Englishman Jermain DeFoe, Nigerian Obafemi Martins and American Eddie Johnson were all left out of their countries’ World Cup teams, so they responded with important goals for their MLS clubs as a reminder of what their teams may be missing at the World Cup in Brazil, which kicks off on Thursday, June 12.
England coach Roy Hodgson named his 23-man squad last week and DeFoe, who joined Toronto FC at the start of the MLS season in March from Tottenham Hotspurs FC of the English Premier League and after scoring 19 goals in 55 games for England, said of his omission: “I don’t think I’ll ever be at peace [with the decision],” he told reporters. “If I had an injury, then I could sort of like, understand it and I could hold my hands up and say, ‘you know, missed that with injury and it’s not meant to be.’ In my head, it’s sort of baffling a little bit. I don’t understand it, but it’s important to remain positive.”
Defoe added, “When you’ve been involved in every squad and the World Cup comes around and you’re not in the 23, it’s hard to understand.” He did remain positive and showed it when the New York Red Bulls visited BMO Stadium in Toronto last Saturday afternoon. The Englishman was named man-of-the-match after he scored a classic winning goal to lead Toronto FC to a 2-0 victory over the Red Bulls.
Defoe took a pass from midfielder Bradley Orr in the 12th minute, stormed down the right side of the field and blasted a powerful right-footed shot from 16 yards that rocked the roof of the net, just under the crossbar. Toronto (4-4, 12 pts.) led from that point on until a stoppage-time collision between Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and defender Chris Duvall allowed substitute forward Luke Moore to sore the insurance goal into an empty net. DeFoe has scored four goals in the five games he has played for Toronto FC.
The Red Bulls battled hard throughout the contest, especially in the second half, but were plagued by turnovers at midfield and indecisiveness throughout the team. League-leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, with nine goals, had an open goal to score from a Thierry Henry pass in the 62nd minute, which would have tied the game at 1-1, but his shot sailed well over the crossbar. The loss was the Red Bulls’ (3-4-5, 14 pts) second straight. The Portland Timbers visit Red Bull Arena on Saturday, May 23, for a 7:00 PM kick-off.
At Seattle’s Century Link Field, Martins sent a reminder of his scoring prowess to the Nigerians. The forward scored the only goal in the game, at the near post, to beat San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch. The Nigerian’s winner was his fourth goal in his last six matches as Seattle bounced back from a loss to New England last week with this 1-0 victory.
Johnson is known for his late game heroics, and he showed it last Saturday when his header in the 84th minute from a Fabian Espindola cross helped DC United draw, 1-1, with the Montreal Impact at RFK Stadium. Jack McInerney scored for Montreal early in the contest.
In other MLS matches last Saturday, the visiting Columbus Crew allowed two goals late in the contest to help host Portland Timbers draw the match, 3-3, at Providence Park.
Maximiliano Urruti scored early for Portland, but the host fell behind, 3-1, until Will Johnson and Gaston Fernandez scored late for the host. Federico Higuaín tallied twice for Columbus.
The New England Revolution scored its second straight five-goal victory when it defeated the Philadelphia Union, 5-3, at PPL Park near Philadelphia. A.J. Soares, Diego Fagundez, Chris Tierney, Lee Nguyena and Patrick Mullins scored for the Revs; Sheanon Williams, Sébastien Le Toux and Vincent Nogueira tallied for the Union. Philadelphia knocked off defending champion Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, in an earlier midweek game. In a late game on Sunday, Chicago Fire, led by two first half goals by Mike Magee, defeated Sporting KC, 2-1. Dominic Dwyer scored for Sporting.
Out West, Real Salt Lake beat the Colorado Rapids, 2-1, to continue its home dominance at Rio Tinto Stadium. Joao Plata and Javier Morales put the home team ahead, 2-0, by the start of the second half; Colorado scored late in the game through Drew Moor. Host Houston Dynamo topped the Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-0, on Giles Barnes’ goal at BBVA Compass Stadium. FC Dallas and Chivas USA played to a 1-1 draw. Fabian Castillo notched the goal for the home team, FC Dallas, at Toyota Stadium; Marky Delgado tallied for the visitors.
In the battle for Canada, Montreal Impact reached the championship game by defeating the Edmonton Eddies, 5-4 on aggregate, and will play Toronto FC in the final. Toronto advanced to the championship with a 5-3 advantage over the Vancouver Whitecaps in a penalty kick shootout. The teams were tied, 3-3, in aggregate scoring. The semifinals were played in a home-and-away series.
MANCHESTER CITY, ARSENAL WIN
Manchester City, owners of New York FC, the MLS expansion team that will make Yankee Stadium home starting next season, won the English Premier League title two weeks ago; London club Arsenal won the English FA (Football Association) Cup Trophy last Saturday. The win gave Arsenal its first trophy in nine years.