MLS roundup: Sounders, Red Bulls, Crew SC, Whitecaps still point-less
These are early days in the 2016 Major League Soccer season, to be sure, but a quick look at the league standings through (most of) two weeks will almost certainly cause a few double- and triple-takes.
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Of the four sides without a single point through two games, all four were expected to contend for the Supporters’ Shield and/or MLS Cup — this is MLS, so they most likely still will — but it’s jarring to see last year’s single-table finishers nos. 1, 3, 4 and 6 bringing up the rear four short months later. A few late-night thoughts on a busy, very drunk night of MLS action…
Montreal Impact 3-0 New York Red Bulls — FULL RECAP
The Impact are the darlings of March, for better or for worse. Fingers crossed, for their sake, they’ve got a long way to go before peaking for the season, but they look just about unstoppable and are downright irresistible and breathless at times. The interplay between Ignacio Piatti (three goals, two assists through two games) and Harry Shipp is a joy to watch; they’re sturdy at the back; the midfield base of Marco Donadel and Eric Alexander is everything they need it to be; and they’ve still got Didier Drogba to make his return at some point.
Houston Dynamo 5-0 FC Dallas — FULL RECAP
Reminder: the MLS regular season means (next to) nothing. That’s what FCD fans will be telling themselves tonight, convincing themselves their prospects as MLS Cup contenders are unaffected (they’re right), though nothing will ease the sting of a rivalry embarrassment like this. All the credit in the world to the Dynamo midfield for the way they limited Mauro Diaz’s impact on the game (61 percent passing, just two key passes on the night).
Sporting Kansas City 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps — FULL RECAP
Along with Montreal, Sporting KC are one of two sides on six points from two games to start the season. They’ve also played with a man advantage for 95 of 180 minutes thus far in 2016, which is obviously something that’s worth mentioning. Dom Dwyer scored twice Saturday night, and that’s a welcome sign for everyone in the Heartland after his goal return slipped from 22 to 12 a year ago. The “Pedro Morales kind of sort of plays defensive midfield but mostly roams around for 90 minutes” experiment is not going well for the Whitecaps, who along with the Red Bulls, Crew SC and Sounders, have zero points from two games.
Real Salt Lake 2-1 Seattle Sounders — FULL RECAP
Last week, RSL were the victims of some late drama, and that was something of a worrying trend when taking into consideration their CONCACAF Champions League meltdowns the two weeks prior. This week, they were the heartbreakers late on, as Jamison Olave scored the 86th-minute winner to put to bed one of the least enjoyable games I’ll watch this season. As mentioned above, the Sounders are without a point through two games, and they’ve never really looked like winning at any point in either of them. We’ll wait a couple more weeks before sounding any alarms, but the post-Obafemi Martins era isn’t off to such a hot start.
Colorado Rapids 1-0 LA Galaxy
We all saw this one coming, right? Just as in Pablo Mastroeni’s first two seasons in charge, the Rapids are not going to be a fun team to watch this year, but they’re quite clearly going to be a better, more functional side that no one enjoys playing against. That was the case Saturday night, as the Galaxy, for all their money spent and Designated Player firepower, managed just nine shots in total, including a dismal one shot on target.
Columbus Crew SC 1-2 Philadelphia Union — FULL RECAP
Speaking of wacky MLS results, how about the lowly Union knocking off last year’s MLS Cup runners-up on their home field? As I noted in this game’s recap (above link), the pace with which Crew SC are failing to transition from defending to attacking is incredibly alarming. So often in 2015, they would overwhelm teams on the counter, covering 50 yards in five seconds or less. Through two games in 2016, we’ve seen essentially none of that, and they’ve fallen to 2-1 defeats in both games.
New England Revolution 0-0 D.C. United
See: everything said above about the Colorado Rapids, and apply that to D.C. United. They are a truly awful team to watch play soccer. Ryan said it better than I ever could have myself…