Toronto FC 2 – DC United 2
LAFC 3 – Houston 3
Carson Galaxy 1 – Portland 2
Finally a game that had already been postponed twice was able to be played. Technically today was a triple header of games, although the first game was played 11 hours before the second one. Either way, all three games were played so we have a lot to give grades for.
Toronto FC: C+
A grade of “C” is pretty common for a team in their first game in four months and today’s teams are no different. Toronto were headed toward an easy victory and were even up a man for an entire half but eventually wilted in the final ten minutes of the game. I added the plus because I felt like they were definitely better than a “C” until the lack of conditioning kicked in. The forward combination of Alejandro Pozuelo and Ayo Akinola clicked really well right away and Akinola scored two first half goals. On top of that, DC United’s Junior Moreno was issued a second yellow in stoppage time of the first half meaning that DC would be playing with ten men the rest of the game. Toronto settled and got too confident and could not turn the switch back on as the game heated back up. They will be shaking their heads after this one.
DC United: C-
I’m not sure how DC United pulled out this draw. They looked absolutely lost for 80 minutes until the veteran Federico Higuain came in and sparked new life into the team. Everyone thought Higuain was done after an ACL injury at 34 years old ended his Columbus Crew tenure. Everyone, that is, except for Higuain himself. He said that he still wanted to play football, and DC United gave him the chance and he delivered in a big way. They will want to be better moving forward but will be more than thankful for this point.
Man of the Match: Ayo Akinola
When Akinola scored his second goal of the match, Toronto was sitting pretty and willing to cruise to a victory. This draw can not be placed onto Akinola in the slightest as he played very well.
The defending Supporter’s Shield winners finally got to take the field, but it was without the reigning MVP. That didn’t keep the goals from coming early and often.
It’s tough to give either of these teams anything different than a “C.” There were great moments such as Diego Rossi blasting in a goal to give LAFC new life, but then there were just as many bad moments like leaving a man completely unmarked on a free kick just before halftime. This was a true tale of two halves for LAFC as they started out completely flat. Rust is expected in a setting like this, but for a team that’s mostly been together for multiple years there should not be moments that they appear to be a pick-up soccer team playing together for the first time. In the second half they looked like the team that everyone expected as they pressured Houston completely and really didn’t seem rattled by their deficit. They will hope that the momentum of the second half continues into the future games of the tournament.
Houston Dynamo: C
Houston was a tale of two halves as well, except they faded in the second half as most every other team has. If you look at the numbers by themselves from this game you will think that Houston was outplayed completely by LAFC but that was just a result of their respective playstyles. While LAFC is a team that relies on a lot of possession and backwards passes, Houston is a strong defensive team that relies on quick counters in order to get their goals. They will be upset that they lost a two goal lead, but Houston will be happy to come away from this game with a point.
Man of the Match: Diego Rossi
LAFC were on their heels at halftime after giving up three goals. They turned to one of their earliest signings to try to dig them out of the hole they had created and Rossi answered the call. He received a beautifully slotted pass from Eduard Atuesta and did not even think of crossing the ball. He instead fired a missile shot that went by the keeper so quickly that he barely had time to react at all. He also added an assist on the first LAFC goal for Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The final game of the night was the Carson Galaxy taking on the Portland Timbers. More goals and more red cards to end an exciting night of soccer.
Carson Galaxy: C+
This was a pretty evenly played game by both teams. The problem was that Carson could not capitalize the opportunities given to them. Chicharito had a penalty kick early on that was saved by Steve Clark and they also had two goals taken back due to offside. It wasn’t until Portland lost a man to a red card that the Galaxy looked like the better team. They were able to grab a goal to help out with the goal differential, but they need to play better from here on out.
Portland Timbers: B
Portland was standing toe-to-toe with the Galaxy for pretty much the entire game, and then Sebastian Blanco switched it into another gear. They seemed to switch up their attack in the second half and he was able to take advantage of that switch and helped Portland take this win. They had to hold on at the end with only 10 men, but they will be very happy to stand alone atop Group F
Man of the Match: Sebastian Blanco
This was an easy one. Yes, Clark made a save on a penalty kick and followed it up with an even better save on the rebound, but Blanco had a goal and an assist and directly impacted the game and got Portland the much needed win to start the group stage.