We're two weeks into Major League Soccer's 2017 and things are already getting pretty fun. Golazos, comebacks and drama -- oh my!
Here are the 10 stories that caught our eye after Week 2 in MLS:
Minnesota United are off to a tough start
There is no kind way to put it: The Loons have been off to a historically bad start. Their 11 goals conceded in two games is the most-ever from a new MLS franchise. Put another way, the worst goals-against total by any team last year was 60, and Minnesota are already more than 1/6 of the way there only 1/17 of the way through the season. They're just going to need to get better. Luckily, there's more than plenty of time to turn things around, but the harsh realities of MLS aren't going away.
Tim Howard is back and in great form
For U.S. men’s national team fans, this is perhaps the takeaway of the weekend. Howard played his first minutes since November and looked good, making seven saves and denying the reigning Golden Boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips, three times. It was unclear if Howard would be ready for the USMNT's World Cup qualifiers this month, but now it looks like a sure bet.
Isaiah J. DowningIsaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The Fire look much improved already
With all the obvious caveats about this only being the second week of MLS, the Chicago Fire are off to a decent start — decent enough for optimism, which was hard to come by the last few seasons. The pick-up of Dax McCarty looks like a game-changer as he broke up Real Salt Lake’s attacks on Saturday and helped orchestrate the attack from a deep-lying role in a 2-0 win.
The Fire aren’t suddenly an MLS Cup favorite and there are concerns about their strikers. But they look a lot better in the midfield at controlling possession so far, which is a positive step forward.
Mike DinovoMike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Erick “Cubo” Torres continues his big return
The last time any of us saw Erick “Cubo” Torres playing well was back in 2014 for Chivas USA. He was once one of the most exciting young prospects in MLS and looked like a player who could break through for the Mexican national team in a big way. What followed was a loan to Chivas de Guadalajara, an injury-plagued loan to Cruz Azul and some miserable play in Houston.
But last week, Torres did what everyone was waiting for by putting in a solid performance, and this week he did it again, notching another goal (and even busting out his robot celebration from his Chivas USA days). Two games, two goals, two wins. It really seems like Cubo is back and he’ll be a player to watch this season.
Thomas SheaThomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
The Sounders showed a lot of fight after a sleepy start
For about 90-something minutes on Saturday, there wasn’t a lot to feel too excited about with the Sounders. It looked like maybe the MLS Cup hangover was still afflicting the Sounders. But with time running out on a chance to equalize after a penalty kick, they stayed in the game and showed a lot of fight that culminated in a huge 94th-minute goal.
It’s been a slow start for the Sounders in 2017, but the way they sprung to life in stoppage time on Saturday is the best sign yet (other than Clint Dempsey’s return).
Troy TaorminaTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Will Toronto need to go without Sebastian Giovinco?
He’s arguably the best player in all of MLS and he went down Saturday after a tough tackle from Oguchi Onyewu. Coach Greg Vanney downplayed his injury as a “contusion” but said it’s in a spot that can “make it difficult to move” when it gets tightened. Vanney said Toronto will give Giovinco a few days and see how he’s doing.
That may mean Giovinco is fine, but Toronto really won’t want to be without him, even for one game. He was involved in a whopping 32 goals last season and there’s just no one who can be as productive.
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The Timbers’ offseason rebuild passed its first test
The objective for Portland before this season was simple: Build more depth and everything else should fall into place. It’s early but the Timbers passed their first big test of their depth. Without injured captain Liam Ridgewell and starter Vytas, the defense held up well with Roy Miller at centerback and 18-year-old Marco Farfan at left back.
Just as importantly, the Timbers won their first away game of the season after failing to win a single road game in all of 2016. They did it with some depth pieces, and that’s huge.
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Anibal Godoy is on fire
Two weeks into MLS, two sensational goals. He just might have the best couple of strikes in the MLS season’s opening two weeks and San Jose Earthquakes fans have plenty to be excited about so far. Godoy's chip (and fun goal celebration) last week was nice, but his rocket on Saturday was a thing of beauty.
No matter what team you root for, just root for Godoy to keep scoring beautiful goals like these.
Stan SzetoStan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
The Galaxy are in transition, and it won’t be easy
Through the first two weeks of the MLS season, the Galaxy sure haven’t looked like the Galaxy side we’ve all grown accustomed to. There are plenty of reasons for that: They have a new coach for the first time in a decade, Curt Onalfo. They have a batch of injuries, including to starting striker Gyasi Zardes and left back Robbie Rogers — and maybe even now Giovani dos Santos after Sunday’s match — plus some suspensions. And they’ve taken on a new strategy of focusing more on developing their own talent than signing big stars.
Well, after two pretty underwhelming opening matches — particularly by Galaxy standards — it’s clear some patience is in order as the Galaxy figure out their new identity. Sunday's match was an odd one, as LA seemed to do better after they went down a man, but victory never looked within reach and they have lost their first two matches.
Kelvin KuoKelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Twitter is for many things, including drama
Alejandro Bedoya thinks Jozy Altidore goes down easy in the box. Altidore doesn’t agree. That’s all fine, except they went about trading barbs in a pretty public way and they play together on the U.S. men’s national team, which caught plenty of attention from USMNT fans.
In the long run, it’s probably not a big deal, but now that MLS is here, these guys may need to think more about the balancing act of being opponents for club and teammates for country. Similar spats can't continue to happen as World Cup qualifying progresses.