The first MLS regular season weekend action kicked off on Friday night with four matches that saw Sporting Kansas City earn some MLS is Back redemption, Toronto FC continue to roll, FC Cincinnati continue to improve and FC Dallas continue to struggle finding the back of the net.
A series of errors made Minnesota United’s showdown with SKC the most interesting game of the evening, apart from their early battle for control of the Western Conference.
To nobody’s suprise, Toronto FC is the team to beat in the Canadian contingent of the restart and it now owns a win over each of its competitors.
A point is a point, and FC Cincinnati’s draw D.C. United marks three consecutive unbeaten games with points on the line for new coach Jaap Stam, and a scoreless draw in Texas robbed Tab Ramos of what should have been his first win in charge of the Dynamo.
Here is a closer look at Friday night’s action.
Minnesota United 1, Sporting Kansas City 2
(Kinda,’12, Boxhall O.G. 55′) – (Lindsey O.G. ’32)
Early leader of the Western Conference Sporting Kansas City padded its lead over Minnesota, its nearest challenger after a wild game woven with errors.
In the opening minutes, SKC keeper Tim Melia stepped up in the clutch by running at Ethan Finlay to deny the Minnesota native his third goal of the season. The play would be magnified moments later when Gadi Kinda scored, seemingly by accident.
SKC was on a break and Kinda whipped the ball into the box for Roger Espinoza, but the latter did not even need to touch it. Hassani Dotson’s attempted clearance got in the way of goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh and Kinda’s pass skipped in.
The teams then swapped own-goals, starting with SKC. Helpless on the play, Jaylin Lindsey’s feet were drilled by a pass in the box from Finlay, and the ball richoched past Melia in the 32nd minute.
The soccer gods must’ve been on SKC’s side though. Minnesota, whom was getting outworked by the visitors, would’ve probably been happy to keep a point. That was spoiled by a 55th minute cross from Johnny Russell that found Loons defender Michael Boxall instead of one of his own teammates. Boxall’s positioning backfired as he rendered himself helpless and watched the ball go in off his extended right foot.
Toronto FC 1, Whitecaps 0
With the league’s Canadian teams all playing each other twice until they can join the rest of the league, and with an automatic CONCACAF Champions League bid on the line, Toronto FC’s back-to-back victories over Vancouver came at a perfect time.
The lone goal of the match came on a play where Pablo Piatti was charging into the box and a Vancouver defender knocked the ball loose. Unfortuntely, that did not do the job, as it slowly rolled to the feet of Richie Laryea, whom had plenty of time to take a composed shot and celebrate the finish.
An excellent save from Caps keepet Thomas Hasal kept the team out of double trouble in the very next minute. On the break, Alejandro Pozuelo connected with Piatti, whom scored a midweek brace, in space and he was looking to weave a scoring streak together, but was denied by Hasal’s big stretch.
The win keeps Toronto unbeaten in regular season competition in 2020, as well as on the Columbus Crew’s heels for the lead in the East.
FC Cincinnati 0, D.C. United 0
You have to go all the way back to the very first week of the 2020 season to find D.C. United’s only win of the campaign. Despite putting on an early show, the team was left frustrated and clinging to a point to leave Nippert Stadium with.
The first half saw FC Cincinnati show shades of last season as it was forced to bunker and let D.C. live in its final third rent-free. The game stayed that way right up until the half hour mark when a pair of runs from Joe Gyau instigated a bit of life for the Orange and Blue as it accumulated a pair of shots towards the end of the scoreless first half.
Much of the same in the second half, but with Cincinnati swinging the hammer. The team suffered through an injury to Siem de Jong in the first half, and he was replaced by Allan Cruz during the break.
A late FC Cincinnati chance was wasted by Jürgen Locadia when he caught D.C. keeper Bill Hamid off his line, but the Dutchman’s shot nailed the post and went back into play and the teams battled it out in the remaining minutes without earning anything to celebrate.
It is a change of pace for FCC though, as it has now earned points in three consecutive games, while D.C. United rights the ship slightly from its last time out where it suffered a loss to Montréal.
Dynamo 0, FC Dallas 0
Still searching for that coveted first Dynamo win, Tab Ramos would have been more than okay with earning it in a Texas derby matchup.
You would like his odds as well, Friday’s match saw FC Dallas fail to register a goal for the third-consecutive game. Despite amassing 17 shots, completing 87% of their passes, and owning 57% of the possession, the Dynamo did more than enough to finally put Ramos in the win column.
The story of the game was Dallas keeper Jimmy Maurer, whom had an answer for everything the Dynamo was able to put on him en route to collecting six saves.
Perhaps the most impressive stop came in the 27th minute when he denied a Christian Espinoza rocket, heading straight at the top bin, from the edge of the box.
Houston kept coming, but the barrage of oppotunities in the second half were much more comfortable for Maurer whom did well to seal a clean sheet performance.
On a sentimental note, the night marked Dallas defender Matt Hedges’ 248th appearance for the club, passing Jason Kreis on the all-time list.