Two weeks in and Major League Soccer has given fans plenty to talk about, whether it be on their own team's current status or the style of play other teams are employing this season. The talk of the weekend was undoubtedly the big win Atlanta United FC picked up over fellow newcomers to the league, Minnesota United FC. There was also late drama in the games that featured the San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the Montreal Impact and Seattle Sounders FC.
Atlanta ramp up the style as they blow away Minnesota
In a game that saw the snow fall heavily on the TCF Bank Stadium, Atlanta found the verve and cool finishing in front of goal to pick up a big 6-1 win over the hosts, Minnesota. At the heart of Atlanta's fantastic performance were the performances of Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez and Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almirón. The two were involved in all of Atlanta's goals and also scored multiple goals in the game. Martinez started things off in the third minute with a neat finish past goalkeeper John Alvbage and then added his second and third of the game in the 27th and 75th minutes of the game. Almirón picked up two goals on Sunday, one in the 13th minute and one in the 52nd minute. Martinez then crossed the ball into the box in stoppage time for Jacob Peterson to head home from close range. Kevin Molino picked up Minnesota's sole goal on the night after converting a penalty in the 39th minute.
Atlanta currently sits in third place in the Eastern conference, with three points while Minnesota is rock bottom of the Western conference. Atlanta seem on the rise while Minnesota will have a lot of concerns after conceding eleven goals in two games. On top of that, Minnesota's Alvbage had to be stretchered off in the 86th minute due to what seems like a serious injury. This will not help a Minnesota backline that is currently in shambles and being shredded at almost every given opportunity by the opposition.
The Earthquakes overcome Vancouver in a thriller
Pre-match predictions suggested that the San Jose Earthquakes and the Vancouver Whitecaps would provide an entertaining match and the two teams lived up to that expectation with the Earthquakes grabbing a 3-2 win over the visitors. The Whitecaps stormed ahead with goals by Erik Hurtado and Nicolas Mezquida in the second and 17th minutes respectively and many thought that the game may have been over at that point but the Earthquakes players did not. Chris Wondolowski drew one back in the 32nd minute and in the second half, Nick Lima drew San Jose level in the 59th minute. Anibal Godoy then wrapped things up in the 79th minute. The biggest talking point of the game was the sending off of Vancouver's goalkeeper David Ousted in the 23rd minute for a trip on Wondolowski outside the box. It allowed the Earthquakes back into the game and Vancouver were unable to keep San Jose out with 10 men.
Lima and Godoy continue to impress for San Jose who finds themselves in third place in the West after winning both of their games so far this season. The Whitecaps remain in eighth place in the Western conference and will be left wondering how this came would have turned out if Ousted had not been sent off.
Bruin comes up big for the Sounders
With roughly ten minutes to go in regular time, the Montreal Impact were totally in control of their game against the Sounders and sitting on a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Matteo Mancosu and a brilliant Ignacio Piatti in the 17th and 51st minutes of the game. The Impact, and in particular Piatti, were impressive for most of the match and kept the Sounders at bay until the last phase of the match. Credit has to go to Sounders' head coach Brian Schmetzer who brought on Oniel Fisher and Will Bruin as the Sounders pushed for goals because those two players made the impact that the coach wanted from them. In the 83rd minute, Fisher was tripped by Montreal's Laurent Ciman in the box and Nicolás Lodeiro put away the penalty with ease. With barely any time left in added time, Bruin stepped up and scored from close range to give the Sounders a dramatic equalizer to end the game as a 2-2 draw.
After a sluggish start to the season, the Sounders will be buoyed by this result because of the way they managed to come back into the game. There are still issues for Seattle to sort out, Jordan Morris' finishing being one and the lack of effective defending on their right flank being another, but overall the Sounders can begin to build on moving up from their current seventh place position. The Impact had similar defensive issues as the Sounders as Ciman was exposed time and time again by the Seattle attackers and their collapse at the end of the game will certainly give head coach Mauro Biello food for thought. Any more games like this one will leave the Impact in eighth place, somewhere they do not want to be.
The Timbers are perfect so far this year
The Portland Timbers continued to march on with a solid 1-0 win over a depleted LA Galaxy side. With a quick break in the 8th minute, Diego Valeri found himself in space but unselfishly squared the ball to Diego Chara for the midfielder to give Portland their only goal of the game. This win makes it two out of two for Portland as they look to put last season's problems behind them with their best ever start in the league. The Galaxy was already struggling to cope with the number of injuries they currently have so Jelle Van Damme picking up two questionable yellow cards in quick succession before the first half ended did not help the home side at all.
The Timbers are on top of the Western conference after this round of matches and will look to stay there for as long as they possibly can. The Galaxy have another name to add to their injury table as Giovanni Dos Santos had to come off during half-time with what looked like a muscle issue. The Galaxy will be hoping this is a minor injury as they cannot afford to lose any more players to injury if they hope to move away from the second-to-last place in the Western conference.
The Red Bulls look to dominate the East again
Like the Timbers, the New York Red Bulls have also started the season well and their 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids make it two wins out of two for them. With all of their possession, the Red Bulls were unable to find the goal they needed mostly due to the performances of Rapids' goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was outstanding on the day. It took one of Howard's own defenders to give New York their goal as Eric Miller converted a cross into his own net in the 45th minute.
As previously mentioned, the Red Bulls top the East while this loss means that the Rapids slide down into fifth place in the West. The Red Bulls look defensively more sound than they did in Week 1 but will hope that their misfortune in goal is a one-off thing. The Rapids will look to this loss and try to figure out how to create more chances for themselves as Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles only had to make one save all game long.
David Villa stars in NYCFC's big home win
The captain of New York City FC was at his best this weekend as he, and his team, picked up a 4-0 win over D.C. United. Rodney Wallace opened the scoring with a perfectly executed side volley in the 8th minute. Villa then got his first of the night in the 28th minute and Maximiliano Moralez gave NYCFC a 3-0 lead going into halftime with a goal in the 39th minute. Villa then added a fourth in the game for the home side in the 75th minute after finishing past the United goalkeeper at his near post while off balance. D.C. were barely in the game and sorely missed the services of Luciano Acosta who is out injured.
NYCFC sit in fourth in the East and will look to close the gap on city rivals, NY Red Bulls, as the season wears on. D.C. United have other problems, having not scored a single goal yet this season which leaves them in tenth place in the East. The goals have to start flowing again for United and they cannot stall their season while they wait for Acosta to regain full fitness, someone else must step up in the meantime.
The Union and TFC exchange goals in a 2-2 draw
The Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC also provided MLS fans with another goal-filled game as they finished the game in a 2-2 draw. Jay Simpson scored first for the Union in the 11th minute before being forced to come off due to an injury. He wasn't the only player to leave the game early as TFC's Sebastian Giovinco was also substituted out at the end of the first half with a leg injury. Jozy Altidore managed to pull TFC level again at the end of the first half with a well-taken penalty after Alexander Bedoya had cranked his spot kick off the crossbar not too long before Altidore converted his. Justin Morrow then gave Toronto the lead in the 71st minute but the visitors were unable to hold on to their lead as Simpson's replacement, C.J. Sapong, grabbed the equalizer in the 73rd minute.
Both teams will take the draw, for now, leaving them in sixth and seventh place respectively but maybe Toronto will be the happier of the two as they were away for this game. The Union will also be encouraged by Sapong's goal as it was his first in the league since last August while Toronto will be hoping that Giovinco's injury will not be a long-lasting one.
New-look Dynamo continue to impress
The Houston Dynamo made a lot of changes during the offseason, and so far, those changes are paying off. The Dynamo followed their impressive opening day win with another solid outing against Columbus Crew SC, winning the game by three goals to one. A poor pass by Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen allowed Romell Quioto to pounce onto the ball and score Houston's first of the night in the second minute of the game. The Dynamo were not finished with their scoring in the first half as Alberth Elis extended their lead in the 35th minute, converting a corner kick from inside the box. Erick Torres then put the icing on the cake by beating Connor Maloney in a one-on-one situation before finishing into the far post. Ola Kamara scored a consolation goal for the Crew in injury time but it was too little, too late for the visitors.
Defender Jonathan Mensah is set to miss the Crew's next game at least after picking up a red card for a studs-up challenge on Houston's Alex and will leave a few selection problems for head coach Gregg Berhalter to resolve. The Dynamo, on the other hand, look to be a very good side even though it's still early in the season. Their front three of Elis, Quioto, and Torres, are proving to be a handful for defenses in the league so far and could prove key to the Dynamo's success this season along with Alex's control of the midfield.
Chicago get a solid home win against Real Salt Lake
Two goals in the first fifteen minutes were enough for the Chicago Fire to see off the challenge of Real Salt Lake this weekend in a 2-0 home win for the Fire. Chicago's new Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolić started things off in the 11th minute and Arturo Alvarez doubled the Fire's lead in the 15th minute. Real Salt Lake was unable to find a way back into the match due to Chicago's resolute defending and came away with a less than impressive performance.
This win pushes Chicago right behind the Red Bulls in the table and that will please their fans who had to endure a miserable 2016 season. Real Salt Lake need to find answers for their poor fluidity of play that has shown up in two matches now. Their lack of cohesion has left them in ninth place in the West and they will not want to remain there any longer.
Sporting KC and FC Dallas see out a dull draw
With not a single shot on target until the 35th minute by either team, Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas did not give the viewers much to talk about. In fact, as the match wore on, the number of fouls climbed up and several players picked up yellow cards as the match slowly descended into a physical game of soccer. Sporting KC and Dallas remain in the playoff slots after two matches but neither team will be satisfied with their play this weekend and will look to improve on that in the coming weeks.