Look at all those fans! Just a small sampling of the 59k in attendance for Montreal's home opener.
Week 2 in the MLS saw the Western Conference continue its dominance over the East. For the second week in a row the only team from the East that took on the West and came away with anything were the Houston Dynamo who took home a second straight 1-0 win on the road.
The real highlight of the weekend came to us from Quebec where the Montreal Impact played their first MLS home match at Olympic Stadium. The Impact put on a decent show for the nearly 59,000 fans that were in attendance and in the end they came away with a hard fought 1-1 draw against the visiting Chicago Fire. For the fans the game was all about partying to celebrate their team finally making it to the top flight of North American soccer but their real celebrations ended up being a bit premature. What the fans thought was the first MLS goal for the club did not end up counting as Justin Braun had his effort correctly ruled out for offside.
The home fans would have to wait until the second half for the Impact to get on the scoreboard and the first goal came thanks to their captain. A well taken header from Davy Arnaud gave the Impact a 1-0 lead just before the hour mark. After that though, the Fire really started to push back and we rewarded for their efforts with an equalizer when Dominic Oduro got in behind the Montreal back line (some suggestions of offside) to level things after 71 minutes. Montreal were a bit unlucky to not steal all three points late in the game as a brilliant strike from Josh Gardner in the 94th minute found the woodwork.
In the end, the draw was probably a fair result for both teams. It was a wide open and fairly sloppy match for both teams as they showed a lot of early season struggles. The Montreal back line was solid once again led by Matteo Ferrari and Tyson Wahl but their midfield and attack were a bit lacking. Even Patrice Bernier and Braun failed to show enough in their two way game for the Impact. For both clubs the draw was their first points on the season so both should be happy with the result.In the aforementioned Houston win the Dynamo were able to claim a second straight 1-0 win. This time the win came against the San Jose Earthquakes. It really was a typical display from Houston as they defended solidly and limited the chances for the 'Quakes and then made the most of their set pieces. The only goal of the game came after Adam Moffat played a ball through towards the edge of the penalty area. Brian Ching beat his marker to run onto the ball but should have been beaten to it by goal keeper Jon Busch who had come out to clear. Busch whiffed on the clearance attempt and ended up crashing in to Ching and conceding a penalty. Brad Davis stepped up and made easy work of converting the penalty for all the scoring that Houston needed on the day. They did need a couple of decent saves from Tally Hall including one where he stoned Chris Wondolowski on a one-on-one.
Down in Texas the game between FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers was a match of two very different halves. In the first Dallas were clearly the better side and they were rewarded with the opening goal just after the 20th minute. The goal came from Blas Perez, his first for the club, as he was on spot to tap home the rebound after Troy Perkins had done well to save the initial shot from Bryan Levya. In the second half things turned around and it was the Timbers turn to be on top of play. Bringing Darlington Nagbe into the game proved to be a key moment as he only took 6 minutes on the field to get his name on the score sheet. Nagbe pounced on a turnover from Daniel Hernandez and did not need to think twice as he converted his first of the season. After that it was a bit of a dull game as neither team ever really threatened to steal all three points.
Sporting Kansas City did their best to show that regardless of Houston's two road wins they are still the class of the East. They bagged a resounding 3-0 win over the visiting New England Revolution to open up Live Strong Park for the season. A straight red card to Stephen McCarthy for the Revs basically was the end of the game as a competition with goals from Graham Zusi, Kei Kamara, and C.J. Sapong proving more than enough to overcome the ten men.
The New York Red Bulls once again looked like a complete mess as they went down to a 2-0 defeat against Real Salt Lake. For RSL it was their home opener and they continued their recent domination over the Red Bulls. Goals from Fabian Espindola and Luis Gil did the damage while New York did very little in the attack. Questions will again be asked of Hans Backe who elected to play a 3-5-2 and left Kenny Cooper on the bench. The coach seems to have no real plan on how to get the best out of the attackers that he has and Luke Rodgers absence continues to hurt.
Down in Chivas the few thousand fans were treated to some very dull and sloppy soccer between Chivas USA and Vancouver Whitecaps. It was a poor example of the quality of play in MLS but that won't matter for the Caps who finally claimed their first road win since joined MLS over a year ago. The win came thanks to Jay DeMerit who was left wide open on a Davide Chiumiento corner and was able to head home for his first goal for the club. Chivas were missing Juan Pablo Angel and it left their attack very toothless and gave the Caps back line very little to worry about in the 1-0 game.
The Philadelphia Union opened up PPL Park with a 2-1 defeat against the visiting Colorado Rapids. For Union fans though the game will end up being second to some growing controversies around the team. Today, Union Captain Danny Califf was sat out by Nowak due to a reported injury. This came in spite of him not being included on the teams injury report, a MLS rules violation, and the player also stating that he did not know he was injured. For more on that this piece from Chistopher Vito is the best place to start. In the actual game Colorado got out to a 2 goal lead before desperately hanging on for a 2-1 win. The Rapids opened the scoring through Jaime Castrillon in the 56th minute but a second yellow for Jeff Larentowicz had the Rapids down to 10 men just 2 minutes later. They barely missed a step though as Tony Cascio doubled their lead. Lionard Pajoy would get one back for the Union but their late push turned out to be too little too late.
The last game of the weekend saw the LA Galaxy finally get their season on track. A pair of goals from Robbie Keane and one from new comer Marcelo Sarvas were all the scoring that the reigning champs needed to get their first win of the season. DC United did get a goal back late as Nick DeLeon scored his first MLS goal to make things look slightly better at 3-1.
By the end of the weekend their were five teams (Houston, Kansas, Salt Lake, Colorado and Vancouver) with a perfect 6 points from two matches and another (Seattle) who claimed the win in their first game of the season so are also at 100%. The real story line continues to be the struggles of the East though as after two weeks of play only four teams have managed to even collect a single point with New York, New England, and Philadelphia all having two defeats already. The unbalanced schedule is really living up to it's name though as it has heavily favoured the West teams so far, so it would be a bit unfair to draw too many conclusions as of yet.