Ah, it was great to have MLS soccer in person again over the weekend. There is something about a new season that just has a lot of sparks and excitement surrounding it. There were nine games total on the opening weekend and while some of them ended up being duds, we did have a few that were highly entertaining.
A record four teams won on the road on the opening weekend of the 2013 MLS season. I’ll get to some of the games here in a moment. Only one draw on the weekend, and it was a wild one too. Three teams won by a 1-0 scoreline, two did it with a 2-0 score.
So now that the dust has settled, it is time to figure out some things we didn’t know before the weekend started. And maybe some things that we did.
Opening Week Meh
That is opening week for you. All involved are typically nervous and excited all at the same time. Not to mention preseason was shorter this season for all the 19 MLS clubs, so in a way, teams are still in preseason mode here.
The low scoring in some matches showed me that teams are still figuring things out on offense while others are just waiting for some players to get healthy.
The game I saw in person in Dallas between Colorado and FC Dallas had plenty of those meh moments. It wasn’t that either team was bad but it just showed how much these teams needed an extra couple of weeks of preseason to get the rust off their plates. Dallas struggled to create offensive chances but held their own defensively. Colorado on the other hand had some chances but failed to do anything with them thanks to having two rookies on the field (though both Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers were impressed to say the very least).
Also, that goal scored by Jackson in that game was probably one we’d see on SportsCenter’s Not Top 10 list. Eek.
I think once we get about two or three more weeks in teams will be coming into their own on the season. The flow of the game will improve.
Mike Magee’s World
“The hat trick was cool,” Magee added. The win was cool, and the best part of the day was getting the rings. It was a helluva day.”
Injuries to German defender Arne Friedrich and captain Logan Pause with injuries suffered in training last week left the Fire shorthanded. But LA didn’t seem to care as they quickly ran all over the Fire without Landon Donovan and that David Beckham guy.
It was a heck of a start to the post-Beckham era in LA though. I felt their midfield controlled the game and really limited what the Fire could do with the ball and in possession.
The goals were also pretty sweet. Magee was said to have gotten some great responses from his teammates for how he earned them all. I mean that first one has to be a goal of the week candidate right?
Hard to believe it but your early front runner for Golden Boot is Mike Magee.
Crazy night in Portlandia
I’ll just throw this out there right now, both Portland and New York handed each other goals on Sunday evening. But either way you look at it, the 3-3 draw was one of the more fun games of the weekend.
Portland recovered from 3-1 down to storm back in the second half and stole a point, thanks to an inspired display from new Argentine DP Diego Valeri. This helped the Timbers Army get over the fact that newcomer Mikel Silvestre gifted the Red Bulls two early goals including Fabian Espindola’s first in New York. Speaking of Espindola, the new look with the shorter hair fits him.
Portland stormed back in the second half thanks to Valeri and Darlington Nagbe. I have to say, if Nagbe doesn’t have a breakout season with Valeri feeding him passes through the midfield, something is terribly wrong.
I think what Thierry Henry said afterwards is all you need to know about New York’s frustration though.
“What is frustrating is the way we came here,” Henry told reporters. “We didn’t prepare anything because we were at the airport on Friday [and] on Saturday, too, trying to come here. We did eventually but we didn’t prepare the game how we should’ve prepared the game and you could see the last 30 minutes, everyone ran out of steam.”
Houston impressive early
It may have not been the prettiest of wins but at least you can say it was impressive. The Houston Dynamo downed D.C. United 2-0 on Saturday, and also set themselves up nicely for a CCL battle this week with the early good form.
James Riley gifted the Dynamo the game’s first goal but the blast from Ricardo Clark kept the game out of reach for United.
The Dynamo extend their home unbeaten streak to 26 games, three behind Real Salt Lake’s record of 29, and still have yet to lose an MLS match at their new home. Uh yeah, impressive.
The loss is a bit bitter for D.C. too, it felt oddly similar to the way they lost in Houston back in the playoffs in 2012. Good defense but some costly mistakes kept them from doing anything positive.
The best story of the night though had to be Clark and Carlos Ruiz. The two got together after the match, hugged it out, exchanged the jerseys and put past behind them. For those who don’t remember, they were apart of a pretty nasty scuffle five years ago in Houston. Thankfully, that is all behind us.
Montreal shocks the league, and the Sounders
The one result that probably had plenty of people saying “huh” was the 1-0 win for the Montreal Impact over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. Yeah.
After winning just twice and claiming nine points on the road for the entire 2012 expansion season, the Montreal Impact opened their second MLS campaign with a 1-0 victory. Okay, the win wasn’t stylish but that isn’t what the Impact will be going for in 2013. They want three points. That is is. And on Saturday they did just enough to earn that.
The Impact defense looked much improved (go ahead and tell me I am wrong Impact fans), and the attack did just enough to get by. I’ll say this, Seattle struggled to create good chances due to the back line of Montreal. Eddie Johnson, the Sounders leading scorer from 2012 was particularly frustrated on the evening with chance after chance squandered. Then again, the could have been looking forward to their CCL date this week with Tigres rather than counting on winning their season opener. Either way, kudos for Montreal stepping up.
The one positive for Seattle on the day had to be rookie Homegrown DeAndre Yedlin. The kid was great in his debut at right back. He commanded the space around him and wasn’t afraid to take on some gritty veterans like Marco Di Vaio.