Week 3: The Man With the Whistle Would Like Your Attention Please

Well the officials certainly had a busy weekend and after handing out 38 yellow cards, five red cards, and awarding seven penalties, it seems likely that the PRO offices will be grateful for the international break giving them an extra week to sort out all of the paperwork.

Friday night’s match between Orlando and NYCFC was absolutely none of the things that fans of offensive soccer were hoping for. Cyle Larin scored the only goal of the match in the 7th minute when he happened to be exactly where he needed to be for the ball to strike him in the face and meekly cross the line.  It was less of a demonstration of Larin’s remarkable offensive acumen, (though it did continue his streak of scoring in every match this season) and more a showcase of NYCFC’s defensive incompetence.  The match never really got going after that, but Orlando will be pleased getting the win at Yankee Stadium.

Ethan Finlay made his 100th appearance in Saturday’s first match between Columbus and Chicago. The game ended 0-0, and there isn’t much else to say about it.

The marquee match of the week was scheduled to take place between FC Dallas and the Montreal Impact, but the Impact’s early season tour of dominance came to a grinding halt on Drogba Day.  FC Dallas overcame their complete and total breakdown last weekend, and got back to their cooly dispassionate winning ways.  Diaz and Urruti broke a 0-0 deadlock late in the match to give FC Dallas the two goal victory.  Drogba, finding the playing surface to his liking, made his season debut in the 70th minute, but was unable to help jumpstart the Impact’s surprisingly sputtering attack.  Both teams move to 2-1-0 on the season.

Meanwhile in Seattle, Cascadia Cup 2016 got its season premiere, and what an installment it was. Mark Geiger once again managed to make himself the center of attention after calling an objectively inconsistent match and awarding a penalty in the first half for what could charitably called the worst referee decision you’ll see this season. Andreas Ivanschitz managed to equalize with a lovely free kick in the second half, but Seattle saw their first point of the season slip through their fingers when Vancouver was awarded a second goal from the spot after Blas Perez managed to earn a penalty in, how shall we say, less then completely genuine circumstances.  Chad Marshall’s challenge was risky and certainly forced Geiger in to making a decision, but Seattle fans were already pretty aggrieved and seeing a call that could have gone either way once again benefit their northern rivals left them understandably apoplectic.

  Nonetheless, The Sounders still had plenty of opportunities to overcome, but were once again toothless in attack and unable to turn their possession into meaningful chances.  Seattle is Major League Soccer’s last team on zero points and this is surely a source of glee to many fans around the league.

RBNY hosted the Houston Dynamo in what was easily the match of the week.  RBNY came from behind twice to earn a 4-3 victory at home.  Will Bruin scored twice for Houston, but it was Felipe who earned all of the plaudits with two GOTW candidates in 7 minutes.  The first a curling effort from just outside the box to level the score late, the second, a perfectly struck, match winning free kick just six minutes later.  Houston have been scoring a lot of goals this year, but their defense still looks very susceptible to making poor decisions and losing concentration when they are ahead. Houston currently have the distinction of scoring and allowing the most goals this season. This was the Red Bulls’ first win and points of the season.

Part one of the Cali Classico took place this weekend at the StubHub Center and the Los Angeles Galaxy secured 3 points with three goals including a brace from Home Grown Player, Gyasi Zardes. This was yet another match where the ref was incredibly busy with Ismail Elfath  dispensing seven yellow cards amongst the two sides, and a straight red to Simon Dawkins. Chris Wondolowski added a late consolation goal to continue his productive start to the season.

Possibly the weekend’s most exciting encounter took place in Portland where the hosts managed to force a late 2-2 draw with RSL.  Once again, a very busy match for the officiating crew, who sent not one but TWO RSL players off and awarded a late penalty which Fanendo Adi scored to equalize in the 83rd minute. Yura Movsisyan scored his first goal for RSL since returning from Europe, but Adi’s late brace secured a point in what was probably a fair result for both sides on the evening.

Are the Philadelphia Union….good?  Is that a thing that’s happening now?  It’s still very early, but they’ve looked sharp in their last two matches taking six points from a possible nine.  CJ Sapong scored a brace and Sebastien Le Toux added a superfluous third late in the match to give the Union a 3-0 victory against the New England Revolution.  The scoreline could have been much uglier however, as New England GK, Bobby Shuttleworth managed to save two penalties, denying both Sebastien Le Toux and Ilsinho from the spot.  Je-Vaughn Watson was shown a straight red in the 36th minute for a dangerous challenge.  All things considered, it would seem that New England did a pretty good job escaping with only a three goal margin of defeat.

The Colorado Rapids traveled to the nation’s capital on Sunday and played in a match that had absolutely no business being on national television.  Hopefully, nobody decided to finally get around to checking out MLS, and tuned into this match.  Less than favorable weather hampered attendance a bit, and the atmosphere was nearly non existent in what appeared to be a rather pedestrian match.  Marco Pappa did his best to entertain with a few highlight worthy dribbles and his beautiful corner kick set up a Dillon Powers header that gave the visitors an unexpected lead in the 69th minute. The lead was short lived however as Zac MacMath (aka the guy who will soon be replaced by Tim Howard) came out to collect a cross in a manner completely devoid of conviction and the ensuing chaos led to substitute Fabian Espindola pouncing on a loose ball in the area and stabbing home an 80th minute equalizer.  Hopefully that’s the last time we’ll see DC hosting a match on national television this season.

Our final contest of the weekend took place in Kansas City, where SKC hosted Toronto.  An illness to Drew Moor was a cause of significant concern to the visitors whose fans were also eagerly awaiting the first Jozy Altidore appearance of the season.  In the end, SKC managed to prove once again that they aren’t all about dirty, negative soccer. Brad Davis scored the only goal of the match, and his first ever for SKC, after stepping on Justin Morrow’s foot in the box and pushing him over in what should clearly have been whistled a foul.  Davis also caused a flash point earlier by continuing to play on right next to an injured Cheyrou near the byline.  The ensuing play resulted in a half chance for Dom Dwyer who had little joy on the evening, and sparked a brief but enthusiastic spate of finger pointing, trash talking and pushing.  Michael Bradley was furious with Brad Davis and the two USMNT veterans squared off a number of times on the evening.  Giovinco played well, but wasn’t able to apply the usual polish to his finishing.  Roger Espinoza was sent off in the 84th minute for violent conduct.  Sporting Kansas City have nine points from three matches and look like they’re only going to get more difficult to beat once Benny Feilhaber returns from his early season injury.

Week three was chippy and physical and as MLS heads into what is essentially an international break (what a time to be alive), there will be plenty for fans to argue and discuss amongst themselves while we wait for everyone to get back in action in two weeks’ time.