MLS Week 3 Recap, highlights: San Jose’s opener, Vancouver’s late winner, more

MLS Beat Writer

If you watched Major League Soccer this weekend, you were rarely rewarded for it.

The six games on Saturday produced five goals and only slightly more chances. Dull soccer plagued the first day of the weekend, but the nationally televised games on Sunday were a welcomed change of pace. Two home openers with different expectations matched the goal total from the previous day.

New York Red Bulls 2-0 DC United

After a tumultuous offseason and 12 minutes of supporter protest, the new look Red Bulls made a good impression in their home opener. On the field, things went just about perfectly as they dominated old rivals DC in a 2-0 win.

Red Bulls supporters began the game with a massive tifo honoring the club’s legends, including Mike Petke, who was fired in January. The opening twelve minutes featured chants of Petke’s name and a banner that read simply: “legends deserve better.” Then, focus turned firmly onto the game itself.

There were worries about how Bradley Wright-Phillips would perform this season in the absence of Thierry Henry. There still are, but BWP put in a stellar performance on Sunday. In the first half, he brought down a long ball from Dax McCarty and scored his first goal of the season.

In the second half, BWP took a turn as the provider, delivering the assist on Lloyd Sam’s goal to double the lead. It was Sam’s second goal in as many games, and effectively put the competition to bed.

A bad day for DC somehow got worse in stoppage time. United was awarded a questionable penalty, only for Chris Pontius to send it sailing over the crossbar. It was a fitting end to their poor performance.

San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Chicago Fire

It was a day of firsts in San Jose, as the Earthquakes opened Avaya Stadium with a win. All the goals came in the first half as they beat Chicago 2-1.

It didn’t take long to christen the new digs with a goal. On a fifth minute corner kick, Sean Johnson muffed a clearance, and the ball bounced its way around the box until Fatai Alashe headed it home. That’s the first goal in rookie Alashe’s career. Fifteen minutes later, another set piece led to another Johnson mistake. This time he gave up a rebound and Ty Harden was there to bury it. In Harden’s 100th appearance, that was his first goal as well.

Lest things get completely out of hand for Chicago, Harry Shipp to bring the score to 2-1. He sped in behind Alashe and was fed by a great pass from Joevin Jones. That could have set up an hour’s worth of frantic comeback from the Fire, but their pressure rarely turned into chances. Frank Yallop brought on attacking substitutes, but San Jose keeper David Bingham needed to make just three saves on the day.

After 16 games without a win, the Earthquakes have now won two games in a row.

For the first time in their 18-year history, the Fire have started a season with three losses. There were some hopeful signs on Sunday (namely, Shipp), but this team needs a lot of work. Some of that will come with time, as an overhauled roster gels together, but it could be a long year in the Windy City.

Philadelphia Union 0-2 FC Dallas

Snow delayed this game by 21 hours, but it couldn’t derail Dallas’ hot start. The Hoops grabbed their third straight win, becoming the only team in MLS with more than six points through three weeks.

When Union midfielder Zack Pfeffer was red carded just before halftime, it clearly tilted things in Dallas’ favor. Pfeffer earned his red card with an elbow to Mauro Diaz’s head, though he later tried to his actions on Twitter.

On the other side of the break, Tesho Akindele blocked a pass from Fabinho, pounced on the loose ball, and put an accurate shot past Rais M’bolhi to give Dallas the lead. Ryan Hollingshead doubled the lead 10 minutes later with a low shot from the edge of the box. 10-man Philly rarely threatened to come back into the game in the remaining half hour.

Orlando City 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

Orlando City supporters experienced their first major league heartbreak on Saturday night. 31,072 fans watched as the Whitecaps escaped the Citrus Bowl with three points on Octavio Rivero’s 96th minute goal.

Orlando outshot Vancouver 12-9 on the night, but only one of those shots was on target. They dominated possession, and seemed to gain momentum as the second half went on on. None of those facts helped them when they gave up a late free kick. Rivero got a diving header onto Pedro Morales’ service, and the ball needled its way through bodies and into the far side of the net. R ivero has three goals in his first three games for the Whitecaps—the only goals his team has scored.

The Whitecaps picked up five yellow cards in the victory, and none was more controversial than Kekuta Manneh’s. His two-footed challenge on Aurelien Collin in the 65th minute could easily have earned Manneh a red card. But he stayed on the field, the Whitecaps stayed at full-strength, and were able to pull out the win as a result.

LA Galaxy 1-1 Houston Dynamo

After a Saturday afternoon and evening defined by few goals, it didn’t take long for both teams to find the back of the net in LA. The Galaxy and Dynamo traded early goals, but the scoreline stuck at 1-1 with each team getting a point.

With Zardes making a good run in front of him, the Dynamo defenders couldn’t close Keane down until it was too late. Keane needed just one cut to get into the box, and Deric was unable to keep the shot out of the net.

The Dynamo responded eight minutes later through a corner kick and Nathan Sturgis. David Horst got up to get his head on the cross and nod it down towards the six-yard box. Robbie Rogers was caught ball watching as Sturgis slipped behind him to get on the header and tap it home.

After a frantic first 11 minutes, the pace slowed down. Tyler Deric had to make a couple nice saves, but ultimately the Galaxy never created another chance as good as the one on which Keane scored.

Colorado Rapids 0-0 New York City FC

Through two games, the Colorado Rapids have managed to turn zero goals into two points, which is…something. To their credit, on Saturday they should have scored. NYCFC’s Josh Saunders made eight saves in a man of the match performance to keep things scoreless.

Colorado outshot their visitors 21-9, but were unable to turn those chances into goals. For the third time in as many weeks, NYCFC woke up in the second half, but their push to score a winner ended prematurely when Manchester City loanee Shay Facey was sent off in the 82nd minute for a second yellow. As the visitors clung to the scoreless draw, both Saunders and Chris Wingert were booked for time wasting.

The Rapids have a pair of ignominious streaks hanging over their heads now. They haven’t won in 16 games stretching back to last July, and haven’t scored in 420 minutes.

 New England Revolution 0-0 Montreal Impact

Unfortunately, the most notable event from this matchup was an injury. Montreal forward Cameron Porter, who made a name for himself with goals in the CONCACAF Champions League, landed awkwardly on the Gillette Stadium turf and his ankle appeared to buckle underneath him. There’s no official details about his injury yet, but it did not look good.

To be honest, the whole game didn’t look good. Hassoun Camara was sent off for a pair of yellow cards, but even his absence couldn’t produce a goal for the hosts. Chris Tierney again fired a bunch of crosses into the box, but as in New York the Revs forwards were unable to finish them off. The Revs and Impact have combined for zero goals in their five MLS games so far this year.

In their opening three games, the Revs have mirrored their start to 2014, with two road losses and a scoreless draw at home. Jermaine Jones is expected to return from injury in the next couple weeks, and his team clearly needs him.

Sporting Kansas City 0-0 Portland Timbers

There were three, almost four scoreless games on Saturday, and if you watched them all they started to blend into one another. Kansas City vs. Portland, I think, was the least eventful of the bunch. The two teams combined for just five shots on goal.

Ike Opara had the two best chances of the game, and he couldn’t get either header on target.

The Timbers have now started the season with three straight draws. That beats three losses, but they need to turn some of those into wins.

SKC has started slightly worse, with just two points from three matches.

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