Two of the most successful MLS clubs, the Seattle Sounders and Orlando City Lions, with sellout crowds of more than 30,000 fans at every home game, met last Sunday in Seattle and gave fans a thriller. The Sounders were in the doldrums after losing star forwards Obafemi Martins, the Nigerian international, and American national team member Clint Dempsey through injury. The team lost eight of its last nine games in a seven-week period, without the scoring pair, but Martins’ return last week from his groin injury changed all that, and the Sounders were in the win column again.
Martins scored twice (17th, 62nd) in the 4-0 thriller over Orlando City (7-11-7). His eighth and ninth goals, best on the team, coming at an opportune time for the Sounders (11-12-2), which last won on July 3, in a 1-0 victory over DC United. Martins got help from recent signing Nelson Valdez, who scored in the 51st minute. The Sounders fourth goal came in stoppage time. Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei recorded his ninth shutout this year; Orlando was unfortunate to have Tyler Turner red carded and played with 10 men in the second half. Brazilian international Kaka plays for the Lions and was recently called to his national team for a game against Costa Rica in September at Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ).
Meanwhile, Orlando City Purple is the favorite color in central Florida. The team, playing its first year in MLS, announced that the club sold out its 18,000 season ticket allotment for the 2016 season. The club’s success this inaugural season is reflected in its average attendance of 33,000 in the Citrus Bowl. The team is expected to build a 25,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Orlando, to be completed for the 2017 season.
The rest of MLS
The Chicago Fire, led by a spectacular performance by goalkeeper Sean Johnson, rallied for a 3-2 deficit late in the contest to tie host Philadelphia Union, 3-3, in an exciting game last weekend at PPL Park in Chester (PA). Chicago (6-12-5) got the thrilling equalizer from forward Kennedy Igboananike in the 92nd minute, when all seemed lost for the visitors; meanwhile at the other end, Johnson was doing his thing to the tune of eight saves in a span of 20 minutes in the second half to keep his team in the game. Philadelphia (6-13-5) got goals from Fernando Aristeguieta, Fabio Alves and substitute Sebastian LeToux.
The New York Red Bulls took its unbeaten streak to six games with a 3-0 victory over visiting Toronto FC last Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored off a Mike Grella past for a tap-in from inside the 12-yard area. Defender Anthony Wallace played a good game and topped it off with his second MLS goal; he unleashed a left-footed drive from about 20 yards that ended up in the left side of the net, and newcomer Gonzalo Veron registered his first MLS goal in only his second game.
The Los Angeles Galaxy (12-7-7) knocked off host FC Dallas, 2-1, as Irish international Robbie Keane scored twice. Keane’s winner came in the 55th minute, assisted by newcomer and Mexican international Giovanni do Santos. It was Keane’s 13th goal of the campaign and 66th in 100 MLS games. Michael Barros gave Dallas (11-7-5) the lead in the 33rd minute then Keane and company went to work.
The Galaxy on Tuesday night beat Comunicaciones of Guatemala, 5-0, in a CONCACAF Champions League game at the StubHub Center in Los Angeles. Alan Gordon and Robbie Keane scored twice and Mika Väyrynen got the other to seal the win in this Goup D encounter.
Host Sporting Kansas City (11-4-7) edged Western Conference leader Vancouver Whitecaps (13-9-3), 4-3, as Paulo Nagamura scored twice for the winners; and Real Salt Lake (7-10-8) squeezed past Portland Timbers (11-8-6), 1-0, on a goal by Nat Borchers; New England Revolution topped Houston Dynamo, 2-0.
In quarter final action in the Caribbean Cup tournament at Jefferson Sports Complex in Flatlands, Brooklyn last Sunday, Team Haiti defeated Team Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1; Evans Jean and Johnny scored for Haiti and Jumol Harewood tallied for Trinidad and Tobago.
In the second game, the surging Team St. Kitts and Nevis walloped Team Dominica, 4-0, behind two goals from Travis Merritt and tallies from Alister Warner and Tyquan Terrell. In this Sunday’s quarterfinal games starting at 3 pm, Team St. Vincent & the Grenadines takes on defending champion Team Jamaica and Team St. Lucia meets Team Guyana.