Get ready to see more of this MLS. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The second week of MLS action has come and gone, fantasy points have been tallied and the fans are unwinding and starting to analyze the results.
FC Dallas didn’t get a win, but it is still three more points than we had at the same time last year. While much of the talk has centered around when Leyva was subbed and how he should have provided more cover, it is encouraging to see him get a near-goal that led to an actual goal.
The crowd at the Dallas-Portland game could be heard clearly and loudly through the TV, and you could even make out a few of the DFE chants! That... that can’t be right. You can HEAR the crowd the entire game??! That was excellent for our little club. I’ve seen many home games on TV and I can assure you that yesterday, for a non-marquee game, was as good a crowd as I’ve heard. Let’s hope this is a trend that will continue, yes? The new breed of supporters coming in the past two to three years is finally starting to show visible, audible signs of bringing the stadium to life. Exciting!
Toronto FC got spanked at the Clink by a crunked-up Sounders side, losing 3-1 and giving up a hat trick to David Estrada, who has four goals in three games for the Sounders. Some leeway must be given to Toronto, who were resting Danny Koevermans, Joao Plata, Stefan Frei, Ashtone Morgan and Julian de Guzman. What’s really concerning for TFC is that Torsten Frings picked up a hamstring injury during the game. Losing Frings would be a massive blow to the Reds; he will be reevaluated back home in Toronto.
The San Jose Earthquakes played Houston. Houston won. It was boring. How boring? The only interesting part of the match was watching Marvin Chavez get in the game. Looking at my notes, the one bullet point that stands out about this game was "zzzzzzzzzZzzZ".
Sporting Kansas City took down a messy New England side early on in the game before bagging a goal early in the second half to make it 3-0 SKC. The match will be remembered for a controversial red card issued to Stephen McCarthy for "preventing a goal scoring opportunity". Bull. Viewing the highlights it seems clear that McCarthy didn’t make excessive contact and the jersey grabbing he was accused of went both ways. While I doubt anyone would have thought the Revs would come away with the victory, playing most of the game a man down will severely impact most teams. What do you think of the red card? Too harsh or just about right?
The Montréal Impact played their first "home" game in their temporary lodgings and made a decent showing of themselves in front of a record-breaking crowd. Justin Braun either flubbed or was denied several prime scoring opportunities, but Davy Arnaud will be the man that goes down in Impact trivia as the player who scored their first-ever MLS goal. The crowd wasn’t Portland-esque, but it was loud, rowdy and involved. By the way, did anyone see the flag of Montréal instead of the flag of Canada during the anthems? Quebec has always been a bit different.Real Salt Lake shut out New York 2-0 and looked good doing it. Fabian Espindola celebrated a pregnancy (or at least I hope he was) after his goal by putting a ball under his jersey. I’ve never seen a celebration quite like that.
Speaking of the New York Red Bulls, they lost again. Their defense is again the culprit and the back four were a complete mess on Saturday but it was the lack of offense that is more troubling. RSL’s defense is good, but a group of forwards like New York has should be able to at least put up one goal. Even if they had scored their turnovers, much like the ones agaisnt Dallas, were again the story on the New York side. Constant vigilance! Vigilance is something the back line of New York lacks.
NBC's weekly match produced a cracker between the Philadelphia Union and the Colorado Rapids. This match had everything: Heroic goals, keeper gaffes (Yeah, another one by Zac McMath) and yellow and red cards handed out. About the only thing missing was a PK and even then it might have been the least dramatic moment of the afternoon. Having watched the match, I would argue Colorado did little to actually earn the win (both goals occurred on horrid mistakes by the Union) but they certainly defended heroically, more than enough to keep the three points. In a game where Philadelphia dictated most of the match, it seems cruel that Colorado walks away with full points.
Philadelphia's youth strategy may work but at the moment all one really sees are rookie mistakes everywhere. Lionard Pajoy seems like the real deal for Philly but how long can they keep relying on him without help in the back? That's five goals in two games against the Union. Another bit of drama centered around skipper Danny Califf being benched by Nowak and not getting any minutes. Did he, like Le Toux, find his way onto Nowak's "least liked" list? For the time being I would assume so.
Jeff Larentowicz went off in the second half due to several awful tackles, all poorly timed and dangerous. Colorado in my estimation plays some of the dirtiest soccer in the league and this game was another bullet point in my would-be powerpoint presentation. If Casey comes back with the same force, Colorado might just keep their reputation as the hacksaws of MLS. Too harsh?
Congratulations again are in order to NBC for putting on a hell of a show. Arlo White and Kyle Martino I think are the best tandem so far that I have heard for nationally broadcasted MLS matches. The presentation and commentary was splendid and White's emotion and investment in the game really helped pull the viewer in. Hopefully the ratings will begin a slow but steady climb.
Robbie Keane bagged two goals in the LA Galaxy match versus DC United. If that man starts to find his groove MLS is in for some trouble. He displayed a great nose for finding weaknesses in DCU's defense and exploiting them. His finishing was not lacking and his pace was quick.
While we're on the subject of LA, I realize that star players like Donovan and Becks get preferential treatment when it comes to them being tackled. The league wants to protect its superstars so the fans will buy tickets to see them. If this means they get more protection than say, an Andrew Jacobson, that's understandable. What is not understandable is that it seems that players like Beckham, Henry and Landon are also allowed to foul with impunity. Yesterday Donovan and Becks combined for a few awful tackles that could have seen a booking, but were not even whistled on or noticed by the referee. While we can all agree that perhaps the big names need to be protected a little more (something our David Ferreira could sure use) it is laughable to see MLS officiating allow them to get away with murder.
Any thoughts or opinions on MLS' second week?