Day six of the MLS is Back Tournament saw the postponed TFC-DC match take place in the early morning and the four teams from Group F (Houston, LAFC, LA Galaxy & Portland) in the evening. All three matches had plenty of action and crazy moments.
Toronto FC v.s. DC United
These two teams have a little bit of a rivalry brewing between them. The two have been scheduled to play their match on Sunday, DC showed up for the match, but Toronto did not. Then there was news about possible positive COVID tests for both teams. After re-testing they came back as negative, then the teams were able to play the next morning.
In the match, both teams were chippy, with this match being on ESPN, you could hear a lot of chatter between the two teams all game. Even though both teams were going at each other with their words, it seemed like Toronto was the team that brought their finishing boots in the first half. A brace from Ayo Akinola (12′ & 44′) gave Toronto a commanding lead. DC tried to get in the match after going down by getting in the heads of the TFC players, unfortunately, this backfired.
DC United’s Júnior Moreno flew into challenges. He received an 18th-minute yellow, and then in the last minutes of first-half stoppage time, he received his second and a subsequent red card. Not only was DC down two goals they were also down a man heading into the second half. When the second half kicked off it looked like Toronto was going to run away with the match, but questionable substitutions allowed DC to stay alive. TFC coach Greg Vanney took out his starting center backs in the 64th minute, that coupled with DC bringing on Federico Higuaín in the 80th minute proved decisive.
Federico Higuaín was played through to Toronto’s goal, and he was able to chip the keeper to get one goal back in the 84th minute. This gave DC life, even though they were a man down. They kept pressing Toronto’s envelope and won a free kick in second-half stoppage time. Felipe sent a ball into the box where Steven Birnbaum met the ball but couldn’t get the ball on target; Frédéric Brillant got on the end of the ball and put it home to give DC a second goal.
This was practically the last kick of the match, as it ended 2-2. A stunning comeback for DC and collapse by TFC turned into a squabble after the final whistle as players from both sides were in each other’s faces. This match had it all!
Man of the Match
Toronto FC’s Alejandro Pozuelo won man of the match honors for setting up Toronto’s two first-half goals, but it seems odd to give him the award after that collapse his team faced in the second half! The end of this match meant that all teams in Group C had played a match, here is where the teams land after one matchday.
LAFC v.s. Houston Dynamo
In a match that featured a team that is used to be ing at the top of the west and a team that is used to scrapping their way to climb the table, the money would be put on the team at the top. At the start of this match, it was the scrappy team that got off to a good start. Houston’s Memo Rodriguez opened the scoring in the ninth minute to the shock of LAFC. While LAFC is going to be without star attacker Carlos Vela in this tournament, they do have a good host of attackers who can score. In this match, Bob Bradley went with the MLS veteran Bradley Wright-Phillips, and he got a goal to get LAFC back in the match in the 19th minute. After the game was tied up, both teams went after one another.
Later in the first half, Houston’s attack proved to be lethal again. A great run in the box and ability to will the ball in the net by Memo Rodriguez gave Houston the lead again. Just before halftime, their lead was lengthened thanks to a goal from Alberth Elis. Houston’s attack was on point, but the game would be determined by their defending.
In the second half, LAFC took their play to another level. Their pair of young Uruguayan designated players Deigo Rossi and Brian Rodriguez both scored to tie the match. The rest of the match proved to be a back and forth affair that felt like another goal was coming. Unfortunately, there were no more goals to be had in this one as the game ended 3-3. Houston’s Memo Rodriguez won man of the match honors for his brace and should be credited for the huge point Houston took off of LAFC.
Man of the Match
LA Galaxy v.s. Portland Timbers
The late-night match saw LA Galaxy take on the Portland Timbers. These two teams have a history of providing some good matches, this one was definitely interesting! Early in the match, it looked like LA Galaxy would be up 1-0. A penalty was awarded to them and shiny new DP Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez stepped to take it. His effort was not great and was easily saved by Steve Clark. This swung the momentum to Portland, but they were unable to score in the first half, which ended 0-0. As the second half kicked off Portland found ways to get goals.
As the match progressed, strong runs from Portland’s Sebastián Blanco proved to be a difference-maker. His winding run in the box helped Portland take the lead, Blanco found the right pass to help Jeremy Ebobisse score in the 59th minute. Portland had the lead for seven minutes before doubling it thanks to another great run and this time a finish from Blanco. After being 2-0 up, Portland needed to rely on their defense. They were able to bend and not break.
LA did pull one goal back, as Chicharito made a good run in the box to finish home a Gordon Wild cross. It proved to be too little too late, and one cannot help but think about the missed penalty from Chicharito playing a huge factor in this one. Portland’s Sebastián Blanco was awarded Man of the Match honors after his great performance gave Portland all three points!
Man of the Match
The teams in Group F have now all played a match. After their first matchday, Portland sits atop the group with three points, Houston Dynamo and LAFC both have a point, and LA Galaxy sits in last place after their loss. The next matches could prove to be crucial to who goes through to the knockout rounds.
Whats on deck for Day seven?
There are three matches today as part of the seventh straight day of action in the MLS is Back Tournament.
First, Chicago Fire plays their first match of the tournament in Group B play against Seattle Sounders. This match kicks off at 9:00 a.m.
In the evening the four teams from Group A will face off in their second matches. NYCFC take on Orlando City at 8:00 p.m. while the Philadelphia Union play Inter Miami at 10:30 p.m.
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Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports