Tagged: Weekly Recap-2017

SAFC match with OKC Energy ends in scoreless draw; RGV FC Ties; Texas MLS Recap

The results seem to be very predictable when San Antonio FC plays rivals OKC Energy.  Tough, hard fought and tactical defensive stalemates rule the day.  Saturday night’s match in Oklahoma was no different as SAFC and OKC Energy played to a scoreless draw, the third time this season matches between the two sides have ended in a tie.

There was very little statistically to separate SAFC and OKC Energy during this tight defensive struggle.  Both teams shared a total of five shots on target, demonstrating the dearth of opportunities allowed by the tight and organized defenses.  San Antonio had the best chance of the evening midway through the first half when Billy Forbes, alone against OKC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi, shot wide left after receiving a pass from Jamaican international Omar Gordon-playing his first minutes with SAFC Saturday.  OKC Energy came to life in the last 15 minutes and created a handful of good chances, but were unable to put anything past SAFC’s Diego Restrepo.  The SAFC goalkeeper secured his ninth shutout of the season (tied for the league lead) and lowered his goals against average to a league leading 0.62.

SAFC head coach Darren Powell discussed the difficult nature of games played between his side and OKC Energy in his post-game comments.  “OKC is a very tough place to play. The guys worked extremely hard to earn the point and earning a clean sheet on the road is a positive. Now our job is to prepare for a quick turnaround to play at home in front of our supporters, and we look forward to being home on Wednesday evening.”

San Antonio FC (11-2-9) remains in second place in the United Soccer League Western Conference, 10 points behind leaders Real Monarchs SLC.

The club is playing a stretch of three games in eight days.  SAFC returns to action on Wednesday, August 23 against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 at Toyota Field and then hosts Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday, August 26.

RGVFC TIES WITH VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 2

A 70th minute goal from midfielder TJ Casner allowed Rio Grande Valley FC to come back from an early deficit to tie Vancouver 1-1 in Edinburg Saturday night.  RGV FC is now 7-10-6  on the season and sits in 12th place in the USL Western Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

TEXAS MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER RECAP

The road was not kind to either Texas MLS team last weekend.  FC Dallas (FCD) continued its scoring slump in Kansas, losing 2-0 to Sporting Kansas City (SKC).   FCD has scored only 1 goal during a four-game winless streak.  The Houston Dynamo allowed two goals during a 15-minute stretch of the first half and, despite an early second half goal by midfielder Romell Quioto, were unable to overcome the early deficit in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps.  Houston, undefeated at home this year, dropped to 1-8-4 on the road in 2017.

The Dynamo are now tied for second place in the Western Conference with 37 points.  After the loss, FC Dallas dropped to 5th place, 5 points behind conference leaders SKC and only 2 points above the playoff line.  The third and final regular season “Texas Derby” between Dallas and Houston will take place Wednesday, August 23 in Frisco.  The first two matches ended in draws, so the winner of this game will earn the 2018 possession rights to El Capitan, a replica 18th century mountain howitzer cannon, which is awarded to the winner of the season series.

SAFC Loses Lead Late-Ties Orange County 1-1

SAM_0788 - Copy.JPG

Early second half action taken from the third level at Toyota Field

San Antonio-Despite having lost only one game in twenty matches this season, San Antonio FC (SAFC) has had a difficult time holding leads.  At Toyota Field on Saturday night, for the third consecutive home match, SAFC conceded a late goal and ended up drawing with Orange County SC (OCSC) 1-1.

Saturday night’s breakdown occurred in the 4th minute of Added Extra Time when SAFC midfielder Michael Reed fouled Orange County’s Gustavo Villalobos in the penalty area.  Shortly thereafter, half-time substitute Jerry Van Ewijk converted the penalty and SAFC was left to rue the dropped points yet again.  The locals have not lost at home, yet have frustratingly drawn 6 of the 12 matches played at Toyota Field this season.

SAFC had taken an early lead when midfielder Kris Tyrpak got on the end of a Greg Cochrane cross to beat OCSC goalkeeper Charlie Lyon at the far post to score his fifth of the season.  This goal was the fastest goal in SAFC history, coming officially at 1:34 into the match.

In post-game comments, San Antonio head coach Darren Powell addressed the unfortunate late goal.  “Tonight, in moments we had some really good spouts of play, good passages of play and great chances on goal. Obviously, we got the early goal, but then we were unable to press on and get the second one. That’s the case in the game of soccer when you’re playing a well-coached team that get a chance at the end in the winding moments of the game.”

The frustration he expressed came from the inability of San Antonio FC, despite multiple chances, to score the second goal after taking the early lead.  In the 17th minute, SAFC’s leading scorer Billy Forbes hit the near post with his shot, after an excellent pass from forward AJ Ajeekwa put him one-on-one with the goalkeeper.  In the 62nd minute Rafa Castillo, taking advantage of momentary disruption caused by multiple substitutions, created space and hit a long-range shot that crashed off the crossbar.  Finally, SAFC had four good chances during an attacking sequence in the 70th minute, including a ball that defender Sebastian Ibeagha skimmed off the top of the crossbar from a corner kick.

OCSC pressed late in the match and had excellent opportunities of its own, the most dangerous coming when midfielder Dusan Stevanovic found space 15 yards from goal and blasted a shot just over the SAFC goal.  The OCSC effort was rewarded when the late penalty was called, even if the 6,725 in attendance loudly expressed their collective opinion that it never should have been called in the first place.

San Antonio (11-1-8-41 points) remains in second place in the United Soccer League’s Western Conference, though did pick up a point on first place Real Monarchs SLC (15-3-3-48 points), losers Saturday night in Oklahoma City.

San Antonio FC will next play on Saturday, August 12 when it makes the first ever visit to Nevada to play Reno 1868 FC.

USL Week 12 Recap

Mixed results for the two Texas USL sides as Rio Grande Valley FC beat Seattle 3-1 in Edinburg and SAFC tied OKC Energy on the road last night.

Rio Grande Valley FC-3    Seattle Sounders 2-1

RGV FC:  Jorginho James-16, Ruben Luna-62 (TJ Casner), Ivan Magalhaes-65 (Emilio Garcia)  S2: Riley Grant-45+2  (Ray Saari)

Two Observations

MLS loaned players seem to be a mixed blessing

Last Wednesday night the Dynamo sent reinforcements to Reno to help RGV FC play their second game in 4 days.  They lost 3-2 and blew two leads on the evening.  In this game, partially because of the MLS break, Seattle Sounders sent 5 of their first team rostered players to Edinburg to get minutes (including two who also played against the Dynamo last Sunday). So they then lose 3-1.  For the first time this season the Toros had no loan Dynamo players and scored 3 goals.  Go figure.  I also remember a game the Toros played against Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City last summer when a similar MLS break allowed the Rangers to field a virtually all MLS rostered players side.  The Toros won convincingly.  It makes you wonder whether the disruption caused by new players dropping in and out, no matter how talented, is more harmful than good for the USL sides.  I recognize that the USL teams that are owned or managed by MLS franchises have different expectations and goals than independent USL teams.  As the USL matures and grows, these contradictions are going to play out in fascinating ways in the future.

Jorginho James’s goal was stunning and will be hard to top for USL Goal of the Week or even the Month

0:15 into the game highlight video (from USL website) below:

 

OKC Energy-0    San Antonio FC (SAFC)-0

OKC:  NONE    SAFC:  NONE

Two Observations

The Good

SAFC is still undefeated, even if the chance to set a USL record with six consecutive road wins was lost last night.  Seven consecutive USL shutouts (eight if you count the U.S. Open Cup match they lost on penalties).  Billy Forbes almost pulled out a late game winner when his 86th minute shot, off one of his patented runs where he beat two defenders, just slid past the far post.

The Bad 

Three goals in six league matches.  Cesar Elizando going back on the injury report doesn’t help this scoring drought.  The old adage about winning at home and tying on the road to win championships only applies if (1) you win at home which hasn’t happened lately, and (2) your opposition, in the form of Real Monarchs, doesn’t win eight games in a row.  Real has now pulled two points clear of SAFC in the standings.

Image courtesy of USL Website and Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC

Game highlights from the USL Website:

MLS Week 15 Recap

Portland Timbers-2   FC Dallas (FCD)-0 

PORT:  Adi-32 (Blanco), 72 (Asprilla, Valeri)    FCD:  NONE

Two Observations

A tough road

FC Dallas was short-handed due to international call-ups and injuries. Beating the Timbers in Portland is hard enough when a full roster is present, extremely hard if you don’t and next to impossible if you fall behind.  The game winner scored by Fernando Adi was unfortunate because it all began off a ricochet pass from Carlos Gruezo that allowed Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco to get behind the midfield and initiate the break that was ultimately finished by Adi.  There was no luck involved in the second goal. The build up and execution left the FCD defense in shambles and allowed a wide open Adi to play with Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez before he tapped the ball in.

It could have been a lot worse

Shortly before Adi’s second goal put the game away, Diego Valeri scored a stunning goal that, if not disallowed because of a mythical hand ball, would have been in the running for MLS Goal of the Year.  Unlike the Dynamo, who were run off the field in Portland during the second half in week 3, FCD overcame the obstacles to a great extent and accounted itself well in this game  The best thing FCD can do is put this game in the rear view mirror and prepare for the midweek US Open Cup match against Tulsa in Dallas. Dallas is going through a tough patch now and the old adage about “long season” certainly does apply.

Match highlights are below.  Valeri’s disallowed goal starts at 2:05:

https://www.mlssoccer.com/iframe-video?ooyala_id=J0NWJqYjE6UU0_md2aZiJcoV2ZilZVmH&partner_code=I1djcxOsLrwl8b-9xe2r_DCXV4cV&player_id=4bfc225f82bf46c48dfb065eda97f74f

MLS Week 14 Recap

FC Dallas (FCD)-6    Real Salt Lake (RSL)-2  

FCD:  Lamah-8 (Barrios, Gruezo), 22 (Urruti, Harris), 31 (Gruezo), Urruti-39 (Ulloa), Akindele-43 (Barrios), Ferreira-89 (Barrios, Diaz)    RSL:  Holness-70 (Plata), Beckerman-72 (Rusnak)

Four Observations

Real Salt Lake apparently doesn’t much like playing in Texas

On the heels of the 5-1 drubbing in Houston, I imagine RSL figured that it couldn’t get any worse.  Apparently, it could.  FCD dropped a six-spot on RSL, becoming the first team in MLS history to score 5 goals in the first half of a game in the process.  After last weeks complete embarrassment of a trip, Real is now 3-25-3 in Texas since entering the league in 2005.

Roland Lamah breaks out?

There is frequently an adjustment period when new players come into MLS from outside the country.  “Adjustment period” is one of nicer terms to describe Lamah’s performance to date this year.  A hat trick in 31 minutes may be the prescription for the breakout that will allow Lamah to become the kind of player FCD imagined when they used a significant amount of Targeted Acquisition Money to add him during the offseason.

Jesus Ferreira’s dream debut

FC Dallas Academy product Ferreira was signed to a first-team contract in the offseason when he was 15 years old.  Saturday night, with his 89th minute goal, he became the second youngest player to score in MLS history (on his debut no less).  Only Freddy Adu was younger when he scored his first MLS goal.

The good news from the Academy keeps on rolling in

MLS.com’s Matthew Doyle was full of praise for Academy product Victor Ulloa’s (Mauro Diaz like) pass that led to Maxi Urutti’s first half goal.  The video from mlssoccer.com below is self-explanatory

FC Dallas’s trip to play Portland Timbers next Saturday night is one of only three MLS matches during the International break next weekend.

Houston Dynamo-5    Real Salt Lake-1

HOU:  Schmidt (OG)-3, Alex-15 (Manotas), Manotas-45 (Torres, Elis), Torres-52 (Elis, Alex), Leonardo-68 (Garcia, Clark)    RSL:  Plata-63

Seattle Sounders-1    Houston Dynamo-0

SEA:  Bruin-69  (Roldan, Alonso)   HOU:  NONE

Three Observations

Win at Home…Lose on the Road

The pattern of the 2017 season so far.  What a marvelous performance Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake in BBVA Compass Stadium.  Then last night the Dynamo play a much more organized and mistake-free defense than they have done so far this season, but it wasn’t enough. Wilmer Cabrera has been upfront about the “work in progress” that is the Dynamo, especially on the road.  If this is true, Dynamo fans must take some consolation from the performances in Dallas last weekend and Seattle last night.  On the defensive side of the ball you clearly can see the work that is happening on the practice field.  After the game, Cabrera talked about the need to be more clinical in the finishing. Teams are not going to get a lot of good chances on the road.  Seattle, especially with the central defense pairing of Roman Torres and Chad Marshall, was not going to make many mistakes last night. Unfortunately, Alberth Elis was unable to convert on the one big defensive mistake made by Seattle late in the game.  Road points depend on taking advantage of these kinds of opportunities when they come along.  I suspect this miss was exhibit #1 of what Cabrera is talking about.

Will Bruin was going to beat the Dynamo sometime…

Former Dynamo Will Bruin was not supposed to play last night because of an elbow injury.  Since Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris were away on international duty, Bruin despite not having full range of motion in his arm, was in the starting lineup last night anyway.  Once I saw the starting lineup, I had a sinking feeling that Bruin was going to beat the Dynamo and that is what happened after he finished from inside the six-yard box off a superb Christian Roldan cross.  After the game he was quoted on mlssoccer.com about his reactions to the game-winner against his old team:

“I’ve just got to smile real big,” Bruin said. “It was good. I think the three points is great. [Against the Dynamo], it makes it a little sweeter.”

This celebrating is a little difficult for Dynamo fans to stomach.  It is hard to have any animosity towards Bruin because he did score 50 goals for the Dynamo.  That aside, he now has 4 goals so far this year…as many as he scored all last year in Houston.  Right after he signed a lucrative extension.  To be fair, much of Bruin’s nonperformance in Houston was not his fault. He was left on an island as a sole-striker much of his last two years with the Dynamo, not the formation to best utilize his skills.  There were, however, too many poor finishes during his time in Texas for him to play the victim here.  It was time for a change of scenery after last season since he had worn out his welcome.  He would not have fit in Wilmer Cabrera’s system anyway. I suspect this will not be the last goal Bruin scores against the Dynamo.  In an interview on Jason Davis’s radio show on SiriusXM FC (@SiriusXMFC) this morning, MLS Soccer’s Matt Doyle mentioned that Seattle only needed to part with $25,000 of allocation money to get Bruin.  If that is true, the Dynamo must have either been in a fire sale mode or wanted that desperately to get out from under his contract.

If it is any consolation after the loss in Seattle… 

In last week’s MLS games, home teams were 12-0-3.  According to stats put together by Paul Carr from ESPN (@PCarrESPN) home advantage has been bigger so far this year than any previous year in league history (0.688% winning percentage and 1.96 points per game).  So the Dynamo are not alone.  In his Soccer Matters radio program last week, Glenn Davis (@GlennDavisSoc) asked former New England manager Steve Nicol (@SteveNicol61) about the difficulty of away games in MLS.  My summary of what he said is that there is other league in the world that faces the road challenges posed by the travel, geographic, climatic, etc. conditions that exist in Major League Soccer.  He then cited traveling across the country from Boston to play in Los Angeles in March as a specific example of these difficulties.  When you combine all of this with the natural advantage for the home team, he then said that it is very hard to understand how difficult MLS road games are unless you have actually done it.      

MLS Week 13 Recap

Chicago Fire-2    FC Dallas-0  

CHI:  Nikolic-3 (Vincent, Schweinsteiger), Accam-9 (Kappelhof)   FCD:  Lamah-6 (Colman)

One Observation

Throw in the Flag Early

Head coach Oscar Pareja apparently decided to essentially write this game off before the plane took off for Chicago.  He left a number of key players in Frisco and started seven players who were not in the lineup for the Dynamo game last night.  The reserve heavy side did play fairly well after settling down.  Unfortunately, Chicago scored twice in the first 10 minutes and that was all they needed to win their fourth straight match, something they have not been able to do through many terrible seasons going back to 2012.  It is hard to blame Pareja for the choices.  The club has played a number of fixtures already and appeared to have hit a lull.  As was discussed last offseason after Seattle’s run to MLS Cup, the goal is to be playing at top form late in the season, not in May.  Unless the Fire and FCD play in the Open or MLS Cup, Chicago will take back the Brimstone Cup this year.

FC Dallas-0    Houston Dynamo-0

FCD:  NONE   HOU:  NONE

Three Observations:

Mauro Diaz Returns

Very little will be remembered about this match, other than the fact that Mauro Diaz returned to the field last night.  Diaz, who is one of the best game-changers in the league, entered in the 81st minute to a raucous standing ovation from the home supporters.  His impact on the game was minimal…he tried a few passes and set pieces that didn’t quite get to where he wanted them to go.  The results were secondary last night.  In Diaz’s absence, the team has proven that it has the quality and depth to make deep runs in multiple competitions.  The last few weeks have also demonstrated, however, that they are missing the player who can unlock defenses and be the difference maker that wins Cups.  Diaz can be that player and it will be seen if he has recovered sufficiently from his achilles injury to be the difference in 2017.

The Dynamo get a Road Result!

Not the place I would have imagined this happening, but they did enough last night to tie a very good Dallas side.  The accolades will go to returning goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who made two monster saves to keep the team in the game in the first half.  Deric stoned Kellyn Acosta, who hit a perfect upper 90 free kick, on the first save.  It will be a crime if this is not the MLS Save of the Week.  The second save required superb reaction instincts to deny the snake-bitten Cristian Colman, who can’t seem to buy a goal.  The real Man of the Match for Houston, however, was central defender Adolfo Machado.  Machado was the highest rated player on the field in both the MLS Audi Index and WhoScored.com’s game report.  Credit must also be given to FCD goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, who made two fine saves of his own.

The Dynamo are Thankful Diaz was not in Mid-season Form 

The Dynamo committed 15 fouls last night, which is not an extraordinary number.  What has not changed, though, is the location of where these fouls occur.  The Dynamo has demonstrated a penchant for giving away free-kicks in dangerous positions on the field and last night was no exception.  Two late direct kick opportunities for Diaz in the attacking end would probably have been punished after he has shaken off the rust.  His success against the Dynamo in the past is ridiculous and the team was fortunate last night. The fouling in dangerous spots problem is something that needs to be addressed if the Dynamo has any hope of getting more road results.

Beautiful picture from the game on mlssoccer.com

MLS Week 12, USL Week 9 Recap

Philadelphia Union-2   Houston Dynamo-0

PHI:  Picault-17 (Pontius), Ilsinho-38 (Pontius, Sapong)   HOU: NONE

Atlanta United-4   Houston Dynamo-1

ATL:  Almiron-30 (Asad), 42 (Asad), 80 (Penalty), Gressel-76 (Villalba)   HOU: Torres-90 (Penalty)

The Dynamo are just plain lousy away from BBVA Compass Stadium.  The team has played 5 games so far this year and lost them all. The Dynamo has scored 3 goals on the road this year in the 5 matches, two of them from the penalty spot.  It doesn’t seem to matter what formation or players Houston puts on the field, the team is completely over-matched, out-played and seemingly less prepared than the opponents, despite what the statistics say. The Philadelphia game was bad enough, but Saturday night in Atlanta plumbed the depths of despair. Admittedly, Atlanta United is not your average expansion team, but it is a grand total of 11 games into its existence. Prior to the Dynamo game, Atlanta had lost 2 out of the 3 games it had ever played at home, including a 3-1 loss to an injury-ravaged Real Salt Lake team.  There is no excuse for the Dynamo getting obliterated like it did the other night.  The team lacks leaders and Wilmer Cabrera seems to be doing an awful job of preparing the club to play on the road.  President Chris Canetti, perhaps giddy over the teams strong home performance, weighed in on how the Dynamo were “ahead of schedule” a few weeks ago.  I am not sure what kind of schedule he is referring too, but if this is so, it is a pretty pathetic state of affairs for a team with the winning legacy of the Dynamo. Now the Dynamo travel to Dallas this Sunday and play an FCD side that will be smarting from their first loss of the season.  This doesn’t look like it will be a pleasant trip for Houston, but then what trip ever is.


FC Dallas-0   San Jose Earthquakes-1

FCD:  NONE   SJ:  Hyka-81 (Urena)

Two Observations:

  • There is a reason teams do not go through the season undefeated.  Sometimes things don’t go your way.  San Jose came in to defend and they did that well. According to Carter Baum on fcdallas.com, the Earthquakes set an MLS single-game mark for 2017 with 34 interceptions in the match, and added 30 clearances, five blocks and a 75 percent tackle success rate in the win.  Add the goal Jahmir Hyka scored, which has a good chance to be MLS Goal of the Week, and things didn’t go FC Dallas’s way despite their best efforts.  After scoring the extra-time equalizer a few weeks ago to tie FCD, Hyka said after last night’s winner “I hope to play more against FC Dallas”.  Guess so.
  • Oscar Pareja doesn’t seem to be too worried about recovering from the first loss of the season.  The team gets back in action this Thursday in Chicago.

“This group of players that I have, in moments like today, they just make me admire them more.  I see that they are looking for any way possible to get the result and I have such a great respect for that behavior.”

San Antonio FC (SAFC)-1   Phoenix Rising-0

SA:  Akwafei Ajeakwa-12 (Kris Tyrpak)   PHO: NONE

SAFC just keeps finding ways to win.  Saturday’s game was not the prettiest. The team definitely seems to have a target on their back as the opposition looks to be the first to break the undefeated streak.  SAFC needs to keep winning to stay in first place as the second place side, Real Monarchs, are on fire and now are just two points behind in the standings after winning their fifth straight match Saturday.

Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV FC)-1   LA Galaxy II-1

RGV:  Kyle Murphy-36 (Emilio Garcia)   LA:  Justin Dhillon-72 (Ethan Zubak)

This was the final game of a long homestand for RGV FC.  The Toros had two excellent late opportunities to win the match.  Ruben Luna sent a shot just wide in the 84th minute and Eric Bird couldn’t get the ball on his foot right in front of a basically open net shortly after. Despite statistical domination, Galaxy II were able to exploit a defensive breakdown to score the tying goal on their only on-target shot of the night.