Coming back well rested from a few days off, we had an important game to play against the NY Red Bulls. Not only are they in our conference, but by far our biggest rival. In the first half, we attacked very well, with a goal scored early on by Conner Casey. About 30 minutes into the first half, the Red Bulls were given a red card for a bad tackle on Danny Cruz. This gave us an advantage playing 11v10 for the rest of the game. After halftime, big man Conor Casey scored his second goal of the game putting us up 2-0. Nearing the end of the game, the other Frenchie, Antoine Hoppenot, scored our third goal – making the score, 3-0. I was very happy to be able to give the assist on Antoine’s goal. On this play, Antoine passed me the ball at the midfield line. Seeing no one attacking me, I decided to dribble towards the goal at a fast pace. When I arrived inside of the box, the Red Bull defense was sprinting back to cover their goal. I saw Antoine coming into the top of the box to my side, giving me a chance to play the ball back to him for a perfect shot into the goal.
Next up was FC Dallas, home again at PPL Park. This game was not going to be an easy task with FC Dallas leading the Western MLS Conference. The score was 1-1 at halftime with our first goal being scored by Amobi Okugo off a long throw from Sheanon Williams. The last five minutes of the second half were very exciting with us taking the lead back with a goal from Aaron Wheeler. This was Aaron’s first ever MLS goal! We thought we had handled the most difficult part by taking back the lead, but FC Dallas came back to score the equalizer in 97th minute of extra time. Even ending with a tie, this result felt like a loss for the team.
Our road trip over the Independence Day holiday was going to be tough one. With games at Real Salt Lake and in Houston, we had our work cut out for us. First up was Real Salt Lake. The coaching staff gave us great direction for this game to produce a positive result and I think we responded very well. I scored the first goal of the game in the 13th minute, giving us momentum early on. This is my third goal of the year with the assist from Conor Casey. I have to give lots of credit to Conor for this goal because he set it up so perfectly - my only job was to be ready to call for the ball at the right moment.
And then the 97th minute arrived again...Real Salt Lake was credited with a PK from a hand-ball inside of the box. They scored, making the final result of the game 2-2. I really felt that we were going to have a win that night, but it did not happen for us. We had to rebound very quickly after the game at Real Salt Lake to focus on our upcoming game 3 days later in Houston.
Back home! Next up was Chivas USA. We needed a win to get back on track after our disappointing road trip. In this game, the rain wouldn’t let up, which became a big factor in play. At half-time, Chivas was winning with a score of 1-0, which surprised all of us – but showed us that we needed to step it up as a team. In the locker room, we reunited as a team and told ourselves that we needed more on offense to be able to win this game. And that’s exactly what we did. Attacking in the second half, Michael Farfan played it short to me off of a corner kick. I crossed the ball into the box, Conner Casey headed toward the goal, and Brian Carroll came in to finish it off. Our second goal came off of an indirect free kick inside the box of Chivas. I set the ball up and passed the ball back to Michael Farfan, and he shot it right above the defenders standing on the line. We took the lead 2-0. This was my ninth assist of the season and brought me back to tops in the league for assists – pretty cool!
It felt great to get another win at PPL Park in front of our amazing fans who came out in torrential downpours and crazy wind. We need and want to continue on this path to clench our spot in the play offs this fall. I will keep you posted on our journey in my next blog entry!
Talk to you all soon!
Sebastien Le Toux, No. 11