Despite all the hulaballoo surrounding MLS' continued play through an international FIFA date, life and soccer carried on. Some teams were forced into playing something resembling an intramural squad due to the large numbers of absences, while others barely felt the sting of national team plundering.
It was lucky for FC Dallas that Real Salt Lake happened to be one of the injured cattle in the herd. While there's much honor in toppling opponents at full strength, let's not look a depleted and short-handed gift horse in the mouth.
The Columbus Crew took their show on the road, defeating D.C. United to the tune of 2-1, though the match could easily have ended with a wild score. A final line of 3-2 or 4-3 would not have been out of the question if not for the spectacular goalkeeping duel that played out between young stud Bill Hamid and the Eternal Backup, Andy Gruenebaum.
Columbus took the game by the throat early on and did not let up, pressuring relentlessly and sending one attacking wave after the next. To say the Crew dictated the pace of the game would be an understatement: DC looked lethargic, uninterested and were little more than orange traffic cones on a training pitch. If Josh Williams had not fluffed so many of the chances that landed right at his feet, the score could easily have been 3-0 at the half.
The Crew scored first and early on a set piece in the 15th minute, and even after going down 1-0, DC still looked uninterested. Only a wonderstrike by Rafael, completely against the run of play from about a mile outside the box, brought the game level to a scoreline that flattered DC's performance enormously.
The biggest talking point of the game is that both keepers are likely eligible for Save of the Week. Despite Hamid's incredible work, I don't see a scenario where Andy Gruenebaum doesn't win it for this ridiculous, cat-like double save.
Really, an entire article could be devoted exclusively to the incredible goalkeeping, but that top video is the pick of the litter.
In the end, Columbus proved too much for DC, who didn't threaten much in the final 10 minutes of the game. Columbus would go on to win 2-1, and Federico Higuain continues to impress. His massive influence on the game made it possible for the Crew to dominate the midfield and attacking third.
The Montreal Impact hosted the New York Red Bulls, who were shut out (and failed to impress) for the second time in a row. Thanks to Marco Di Vaio's goal, the Impact are still top dog in a league that christens The New Best Team Ever with regularity. A few more wins (or road draws) and they will soon be due for the same hysterical overreaction heaped upon Sporting's seven game win streak last season.
However, it's a bit unfair to New York to say that they played poorly, as they dominated large sections of the second half. If not for Troy Perkins' alert goalkeeping, the Red Bulls could very well have tied things up and perhaps even won. You get no points for second place though, and like Seattle, New York is left wondering where all their talent goes when the game is on the line.
The LA Galaxy beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0, thanks to a surprising turn of events that led to the only goal of the match. In a shocking display of atypical douchbaggery, Drew Moor did his best to knock Marcelo Sarvas' teeth out of his mouth in an off-the-ball foul inside the penalty box. As Sarvas and Moor jockeyed for position inside the penalty area, Moor unleashed The People's Elbow right into Sarvas' kisser. Pow!
I'm not sure what in the world Drew Moor was thinking, but he began to walk off the field the second the ref blew the whistle. Moor has a repuation as being one of the nicest guys in the league, so it's incredibly surprising to see such a childish outburst from him of all people. His straight red card results in a three match ban for a team already missing Pablo Mastroeni.
This is the incident in question.
Sadly for Colorado, the Rapids continue their hard-fought loss narrative that defined them last season. There seems to be an element of rotten luck throughout their past few results: Steward Ceus botching a long ball, Drew Moor losing his marbles, and Mastroeni picking up an injury (yet again) all happened within a few weeks of each other. Colorado has been playing better than their record indicates, but as the great Bill Parcells once said, "you are what your record says you are".
I expect the Rapids to turn it around eventually.
Vancouver failed us all by losing to the Houston Dynamo, but as much as I hate Houston, it helps the Toros out in the west by taking more points off a contender for a playoff spot. Would you rather have Houston lose, or have FC Dallas helped out by a conference competitor dropping points?
The Seattle Sounders have officially started the season poorly, holding one dinky point after three games, while San Jose seems to have righted the ship. Seattle's final pass and finishing sorely lacked a cutting edge, and like the Red Bulls, the rave green have been shut out for the second time this season. Chris Wondolowski's finishing, unlikes Seattle's, was spot on, and he got on the score sheet against the Sounders at the tail end of the first half.
The Sounders mounted a furious assault after the 60th minute, but alert defending from the Earthquakes and poor passing/finishing in the final third would result in a 1-0 Quakes win.
Sporting Kansas City pulled a scoreless draw against New England, and despite it being a road game (where draws are considered acceptable) this is coming off a loss against Toronto FC. Losing Kei Kamara and Roger Espinoza must have hurt them far more than previously thought. KC has looked uninspired and flat through the opening portion of the season, and Graham Zusi isn't looking much like his old self either. Zusi's ability to create in the midfield might be severely hampered due to Espinoza's departure. With Espinoza out of the picture, opposing midfielders are much more likely to key in on Zusi, limiting his movement and space significantly and thus reducing his effectiveness.
Food For Thought:
- Is Montreal for real, or have they faced struggling teams at just the right time? They have definitely improved, but I doubt this run of results will continue.
- Will Seattle turn it around, or do you think they are more likely to remain a mid-table club this season? It's still early, and they have created chances, but their wasteful finishing will eventually hurt them in the standings as it already has.
- Sporting Kansas City: Still the big banana in the East, or are Columbus and Montreal starting to look more attractive?
- What team's struggles or successes have surprised you the most so far? Mark me down for Seattle. They really should have a point or two more than they currently hold.