[MLS] A week after losing in the final minutes to San Jose, Philadelphia beat Toronto FC with a stoppage-time penalty kick by All-Star snub Sebastian Le Toux. Columbus downed New York in a meeting of the top two Eastern Conference teams, and FC Dallas tightened up the Western standings by beating runner-up Real Salt Lake. Here are a half-dozen notables from from MLS Week 16 action ...
LEFTOUT LE STAR. Outraged Philly fans will surely view Sebastian Le Toux’s goal and assist in a 2-1 defeat of Toronto FC at PPL Park as justification that he should have been named to the All-Star first XI. Michael Orozco headed his corner nick to the near post into the top corner for the first Union goal, and deep in stoppage time Le Toux stayed cool to blast a penalty kick for the winner.
With seven goals and seven assists, the former Sounder (USL and MLS) is only four goals behind league leaders Edson Buddle (goals) and three behind Landon Donovan (assists) and no one else in MLS can claim the same. (Buddle and Donovan each scored in the Galaxy's 2-1 win over D.C. United on Sunday.)
TFC FALTERS. Preki’s remodeling of Toronto FC has edged it into third place in the East, but not every addition has been a plus. Maksim Usanov has lost his starting spot after a few rough outings, yet needed only 10 minutes (including stoppage time) after replacing right back Dan Gargan to block a Philadelphia shot with his hand to provide Le Toux with an opportunity to win the game, and LeToux did just that.
TFC squandered 15 points in the final 15 minutes of games last year and on Saturday threw away a valuable road point in Philly.
SHEA ON THE MARK. FC Dallas isn’t on many short lists of serious championship contenders, and perhaps defending champion RSL simply melted in 95-degree heat Saturday during a 2-0 FCD win. And RSL hadn’t lost in 10 games, so it may have succumbed to the law of averages as well.
Yet midfielder Brek Shea continues to punch the clock every week and every so often prove to be the difference-maker. After blocking a Jamison Olave shot on the goal line, he scored what proved to be the winner in the 69th minute when he nailed home the rebound of a saved shot hit by newcomer Milton Rodriguez.
“I started off slow, missed a few. I had some bad touches and bad passes,” the Sheas said. “As the game went on, I think the team got better. I got a lucky rebound and scored. I should have had some other chances.”
FCD also got quality minutes (72) out of Rodriguez, who headed a corner kick off the crossbar in the first half. The 24-year-old Colombian joined FCD several weeks ago but wasn’t eligible to play until the registration period opened on Thursday. Dallas has lost only twice this season and extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games.
DYNAMO DILEMMA. Beating Pachuca 2-1 in SuperLiga play Wednesday may boost Houston’s confidence, but its absence from league play is widening the gap it must close to reach a playoff spot. It is three points out of the playoffs with 19 points and tied with Seattle in ninth place overall.
Wins by Seattle and Dallas increased the pressure on Houston, which doesn’t have games in hand with which to make up points. It has played 16; only the Sounders, with 17, have played more games. And it returns to league play Saturday at Columbus.
HENRY ON HAND. Columbus got a fair dose of Thierry Henry though the French star didn’t play on Saturday as the Crew beat New York, 2-0. After his first training session with the Red Bulls Friday morning, Henry traveled to Columbus, where he met the press and watched the game from a luxury suite. Emilio Renteria and Brian Carroll scored the goals and Will Hesmer notched his seventh shutout.
Henry will certainly liven up the Red Bull attack, but Coach Hans Backe needs to tighten the defensive play. A giveaway by rookie Tim Ream provided the chance for Carroll after a nice goal scored by Renteria, whose dash of class up top adds nuances that Jason Garey and Stevan Lenhart can’t provide. Whether via the DP option or other means, teams are looking to add those missing elements before the transfer window closes Aug. 15.
DEEP CREW. Crew coach Robert Warzycha juggled his lineup and still got the three points. Danny O’Rourke took over at left back for Gino Padula, Emmanuel Ekpo started in place of Robbie Rogers, and Renteria played up front in place of Garey. Before scoring the second goal with a great strike, Carroll stripped the ball from Juan Pablo Angel and fed it to Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who played it to Renteria.
After Carroll’s goal doubled the score, he suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Shaun Francis, who made his MLS debut. Garey and Rogers came on as late substitutes.