Monday Postgame: A topsy-turvy, comeback-filled Week 3 in MLS
NEW YORK — Somebody needs to tell them they’re setting the bar too high in Vancouver.
Another beautiful day at Empire Field, another impossibly entertaining soccer game. They’re like a fireworks crew leading with the grand finale. Don’t they know they can’t keep this up?
Then again, after Saturday’s astounding three-goal comeback against Sporting Kansas City, maybe they can—maybe anything’s possible in British Columbia this year.
While the Caps’ dramatic rally led the Week 3 news here at the MPG, there were plenty of stories nipping at its heels.
There was the announcement that mighty Manchester United would return this summer to play in the MLS All-Star Game. There was the blockbuster trade of Dwayne De Rosario. And there was a weekend of absorbing matches that produced a season-high three goals-per-game average.
Let’s break it down.
Vancouver kicked off their game against Sporting Kansas City without Designated Player Eric Hassli (red card suspension), captain and US international center back Jay DeMerit (injury), Swiss playmaker Davide Chiumiento (injury) and speedy Canadian youth international Russell Tiebert (U-20 qualifying).
For most expansion teams, which are not known for their depth, this would be a significant handicap.
So, too, would be going down 1-0 at halftime despite getting the better of the play through the first 45 minutes.
And going down 3-0 after 62 minutes, which Vancouver did on Saturday? Well, that would flatline most any team, expansion or otherwise.
But Vancouver, we are fast discovering, are not just any team. The Whitecaps got a 73rd-minute goal from Atiba Harris and then two—in stoppage time!—from 22-year-old Brazilian Camilo, who’d started in Hassli’s place.
Camilo spent the day buzzing around dangerously and testing Sporting ’keeper Jimmy Nielsen, so it only made sense—a last-gasp, crazy kind of sense, but sense all the same—when he found the net, twice, at the death to snatch a tie for the home team, and spark pandemonium in the Empire Field stands.
All in all, it was a wide-open, entertaining game with plenty of chances, several spectacular saves by Nielsen, and six goals, five of them high-quality ones.
And let’s not forget Teal Bunbury, who scored the first two for Sporting. They were brilliant strikes that firmly reestablished his place in the “rising young US strikers” spotlight he’d shared with Juan Agudelo before dislocating his elbow.
DeRo on the Go
The night before the Whitecaps’ stunner, Vancouver’s Canadian brethren, Toronto FC, made a splash of their own, trading five-time MLS Best XI selection Dwayne De Rosario to New York in exchange for Tony Tchani, Danleigh Borman and a 2012 SuperDraft pick.
De Rosario suited up for New York on Saturday night against Houston and made an instant impact, setting up a goal within two minutes of coming on to start the second half. But the Dynamo equalized three minutes later and then held on for a 1-1 draw, thanks to a combination of poor finishing by New York and excellent goalkeeping by Tally Hall.
Toronto, for their part, followed up their decision to trade the franchise’s best player by giving up a second-minute goal to Alejandro Moreno of Chivas USA on Saturday afternoon. Ex-USL Timbers striker Alan Gordon answered for the Reds 10 minutes before halftime to lift his current team into a 1-1 tie with his former one.
Indeed, ties, along with great goals, were the theme of Week 3. There were eight games on the schedule this week and five of them ended all even.
The Portland Timbers mustered the first point of their MLS existence. Inspired by a midweek win over Chivas USA in a US Open Cup play-in game—their first victory as an MLS side—the Timbers got a 38th-minute goal from captain Jack Jewsbury to rally for a 1-1 draw at New England on Saturday night, and nearly took all three points.
It was easily the Timbers’ best performance of the year.
San Jose rallied for a 2-2 tie against Seattle, and got something they haven’t gotten in a while—a goal from someone not named Chris Wondolowski. The 2010 Golden Boot winner had scored the Quakes’ previous 12 goals.
This time, though, it was new signing Simon Dawkins, on loan from Tottenham, who slotted home after Bobby Convey threaded a pass through traffic to him. Then second-half sub Khari Stephenson launched a 35-yard tracer past Kasey Keller that will be a candidate in the very crowded field for Goal of the Week. Brad Evans and O'Brian White were the goal-scorers for Seattle.
Becks and the Brits
In a week during which his former team, Manchester United, announced they would return to the US to play in the 2011 AT&T MLS All-Star Game this summer, Galaxy winger David Beckham helped his current team bounce back from last week’s 4-1 shellacking at Real Salt Lake.
Beckham led the Galaxay to a 1-0 win over a scrappy Philadelphia team on Saturday. In the 33rd minute, he swung a dangerous free kick into the area, and Leonardo redirected it with a leaning header that hit the post and went in.
LA then lost midfielder Chris Birchall to a red card in the 53rd minute but held on for the win.
Man. United will face the MLS All-Stars on July 27 at Red Bull Arena. It’s sure to be the hottest ticket on the Red Devils’ summer tour, during which they’ll also face New England (July 13), Seattle (July 20) and Chicago (July 23). Everton and Newcastle also announced plans to tour the States and take on MLS competition.
Week 3 began and ended with games involving last year’s MLS Cup finalists, FC Dallas and Colorado. In the week’s Friday night opener, Dallas received their second red card in three games and fell 2-0 to Columbus, while in Sunday night’s closer, Colorado got two goals from new signing Caleb Folan and romped past D.C. United 4-1.
Unfortunately for Dallas, the two are also bookending the Western Conference standings at the moment, with the unbeaten and untied defending champs at the top, and the 0-2-1 Hoops, who’ve scored just one goal while conceding five, at the bottom.