The opening day of the Major League Soccer season did not disappoint in the excitement factor; it was a day full of high drama, late goals, sloppy play, replacement refs and surprising results. Seven matches were on the docket and those matches gave us fans a total of 21 goals or an average of three per match. Obviously one team’s season will not be based on how they fared during the opening week but if this season turns out like last season did, any points dropped could come back to bite in the race for the Supporters’ Shield or postseason.
Seattle Sounders FC 1, Sporting Kansas City 0 (CenturyLink Field; 39,240)
Seattle Sounders (1-0-0, 4th in West)
Sporting Kansas City (0-0-1, 7th in East)
If there is anything that can be taken away from this series historically, it’s that you need to play to the final whistle. The Sounders had beaten Sporting four times with winning goals in second half stoppage time. Well make that five times. Second-half substitute Chad Barrett was in the right place at the right time to touch home the winner after Clint Dempsey’s header slammed off the crossbar in the 94th minute sending CenturyLink Field into jubilation.
Sporting will be disappointed that they lost the points late but they should not be too hard on themselves. Injuries forced manager Peter Vermes to start two different outside backs than normal as Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers were left in Kansas City to be ready for their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal clash with Cruz Azul of Mexico in mid-week.
Clint Dempsey did see about thirty minutes of action coming on for new signing Marco Pappa after playing 90 minutes for Fulham FC last weekend and for the United States Men’s National Team on Wednesday in Cyprus. He looked very well in combination play with his teammates despite having only one training session with them.
DC United 0, Columbus Crew 3 (RFK Stadium; 13,840)
DC United (0-0-1, 9th in East)
Columbus Crew (1-0-0, 2nd in East)
All of the talk heading into this match was about how well the new and improved DC United club was going to do in the upcoming 2014 season; even I got sucked up into the hype with this piece I wrote about Perry Kitchen. Well nobody outside of Columbus was talking about the Crew and they came out looking strong in their victory on Saturday.
Federico Higuain scored twice including a penalty kick in the 27th minute to effectively put the match away at the point; the penalty was a result of a foul by the previously mentioned Kitchen. The win gave new manager and former USMNT defender Gregg Berhalter his first win in charge of the Crew.
There are two players for Columbus who need to be praised for their great game those two are center-backs Michael Parkhurst and Giancarlo Gonzalez. These two held DC United’s attack partnership of Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola to three shot attempts and zero on goal. DC’s only shot on goal was taken by left back Cristian.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4, New York Red Bulls 1 (BC Place; 21,000)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1-0-0, 1st in West)
New York Red Bulls (0-0-1, 8th in East)
Remember that time when the Vancouver Whitecaps leading goalscorer went to Mexico? Or the time when they drafted a player with a top-10 draft pick only to find out the next day that he was already under contract with a lower-division club? The Whitecaps faithful had been treated to a pretty terrible off-season for the most part but things started to look up in the past week or so.
Vancouver was the beneficiary of the Toronto FC spending spree when they were forced to unload young-DP Matias Laba to bring the roster down to compliance. Laba made his first start for the Caps alongside Nigel Reo-Coker in a new look 4-2-3-1 formation under head coach Carl Robinson.
Kenny Miller scored twice as the Caps routed the Supporters’ Shield holders 4-1 in front of a sellout at BC Place. The Red Bulls were without star striker Thierry Henry who did not make the trip with the team. There is no official injury status on Henry but those close to the situation are referring to it as “turf-itis.” No word on how long it will affect him but we’ll make sure to update when we get word.
The Whitecaps finished with 10 shots on goal which is a new team record.
FC Dallas 3, Montreal Impact 2 (Toyota Stadium; 18,011)
FC Dallas (1-0-0, 2nd in West)
Montreal Impact (0-0-1, 6th in East)
The homecoming for Oscar Pareja got off to a rocky start as the Montreal Impact drew first blood when Sanna Nyassi scored off of a lovely cross from Justin Mapp in the 10th minute. Panic did not set in though as FC Dallas rattled off the next three goals to earn the three points at home.
It is worth noting that Montreal was missing three players due to suspension from red cards picked up in the playoffs last year including defender Nelson Rivas and attacking players Andres Romero and Marco Di Vaio. Romero and Di Vaio still have two matches remaining on their suspensions.
A player to watch for in the upcoming weeks in FC Dallas midfielder Mauro Diaz; the 22-year-old scored tonight playing under Blas Perez in the attacking set-up. Diaz is currently priced at $7.5 million in the MLS Fantasy game but is only owned by 2.2 percent of users, he may be one to jump on before his price spikes.
Houston Dynamo 4, New England Revolution 0 (BBVA Compass Stadium; 22,320)
Houston Dyanmo (1-0-0, 1st in East)
New England Revolution (0-0-1, 10th in East)
It was the Houston Dynamo show early and often in Saturday’s match as the Dynamo jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 23 minutes with two goals and an assist from striker Will Bruin. This result was probably the most shocking considering just how stout the Revolution were defensively just a year ago; they brought back the core of the team and got blasted by Houston.
New acquisition Teal Bunbury tallied the only shot on goal for New England who just could not figure out the Dynamo center-back pairing of David Horst and Jermaine Taylor. Houston will host the Montreal Impact while the New England Revolution travel to the City of Brotherly Love.
Portland Timbers 1, Philadelphia Union 1 (Providence Park; 20,674)
Portland Timbers (0-1-0, 5th in West)
Philadelphia Union (0-1-0, 3rd in East)
The second instance of late-game Cascadia magic stole points away from what would have been a great result for the Philadelphia Union. Argentine signing Gaston Fernandez headed home a quick corner in the 94th minute to level up the match and split the points at
The biggest talk coming into this match was the potent, fluid offense of Caleb Porter’s Timbers with Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri and Fernandez given the freedom to switch positions almost at will behind Max Urruti up top. This offensive scheme only mustered two shots on target in the opener.
Jack McInerney picked up the goal for the Union off of a flicked on header by Maurice Edu from the Cristian Maidana corner kick in the 64th minute. It was a beautiful effort that could not be kept out by Donovan Ricketts.
Injury News: Timbers center-back Pa Modou Kah limped off the field in the 34th minute. I have not been able to find an update on his injury but I will pass it along when the information becomes available.
Los Angeles Galaxy 0, Real Salt Lake 1 (StubHub Center; 25,634)
Los Angeles Galaxy (0-0-1, 9th in West)
Real Salt Lake (1-0-0, 3rd in West)
Nick Rimando made nine saves including a penalty kick save on Robbie Keane in second half stoppage time to lift Real Salt Lake to the win. It was the club’s fifth straight opening-day victory. Joao Plata scored the winning goal on a feed from Kyle Beckerman in the 80th minute.
Los Angeles was shutout despite taking 27 total shots and having 11 corner kicks. Landon Donovan will remain tied for the all-time lead in goals scored as a result of the shutout. The Galaxy will face off with Club Tijuana in the CONCACAF Champions League during this mid-week.
3/8 160,719 Fans / 7 Games = 22,960
Season 160,719 Fans / 7 Games = 22,960
Sunday 3/9 Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire, 3 pm EDT (UniMas)
Tuesday 3/11 *San Jose Earthquakes vs. Toluca, 10 pm EDT (Fox Sports 2)
Wednesday 3/12 *Sporting Kansas City vs. Cruz Azul, 8 pm EDT (Fox Sports 2)
*Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Club Tijuana, 10 pm EDT (Fox Soccer Plus)
* - CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal Leg 1
EVANS RANKINGS: The first edition of the MLS Rankings will not be released until we get some more relevant data which usually starts to occur after clubs have played four or five matches. We will release unofficial rankings for the first few weeks.