MLS just got started, but already we’re taking a break. Week 3 in the league is the league’s last collection of league-wide action before most of the teams take next week off for the FIFA international window. That meant that plenty of teams wanted to head into the off week on a high note, but, of course, not all of them could.
Plenty did, though. Expansion Atlanta United's attacking barrage continued at the expense of the Chicago Fire (the only MLS expansion team to win a title in its first year); Ema Boateng continued his uncanny ownership of Real Salt Lake; the Seattle Sounders unveiled a title banner and followed it up with three points; Benny Feilhaber entered an early goal of the year candidate and the Portland Timbers made it a perfect 3-for-3 with another impressive win.
Here are some of the high and low points of a jam-packed 11-game weekend around MLS:
I: What a difference nine years makes
The Seattle Sounders capped off the week of MLS action by returning to their roots. On March 19, 2009, the team made its MLS debut at the stadium then known as Qwest Field against the New York Red Bulls, scoring three goals (in a 3–0 win). On March 19, 2017, the defending MLS Cup winners celebrated at the stadium now known as CenturyLink Field against the New York Red Bulls by scoring three goals (in a 3–1 win).
Back in 2009, Jordan Morris was a 15-year-old Seattleite playing for youth club Eastside FC. Joevin Jones was an 18-year-old in Trinidad and Tobago just getting his professional career started with W Connection. The two combined to score the winning goal on Sunday, thanks to a sublime bit of skill from Jones, and a finishing touch of the head from Morris.
Some things, though, stay exactly the same. Osvaldo Alonso was the only player on either side on Sunday that appeared in the Sounders’ inaugural game. He looks … exactly the same:
II: A point for the Loons
After two absolute shellackings to start their season, Minnesota United finally picked up their first point as an MLS club with a 2–2 draw at the Colorado Rapids. The fact that I accidentally typed “2–2 win” in the previous sentence before correcting it should tell you all you need to know about how huge that is for the Loons, especially considering their previous results.
However, they’ll have to go for all three next time without defender Justin Davis, who was issued a straight red card for this nasty-looking (but probably not intentional) boot to the knee of Marlon Hairston:
Cyle Larin didn’t let last week’s weather-related postponement of Orlando City’s game at New England affect his goal-scoring form. The Canadian bagged his second and third goals of the season in Orlando’s second game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, a 2–1 win over Philadelphia.
Larin’s second, scored in front of the purple wall, was the most notable of the two. Come for the telepathic interplay between Larin, Carlos Rivas, and Matias Perez Garcia, stay for coach Jason Kreis’s fist-pumping reaction:
Question 3 (most important): What, exactly, is going on with his double ponytail thing?
Whatever the answers, there’s no question that Shea’s red impacted this game. Toronto scored its first goal six minutes after Shea’s ejection, then Jozy Altidore brought the score to it’s 2–0 final not long after, entering the international break in impressive fashion.
Then Saturday happened. First, Bingham was the foil for one of the best goals we’ve seen so far in this young MLS season, as Benny Feilhaber stuck a shot so perfect that Bingham didn’t even bother moving:
Guzman got a fair amount of stick last week from certain MLS official team accounts, after his dive against the Galaxy earned Jelle Van Damme a red card. Guzman notably also injured his shoulder on that play, but that didn’t seem to slow him down on Saturday as he used a brilliant bit of skill to score this goal against the Houston Dynamo:
That ended up being the winner in a 4–2 victory for Portland.
VIII: First touch of the week
This one comes from FC Dallas’ Michael Barrios, whose first touch after a long Maynor Figueroa pass was enough to put him in on goal and indirectly set up Dallas’ equalizer. He won’t get an assist for this, and that’s too bad:
By the way, Urruti scored one heck of a winner in this game as well.
D.C. United lost 2–0 to Columbus at home on Sunday. Though United could have played far better at the attacking end, they have reason to feel hard done by. Not only did both of Columbus’ goals come off penalty kicks, Bill Hamid was an inch (or less!) away from saving both of them.