Week one of play has officially wrapped up for MLS teams. Before checking our calendars to figure out what the best day for TFC’s parade will be, we should probably take a quick look around the league and see how other teams fared in the opening match of their campaigns.
In one of the most lop-sided matches of the weekend, Seattle fans watched with delight as their Sounders pummeled the Jermaine Jones & Lee Nguyen-less New England Revolution 3-0 at home. In a game missing half of the combined teams’ designated players (technically more than half if Jerry Bengtson is still alive), the stars who were present shone brightly as Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins combined for some spectacular play. Deuce’s brace & an assist against last year’s MLS Cup Finalists should have made him player of the week (Jozy Altidore took the title)- and this sequence leading up to Seattle’s third of the game is evidence that the 2014 Supporters’ Shield winners haven’t lost a step over the off-season:
In other action, DC United took out some of their anger from being eliminated in the CONCACAF Champions League on… the only MLS team still alive in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Montreal Impact. While chances were exchanged at both ends, DC appeared the better organized side of the two throughout the majority of the match. In an unfortunate turn of events for the Impact, injury was added to insult as midfielder Justin Mapp, who has consistently been one of the best performers on the pitch for team Saputo, went down hard on his wrist in the last 20 minutes of the game. Mapp will likely be out 2-3 months, leaving a significant gap in the midfield that will test the depth of the reigning MLS basement-dwellars.
In Orlando, the 60,000+ fans who suffered through a fairly unexciting first half were treated to a climactic end to the match between the two 2015 expansion sides. In what could only be described as a future stain on Don Garber’s mattress, both goals in the 1-1 draw were registered by newly crowned designated players (one of them a USMNT regular). Mix Diskerud’s goal for NYCFC, assisted by none other than David Villa, was a well-struck curling shot that just snuck in the far post. Highlight below, simply because I find it hilarious that Mix fixes his hair just moments before scoring the first ever MLS goal in New York City FC’s history (without pulling up the replay, I’m doubting Dichio did the same before scoring TFC’s)-
The equalizer, as scripted, was of course scored by Orlando's Brazilian captain Kaka, off a terrible fluke of a free kick deflection, hardly worthy of being posted below. But I still will, to make it easier for those curious enough to take a look-
While the goal itself was clearly laughable, the result seemed fair given the balance of play, and the 62,000 Orlando fans went home… somewhat satisfied. Also of note in that match- Aurelien "thank god we got Perquis instead" Collin was rewarded with a red card for an awfully vicious tackle, and the referee handed out several cards for simulation, notably showing one to American international Brek Shea.
In Los Angeles, the defending champions got their season off to a predictably successful start, dominating the match and defeating the new-look Chicago Fire 2-0. Robbie Keane scored in the final ten minutes to seal the deal, and Gyasi Zardes missed a handful of fantastic opportunities, likely due to the fact that I chose him for my fantasy team.
Speaking of fantasy players that forgot how to convert sitters, Dom Dwyer (the captain of my team) and his Sporting Kansas City will be satisfied with their home draw (1-1) against the New York Red Bulls, but only because they were playing a man down for the last quarter of the match. Dwyer himself missed three chances that were served up on a platter, leading to this redeemingly funny post-game tweet referring to his wife, Canadian-turned-American (don't get me started) international striker, Sydney Leroux:
And I know......... My wife could have finished that will be better it's coming! I promise— Dom Dwyer (@Ddwyer14) March 9, 2015
In other matches, the Crew came out surprisingly flat, losing in Houston 1-0. While Kamara and Higuain were both ever-present over 90 minutes, their supporting cast put in an underwhelming performance, and the Crew ultimately failed to convert the opportunities that did present themselves. There were clean sheet draws in both Portland (against RSL) and Philadelphia (against Colorado), with the away keepers in both matches putting forth impressive displays to keep the ball out of their respective nets.
Lastly, in Dallas, CMNT player (and former Red) Kyle Bekker saw a total of zero minutes on the pitch as he remained nailed to the bench during Dallas’ 1-0 victory. The Dallas match featured what I would consider the most exciting ending of any match over the weekend, with Blas Perez finally converting (after coming close on many occasions) with this beautiful re-directing header in stoppage time-
So what’s the important takeaway from all this action? Aside from Toronto FC, only one other Eastern Conference team won this weekend (DC United). In another week or two, with more strong performances from the Reds, it’s possible that they could own sole possession of first place in the East- which would obviously indicate that they’re immediate shoo-ins for the MLS Cup. All kidding aside, some rather poor and lacklustre performances from many Eastern Conference sides will undoubtedly have Western Conference snobs (see: population of Seattle) reminding the world that the Eastern Conference is far inferior to their side of the map. Before long, we may find that it’s in TFC’s hands to prove them all wrong- or at least, not entirely correct.