By Ridge Mahoney
Its shortened schedule to accommodate the FIFA international playing dates turned out to be a case of less is more for MLS.
The five games played Saturday produced a seven-goal thriller, losses for both conference leaders, two red cards, several spectacular gamewinners, and the victorious debut of an interim head coach.
Portland, unbeaten in 13 games, got off the tie schneid to beat Western leader FC Dallas, 1-0, with a superb goal by Darlington Nagbe. Eastern frontrunner Montreal took a 2-0 defeat in Columbus. The results juggled the top three spots, with the Timbers taking over first place in the Power Rankings.
Kenny Miller glided an incredible shot over Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to ice the Whitecaps’ 4-3 victory. San Jose exploited Atiba Harris’ sending-off to present Mark Watson with a 2-1 defeat of Colorado in his first game since replacing Frank Yallop. Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen got his second win by posting a 2-1 defeat of D.C. United, for which Nelsen played four seasons and helped win MLS Cup 2004.
Regular service resumes this week, though Hexagonal play Tuesday will deprive many teams of key players for the four league matches to be played Wednesday. Eight games are scheduled for the weekend.
Week 16 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. PORTLAND (6-1-8) 3.
2. MONTREAL (8-3-2) 1.
3. FC DALLAS (8-3-4) 2.
4. REAL SALT LAKE* (8-5-3) 4.
5. NEW YORK* (7-5-4) 5.
6. SEATTLE* (6-4-3) 7.
7. COLORADO (5-5-5) 6.
8. HOUSTON* (6-4-4) 8.
9. SPORTING KANSAS CITY* (6-5-4) 9.
10. PHILADELPHIA* (6-5-4) 11.
11. NEW ENGLAND (5-5-5) 10.
12. VANCOUVER (5-5-4) 13.
13. COLUMBUS (5-5-5) 14.
14. LOS ANGELES* (6-6-2) 12.
15. CHICAGO* (3-7-3) 15.
16. SAN JOSE (4-6-6) 16.
17. TORONTO FC (2-7-5) 17.
18. CHIVAS USA* (3-8-2) 18.
19. D.C. UNITED (1-11-3) 19.
*Did not play.
THE BEST. Even by the stratospheric standards of Jeld-Wen Field, the roars and celebrations that saluted Nagbe’s strike in the 53rd minute skewed off the scale. Rival keepers Donovan Ricketts and Raul Fernandez each had seven saves and FCD, even without Panama striker Blas Perez, could well have departed with a tie. This game showcased the league nicely to an ESPN audience that had just seen Brazil thump Japan in the Confederations Cup.
Montreal failed to score for only the second time this season, and gave away the first goal when Dominic Oduro stripped Collen Warner of the ball and raced clear to drill home his shot. Thus did end the Impact’s three-game winning streak. The Rapids’ loss at home to San Jose ended a six-game unbeaten streak even though they rallied from a 2-0 deficit on Nathan Sturgis’ third goal of the season and came close in the final minutes.
THE MIDDLE. Vancouver blew apart the Revs’ remarkable defensive record as Kenny Miller ran wild. The heavily criticized Designated Player nailed a pair of stunning goals and also won a penalty kick converted by Camilo. The foul resulted in the dismissal of Revs’ rookie defender Andrew Farrell, and a 2-0 Revs’ lead built on goals by Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe quickly dissipated. Camilo’s PK ended New England’s shutout streak at 419 minutes, and a late goal by Dimitry Imbongo left the Revs a goal short.
Matias Sanchez scored his first MLS goal with a deflected shot set up by Oduro in the sixth minute to give Columbus a 1-0 lead. The Crew drew a season-high home crowd of 18,320.
THE REST. San Jose ended a four-game losing streak with goals by Steven Lenhart and Sam Cronin yet needed some good saves by Jon Busch to fend off the Rapids, which went down to 10 men in the 18th minute on a crude foul by Harris. TFC’s first win since March 9 required a D.C. own goal following Robert Earnshaw’s equalizer. United’s bleak run without victory stands at 13 games; Daniel Woolard scored into his own net after a rather fortunate referee’s decision enabled Dwayne De Rosario to score from the penalty spot.