It doesn’t matter how much or how little you know about MLS, nobody would be able to make a living by solely correctly predicting what will happen in MLS. While frustrating at times, that unpredictability and parity is MLS’ charm. This first weekend of the 21st MLS was no different in that we got the unexpected.
Some things were pretty much expected. Chicago Fire and NYCFC, while having a high scoring 4-3 result, showed that neither team has much of a defense and will be found out soon enough when they go against a reasonably good team. Also, San Jose and Colorado played to a rather lackluster 1-0 SJ win. And while the Philadelphia Union lost 2-0, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now given that they played away against FC Dallas.
Some results however were very unexpected. Whether it was an unexpected winner, unexpected score or unexpected finish, some results required a second look to see if that actually happened.
If you stayed up late night, you saw the LA Galaxy beat up on D.C. United 4-1. The result wasn’t what was shocking. D.C. had to travel across the country to face a good Galaxy team but what was shocking was the resiliency of the Galaxy from the first half to the second half. Where the team looked old and decrepit thanks to Steven Gerrard giving up the ball way too easily or Ashley Cole “defending” in the first half, looked incredibly reborn in the second half. Thanks in part to Mike Magee coming into the game for the second half and provided an assist, won a penalty and scored two goals, including this beauty.
While I still have my doubts about if the Galaxy’s older, high priced players can last an entire season, they still can show that the skill needed from their role players and top younger players can still make them a formidable foe.
Another big shock was the Montreal (without Didier Drogba) beating Vancouver 3-2. Montreal was in control just about the entire game and was able to control a tough Vancouver team away from home. Maybe Montreal is going to be just fine after all with or without Drogba.
You also had Toronto score two late goals, including a Sebastian Giovinco penalty to give them a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. Sporting Kansas City winning 1-0 over the Seattle Sounders off of a Stefan Frei howler while being up a man for 50 minutes. And the New England Revolution came back to grab a stoppage time equalizer from Daigo Kobayashi to draw the Houston Dynamo 3-3 in Houston.
But that wasn’t the best comeback of the day. After both teams experienced red cards to make it a 10 v 10 game for the entire second half, Orlando City and Real Salt Lake played in front of over 60,000 people at the Citrus Bowl. Without Kaka, who suffered a thigh strain in practice, Orlando was forced to adjust and while it looked bad for them with RSL up 2-0 late, Orlando scored two goals in stoppage time to earn a point in front of all the fans. Cyle Larin got it started by scoring in the 94th minute and then Adrian Winter sealed the deal in the 95th.
And to cap off the day, the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew SC squared off in a MLS Cup rematch. This time, in Portland, the Timbers repeated their trophy winning triumph by the same 2-1 scoreline thanks to Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi’s goals. Columbus tried to come back and equalized off of a Federico Higuain bicycle kick that will no doubt be an MLS Goal of the Week contender.
After one week in the MLS regular season, it would be nonsense to prognosticate the rest of the season just based on the first week. It also doesn’t make much sense that we and just about everyone else predicted what would happen before the season started but we did it anyway. MLS showed that the only thing to expect is the unexpected and that in nine months, we can look back and have a laugh at what we thought was going to happen in Major League Soccer.