By RYAN BRISTER
Fans in the north endured winter weather in Week 2 of Major League Soccer’s 2017 season. Over all, four games accounted for 20 of the 32 goals scored across 10 games (one match was postponed because of the weather).
The team from the south was unfazed by the cold, wind and snow of Minnesota on Sunday. Atlanta carved up the hosts’ defense from start to finish in a dominant victory. The visitors scored three times in the opening half-hour. Josef Martínez had two of those goals; the other came from Miguel Almirón. Momentum seemed to shift late in the half. Jeff Larentowicz conceded a penalty that Kevin Molino converted, and Minnesota had other chances to cut into the lead.
That momentum would not carry beyond halftime. As it did in the first half, Atlanta scored quickly after the break. Almirón volleyed in the visitors’ fourth. Martínez completed his hat trick in the 75th minute. And, for good measure, Jacob Peterson added to Minnesota’s misery in stoppage time.
The Loons clearly have a lot to work to do on defense; they became the first team in MLS history to allow five goals in two consecutive games.
Vancouver jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but it all fell apart in a loss to San Jose. After early goals from Erik Hurtado and Nicolas Mezquida, the match turned on David Ousted’s red card in the 23rd minute. The Whitecaps’ keeper was sent off for coming off his line and taking out Chris Wondolowski, who scored the Earthquakes’ first goal 10 minutes later. Second-half goals from Nick Lima and Anibal Godoy completed the turnaround.
NYCFC tore apart D.C. at Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Jack Harrison hit the crossbar, but Rodney Wallace was there for the rebound in the 8th minute. Wallace provided the cross on David Villa’s looping header to double the lead. Then, Villa passed on the favor to Maxi Moralez. Up 3-0 at the break, NYCFC let off the gas in the second half. Villa still found time to add a second goal.
Seattle fought back for the draw at Montreal. First, Ignacio Piatti put on a show for a big crowd (34,373) at Olympic Stadium. The Argentine playmaker assisted on Matteo Mancosu’s opening goal. The game was wide open, and the Sounders had chances for an equalizer. Jordan Morris hit the post with one attempt. But as they pressured, the Impact hit them on the counter again. This time, Piatti did it by himself.
The Sounders were given a late lifeline, a penalty which was converted by Nicolas Lodeiro in the 83rd minute. An apparent goal by Clint Dempsey was called back for a hand ball. But Seattle found the equalizer as Will Bruin scored with the final kick of the match.
Philly and Toronto played to a thrilling draw on Saturday afternoon. Jay Simpson scored his first in MLS with a header in the 11th minute. Both teams were given penalties in the first half; Alejandro Bedoya hit the crossbar for the Union, and Jozy Altidore converted his for TFC. The two USMNT players exchanged postgame barbs, with Bedoya accusing Altidore of going down too easily.
TFC played the second half without Sebastian Giovinco, who left the game with an injury. Still, it took the lead when Justin Morrow scored off a quick restart. That lead was erased two minutes later as C.J. Sapong dribbled past Clint Irwin. Each team has played to draws in its first two games.
Houston won its second in a row, handily beating Columbus. The Dynamo didn’t need much possession to do so. A bad giveaway by Zack Steffen led to the opening goal in the second minute. The Crew dominated possession the rest of the way, only to be burned at the other end. Alberth Elis scored his first MLS goal on a corner kick later in the first half. Cubo Torres scored for the second time in as many weeks.
A pair of quick goals did the trick for Chicago. Nemanja Nikolic scored a strange one in the 11th minute. Everyone, including Nikolic and Nick Rimando, assumed he was offside, but the referee saw that the pass that put him through had come from a defender. RSL’s woes deepened a few minutes later when Arturo Alvarez dribbled his way to a second goal. The Fire gave up a lot of possession and pressure in the second half, but did not concede a goal.
Portland escaped with a win on the road in Los Angeles. The Timbers took the lead on a perfectly executed counterattack in the 8th minute. Sebastian Blanco created a two-on-one situation, and the Diegos — Valeri and Chara — finished the assault on goal. The Galaxy’s hopes of a comeback fell flat when Jelle Van Damme picked up a pair of yellow cards and was sent off in the first half. Still, the Galaxy nearly equalized in stoppage time, but were denied by a reaction save by Jake Gleeson.
On a cold Saturday at Red Bull Arena, the hosts outdid Colorado. Tim Howard put on an impressive performance facing his old club, but it wasn’t enough for a shutout. The Red Bulls got an own goal late in the first half from Eric Miller, the second own goal in as many weeks that provided New York with its winning margin.
FC Dallas stymied Kansas City in a scoreless draw. Oscar Pareja rested some starters in advance of a midweek CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg, and set out from the beginning to shut down SKC. It was not pretty by any means, but Dallas got the job done, and actually came closest to scoring when Cristian Colman hit the post in the first half.
Extremely cold temperatures and high winds forced MLS, in consultation with both clubs, to reschedule what would have been New England’s home opener. The game was rescheduled to Sept. 2.