It was another busy weekend in MLS, so let’s get right to the Big 5.
1) Dempsey and Seattle Put on a Show
With all talk of a declining Dempsey now firmly put to rest, Deuce, Obafemi Martins and the rest of the Sounders put on a show in Saturday’s 4-1 home win over Colorado.
Dempsey had two goals and made another, while running his league leading total to eight, in just six games. Martins chipped in with a goal of his own and played a big part in Seattle’s opener.
At times on Saturday Seattle’s passing display and creativity called to mind the Globetrotters, more so than a conventional soccer team. When Martins and Dempsey originally teamed up in Seattle, this is what Seattle envisioned, and the rest of the league feared.
With the Sounders now topping the Western Conference after the first game of a three match homestand, this is beginning to look like the year that Seattle’s rabid fanbase may finally be rewarded.
2) Red Bulls Get the Point, Actually 7 in 10 Days.
10 days ago the New York Red Bulls were looking for their first win, now they have two, plus Saturday’s away draw with Columbus.
The Bulls won a pair of home games, 2-1 over Philadelphia, and a 4-0 pasting of Houston, before the weekend’s 1-1 tie against the Crew.
Bradley Wright-Phillips scored for NYRB, adding to his hat-trick versus Houston. Columbus got on the scoreboard via a Jairo Arrieta pk.
Both sides got excellent goalkeeping, although New York’s Luis Robles perhaps outshined Steve Clark, the Crew netminder. Robles has been outstanding for two seasons now, and looks as good as any MLS keeper.
The draw was the third on the trot for Columbus, who lead the East with 12 points. The next four team’s, including the Red Bulls have 11.
3) Portland and Chicago Still Winless
Big things were expected of the Timbers this season, but so far an old bugaboo has tripped up Caleb Porter’s club. Too many ties.
Last year the Timbers led the league in the ambiguous finish, with 15. This season Portland are tied for second with five. Ahead of them? Chicago with six.
The two teams are propping up their respective conferences. There is plenty of soccer still to be played, but both Portland and Chicago will have to step it up, and soon.
4) Dallas Stumble
Last week FCD’s fast start earned the Hoops a place in our Big – 5, but we did warn Dallas fans not to get carried away just yet.
This week we urge FCD fans not to despair over a 4-1 loss to DC United. At 3-2-2 DC look a much better side than last year’s record breakingly bad outfit, and on Saturday Dallas defender Zach Loyd gave United a big boost.
A 39th minute red card for the FCD fullback sparked DC, and two goal man Fabian Espindola. Michel would also be shown the line for FCD, although his 89th minute dismissal would have no impact on the match.
United’s good play was witnessed by just 11,172 patrons, highlighting the uncertainty of the DC stadium bid. Something needs to happen fairly soon, because the cavernous RFK isn’t cutting it.
5) New England and Vancouver Leave it Late
It was a cold, wet and miserable night in Salt Lake City, and with less than 10 minutes played, the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps were trailing their hosts 2-0 at Rio Tinto.
Vancouver’s night seemed unlikely to improve as the match wore on, with RSL in control. But the game is 90 minutes long, and as long as you have to be out there you may as well keep playing.
Vancouver did just that and in the 86th minute, their night began to improve. Nicolas Mezquida cut the Whitecaps deficit in half, setting the stage for a spectacular stoppage time equalizer from Sebastian Fernandez.
Fernandez beat Nick Rimando with a wonder strike from close to 40 yards, not exactly an everyday occurrence.
Also on Saturday, New England went Vancouver one better, because their late flurry secured all three points points against Sporting Kansas City.
Adding a little more drama at Gillette Stadium, former Kansas City striker Teal Bunbury scored the game winner, two minutes into stoppage time. SKC were a man down after a rash challenge on Diego Fagundez earned Aurelien Collin a straight red in the 74th minute.
Fagundez served in the ball that Bunbury scored, then two minutes later the young New England danger man earned a penalty that that Lee Nguyen would convert to set the final score.
This result leaves both teams, with DC United, as part of a logjam at 3-2-2, trailing first place Columbus in the Eastern Conference.
MLS expansion has been in the headlines of late, with news out of Atlanta, New York, Orlando, and Miami, but what about Sacramento?
Sacramento Republic FC made their debut in the third tier USL PRO this weekend in front of a crowd of 20,231. The Republic lost the game to the Harrisburg Islanders 2-1, but the result may not matter, not with MLS Commissioner Don Garber currently casting about for team 24.
Minnesota and San Antonio are said to lead the queue to follow New York City FC, Orlando, Atlanta, and presumably Miami, as the league races to 24 teams. On Saturday at Hughes Stadium, Sacramento Republic FC gave Garber 20,231 reasons to consider the California State Capitol.