Quick and Payneless
Two of the three Canadian MLS teams were in action away from home on Saturday, but neither could take anything from their respective road trips. Vancouver’s playoff hopes are looking like a distant memory after a 3-1 collapse in Dallas, while Toronto fell 2-0 at Portland Timbers in the first game of the post-Kevin Payne era.
In Dallas, Vancouver took an early lead through Daigo Kobayashi, who was excelling in an attacking midfield role that had finally been tailored for him. Dallas came back through Jevaughn Watson’s long-range strike before half-time, and late in the game Mauro Diaz’s volley looked to have sealed it after some work from Eric Hassli in the build-up. While each of Dallas’ were highlight-reel goals, some fans might be questioning goalkeeper David Ousted on all three.
The goal of the night was to come, though, when Jair Benítez scored a 50-yard wonder strike that hit the top corner. Take a look for yourself:
Both Vancouver and Portland are part of seven or eight teams in the Western Conference with a realistic shot at the five playoff places, which meant Toronto could do their Canadian cousins a favour with a point or three at Jeld-Wen Field later on.
The Timbers started stronger, though, and Khalif Alhassan took advantage of a short clearance after a Timbers set-piece and made it 1-0 before half-time. Toronto skipper Steven Caldwell as all over the defensive third as usual, and not for the first time this season he was dangerously close to conceding a penalty after blocking a shot with his hand.
If Caldwell is a model of experience for the Reds, it’s much-needed, as it was miscontrol from his defensive partner Gale Agbossoumonde that led to Portland’s second. Rodney Wallace was able to run clear and finish past ex-teammate Joe Bendik – the goalkeeper was traded for his opposing number tonight, Miloš Kocić, in the off-season.
The next scorer was born in Toronto, but it wasn’t a good thing for the Reds. It was Portland captain Will Johnson who smashed home to make it 3-0.
Diego Valeri finished it off with a tap-in in stoppage time to make it four and pad the team’s goal differential as they climb into the playoff spots.
One man who was conspicuously absent for Toronto was new signing Maximiliano Urruti – with nothing left to play for this season, there has to be a reason for not bedding in the new man for 2014, whether he’s completely match-fit or not. Head coach Ryan Nelsen has been assured that he won’t be part of the culls at BMO Field in 2013, but Urruti may be the key to closing out the season with some respectability – and impressing Nelsen’s new bosses, whoever they might end up being.