What a week in MLS.
Here’s a rundown of what was a pleasantly surprising action-packed Week Two around the league.
Houston Dynamo 0, Orlando City 1
The week certainly wasn’t riveting from the start. In a game only rivaled for dreariness by Union-Rapids in Week One, Orlando City earned its first MLS win in Houston by way of perhaps the worst goal you’ll see this year. It was an own goal. On Tyler Deric. The goalkeeper. Deric didn’t have a comprehensively horrible game, however, as he came up with a brilliant robbery of Kaka in the first half. As a result of this ninety minutes I’ll never have back, Orlando City remains undefeated heading into an intriguing fixture against the Vancouver Whitecaps. After an undeserved win in Week One and a truly dreadful loss in Week Two, the preseason whispers that the Dynamo might make some noise in the West this year have been all but silenced.
Chicago Fire 0, Vancouver Whitecaps 1
The weekend started looking up early Saturday afternoon, when the Whitecaps and Fire engaged in a surprisingly entertaining tussle in Bridgeview. The Whitecaps absorbed a lot of pressure from the Fire, but make no mistake, Vancouver was the vastly more dangerous team. Never mind Chicago’s 488 passes and 59% possession, it was the Whitecaps who repeatedly got into the open field only to botch the finish again, and again, and again, and again. Vote for your favorite Whitecaps miss in the poll at the bottom of this post. Although they were mostly hot garbage in the second half, the Fire looked capable of scoring for parts of the first half, including this David Ousted save of a pretty nifty Harry Shipp strike. The answer to your question, however, is Lovel Palmer. Your question was, of course, "Which maligned former Timbers defender would commit a game-losing gaffe?" In the end the Whitecaps broke through by way of a routine Octavio Rivero strike after a PTSD-inducing shanked Palmer clearance.
Columbus Crew 2, Toronto FC 0
The hip pick to win the East looks pretty good so far, as the Columbus Crew took care of Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon. The first half was as excellent as it was evenly matched, with both sides forcing their respective opposing keepers into sharp saves. The Crew had most of the ball in the first half and probably the better of the chances, but heading into first-half stoppage time it very much looked like anybody’s game. That is until referee David Gantar gave Justin Morrow a red card for something that was almost certainly not even a foul. "Well, fun’s over," said everybody watching the game. Even in difficult circumstances, TFC’s response was poor, as the Crew thoroughly dominated the rest of the game. Crew SC walked away with a two-goal win by way of this nice Justin Meram header and, moments later, this Kei Kamara finish of a Waylon Francis cross. But let’s be real, Gantar ruined the game.
FC Dallas is the only team in MLS on six points after two weeks, as they knocked off SKC 3-1 in a game that probably should have been closer. The Burn got on the board early by way of poor defending from Wiz rookie Amadou Dia, a neat assist from Tesho Akindele, and a Blas Perez finish. SKC grew into the half, however, and notched a deserved equalizer when Roger Espinoza was given way too much space and hit one past Chris Seitz. Perez, however, put FC Dallas back on top in the 52nd minute despite being one of five offside Hoops on the play, and Fabian Castillo ended any doubt when he collected a beauty of an Ryan Hollingshead cross, rounded Seitz, and passed the ball into the net. Sporting made things momentarily interesting when Bernardo Anor drew a 79th-minute penalty, but for some reason the Wizards let the English guy take the penalty. It was saved.
The unlikeliest goalfest of the weekend? That took place in Sandy, Utah, where two teams who failed to put one in the net the week before accounted for six goals on the Wasatch Front. Javi Morales started the scoring with this beautiful free-kick goal in the 29th minute. The Claret-and-Cobalt were unlucky five minutes later, however, as Fernando Aristeguieta tapped in a rebound from a horrid deflection, but luck had nothing to do with it when Aristeguieta got his second just four minutes later. Jamison Olave made up for his defensive mistake on RSL’s second concession when, in the 55th minute, he nodded home the momentary equalizer. Olave, however, found himself on the cruel end of a pretty spectacular own goal moments later. Referee Allen Chapman apparently took pity on the big Colombian and RSL, however, as he gifted them a late penalty that Alvaro Saborio hammered home.
Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. Certainly nobody did after Clint Dempsey headed home the rebound of a Tyrone Mears shot in the first minute. The Quakes were the more dangerous team early on, however, and made Seattle pay with a pair of Chris Wondolowski goals, including one as a result of a stunning Brad Evans blunder. The Sounders looked poised to overcome their sloppiness after Victor Bernardez was sent off for kicking Micheal Azira in the knee. But if Evans had any innocence left after the first two Sounders’ concessions, it was certainly gone by the time Innocent Emeghara went Tim Hardaway on the converted centerback for San Jose’s third. Seattle made a serious push to get back into the game, including an 84th-minute Obafemi Martins tap-in goal, but it wasn’t enough to forestall the shocking upset.
NYCFC came out of the gates firing in their Gotham debut on Sunday, bossing the first twenty minutes of the game against a step-slow Revolution team. David Villa put the cherry on top of that spell for the Big Apple with a pretty magnificent 19th-minute run and goal. What will be lost among the City hype this week is that New England dominated the rest of the first half and looked certain to draw level in the 42nd minute when Juan Agudelo’s header squeezed behind Josh Saunders but somehow never crossed the line. Villa was up for the occasion, however, and nearly found the goal again on a nice 63rd-minute volley, but Bobby Shuttleworth got enough of a hand to it to guide it over. What looked like it was going to be a great finish, however, was sullied somewhat when New England’s Jose Goncalves was (correctly, at least) sent off for denying Khiry Shelton a clear goalscoring opportunity. The Revs hung in there a bit after being reduced to 10 men, but Patrick Mullins ended any suspense by tapping home a cross from the immensely influential Villa. While the party in the Bronx may be the big story this week, there are real concerns for New England as they’ve been run off the field twice in a difficult opening road trip.