With four teams on a bye week, week 5's slate was relatively light in MLS action. The eight games played still featured plenty of talking points though, with stoppage-time lead changes, teams recording their first victory/defeat, and even a pair of ex-TFC players netting game winners. With week 5 in the books, and TFC now en route to a whopping 8-win season (with some liberal extrapolation applied), let's take a look around the league to see how other sides fared in this fifth week of MLS play.
As we probably could do most weeks, we'll start off by looking at a couple games which featured heroic efforts from former members of Toronto FC. In Orlando, Luis Silva's stoppage time free kick was the clincher as DC left the Sunshine State with a 1-0 victory over OCSC.
Prior to Silva's goal, Bill Hamid put on an absolute clinic as he continued to get back into his 2014 award-winning form. Hamid's performance, combined with the poor finishing efforts of Orlando City's attackers (including Canadian Cyle Larin, who came off the bench early on to play 68 minutes and get several looks at goal), allowed DC to stay in the game and nab the late winner. One of the few bright spots in the match for Orlando (and I'm not talking about the bleached hair) was Brek Shea, whose goal-line clearance was but one example of the superb defensive and offensive performance put in by the US international.
Another match over the weekend that featured an ex Red scoring the game-winner was the duel between the Portland Timbers, winless through weeks 1-4, and Western Conference leading FC Dallas, undefeated heading into the encounter. With FC Dallas missing arguably their best playmaker in Mauro Diaz, and also starting the game with their leading scorer Blas Perez on the bench, it should come as no surprise that the Timbers managed to register their first victory of the 2015 campaign on the night, by a score of 3-1. CMNT... let's call it... ‘hopeful', Tesho Akindele, scored the lone goal for Dallas, while Portland's second tally was converted by none other than the man who played 37 minutes for Toronmto FC- #37, Maxi Urruti.
Since we're on the topic of ‘things TFC supporters don't want to hear about', the Vancouver Whitecaps recorded yet another win in what they made appear to be a cakewalk over the defending champion LA Galaxy. This one was about as one-sided as they get, and exposed LA's inability to deal with the pace and creativity of Vancouver's young, energetic squad (I'd love to hear Landon Donovan's take on the game). And this is starting to sound like a broken record- or at least what I imagine a broken record would sound like, as new VWFC designated player Octavio Rivero again found the back of the net for the home side (with Manneh registering the other VWFC goal).
In another Western Conference clash, Real Salt Lake recorded an easy victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in a game where Nick Rimando was hardly tested. The game's only goal was an impressive strike netted by RSL playmaker Javier Morales- someone should tell Sebastian Giovinco that this is how you proceed after sending a free kick directly into the wall:
In Colorado, the home team showed their killer marksmanship by sending not one, not two, but three perfect strikes precisely... against the woodwork, as the Rapids have now gone four matches without scoring a single goal this season. New England's Lee Nguyen finally broke a dry spell of his own as he converted a penalty to cap off the scoring, as the Revolution left Colorado with a close-fought (for most of the match) 2-0 victory.
In Xbox land, the Sounders successfully overcame adversity as they fought off the Houston Dynamo with only ten men for the final 35 minutes of the match to preserve the victory. Seattle's goal had been scored just prior to halftime, in what can only be described as a "classic Dempsey-Martins" moment (and how about the pre-strike spin move...):
In case you're wondering, the straight red was shown to Gonzalo Pineda, for a questionable close-range studs to the chest kick.
Kansas was home to the most dramatic match of the weekend, as SKC managed to squeak by the Philadelphia Union in stoppage time by a score of 3-2. Dom Dwyer finally managed to get on the scoresheet as the striker registered his first goal of the 2015 campaign on the weekend. In this coming week's training, both teams should probably focus a little less on attacking set pieces and more on defending them, as all 5 goals, interestingly enough, were scored as a result of corners or free kicks (although Kansas' second was from a ball played back in after a free kick clearance). The real excitement from this game came toward the end of the match- as the Union led 2-1 going into the 88th minute, looking forward to their first victory in 2015... and then this happened:
Their inability to put the game away cost the Union dearly, as SKC stormed back in stoppage time to score not just the equalizer, but also a game-winner to send the home crowd into jubilation.
The overall synopsis? It pains me to write this, but Vancouver has de-throned FC Dallas as Western Conference leaders. Which must mean TFC is better than the entire Western conference, since Toronto took the Whitecaps with ease in (the second half of) their first match of the season. All kidding aside, Vancouver is looking to be a very dangerous team, and while I still think that Dallas will also be a lot to handle with Perez and Diaz back in their lineup, both of these young, Central/South American dominant squads could cause trouble for a lot of the perennial contenders over the course of the season. In the East, it's business as usual as DC has climbed back up to #1, with the Red Bulls and Revs close behind. Toronto FC is falling quickly, and can hopefully use the bye week to nurse starting defenders back to health and put up a good fight in 2 weeks time in *shudder* Dallas.