[MLS] The classy and the calamitous punctuated eight MLS games Saturday. They produced a few ugly goals as well as several of the spectacular variety, and memorable nights for rookies.
LE TROIS TIMES DEUX. By hitting the first two hat tricks of the season, New England’s Zach Schilawski and Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux answered some questions about their teams’ attack.
Without Taylor Twellman (injured) and Steve Ralston (left MLS), the Revs cut open Toronto’s backline repeatedly, with Sainey Nyassi and Kheli Dube getting down the right side to serve balls Schilawski put away. He got one on his own by picking Nick Garcia’s pocket and firing home a low shot.
Le Toux scored just one goal for Seattle last year and struggled in Philly’s opener, a 2-0 loss against his former MLS team, but converted good setups by Roger Torres and Alejandro Moreno to score his first two goals before adding the winner with a free kick blasted through the United defensive wall.
‘IT’S BOBBLE TIME!’ His jersey may have changed, but Bouna Coundoul’s erratic handling continues with the Red Bulls. The ex-Rapids keeper and inventor of the cry, “It’s Bouna Time!”, for whatever reason prodded a routine ball over the goal line for the winner in New York’s 2-0 loss to Chivas USA.
A deflected shot by Jesus Padilla rebounded off the inside of the post and Coundoul, instead of collecting the ball while on his knees, somehow used both gloves to push it over the line in a stunning display of ineptitude. Instantaneously, it entered the league archives as among the worst keeper own goals in league history.
GOALIE GAFFES. Coundoul wasn’t the only keeper to cough up a howler. Philadelphia’s Chris Seitz dropped a ball to his feet near the edge of the penalty area that Jaime Moreno nicked in to steal and roll into the empty net. Houston veteran Pat Onstad couldn’t stop an Edson Buddle shot from near the goal line that zipped between his right foot and the near post. Fire keeper Andy Dykstra’s ill-timed challenge and collision with defender C.J. Brown gave Arturo Alvarez the opportunity to chip home San Jose’s first goal in a 2-1 Quakes win.
YOUNG BLOOD. Quakes’ rookie defender Ike Opara got another start in the back line, and endured a few shaky moments before nailing the winning goal with for a 2-1 San Jose win at Toyota Park. Paired in the middle with veteran Jason Hernandez, Opara rolled a back pass that eluded keeper Joe Cannon and trickled past the post, then gave away a ball that Collins John struck on goal for Hernandez to kick away with a sensational save.
“As a young guy in this league, you’re going to go through growing pains,” Hernandez said to mlssoccer.com. “There’s a maturing process. We do our best to help him along, and he responded great. He made one or two mistakes tonight, but he followed that up with one or two great plays, and we’ll take that any day of the week. He did a great job tonight.”
In the 82nd minute, Opara cut through the Fire goalmouth to reach a Bobby Convey free kick and win the game.
CARELESS CREW. Columbus coaches and players complained that Eric Avila handled the ball before drilling a spectacular 93rd-minute equalizer that drew FC Dallas into a 2-2 tie at Pizza Hut Park, and the ball indeed struck his arm in a duel with Guillermo Barros Schelotto before he teed it up.
Yet the chance arose from one of several free kicks awarded to FCD by Crew fouls in its own defensive third late in the game. Andy Iro and Schelotto committed fouls in risky areas before Emmanuel Ekpo was adjudged to have tripped Avila a few yards outside the penalty area. After a shot saved by Will Hesmer was cleared to Schelotto, he lost the ball under pressure from Avila, and screamed angrily at referee Jason Anno as Avila’s shot skipped into the bottom corner.
“When you give five or six free kicks away it’s going to be trouble,” said midfielder Adam Moffat, scorer of the first Crew goal. “We’ve got to play smarter.”
NO PLACE LIKE THE ROAD? Four teams won at home, but San Jose (2-1 at Chicago) and Los Angeles (2-0 at Houston) got three points on the road, and only stoppage-time strikes salvaged a point at home for FC Dallas (see Avila, above) and Real Salt Lake.
RSL, which was a league-best 9-1-5 at home last year, trailed Seattle, 2-1, in the 94th minute, when recently signed Costa Rican striker Alvaro Saborio nodded a Nelson Gonzalez corner kick past Kasey Keller. The tie runs RSL’s unbeaten record against MLS opponents at Rio Tinto Stadium to 12 games, including a 1-0 win over Columbus in last year’s playoffs.