Around MLS: Week 3

Holgersson: Do I get a hug? I helped. I kicked the ball too...

Okay, go ahead raise your hand if ANY of you had Chivas within even one goal of RSL this weekend.

Oh? You say you had them maybe scraping a point out of Rio Tinto? Liar.

Week 3 had more action than a Vin Diesel movie and about as unbelievable an ending, with Chivas USA beating Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium and the New England Revolution beating the Portland Timbers at Gillette Stadium. The real upset is of course RSL losing to Chivas, though Portland losing to NE is also a bit odd.

Credit goes to Chivas USA (officially renamed "Dan Kennedy FC") for bunkering and turtling in a way that would make even the most defensive Starcraft player jealous. Real Salt Lake was unlucky to not connect on a few open nets (How COULD you Sabo?? It was right there!) but the fact remains that Dan Kennedy FC kept them at bay with insane, dedicated defending. The Goats strategy of slowing down Salt Lake through fouls and physical play worked wonder as RSL never really got into high-gear they're capable of. When the final whistle blew, Kennedy looked visibly elated and I think anybody who has been watching him couldn't be happier for the guy. He's a very underrated keeper who deserves a lot more praise than you usually see around MLS media circles.

Portland looked sluggish, slow and lost out in the field against New England and they paid for it dearly in the second minute as Saer Séne got a header that was poorly defended by the Timbers past keeper Troy Perkins. The Revs would never relinquish the lead due to some snappy defending, but also due to the complete lack of creativity displayed by Portland. Eric Alexander looked outmatched and one step behind the entire night, while Kalif Alhassan provided little in the way of spark or punch on the wings. While it is not entirely surprising that Portland struggled offensively, losing to what is arguably the worst team in the league at the moment is an embarrassment, road game or no.

The Philadelphia Union lost again, this time to an invigorated Chicago Fire side who scored thanks to former Dallas man Dominic Oduro. Keon Daniel provided leadership and muscle in the midfield and tried his best to get his team a late equalizer but Pablo Tornaghi flat out stuffed several promising Philadelphia attempts and the result stood at 1-0. The Fire looked pretty solid all around and rewarded a very loud and boisterous crowd. Philadelphia keeps searching for answers with next Vancouver coming in next week. If Le Toux should score against Philly and Vancouver walk out with a win, I expect there to be riots aimed at decapitating Peter Nowak.

I keep thinking Chris Wondolowski can't keep scoring at the rate he does, and every time I'm proven wrong. It doesn't help that Torsten Frings, midfield general for the Reds is out, but Wondo is just a flat out goal-scorer with a nose for the net. He's incredible in the air and against Toronto he was all over the place. Speaking of Toronto FC, what a way to start the season eh? 0-3 will go a long way towards killing any goodwill and momentum they had been building.

The Houston Dynamo predictably lost to a much better team in the Seattle Sounders. What stood out to me however was not so much Houston's performance, but Alvaro Fernandez's diving. We're talking incredible, 10-point, death-defying diving. It was quite shameful and in the end it wasn't really rewarded. Justice. The bigger issue from this game on everyone's mind is the homophopic slur that Collin Clark called a ball boy for delaying the game. I wouldn't go so far as to peg this on Houston as a team and more on Clark as a fool.

The New York Red Bulls demolished the Colorado Rapids in a 4-1 drubbing at Red Bull Arena. While I am not surprised at the outcome given that Mastroeni, Larentowicz and Casey are all out at once, the score is still impressive. Having Marquez and Cooper out at the same time transformed the flaccid New York offense into what its potential looks like.

The Good:

  • It is encouraging to see the league respond swiftly to Collin Clark's insults, though no formal discipline has been meted out yet. We have a ways to go to rid the league of this sort of thing, but no matter your feelings on the subject I think we can all agree that any player in MLS has no business using this sort of language.
  • Kevin Hartman made a bad decision on the game winning goal, but the fact is FCD wouldn't even have been in the game if not for him.
  • The Portland Timbers dropped sweet, sweet points against an awful New England team. Yesssss.
  • So did RSL!
The Bad
  • Losing sucks. Giving up goals in the last minutes of halves sucks. Giving up set pieces sucks. Sporting Kansas City sucks (not really... but I feel better saying it). We all hate losing, correct?
  • Umm, REALLY U-23s?? You lost to Canada? They beat us at hockey and now you're letting them beat us at Olympic soccer? The shame! At least we're way better at Badminton than they are. Jai-alai too. They suck at Jai-alai.
  • Montreal losing again. I know they're new and all, but as we have already covered, losing sucks. Hopefully their fans don't get too discouraged in their first season.
The Ugly
  • FCD's current depth. Yuck.
  • The match between Vancouver and DC was an outright mess of miss chances, bad passes and all around poor form. There was end to end action in the second half, but most of it was sloppy and as the scoreline showed, few chances created from it.
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