What a weekend for the goalkeepers.
Goalies stepped up big across the entire slate of MLS games in Week 6, much to the chagrin of attacking players— and particularly penalty kick takers, as four penalties were saved on the weekend. Numerous keepers turned in star performances, with Zack Steffen, Evan Bush and David Ousted making impressive saves and Andre Blake, Daniel Vega, Bill Hamid and Maxime Crepeau all saving penalty kick efforts.
Meanwhile, Dallas’ Reto Ziegler delivered the goal of the week, a stunning, curling effort of a free kick that ended up just inside the near post and left Andre Blake rooted to the ground.
Trending Up: CJ Sapong and Jozy Altidore. The MLS veterans have started the new season strong, turning in a number of good performances and have helped fuel their team’s starts to the season.
Trending Down: Cascadia teams not named Seattle. Doom and gloom throughout the pacific northwest as Vancouver and Portland each sit on just one point from their five games each. Portland particularly has struggled, sporting a -10 goal differential.
DC United 0-4 LAFC
Diego Rossi had two goals in the first half, the first a result of a great show of determination and a willingness to make a run and stick with it, beating two DC defenders to the ball and poking it home. His second was absolutely beautiful, as LAFC forced another turnover in DC’s final third and Rossi had time to curl a gorgeous ball into the top corner from just inside the 18.
Early season MVP candidate Carlos Vela had a goal and an assist for the western conference leaders, but could have had more, as his early penalty kick attempt was saved by DC goalie Bill Hamid. His play has been extraordinary this season and is a large contributor to LAFC’s staggering +14 goal differential thus far.
Things went from bad to worse for the home side as Wayne Rooney was shown a red card in the 52’ for a reckless tackle, virtually eliminating any chance for the hosts to climb back into the game. Despite this, DC actually responded well, putting pressure on the visitor’s goal and beating keeper Tyler Miller twice, but the centerbacks for LAFC were there to clear both shots off the line and preserve the shutout.
Rossi completed his hat trick against the 10 man hosts, finding himself in space again and was able to take a touch and drive a ball past Hamid to the near post to complete the scoreline.
Orlando 4-3 Colorado
Few things are certain in life: death, taxes, and knowing you can’t leave an Orlando City game until the final whistle. Orlando has a propensity for keeping things close, and playing a highly entertaining brand of soccer, and they lived up to the billing against Colorado on Saturday, picking up two goals after the 80th minute to complete their comeback and earn all three points.
Nani will be the biggest star of the game, scoring the first for Orlando, assisting on the tying goal and calmly converting the game winning penalty for his first two MLS goals. Nani was a difference maker all night for Orlando and its clear that his addition will be valuable for any playoff hopes they possess.
On a night where Nani performed admirably and MLS vet Kei Kamara added to his domination of Orlando, it was a number of youngsters that turned in high level performances that may have just stole the show. For Colorado, 17-year-old homegrown player Cole Bassett had a great run into space and blew past with a change of direction before delivering a beautiful curling ball into the top left corner to give Colorado a 3-2 lead at the time. Meanwhile, Orlando got great performances out of Ruan, who absolutely ran himself into the ground, giving everything he had as his pace caused problems all night, as well as Chris Mueller, an Illinois native, who scored less than a minute after coming on, bringing his career totals up to two goals and two assist in 222 minutes.
San Jose 3-0 Portland
San Jose blitzed Portland’s unorganized backline from the opening minutes, and Shea Salinas, Danny Hoesen and Cristian Espinoza all scored within the first 35 minutes as the Timbers looked massively unorganized and were clearly the inferior team from the start. Goalie Daniel Vega came up big for the Quakes on his way to earning his first clean sheet of the year, making four saves on the night, none bigger than his kick save on Diego Valeri’s penalty attempt in the 56th minute.
This win was massive for the Quakes, beyond the fact that it was their first points of the year. This win snapped a thirteen-match winless streak for San Jose, and the shutout marked great improvement over fourteen goals conceded through their first four games. Additionally, it temporarily cools the seat under head coach Matias Almeyda and provides some momentum heading into a rough three-game stretch that has the Quakes playing Houston, Sporting KC and Seattle.
Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella kept this game relatively close and kept it from being a complete embarrassment, as he made ten saves on the night, despite often having to frantically scramble to overcome holes in his back line.
For Portland, this loss keeps bottom of table, tied with Cascadia rival Vancouver. While the Timbers are disadvantaged in starting the season on a twelve-game road trip as Providence Park is renovated, surely more should be expected from a team that finished fifth in the west last season. Key players such as Diego Chara, Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri have not performed at their peak levels this season, exposing an often overmatched backline to more frequent attacks from the opposition.
Further exasperating the loss is a possible controversy brewing after the game as Lucas Melano, who was a healthy omission from the 18, posted a picture of himself eating popcorn and watching the game at home, seemingly upset with not being included and enjoying his team’s performance.
Vancouver 0-2 LA Galaxy
Further Cascadia misery as a Zlatan goal and assist powered the Galaxy to third place in the west and trapped the Whitecaps at the bottom of the table with Portland.
Vancouver started on the front foot, earning a penalty kick inside the first minute as the speedy Lass was brought down in the box, but Ali Adnan watched too many highlights from last week and tried his own Panenka attempt, which came off poorly and resulted in an easy save for David Bingham on the ensuing PK attempt. Bingham then produced another great save in the first half following a terrible giveaway in the back, pushing a close effort away to keep the score level at the half.
At halftime, Whitecaps Felipe Martins lamented the support the home fans showed for visiting Zlatan Ibrahimović. During an interview before heading into the locker room, the midfielder aired his frustrations, saying “I think this is kind of sad. (the applause) is for him and it should be for us. We are playing at home, it doesn’t matter who comes here. The fans got to come to support us and not the opponents, that’s the way it should be.”
In the second half it was all Zlatan and the Galaxy as the big Swede continued his great start to the season, first toying with Whitecaps defender Jakob Nerwinski at the edge of the box, dancing around the ball before delivering an inch perfect ball into the box for Daniel Steres to head home. Later, Zlatan got a goal for himself, settling a corner kick off his chest and volleying it high into the net, drawing roars of approval from the opposition crowd. His tallies in this match bring him up to four goals and an assist in just three games on the season.