantage of a weakened Galaxy lineup to the tune of a 4-0 thrashing. With the playmaking genius Kaka running the midfield and rookie sensation Cyle Larin scoring in his second straight game, Orlando dominated the defending MLS Cup champions for the full ninety minutes. Steven Gerrard arrives in July and Robbie Keane will eventually return to health. However, you have to wonder if that will be enough to lift Los Angeles back to the league’s elite.
If not for FIFA declaring Gedion Zelalem eligible for US Soccer just days before the U-20 World Cup roster deadline, Zack Pfeffer would not have even been in the stadium. Instead, he found himself being subbed into the Philadelphia Union’s game against DC United. In a dull affair that had no business being on national TV, Pfeffer was introduced to the game to give his side a much-needed spark. With the match heading toward an inevitable scoreless draw, the 20-year-old found himself free near the penalty spot and banged in the game-winning goal in the third minute of stoppage time. It was a huge moment for the Union who were one of the worst teams in MLS coming into the game. While Pfeffer may not be bound for New Zealand, a consolation game-winning goal to get the monkey off his team’s back should suffice.