The drama, attractiveness, and offensive potency in Week Two was an aberration. And in Week Three, MLS regressed to the mean in an unwatchable way. Thee scoreless draws. Three games that finished with fewer than 22 players on the field (with Kekuta Manneh’s nauseating tackle on Aurelien Collin somehow not among those to earn red). And plenty of ugly play in between.
If you missed any of the action (if you can call it that), let’s get you up to speed with the MLS Roundup.
In the match that set the unsatisfying tone for the the weekend, there was nary a goal in sight as New England and Montreal both crashed ineffectively into each other until the final whistle. The Revolution, now scoreless in three games to start 2015, managed to put their stamp on the game late in the second half with some fantastic individual work from Juan Agudelo and Lee Nguyen that failed to combine with any of their teammates or result in a chance on goal. The game changed in the 61st minute, however, as Hassoun Camera picked up his second yellow of the night and received his marching orders. From there the chances were all with the Revolution, but the New Englanders could not put any of them away. The most egregious miss of the night came in the 72nd minute as Nguyen found himself free in the center of the Montreal box for a whipped in Chris Tierney cross that Nguyen proceeded to head over the bar. Typical for the match, the Revolution closed the game out with a final free kick on goal in second half stoppage time, with Tierney putting a dipping ball just over the wall and on frame but nowhere near to challenging Montreal keeper Evan Bush.
The Rapids put on a clinic in how to dominate a game, squeeze off 21 shots, and yet not even come close to finding a goal on Saturday. In a game in which NYCFC fans' early-season exuberance likely waned a bit, the Citizens were utterly incompetent in the attack. NYCFC’s possession was decidedly without purpose in Commerce City, as an early run into the box by Adam Nemec (our generation’s Cam Weaver) was the most dangerous moment NYCFC could create. The Rapids had a little bit more bite in their attack with Dillon Powers returning to the lineup to pull some strings, but even in the rare circumstances the Rapids worked their way into NYCFC’s box as Gaby Torres did in the 63rd minute, they couldn’t seriously challenge Josh Saunders. NYCFC even gifted Colorado ten minutes of play with a man-advantage after Manchester City youngster Shay Facey was sent off for a second yellow, but you would’ve hardly known it as Colorado meekly limped to a scoreless finish.
Friday night's match was delayed to Saturday afternoon due to the weather. And the delay didn't affect the traveling team as Dallas walked out of PPL park 2-0 winners over the 10-man Union. The first half ended with the easiest red you'll see this weekend when the Union's Zach Pfeffer was sent off in the 42nd minute for an elbow to the head of Dallas' Mauro Diaz. After going into the lockers 0-0, Dallas returned to dominate the second half behind goals from Tesho Akindele and Ryan Hollingshead.
The Union's Fabinho gifted Akindele with a very poor clearance in the 49th minute and the former Oredigger of the Colorado School of Mines easily put it past Union keeper Rais M'Bolhi for the first goal of the match. Ten minutes later Ryan Hollingshead put the match on cruise control for the visitors with his first MLS goal in the 59th minute. The Union couldn't muster a response as Dallas finished off the hosts to leave PPL park with all three points and to stay perfect atop the table three games into the season.
Orlando City found itself in the throes of its growing pains Saturday evening as the Whitecaps stole three points from the Lions at the death. The ‘Caps Octavio Rivero showed his scorching early-season form had not faded at all in the first half, nearly scoring on a beautiful Pedro Morales through ball and, moments later, buzzing the top of the crossbar on a stinging volley from a tight angle. For the most part, however, Vancouver was more than happy to sit back and invite Orlando City to come forward; a tactic that resulted in Vancouver not having much in the way of the ball, but Orlando City not having much in the way of real chances. Of the Lions' pride of half-chances, Pedro Ribiero’s nod of a classy Kaka free kick in the 58th minute probably represents the best - which tells you about all you need to know about Orlando City’s attack. Vancouver - certainly the more dangerous team - secured the deserved three points in dramatic fashion when Rivero wiggled away from Amobi Okugo just enough to bury a glancing, diving header inside the far post to secure the win and squeeze every drop of juice out of the Citrus Bowl atmosphere five minutes into second-half stoppage time.
Their offensive ineptitude against a Whitecaps defense that has been inconsistent in 2015 suggests Orlando’s hold on third place in the East is tenuous, at best. Each of the Lions’ four points have come in games in which they didn’t look especially dangerous. Indeed, the fears of many observers preseason appear to be coming to fruition; Kaka has been outstanding, but his supporting cast has been nonexistent. Unless that changes in a significant way, Orlando will find themselves well off the playoff pace.
Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Houston Dynamo 1
In the most surprising result of the weekend, the Dynamo stole a point from the L.A. Galaxy in Carson. If Houston’s draw was unlikely before the game, it was downright farfetched only three minutes in when Robbie Keane opened the scoring after a 50-yard run up the gut of the Houston defense. As a bonus, Keane managed to celebrate this goal without flipping anybody off. Even if Nathan Sturgis was de-pantsed a little bit on Keane’s goal, he regained his dignity just eight minutes later when he tapped a David Horst header across the face of goal into the standstill Galaxy defense’s net. From there, the Dynamo put on a master class in frustrating the counterattack-happy Galaxy by sitting deep and inviting L.A. to string passes together. It may have been ugly (okay, hideous), but to Owen Coyle’s credit, the tactic had its desired effect. Despite having over 65% of the ball (including over 70% in the second half) and stringing together 503 passes, the Galaxy only fired 9 shots and had very few chances. Still, the Dynamo needed some heroics from Deric, who came up biggest in his diving denial of Mika Vayrynen in the 71st minute. But in the end the Dynamo got a point in L.A., which is no small feat for MLS’s ugliest team.
D.C. United sleepwalked through the first 75 minutes before finally coming to life late in the match. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, created chance after half-chance off set pieces as the game wore on. New York's opening goal, however, came from the run of play in the 25th minute as Bradley Wright-Phillips corralled a poorly contested ball in the D.C. box and slotted it home past reigning Goalkeeper of the Year Bill Hamid. The Red Bulls' second goal again came during the run of play, as New York took advantage of a D.C. turnover to run a quick counter and play Lloyd Sam into the box, where he hammered the ball home past Hamid at the near post. United looked sure to pull at least one goal back in second half stoppage time, but the usually steady Chris Pontius blazed his penalty-kick attempt at converting over the bar in a manner that would make Kris Boyd blush and turned out the lights on any possible D.C. comeback.
After a long weekend, full of far too many shutouts, Sunday's second match hardly sounded enthralling as the struggling Fire and curiously not terrible Quakes were poised to duke it out. The scoring opened early in the fifth minute as Fatai Alashe, former Portland Timbers U-23s captain, got on the end of a header in the Chicago box, redirecting it around the defenders on the Fire goal line and into the back of the net. Alashe's early goal opened up the proceedings and it was not long before San Jose got their second, a 21st minute tap-in after Sean Johnson managed a kick save on Clarence Goodson's volley. The goals kept coming in the first half as, in the 29th minute, Joevin Jones played a perfectly weighted ball through the heart of the San Jose defense for the run of Harry Shipp, who placed the ball perfectly around David Bingham to put Chicago back in the game. The comeback was not to be, though, as neither team could find the net again despite a bevy of chances.