The MLS is alive and kicking once again with new signings and returning players putting in purposeful performances for their clubs in week one.
It was also very telling that throughout this weekend’s action, other than Chivas USA vs. Houston, the West won every Western vs. Eastern Conference battle. Possibly a sign that once again it is going to take a lot more points to make it out of the West.
The Galaxy looked sluggish in their opening match with RSL. It was a surprise that Bruce Arena went with his preferred starting XI considering they just played to a grueling 2-2 draw on a plastic pitch last Wednesday and have the return match midweek against Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. That competition according to the Galaxy front office is the clubs top priority.
Only two changes were made to the side that drew the first leg North of the border and LA looked tired, as passes were not reaching their targets. Keane did look busy, but Ireland’s all-time leading scorer’s finishing let him down.
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LA did strike first through the returning Edson Buddle with a header from an immaculate service from David Beckham, but RSL over-ran the Galaxy defense with three goals in 12 minutes soon after. First, Sean Franklin turned the ball into his own net. Second, Javier Morales found the winner 10 minutes from time, finishing off a scramble in the box after David Beckham inexplicably let Ned Grabavoy run free down the left hand side while he was arguing with the referee. Third, Fabian Espindola was running rampant the entire game and his goal five minutes from time was just rewards, but once again it was poor defending from the home side that let him through. While RSL thoroughly deserved their victory, the Galaxy defense was culpable for all three goals.
New signing Blas Perez had both assists as FC Dallas brushed aside the New York Red Bulls. The Panamanian forward did well to first keep the ball in the box and direct it into the path of Zach Loyd to sweep home after just 11 minutes. Perez then played a cheeky little through ball for Ricardo Villar to finish with a delightful chip beyond the on-rushing Ryan Meara just after the hour mark. Despite giving up both goals the rookie was strong in the Red Bulls goal, carrying over his impressive form from the preseason. Kenny Cooper did get a consolation goal 12 minutes from time, but it wasn’t enough for the Red Bulls as Dallas made it 1-0 in favor of the West.
In the all Canuck battle, it was no surprise that Vancouver ran out 2-0 winners over the expansion Montreal Impact considering the way Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie vastly improved his side during the offseason. It was one of those reinforcements, Sebastien Le Toux, getting the game winner for the Whitecaps.
Colorado made quick work of Columbus with a 2-0 win of their own. The 2010 MLS Champions made it a memorable debut for new head coach Oscar Pareja. Veteran Drew Moore scored a thumping header just before halftime and Quincy Amarikwa’s spectacular strike just before full time made sure of all three points.
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Kansas City struck an injury time winner against an uninspired DC United. All the usual suspects were involved in the buildup to the corner kick that led to the C.J. Sapong header goal off of Graham Zusi’s corner. Sporting deserved the win, but United fans have to be wondering why keeper Bill Hamid didn’t have a defender stationed at the back post.
Chris Wondolowski struck the solitary goal just 15 minutes in as San Jose took advantage of poor passing in the New England midfield. Shalrie Joseph played a soft pass across the middle of the park allowing Shea Salinas to jump into the lane and put Wondo in alone on goal.
Finally, the 2011 runners up returned to the site of last year’s MLS Cup defeat, but with Chivas USA the hosts instead of the Galaxy, Houston was expected to leave Carson with the victory. Even so, the Dynamo had to wait until the 92nd minute when Andre Hainault smashed in a last gasp winner.
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