MLS Week 1 Recap, Highlights: Sellout crowds, sparse goals

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by RYAN BRISTER
Staff Writer

Major League Soccer’s opening weekend was a story of slow starts and few goals.

Eight of the ten games were scoreless after 45 minutes, and two remained that way. However, a lot of people showed up to watch with over 10 games averaging 25,838 fans.

While the focus was on a big debut in Orlando, Jozy Altidore had a big debut of his own.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1-3 Toronto FC

So far, so good for Jozy Altidore and Toronto FC. After falling behind 1-0 (and it could have been more) early, the Reds responded through their two new stars, Sebastian Giovinco assisting on Altidore’s goal. Early in the second half, Robbie Findley finished off a Justin Morrow cross to give TFC the lead.

The Whitecaps rarely threatened to find an equalizer, and were stymied by Toronto’s possession. Jozy Altidore put a bow on the win, earning and taking a 90th minute penalty. TFC is going to draw a lot of comparisons to last year, and it should be noted that Jermain Defoe also scored twice on the road in his debut for the team.

Octavio Rivero had the opening goal for Vancouver, but he’ll be remembered more for the horrific miss he had in the eighth minute. Provided an empty net, Rivero somehow failed to tap the ball in from three yards away.

Seattle Sounders 3-0 New England Revolution

The defending Supporters’ Shield winners got off to a perfect start to the new season. While New England created more chances in the first half, the Sounders made the most of theirs. By halftime they had a 2-0 lead; Clint Dempsey earned and buried a penalty in the 25th minute, and Obafemi Martins headed home a beautiful cross from Tyrone Mears in the 41st.

The third goal for Seattle was a thing of beauty. Martins and Dempsey displayed their brand of telepathy, unraveled the Revs’ defense and found themselves alone against Bobby Shuttleworth. Martins was unselfish, and Dempsey finished the easy tap-in.

Injuries marred the game late. Both Teal Bunbury and Lamar Neagle had to leave the game in the second half. Bunbury appeared to have a dislocated shoulder.

It should be noted that the Revs were nowhere near full strength. Both Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones missed the game due to injury. New England fans can also take solace in the fact that they started last year with a 4-0 loss to Houston. But they can’t get healthy soon enough.

Orlando City SC 1-1 New York City FC

For a few minutes, it looked like Mix Diskerud and NYCFC had spoiled the party for 62,510 fans in Orlando. Diskerud’s curling goal gave the visitors the lead, and things got even better when Aurelien Collin was sent off. But Kaka and a little luck saved the day.

The Brazilian star had a free kick just outside the box in stoppage time, setting the stage for a Disney ending. Kaka got the dramatic equalizer, but only with the help of a massive deflection off of Jeb Brovsky. The deflection left Josh Saunders helpless as the ball bounced into his net.

Saunders had an eventful day. In the first half, a collision going for a ball in the air resulted in his head banging off the post. He was treated for a couple minutes, but allowed to stay in. Later, a collision with Carlos Rivas left Saunders bleeding from his head. Again, he stayed in. In the meantime, he made three key saves to keep NYCFC in the game.

Until Diskerud’s goal, Orlando had the edge of the run of play, just unable to get the ball past Saunders. But they had a few self-inflicted wounds. Carlos Rivas was offside five times from his striker position. Three Orlando players were booked for diving, including two in the box.

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 New York Red Bulls

Kansas City and New York traded second half goals in a frenetic draw at Sporting Park.

Dom Dwyer had multiple chances to score, but Ike Opara had the goal for SKC in the 50th minute, finishing off a Benny Feilhaber cross. The lead didn’t last long. Lloyd Sam responded just four minutes later by bending a shot past Luis Marin. Each team had chances to take the lead after that, but none came to fruition.

Besler got himself sent off for a pair of yellow cards, continuing the poor form he had late in 2014. The second card was for a tactical foul on Bradley Wright-Phillips, but the Red Bulls wanted Baldomero Toledo to play the advantage and the breakaway opportunity.

Houston Dynamo 1-0 Columbus Crew SC

On a different night, the Crew would have won this game with relative ease.  Unfortunately for them, Tyler Deric made a series of great saves, Crew strikers just missed some critical chances, and Giles Barnes grabbed the game’s only goal as the Dynamo managed a 1-0 victory to start the Owen Coyle era in Houston

The Dynamo goal came in the 66th minute, when Kofi Sarkodie, wearing a jersey without a name and number because his first two were soiled by blood, split the Columbus defense on a run into the box and fed a cross to Giles Barnes, who hammered his shot into the top of the net.

The Crew had chances before and after the goal, but Deric rose to the challenge with six saves. As Columbus sought an equalizer, Frederico Higuain rocketed a shot off the bar in the 71st minute, and Kei Kamara missed a header from inside the six-yard box in the 90th. They outshot the Dynamo 18-8.

LA Galaxy 2-0 Chicago Fire

It took more than an hour, but the Galaxy finally got one of their shots to hit the back of the net. After a frustrating first half of missed chances for the Galaxy, 21-year-old homegrown player Jose Villarreal scored the first goal of the season in the 65th minute, pouncing on a botched clearance by Jeff Laurentowicz. Villarreal was making his first start for the Galaxy since 2013; he struggled last year after going on loan to Cruz Azul.

From there, it was business as usual for LA. The more familiar name of Robbie Keane scored the second goal to put the game out of reach in the 84th minute. Keane then reacted with apparent anger, gesturing and cursing in the direction of the crowd.

Portland Timbers 0-0 Real Salt Lake

After a plodding first half, the Timbers showed new energy and took control of the second 45 minutes. It just wasn’t enough to get a goal against Nick Rimando and Real Salt Lake. Rimando made six saves on the night, extending his MLS record for clean sheets to 116.

The game echoed last October’s match in Portland, which ended in the same scoreline. Rimando was the story then, too.

The Timbers Army unveiled a tifo in the form of a giant 40-ounce bottle of beer, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Timbers beginning play in the original NASL.

Philadelphia Union 0-0 Colorado Rapids

Over the course of 90 minutes, the Rapids had two shots, neither of which was on target. They committed 23 fouls, earning five yellow cards in the process. Two of those yellow cards resulted in Bobby Burling being sent off. And, after all that, they came away with a point on the road.

The stats look better for Philadelphia, but in truth the Union rarely posed real danger to Clint Irwin’s net. The Rapids, legally or otherwise, frustrated a Union attack that missed nine of their 16 shots. Andrew Wenger came the closest to scoring, curling a 21st minute effort off the crossbar.

Union supporters were in fine voice despite the chilly weather; they booed the referees as the final whistle blew.

DC United 1-0 Montreal Impact

In his first MLS game for DC United, Jairo Arrieta found the back of the net, helping his new team to a 1-0 win over Montreal. Arrieta was quicker to the ball over the top than Impact keeper Evan Bush, and rather than try to dribble around Bush, he flicked it towards goal with his first touch.

Worse than the loss, Montreal lost Dilly Duka to a dislocated elbow. He collided with Bill Hamid and landed awkwardly on his elbow.

Fabian Espindola, normally a starter up front for DC, did not play, sitting out for the first of a six-game suspension. He earned that shoving a referee during last year’s playoff game against the Red Bulls.

The pitch looked ugly at RFK Stadium, battered as it was by a week of rain and snow. The weather also kept fans away; the crowd of 11,549 was the smallest of the weekend.

FC Dallas 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Blas Perez played the role of hero for FC Dallas in stoppage time. After 90 scoreless minutes punctuated by few chances for either team, Perez got his head on a Moises Hernandez shot to redirect it into the net and give Dallas an opening night victory.

The two teams combined for 53 crosses, only four of which were successful.

New designated player Innocent Emeghara didn’t come off the bench until the 89th minute for San Jose.

  • LAG dominate MLS for some seasons…. need strong rivals there.