Toronto FC 1-1 Chivas
At some point rebuilding is going to stop being an acceptable (by some) reason for the performances from Toronto FC and Chivas and just be viewed as an excuse. But that is still a few weeks away.
As it is, if either of these sides gets even close to a play-off place this season it will be a major surprise and and incredible performance.
This match was so bad that when looking at the game statistics I expected possession to be split 50/50 – as each team spent most of the game giving the ball back to the other.
A draw was a fair result as neither deserved to win. The Chivas goal from Moreno came from Toronto failing to deal with a routine Chivas attack. The ball was initially cleared but it came right back and after the ball broke in the penalty box Moreno was the first to react as he burst past Toronto centre back Adrian Cann.
The Toronto equalizer from was one of the few moments of quality. A free kick delivery from Jacob Peterson was swung in towards the Chivas goal and Alan Gordon just needed his flicked header to hit the target in order to score.
Just before half-time Toronto had a go-ahead goal chalked off after Maicon Santos was judged offside. The decision was a close one but replays showed that the referee’s assistant made the correct call.
Maicon Santos was again the centre of attention in the second half on account of an incredible miss. He did all the hard stuff but fluffed the final touch and rolled to ball wide of an empty net – a low light reel classic.
Overall Chivas passed the ball a bit better than Toronto but they were very lightweight, particularly in midfield. Too often they came out on the wrong end of tackles and challenges and they will need to add some strength in the midfield area or they will find themselves being continually overrun by other MLS sides.
Finally a nod to Heath Pearce of Chivas and Stefan Frei of Toronto FC as stand oust in this match. Pearce with his touch and reading of the game from the centre back position and Frei for his handling, distribution and overall demeanour behind the Toronto back four.
Vancouver Whitecaps 3-3 Sporting Kansas City
Matches are often made up of contradictions and so it was in this game. Vancouver overjoyed with a 3-3 draw after trailing 3-0 but they should never have been in such a position; Sporting Kansas City feeling the exact opposite; Jimmy Nielsen spectacular in the Sporting KC goal but was scored on three times.
It was an open game with both teams playing at a good tempo and trying to play through the midfield. If there was a fault to be picked it would be that during the first forty five minutes both sides tended to be overly focused on the centre of the midfield with the wide areas often being neglected.
This particularly the case with Sporting KC with both Stojcev and Arnaud both looking far more comfortable tucking in with Diop in the centre. In fact Sporting lacked width throughout although their third goal did come from a move down the left side.
As half time approached both teams looked as if they would be happy going in at the break scoreless. However, that was when Teal Bunbury struck. His first goal was of the highest quality – perhaps better defenders would not have offered him as much space – and if scored by someone like Thierry Henry the wires and chatboards would be red hot.
His second was not bad either although Vancouver’s defending was certainly a factor. The third goal from Sporting came shortly after but the 3-0 lead did not reflect the play up to that point. Worth noting was the involvement of Milos Stojcev in at least two of the three Sporting KC goals.
It is early days yet but Stojcev appears to have an eye for a killer pass and constantly looks to play the ball forwards rather than shirking responsibility and playing square.
Key to the Whitecaps getting back into the match was the decision by Teitur Thordarson to first put on Nizar Khalfan and then minutes later Davide Chumiento. The two-footed Khalfan went out to the left side and proceeded to cause the Sporting defence all sorts of problems – in particular Sporting right back Michael Harrington.
Chumiento came to the right side and suddenly spaces opened up and Vancouver Whitecaps grew in confidence. Although it may sound strange but what seem to have helped the Whitecaps was although they were 3-0 down they had not played badly.
Khalfan set up Harris to peg the score back to 3-1 but it took until added time for Vancouver to score their second. Dunfield played a nice ball inside the Sporting full back and Chumiento showed some composure as he then cut the ball back to Camilo for the second goal.
The equalizer – again from Camilo – was set up again by Khalfan.
Although the focus will understandably be on the finish to the match the truth is that it was an entertaining and well played game throughout – especially when you consider that both sides were missing their two main strikers through suspension.
Whitecaps fans should also be encouraged by their coach’s willingness to change his approach when faced with a problem and the capacity of the team to play in a different way when circumstances require it.
There is every reason to believe that these two teams will score goals this season and we can only hope that they do not sacrifice attack in order to shore up their defences.
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