MLS RunDown: Big Guns Fire Blanks In Week 3

With a number of star players missing there were some unexpected scorelines in the MLS and Liam gives us the weekly RunDown

New York Red Bulls (2) v (0) Chicago Fire

It was an exciting game at Red Bull Arena to kick start the weekend action. Chicago defended well in the first half, exposed New York on the counter a few times but were ultimately unable to find the final ball and failed to score. Red Bull flew out of the blocks in the second half and caught Fire cold. Fabio won the ball on the right, broke to the by-line and passed into the box. The Chicago defence was caught ball watching, allowing Casseres Jr. to break into the box and bury it.

Just after the hour mark New York doubled their lead after more sloppy Chicago defending. Fire lost the ball playing out from the back, as Kyle Duncan pounced on some slow possession. He laid of to Sean Davis, who floated a spectacular cross into the box. Fabio headed it down to Caden Clark for his second assist of the game. Red Bull were impressive throughout and could easily have scored more.

Chicago produced plenty of chances but the Fire really needs to start converting these into goals. No wins from three is poor and could really damage the confidence of this new team.

Real Salt Lake (3) v (1) Sporting Kansas City

KC took the lead early in the first half after some poor defending and a slow-motion counter attack. Gianluca Busio dummied smartly leaving the ball for Alan Pulido who fired a rocket into the roof of the net. Damir Kreilach pulled one back before the break. After the break it was all about Rubio Rubin. Last week he got two assists, this week two goals. 

Not many people rated RSL’s chances this year, but it’s two wins from two for Real as they continue to surpass expectations. Rubio looks to be a real gem and RSL are on the up. Sporting KC looked off the pace here. Their quality is still clear, but they were slow in defence leaving gaps for RSL to exploit. Up front, they look to have plenty of early season rustiness. 

CF Montreal (0) v (0) Columbus Crew

Not may people would have expected Crew to be winless at this stage, but here we are. Both sides made late changes and this game never really sparked into life. Columbus racked up a whopping zero shots on target. Montreal were solid, but they spurned a flurry of chances in the second half and will be disappointed they didn’t take all three points.

Houston Dynamo (1) v (1) Los Angeles FC

The third SRD BetAlong of the season saw a stalemate in Houston. A quiet enough first half saw LA enjoy the better chances, and Diego Rossi in particular should have gotten on the score sheet. It was spoils shared then in the second half as both team scored within 90 seconds of each other. Corey Baird fired the visitors into the lead on 57 minutes. The game was tied again by 59 minutes! Tyler Pasher directed home from a Fabrice Picault assist to get the hosts back level. The team swapped chances for the remaining half an hour and either side could have found a winner.

All in all a respectable draw for Houston. LA FC remain one of the few undefeated teams but will hope to see Carlos Vela back sooner rather than later. They are just not the same outfit without him on the pitch. Rumours are beginning to swirl that the Mexican front man might be making a return to Spain. LA better hope they can tie him down.

New England Revolution (2) v (1) Atlanta United

Another tough day at the office for Atlanta. They dominated possession here but were unable to make the most of it. The Revs looked more dangerous throughout and took the lead when Brandon Bye steered home a delightful Carles Gil cross. An Atlanta penalty just before the break tied things up, but a New England penalty early in the second half restored the host’s lead. 

In truth, anything other than a Revolution win here would have felt wrong. They were impressive defensively and kept Atlanta to very few chances. The Revs are sitting pretty at the top of the Eastern Conference and if they continue to play like this they could remain there for some time. Atlanta will need to find some consistency.

Orlando City (3) v (0) FC Cincinnati

Having scored just once in the opening two games, Orlando will be delighted to have found their scoring boots here. Kaka has been sorely missed but City seem to be adapting to life without him once again.

It’s going to be a long season for Cincy. The first team to reach double digit goals against, they are rooted to the bottom of the table. We said last week that Jaap Stam’s position looks vulnerable and another resounding loss will do nothing to help. With 10 goals conceded without reply, there looks to be something very wrong in Cincinnati. If Stam cannot work some magic on the training pitch soon I think we will see some change. Unfortunately for the club, their troubles run a lot deeper than the head coach.

Tougher tests will come for Orlando for sure. The visit from NYC FC next will tell us a lot more about this promising side. For now, all they can do is enjoy the win.

Philadelphia Union (0) v (2) New York City FC

This game turned into something of a free swing for NYC. Before kick-off we questioned if Union would be in the right mindset for this, with a Concacaf semi-final berth up for grabs on Wednesday. Jesus Medina answered that question with just four minutes on the clock. Maxi Moralez waltzed through the centre of the pitch and released down the right Tinnerholm. The winger in turn squared the pass back into the box and Medina buried it beyond the helpless Andre Blake. A clinical finish, but a goal that was all too easy for City.

Not long later Jose Andres Martinez saw red when he elbowed Castellanos in the face. A needless, intentional foul that could see the Venezuelan face an extended suspension, despite Castellanos’ histrionics. The writing was on the wall for Union and they produced little of note in the remainder of the game. Union mustered just two shots in the whole game, compared to City’s 19, and that tells you all you need to know. Castellanos put a gloss on the score late on but this was a routine a win as NYC will enjoy all year. Philly will need much better than this if they are hoping to top the Eastern Conference again this season. 

FC Dallas (4) v (1) Portland Timbers

If you read my MLS preview for Dallas you might remember I had quiet hopes for The Toros. My big question was where would the goals come from. Well if this game is anything to go by, the answer is “everywhere”. Dallas scored four goals, by four different scorers, and with a different player assisting every time. We saw a forward score from outside the box and a midfielder score from inside the box. We saw a goal from a set piece, an assist from the goalkeeper, with a defender and a substitute both getting in on the act.

I won’t count my chickens just yet, but if Dallas can find another performance like this one against Houston then it’s time to get excited. A day to forget for Portland.

Minnesota United (0) v (1) Austin FC

Another week, another loss for Minnesota. It’s early days, but the storm clouds are gathering over Allianz Field already. Three games, three defeats, one goal scored, seven conceded.

The frustrating thing is that Minnesota were more or less in this game. They produced a plenty of chances and might have even scored if they could have been clinical in front of goal. United were a bit better at the back and could have done nothing about the Austin goal.

A lightening break saw Austin get from a defensive throw deep in their own half to inside the United box in seven quick passes. Diego Fagundez was there to tap home, although the simple finish was the result of some silky build up play. That’s two wins from three for Austin, who are a breath of fresh air in the Western Conference. 

San Jose Earthquakes (4) v (1) DC United

Three goals last week and four goals this week. San Jose are on fire. We said before the season that Hernan Losada might be out of his depth at DC and unfortunately that is beginning to look to be the case. In fairness to the Argentinian, he saw his formation last week did not work and changed things up for the trip to San Jose. Unfortunately for him, this was a big step backwards. His three central midfielders were comprehensively outplayed by the dynamic Earthquakes and that opening day victory over Red Bulls is beginning to feel like long time ago.

Javier Lopez opened the scoring for the hosts after just 90 seconds. His outside the box shot bounced into the far corner after an electric counter attack. Twenty five minutes later Cade Cowell scored a similar goal, this time from just inside the box. Again, DC were caught on the counter. The visitors pulled one back from a corner after half an hour, but Jackson Yueill put the game to bet before half time. His 30 yard volley was undoubtedly goal of the week and another early season contender for the goal of the season short list. Yueill scored another late on but the game was over long before that. 

I am very curious to see how Losada sets his team up next week. He surely cannot stick with the ineffective 4-3-3 but his squad is too inexperienced to shuffle to formation each week. He will need to settle on a system soon.

Nashville SC (0) v (0) Inter Miami CF

These two crowd pleasers produced a dull stalemate in Tennessee that both teams will be keen to forget. Phil Neville was without Los Hermanos Higuaín, his stars from last week, due a family bereavement and their creativity in front of goal was sorely missed.  Nashville had the better chances but were unable to make them count, and this will count as two points dropped against a depleted Miami. 

Seattle Sounders FC (3) v (0) LA Galaxy

One step forwards two steps back for Galaxy here. The impressive win against Red Bulls long forgotten after being destroyed by Seattle. Chicharito looked a little off the pace but in fairness to him the supply was poor. LA had plenty of the ball but could not create any chances of note against a defensively sound Seattle. The Sounders have only conceded a single goal in over four and a half hours of football and will remain tough to beat. It’s easy to see why they are favourites for the Cup.

Vancouver Whitecaps (0) v (1) Colorado Rapids

The last game of the weekend was a relatively quiet affair. That standout moment was produced by Diego Rubio as the Chilean produced a wonderful freekick from about 30 yards out. His strike nestled into the top corner leaving Whitecaps keeper Crepeau with no chance. That proved the difference between the sides and gave the Rapids their first road win of the season.