North of the border, we outplayed Vancouver only to lose 1-0. We bounced back at home to Colorado courtesy of a late goal from midfielder Jackson Yueill. We then really turned it on with a 3-1 win when hosting Columbus. Top scorer Andres Rios bagged two goals and Magnus Eriksson sandwiched those strikes. The only blemish was a late consolation for the visitors after a poor clearance from goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski. He’s continued to pull off great saves but not for the first time his distribution was at fault!
We then played Colorado (Again!). Reuven Neijmeijer celebrated his first start for the club with his first goal. His right-footed strike rounded off a patient team move… even if the ‘keeper shouldn’t have been beaten at his near post!
We then traveled to Kansas to play what would turn out to be our best and worst game of the season so far. After Andres Rios missed a sitter, we went a goal down following yet another distribution error from goalkeeper Marcinkowski. That man Niemeijer then struck the sweetest strike of the season from outside the box to make it two in two for him and level the score. We fell a goal behind again though and found ourselves 3-1 behind only minutes into the second half. Cue a triple substitution! $8m man Omar Kharbin struggled to make an impact, including missing a one in one with the Sporting ‘keeper following a horrendous throw-in. His last minute strike against LA seemed a long time ago! However, he kept his head and soon tapped in to make it 3-2 with seven minutes remaining. In the dying moments, he found himself with only the ‘keeper to beat. The Syrian striker exorcised his demons and levelled the score. The few fans who’d travelled from far (And myself!) were in rapture!
We then stormed to a sensational 3-0 victory against unbeaten LAFC in Los Angeles. Rios, who (Some felt controversially) started ahead of Kharbin, bagged a brace before Kharbin replaced him and duly made it 3-0 to continue his knack of scoring last minute goals. It was a truly dominant display. In our following game at home to Vancouver, we went behind but the character and strength of the squad is now supremely strong. Niemeijer made it three goals in as many starts for him. Kharbin bagged his fifth of the campaign before Siad Haji, unfortunate to have fallen down the pecking order, got on the pitch and grabbed his third goal of the season to seal a 3-1 success.
The positive string of recent results had lifted us to 6th place in the table with 46 points from 27 matches. Our win against Vancouver meant that we’d usurped the Canadian side. Andres Rios was our top scorer with a healthy 13 goals meanwhile Cristian Espinoza tallied eight assists.