Michael Orr wraps up the third week of MLS action as a number of sides picked up their first win of the 2012 season.
Friday March 23:
Seattle Sounders 2 – Houston Dynamo 0
After consecutive clean sheets to open the season, Houston Dynamo fell apart in a four-minute span to lose away to Seattle Sounders, 2-0 at CenturyLink Field. Half-way through their seven-game road trip while awaiting the completion of construction on BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, the Dynamo started the season impressively. Yet David Estrada, who scored a hat-trick for the Sounders last week and leads MLS in scoring, ended that era of good feelings with his 23rd minute goal (deflected in by US international Geoff Cameron). Four minutes later, Cameron was whistled for a foul on Patrick Ianni in the box, resulting in a Brad Evans penalty. After crashing out of the CONCACAF Champions League in embarrassing fashion nine days prior, the Sounders have taken all six points in the league.
Saturday March 24:
Toronto FC 0 – San Jose Earthquakes 3
Chris Wondolowski ruined Toronto FC’s home opener by scoring twice in a 3-0 rout for the San Jose Earthquakes at BMO Field. The league’s leading scorer over the past two years brought his early season total to three, scoring in the ninth and 68th minutes. In between, Shea Salinas scored for the Earthquakes. San Jose are on six points through three games, having won games against Eastern Conference opposition, while losing last week to Houston Dynamo. For Toronto, the mid-week injury to goalkeeper Stefan Frei combined with an injured Torsten Frings and the upcoming CONCACAF Champions League semifinal legs against Santos Laguna make for a crowded fixture list without any momentum in the league.
New England Revolution 1 – Portland Timbers 0
Saër Sène scored a first minute header for New England as the Revolution scored its first goal and earned its first win of the season, 1-0 over Portland Timbers at Gillette Stadium. The goal, after just twenty-eight seconds, was the eighth-fastest in MLS history and put Portland in a familiar away position. Unlike in Dallas the week before, the Timbers could not find an equalizer despite repeated headed attempts by Kris Boyd. The Scottish striker had some of the most glaring misses for Portland, though Diego Chará’s first half miss was perhaps the worst. Despite missing Benny Feilhaber and a host of defenders, New England were able to keep the one-goal lead and emerge with their first three points of what has been a difficult start to the season.
Columbus Crew 2 – Montreal Impact 0
Columbus Crew picked up its first three points of 2012 with a 2-0 win over ten-man Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew Stadium. Milovan Mirošević converted a 30th minute penalty and Olman Vargas‘ second half header were more than enough to brush aside the Impact. Montreal went a man down when Jeb Brovsky was sent off for an elbow to Mirošević’s head, yet the visitors nearly equalized on 35 minutes when Justin Mapp hit the crossbar. After a 2-0 loss to Colorado Rapids in its opener, the home victory for the Crew was an important one. Meanwhile, Montreal continue to look for an identity in this their first season in MLS.
Chicago Fire 1 – Philadelphia Union 0
A 26th minute header from Dominic Oduro was enough to see Chicago Fire to its first victory of the season, 1-0 over Philadelhpia Union at Toyota Park. Having drawn away at Montreal last week, Chicago got an even better intra-conference result in defeating the Union, who still have not picked up a single point through three games. The partnership of Oduro and fellow Ghanaian Patrick Nyarko nearly yielded more goals for the Fire, yet Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath did enough to limit Chicago to just the single goal. Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi was called upon several times and was up to the task, as he plays in place of Sean Johnson, the US U23 goalkeeper currently in Olympic qualifying.
Real Salt Lake 0 – Chivas USA 1
Rookie Casey Townsend scored his first MLS goal to stun Real Salt Lake at the usually impregnable Rio Tinto Stadium. The 1-0 score in favor of Chivas USA surely flattered the visitors as they were outclassed throughout most of the match. The 72nd minute winner from the 22-year old came as RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando and center back Chris Schuler collided while trying to collect a Chivas cross. The ball fell to Townsend who quickly poked it into the net, silencing the usually rambunctious crowd. The three points are the first of the season for the Goats and a chance to build in confidence after a typically slow start. Salt Lake, who narrowly missed out on several equalizers due to tremendous goalkeeping from Dan Kennedy and an Álvaro Saborío chip ricocheting off the crossbar, will be disappointed with the result but are unlikely to suffer a precipitous fall-off from their perch atop the Western Conference.
Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – DC United 0
The final game of a busy Saturday came at BC Place where Vancouver Whitecaps and DC United played to a 0-0 draw. 37-year old Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon had his finest game for Vancouver, repeatedly denying United’s advances, including a brilliant stop in the 67th minute on a Hamdi Salihi header. Cannon deflected the downward header from one bounce, preventing DC’s best chance on the night. Dwayne De Rosario tried for late winners, once sending an audacious chip just over the bar in the 76th minute and blasting a shot near post that was saved by Cannon in the 84th. Vancouver had its share of looks at goal, but none quite as promising as DC’s attempts. The Whitecaps remain unbeaten, though did drop points for the first time this season. The point for United was its first of 2012.
Sunday March 25:
Red Bull New York 4 – Colorado Rapids 1
Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper each scored twice as Red Bull New York blasted Colorado Rapids 4-1 at Red Bull Arena. Henry opened scoring after a poor Rapids’ back pass, recording his first goal of the season in the 3rd minute. Three minutes later, Henry sent a through ball into the box for Cooper who scored from an acute angle. In the 53rd minute, Henry scored again before Omar Cummings pulled one back for the visitors in the 77th. Yet Cooper got his third goal of the year in the 89th minute to complete the rout and give Red Bull its first points of the season. After winning its first two matches, Colorado will need to regroup, having finally lost against an Eastern Conference foe.
Sporting KC 2 – FC Dallas 1
Ricardo Villar opened scoring for FC Dallas with a terrific free kick in the 25th minute but Sporting Kansas City scored twice at home to win 2-1 at Livestrong Sporting Park. Aurélien Collin headed in a Graham Zusi free kick just seconds before the end of first half injury time to level the score and give the home side momentum into the second half. Yet it took until the 88th minute for Sporting to finally pull ahead. Kei Kamara scored the match-winner, earning redemption after his 51st minute penalty was saved by Kevin Hartman. Sporting remain unbeaten in 2012 while are left mid-table on four points from three.