Just over a week ago, many of us found ourselves glued to a monitor, taking in matches from the opening week of the 2015 MLS season. Well, my thrill-seeking partners in red, if said opening week was the soccer enthusiast's equivalent of a roller-coaster adventure, week #2 had Don Garber and company throwing the tarp off their Maserati and taking us on the joy ride of our soccer-loving lives. With no scoreless draws, several red cards distributed, two expansion side wins, several breathtaking goal-of-the-week candidates, and even a short cameo from our old friend Kyle Bekker (not to mention some dubious refereeing decisions that will leave fans complaining until they're red in the face- or at least until next weekend comes around), week 2 featured some eventful and exciting matches that we all hope to see more of as the season progresses.
In Seattle, Team USA was out in full force as Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski exchanged their respective teams' opening goals. While Wondolowski went on to add a second (on a uncharacteristically poor play from Sounders defender Brad Evans), it was new teammate Innocent Emeghara who stole the show with this bit of fancy footwork and combination play that should be the front-runner for goal of the week:
That goal would prove to be the surprising winner as the visiting Earthquakes (down to ten men after a 52nd minute straight red to Bernardez) upset the Sounders, 3-2.
In Portland, the reigning MLS champions marched into town and provided what most would consider the most lively ending to any of this past weekend's matches. While Portland's first goal was scored on a play that started with a beautiful touch to set Wallace free down the wing, it would have to be the final (and equalizing) goal of the game, scored by a former Red in stoppage time, that I would consider the highlight of the match-
Gordon's superbly placed header off the corner stole a point for LA in a game that began to expose some weaknesses in LA's squad (paging Marcelo Sarvas). Also of note, Fanendo Adi's brace all but cemented the designated player's starting spot ahead of former long-serving (he played almost 3 full games in dog years) TFC striker Maximiliano Urruti.
The most entertaining game of the weekend took place in the Lone Star State, and featured a club that some (myself included) would rank as the top team in MLS, from the tiny two-week sample that we've witnessed to date. FC Dallas is shaping up to be a formidable MLS side, and their match against Sporting Kansas City had plenty of talking points. Canadian international Marcel De Jong got the start at left back for SKC and played the full 90 minutes in a 3-1 Kansas defeat. Blas Perez is making a case for an official name change to "Blast" Perez, as the Dallas striker bagged a brace to complement last week's game winner against San Jose (although Perez appeared to be in an off-side position on his second of the night). Espinoza reminded everyone of his return to the league with a fantastic finish for Kansas City's only goal of the evening. And this final goal of the match, in the 73rd minute, featured two phenomenal lead passes from Michel and Ryan Hollingshead to gift Castillo an easy (but still well-taken) insurance marker and secure the win for the home side-
As though that wasn't enough action, Dom "Ol Gil" Dwyer (I guess it doesn't really work for him) had a penalty shot blocked by Seitz in the 79th minute, preventing a potential comeback from the visitors. And to top it all off, 89th minute substitute, and former Toronto FC midfielder Kyle Bekker, managed to contribute to the stats sheet in his little time on the pitch, by being booked for a little scuffle with Kevin Ellis which resulted in yellows shown to both sides. Hopefully the CMNT regular gets a little more time on the pitch in future matches and can make some positive contributions to his Western Conference club.
In Salt Lake, RSL and the Union played a high-scoring match that ended with both clubs walking off the field unsatisfied after a 3-3 draw. Fernando Aristeguieta had a particularly exciting match, as he converted two opportunities but was also responsible for the 85th minute (very questionable) penalty call that allowed RSL to tie the game at 3. The phantom call may have been a gift from the football Gods that many would claim RSL deserved after two of the Union's three goals came from unlucky bounces off the home side's defenders. The game's most impressive marker was the opening goal of the match, a Javier Morales set piece that would easily be in the discussion for free kick of the year were it not for the tiny deflection that it took off a defender.
In what I would consider the more uneventful matches of the week, expansion side Orlando City SC notched their first victory while visiting Houston, with the only goal scored on a defensive gaffe that led to last week's goalkeeper of the week Tyler Deric frantically punching the ball away from an attacker- into his own net. To be fair, although he stayed off the scoresheet, captain Kaka had an impressive match for the visitors, and the scoreline was pretty reflective of the overall balance of play throughout 90 minutes. In the Windy City, new Whitecaps DP Octavio Rivero scored his second of the season in the 85th minute, which proved to be the decisive winner in a balanced 1-0 Vancouver victory over the Chicago Fire.
And finally, in what Wikipedia tells me is "the house that Turner Construction built"- that's right, historic Yankee Stadium that dates all the way back to when Chivas USA were an MLS franchise, the David Villa show went off without a hitch, as the New York City FC superstar contributed a goal and a very classy assist in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution- who were down to ten men after a 66th minute straight red issued to Jose Goncalves when he (clearly) denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The score could have been even more lop-sided were it not for a fantastic performance from Revs keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who faced 9 shots on goal as opposed to New England's one at the other end. Let us all take a moment and enjoy the fancy little Villa flick to himself, that led to Patrick Mullins' easy clincher against his former side.