First Kick analysis and updates from around MLS
We tracked every game from every corner of MLS tonight. Catch up on all of the analysis, thoughts and updates from around the league as First Kick unfolded.
12:35a.m. (ET): A crazy end to the night as Fernandez pops up at the death to snatch a point for the Timbers and Rimando completes his stellar performance with a penalty save on Keane. Fitting way to end the first full Saturday of MLS action for the 2014 season. We’ll have more here on Inside MLS soon. Thanks so much for following along.
FULL TIME: LA Galaxy 0 – Real Salt Lake 1
FULL TIME: Portland 1 – Philadelphia 1
GOAL: Portland 1 (Fernandez, 90+3′) – Philadelphia 1
PENALTY SAVE: Rimando stones Keane in second half stoppage time
83′ LAG 0 – RSL 1: Controversy bubbled moments earlier after RSL had a good goal by Luke Mulholland ruled out by a very, very poor flag from the assistant referee. The home side proved all too hospitable in making amends as no one bothered to track Plata when Beckerman played him through the line. Cool finish by Plata to cap a good night with a goal.
GOAL: LA Galaxy 0 – Real Salt Lake 1 (Plata, 80′)
69′ PDX 0 – PHL 1: Typical McInerney goal there: get to the right place, finish the chance. Maidana did most of the heavy lifting to win the corner and serve the inviting ball into the box. McInerney moved himself into a great spot once Maidana curled his effort toward the penalty area. When Edu rose highest to nod down, McInerney found himself in the perfect position to divert the knockdown into the net. Probably deserved for Philadelphia on the balance of play.
GOAL: Portland 0 – Philadelphia 1 (McInerney, 64′)
56′ LAG 0 – RSL 0: Saborio misses a presentable chance created by yet another good piece of play by Plata. A bit out of character to miss the frame entirely with a header from six yards. Plata, by the way, continues to impress with his active, involved shift as Saborio’s partner tonight.
46′ LAG 0 – RSL 0: The action has resumed in Carson.
46′ PDX 0 – PHL 0: The second half has started at Providence Park.
HALFTIME: Portland 0 – Philadelphia 0
HALFTIME: LA Galaxy 0 – Real Salt Lake 0
34′ PDX 0 – PHL 0: Pa Modou Kah limps off for the Timbers. Futty Danso inserted to replace him. Big switch. Kah proved his worth for much of last season as an organizer and a steady presence. Now it’s up to Futty to meet those same standards.
34′ LAG 0 – RSL 0: Keane just hit the post for the home side. Plenty of chances at both ends in Carson.
28′ PDX 0 – PHL: 0: Philadelphia will spend the next month or two figuring out its revamped midfield, but the improvements are there for everyone to see. Brian Carroll is sitting nice and deep to allow Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira to assume most of the duties in possession. Nogueira’s roving should link the play nicely. The success or failure of that trio will likely determine how well this Union side performs in 2014. And the early signs are good.
20′ LAG 0 – RSL 0: Morales forces Penedo into a fine save as RSL starts to find its footing. Tidy little sequence in possession started with a ball up the left for Plata to chase. Always an underrated component of RSL’s approach: vertical balls up the flank (usually the left – remember the Espindola days?) to relieve pressure and provide space for the midfield to join the play.
17′ PDX 0 – PHL 0: Philly has settled a bit after Portland stormed out of the gates. The home side will always expect to dominate possession. The key for the Union: relieving pressure intelligently as the game progresses.
FT HOU 4 – NE 0: Houston coach Dominic Kinnear to reporters (via @HoustonDynamo): "The first half an hour was possibly the best I’ve ever seen this team play. And that’s saying something."
10′ LAG 0 – RSL 0: Bright start for the home side. Donovan and Zardes pushing just as high as expected. Donovan even went close to claiming the all-time MLS goalscoring record by himself with a near post drive. RSL pinned back for a stretch. Starting to push out a bit now, though.
1′: Portland 0 – Philadelphia 0
1′: LA Galaxy 0 – Real Salt Lake 0
FULL TIME: FC Dallas 3 – Montreal 2
FULL TIME: Houston 4 – New England 0
GOAL: Houston 4 (Cummings, 90+2′) – New England 0
88′ FCD 3 – MTL 2: Montreal piling on the pressure in the late stages in the search for an equalizer. Desperate defending by FC Dallas to hold out at the moment.
82′ HOU 3 – NE 0: Fagundez hits the bar to accentuate another period of pressure for the Revolution. Revs can’t find a breakthrough tonight. But they can only carp so much after shipping three goals inside the first 25 minutes.
74′ FCD 3 – MTL 2: Montreal sniffing around for a result here. Wenger’s powerful header has thrown them a lifeline. The question is whether the visitors can find yet another way through. Neither side is exactly locking things down defensively. Ample opportunity with the right bit of quality in the buildup.
68′ HOU 3 – NE 0: How did Jerry Bengtson miss from there?
GOAL: FC Dallas 3 – Montreal 2 (Wenger, 65′)
64′ FCD 3 – MTL 1: Looks like Hendry Thomas will have to come off for FC Dallas. Michel injected into the match as his replacement. Oscar Pareja will not want to lose Thomas for any extended period of time. He’s a critical component of the plans.
59′ FCD 3 – MTL 1: Montreal is enjoying plenty of the ball at the moment. The visitors can work the ball neatly enough in the middle third. The problems come when they try to enter the final third. Felipe needs to contribute more. But, really, Marco Di Vaio’s suspension is the problem here. Montreal simply isn’t the same team without its Italian striker.
50′ HOU 3 – NE 0: Revolution coach Jay Heaps inserted Jerry Bengtson at halftime and switched to a 4-4-2 setup. It’s a big chance for Bengtson to show his worth to the side: he’s much better when he has the chance to play off a partner. At this stage, he needs to vindicate Heaps’ decision.
48′ FCD 3 – MTL 1: Sumptuous free kick from Diaz freezes Perkins. Poor Impact goalkeeper never had a chance there.
GOAL: FC Dallas 3 (Diaz, 47′) – Montreal 1
FT VAN 4 – RBNY 1: Impressive start to the Robinson era in Vancouver.
FULL TIME: Vancouver 4 – New York 1
GOAL: Vancouver 4 – New York 1 (Wright-Phillips, 90+1′)
89′ VAN 4 – RBNY 0: Morales starts to repay his DP salary with a really well-taken goal. Service just a bit behind him. He adjusts and strokes it home first time. Tidy work.
GOAL: Vancouver 4 (Morales, 89′) – New York 0
HALFTIME: Houston 3 – New England 0
HALFTIME: FC Dallas 2 – Montreal 1
44′ HOU 3 – NE 0: New England has improved substantially in the past few minutes here. Bunbury just forced a good save from Hall. A goal before halftime would do wonders. But is it too little, too late? Poor opening period gave Revs a mountain to climb.
GOAL: Vancouver 3 (Miller, 77′) – New York 0
74′ VAN 2 – RBNY 0: Fernandez just departed after a bright shift. Really promising debut from him. It isn’t just about the goal. Good movement. Threatening in the right areas. Nice option at Robinson’s disposal, it seems.
34′ FCD 2 – MTL 1: Looking for space? You can probably find it in Frisco. Wide open in the middle third. Both teams moving briskly through in search of goals. And it shows on the scoreboard.
FT DCU 0 – CLB 3: Columbus offers a real statement of intent in Gregg Berhalter’s first game in charge. Ambitious, fluid display ripped apart United. Work in progress for the home side, it seems.
FULL TIME: D.C. United 0 – Columbus 3
GOAL: Houston 3 (Bruin, 23′) – New England 0
GOAL: FC Dallas 2 (Perez, 23′ – PK) – Montreal 1
GOAL: D.C. United 0 – Columbus 3 (Higuain, 90+’)
18′ HOU 2 – NE 0: Tough to imagine a worse start to the game for New England. Two dreadful goals conceded. Kevin Alston limped off hurt. And a lot of work to do to pull a result back in the remaining 70 minutes or so.
50′ VAN 2 – RBNY 0: Fernandez will reap the deserved plaudits for his stunning finish. But Mattocks served as the key to that goal. Good touch to facilitate the break. Speedy run to the left into space to keep it going. And then the supply to Fernandez to prompt the goal. Great center forward work. He’ll silence all of his skeptics (see below, for instance) with that sort of tidiness.
GOAL: FC Dallas 1 (Castillo, 16′) – Montreal 1
GOAL: Houston 2 (Bruin, 13′) – New England 0
GOAL: Vancouver 2 (Fernandez, 49′) – New York 0
GOAL: FC Dallas 0 – Montreal 1 (Nyassi, 10′)
46′ VAN 1 – RBNY 0: The second half has started at B.C. Place. Vancouver coach Carl Robinson to TSN about a potential second half appearance by recent DP signing Pedro Morales: "Definitely."
5′ HOU 1 – NE 0: Jose Goncalves sets the tone for the Revolution defense. And he just flew out wildly to cut out a service to Will Bruin. He didn’t get there. The decision allowed Will Bruin to turn and fire home the opener quickly. A rare misstep from the MLS Defender of the Year. Interesting to see how the Revs settle now after conceding so early.
GOAL: Houston 1 (Bruin, 2′) – New England 0
1′: Houston 0 – New England 0
1′: FC Dallas 0 – Montreal 0
HALFTIME: Vancouver 1 – New York 0
56′ DCU 0 – CLB 2: The second half is ongoing at RFK Stadium. Steve Clark just made a save for the Crew. Kickoff looming soon in Frisco (FC Dallas – Montreal) and Houston (Houston – New England).
36′ VAN 1 – RBNY 0: New York is furious after the assistant referee awards a penalty against Richard Eckersley for handling. The ball is coming at him a great rate of speed on a shot from the edge of the penalty area, but his hand essentially stops it dead. AR with a good view and raises his flag. Miller makes absolutely no mistake on his penalty. Tough luck for Red Bulls.
GOAL: Vancouver 1 (Miller, 34′ – PK) – New York 0
31′ VAN 0 – RBNY 0: Darren Mattocks up top presents some questions for Vancouver. He can create chances with his speed behind the line, but he spurns them too often. His hold-up work isn’t particularly deft. And his inclusion forces the Whitecaps to play Kenny Miller in midfield. There are pros and cons on both sides, but you have to wonder whether that dynamic can persist for an extended period.
23′ VAN 0 – RBNY 0: Carl Robinson spent most of a recent stoppage chatting with Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien to get things sorted out. Peguy Luyindula is creating some problems with his active work at the moment, though the Whitecaps have settled a bit after a poor start. Also of note: Robinson is firmly on the sweater-tie combo bandwagon like many of his fellow peers.
HALFTIME: D.C. United 0 – Columbus 2
45+’ DCU 0 – CLB 2: Eddie Johnson picked up a knock on his knee just before the interval. A situation worth monitoring for both club and country.
12′ VAN 0 – RBNY 0: Why can Petke afford to leave out Henry and Olave? The rest of the side can pick up the slack. Couple of chances created in the opening period. Whitecaps under duress at home. Important to have that settled structure in place to allow for rotation.
4′ VAN 0 – RBNY 0: Red Bulls boss Mike Petke omitted Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave for this trip to B.C. Place. Consider it good management. No reason for either player to deal with the artificial surface in game one of a busy season. Tim Cahill starts after his star turn for Australia at the New Den in midweek, though.
1′: VANCOUVER 0 – NEW YORK 0
31′ DCU 0 – CLB 2: The difference in this game so far: Columbus’ ability to generate openings with its movement on and off the ball. The fluidity in midfield is stretching apart United’s shape and presenting a host of problems for the home defense. The opening goal stemmed from a series of vertical passes – up/inside/outside/cross – to exploit the left back area. Good football, all things considered.
GOAL: D.C. United 0 – Columbus 2 (Higuain, 27′ – PK)
GOAL: D.C. United 0 – Columbus 1 (Arrieta, 19′)
16′ DCU 0 – CLB 0: In the middle of all of these loose passes and turnovers, both sides are starting to establish how they want to play. Columbus wants to keep the ball and move it fluidly through midfield. Higuain serves as the conduit – opposing teams will mark him closely. United prefers to operate in the wide areas. The big key for them: keeping the proper spacing as the fullbacks (particularly Christian on the left) move forward.
10′ DCU 0 – CLB 0: Both teams are trying to find themselves a bit here in the opening stages. Federico Higuain is dropping deep to find the ball. Eddie Johnson just distributed to the flanks from inside his own half. These are the sorts of kinks worked out during the course of a game and a season.
1′: D.C. UNITED 0 – COLUMBUS 0
7:06p.m.: Interesting match between two retooled sides to kick off the evening. D.C. United injected a bunch of veterans. Columbus moved to a more possession-oriented style. It could take some time for both teams to find their rhythm, but the points still count now.
7:00p.m. (ET): You’ve waited for this night since December. Seattle and Sporting Kansas City whetted the appetite with the match this afternoon. It’s time for the first full Saturday evening of MLS fixtures. Let’s go. We’ll start with Columbus and D.C. United and then work our way through the rest of the league as the night progresses.