By Paul Kennedy
What kind of impact did MLS's
decision to play through the March international calendar have this weekend?
National team call-ups alone weren't the problem but along with injuries, they left several teams terribly
short-handed. Orlando City had 15 players dress for its match against Montreal, while Seattle dressed only 17 players at FC Dallas.
For FC Dallas-Seattle, a battle of the early
Supporters' Shield leader and last year's winner, Dallas was without top scorer Blas Perez
, on duty with Panama, and the Sounders didn't have their top scorer,
, injured training with the U.S. national team. When you add to that the absences of Dallas playmaker Mauro
and Sounders striker Obafemi Martins
, both injured, a scoreless draw in Frisco was not out of the ordinary.
What was unique about the
FC Dallas-Seattle match was the absence of a single shot on goal -- the first time in MLS's 20 seasons both teams have failed to hit the target. The closest either team came to scoring was when Michel
's free kick found the crossbar in the first half. How Chad Barrett
didn't score for Seattle is something he'll be
asking himself for a long time to come. MLS Scoring: WEEK AVG.
Week 1: 1.60
Week 2: 3.13
Week 3: 1.25
Week 4: 1.90 Season: 1.94
For its second match at Yankee Stadium, New York City FC knew it would be without Adam Nemec
, on international duty with Slovakia, and supersub Khiry Shelton
with the U.S. U-23s. What was unexpected the
absence of David Villa
, suffering from an adductor strain. NYCFC had plenty of the ball against Sporting Kansas City -- but could turn 60 percent of possession
into only three shots on goal and it sent the Bronx faithful -- a "sellout crowd" of 27,545 -- home disappointed after a 1-0 loss.
FC Dallas and Seattle weren't the only teams to fail to
hit the target, though. Philadelphia didn't record a shot on goal in its 1-0 loss at Chicago, though it couldn't use international callups as an excuse. The only starter missing from the Union's front
six was its injured playmaker, Argentine Cristian Maidana
The low of the lows: Colorado became the first team in MLS history to start the season with three consecutive
0-0 ties as a scoreless draw at Houston extended its scoring drought to 510 minutes dating back to the 2014 season. The tie pushed the Rapids' winless streak to 17 games. MLS: Week 4 Results & Standings, Week 5
Schedule Week 4: Three goals you must
watch 1. CHRIS PONTIUS vs. LA
D.C. United looked to be headed to a 0-0 tie with the Galaxy when a bit of magic from Nick
DeLeon set up
Pontius for the winner deep in stoppage time. Davy Arnaud
found DeLeon on the edge of the penalty area, where he lifted the ball over
and found Pontius on the far side with an early candidate for assist of the year. 2. MIKE GRELLA vs.
Columbus. Jack McInerney's
goal when he lifted the ball
over Orlando keeper Donovan Ricketts
, stranded off his line, wasn't bad, but Mike Grella gets the nod
for the chip of the week with his delicate strike from distance to beat Steve Clark
caught cheating, for the New York Red Bulls' winner in their 2-1 victory at Columbus. It was the first MLS goal for the former Duke star, at age 28 playing in his first MLS season. 3. NICOLAS MEZQUIDA vs. Portland.
Up until now, Mezquida has been overshadowed by two other Uruguayans, Sebastian Fernandez
2014 and Octavio Rivero
this season, but he curled a free kick
from 25 yards past Portland keeper
for the first goal of their Cascadia Cup clash. What Worked in Week 4 ... 1. OUSTED HIGHLIGHT REEL.
In his first full season in MLS, Dane David Ousted
led MLS with 13 shutouts for Vancouver, tied for the fifth-most in a season. He didn't pitch a shutout on Saturday against Portland, but he kept the
'Caps in the game long enough for Robert Earnshaw
to grab the winner in their 2-1 victory. Amazing Ousted saves included a stop on a blast from Darlington Nagbe
and a close-range block on Fanendo Adi
. 2. OLSEN MOTIVATES
United's first win over the Galaxy since 2008 was quite a difference from six days earlier when it put on a listless effort in a 2-0 loss to the Red Bulls. Coach Ben Olsen
let his players have it after a horrible performance following a bye week. Against the Galaxy, United played much better even if it took Pontius'
stoppage-time goal to settle the outcome. “I was just happy to see our team back,” Olsen said afterward. 3.
With teams struggling to find any offense, it wasn't a surprise it would take something like a throw-in to decide the New York City FC-Sporting Kansas City match. Matt Besler
's long throw-in is no secret around MLS, nor is Ike Opara
's heading ability, which led to the early Sporting KC
goal in its 1-0 win at Yankee Stadium. "We talked about it yesterday in the preparation meeting and showed lots of video of it," said NYCFC coach Jason Kreis
the "inch perfect" throw-in. What Didn't Work in Week 4 ... 1. BARRETT IN ATTACK.
With Dempsey and Martins out,
the start up front for the Sounders, but he missed three golden opportunities to give Seattle the win over FC Dallas, which played the last 72 minutes short-handed following Kellyn Acosta
's red card. One was a point-blank chance he put wide and another on a one-on-one with keeper Chris Seitz
that also went wide.
“Barrett will be the first one to say that he’s got to finish one of those,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid
said. 2. MONTREAL LETS GUARD DOWN.
Montreal took a 2-0 lead on Orlando City after 27 minutes and couldn't hold on to the lead. Three minutes later, the
score was knotted at 2-2 after goals by Brazilians Kaka
and Pedro Ribeiro
, who each set up the other. 3. QUAKES CAN'T HANDLE PRESSURE.
New England is one of the most predictable teams in MLS, relying on their high pressure to create
turnovers and quick counterattacks. San Jose couldn't handle the pressure as Kelyn Rowe
converted a pair of first-half goals after the outside backs Shaun Francis
and Marvell Wynne
turned the ball over.
Portland's Porter perplexed
Portland's penchant for conceding late goals was a problem in 2014 when it failed to make the playoffs.
The killer match was a 3-2 loss to lowly Toronto FC late in the season on a Michael Bradley
goal in the 89th minute that completed a comeback from a 2-0
Already this season, the Timbers had to settle for a 2-2 tie with the Galaxy when they gave up a stoppage-time goal by Alan Gordon
had put them ahead in the 90th minute. On Saturday, Adi seemingly earned the Timbers a share of the points with Vancouver thanks to his goal in the
82nd minute, but Earnshaw broke free to give the 'Caps a 2-1 win with a goal in the 91st minute.
Earnshaw's goal spoiled a dominating Timbers' effort -- they finished with a 66-34 percent
edge in possession and completed 88 percent of their passes -- and left Coach Caleb Porter
perplexed how they didn't win.
"I haven't seen us
dominate a game on the road like this since I've been here," said Porter, in his third season at Portland. National Team Watch
The U.S. U-20s were in England, but several U-20 candidates had eventful weekends back in MLS. The FC Dallas-Seattle game turned on Acosta's red card, while Jordan Allen
, back after missing almost all of the 2014 season with a knee injury, scored the winner for Real Salt Lake in its 2-1 win over Toronto FC.
On the FC Dallas bench: Alejandro Zendejas
, just weeks away from captaining the U.S. U-17s in their decisive match at the Concacaf
U-17 qualifying tournament.
U.S. UNDER-23s. Starters:
Polster, Roldan, Villarreal. Subs:
Kovar, Okoli, Zimmerman. U.S. UNDER-20s. Starters:
Acosta, Miazga, *Turner. Sub:
Allen. U.S. UNDER-18s. Sub: