ICYMI: Your one-stop shop for the absolute best MLS Week 2 had to offer
So you probably didn't get to watch every MLS match this weekend. That's what we're here for. Here's what you missed, while you were doing who knows what.
DYNAMO STAY PERFECT: Houston are the only team with a 100 percent record after two matches (the Crew are perfect after just one match played). They were not as overpowering against Montreal as they were last weekend vs. New England, but they're strong defensively, they have arguably the best midfield in MLS and they're riding the hot hand of Will Bruin, who's now on three goals.
GIDDY IN TORONTO: Forgive TFC supporters if they're a little light-headed today after that 2-1 road win in Seattle. After all, it's only the third time that the club is above .500 ... in its entire existence. One columnist in Toronto is already calling the Reds "one of the league's best" and Michael Bradley "the best player ever to wear a Toronto FC strip."
PUTTING IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE: It was a bit surreal to see Jermain Defoe deliver the goods with two goals within a half-hour of his debut. But it's happened before in MLS. Peter Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau explains:
— Peter Hirdt (@PeterHirdt) March 16, 2014
LOW BLOW: Fans are already calling for a suspension after the low blow/slap by Clint Dempsey on Toronto right back Mark Bloom when the Sounders were down 0-2. It even made Deadspin.com. But Dempsey apologized for it and he had a perfectly reasonable explanation: "All I was trying to do was smack his hand." Bloom says: "I believe him, for now."
LOW BLOW (PART 2): Bloom was not the only player to crumple to the ground grabbing his midsection. Real Salt Lake left back Chris Wingert, took an even longer time to get up off the ground in the 53rd minute in San Jose. You'll see why here:
MOST UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENT: That may not even have been the most cringe-worthy moment of the weekend. In the lead-up to Seattle vs. Toronto on NBC Sports Network Russ Thaler commented on Bradley's ability to learn languages and asked him how his Canadian was coming (he didn't just ask that, did he?). Toronto's No. 4 was polite: "It's coming along." To which the response was, shouldn't it be "it's coming along, eh?"
ANOTHER AWKWARD MOMENT: Not many in-game manager TV interviews happen around the league much. But it's still a fixture in San Jose, where Mark Watson was caught on the headsets while his team conceded a goal to Joao Plata (WATCH IT HERE). It's more funny than cringe-inducing. But credit Watson for being polite to interrupt the interview "hold on a second" and then lucid enough to pick up his thought and actually answer the original question which most of us surely had forgotten by then.
MAJOR STATEMENT: It was made by the Earthquakes' ex-coach Frank Yallop, now at the helm of Chicago. After a disinterested performance by his Fire team in a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA in Week 1, Yallop benched veterans Chris Rolfe, Patrick Nyarko, Dilly Duka and Designated Player Juan Luis Anangonó in favor of new faces: Benji Joya, Harrison Shipp, Matt Watson and Quincy Amarikwa, who only arrived last season. It worked and the team had a very different attitude. Some might see it as a desperate move. But especially a new coach, who is establishing a new culture, needs to set the tone early.
BRADLEY'S RETURN: Michael Bradley hadn't played in MLS since the 2005 season. What kind of game did he play? The tweet below is all you need to know, except you can apply it to the 2nd half as well:
— Elizabeth Bannon (@alizabeth) March 15, 2014
WHERE'S JOSÉ? That's what Revs fans were asking on Saturday when they didn't see José Gonçalves in the starting lineup. It turns out the reigning Defender of the Year didn't even make the trip to Philadelphia. And, by the way, he was not on the injury report. Revolution manager Jay Heaps addressed the situation in his postgame comments after his team's second straight loss to start the season and Ives Galarcep tweeted the following on the topic:
Where is Jose Goncalves? Sources tell me Heaps told Goncalves to (A) snap out of contract-unhappiness funk or (B) not play. He chose B. #MLS
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) March 15, 2014
The Heaps to Goncalves ultimatum did NOT go down today. Happened during the week. Defender of the Year clearly unhappy w/his contract
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) March 15, 2014
HOW ABOUT THE OTHER GUYS? New England wasn't the only place they were asking for the whereabouts of influential players. In Philadelphia, we found out that Brian Carroll was out with the flu. Turns out RSL playmaker Javier Morales missed practice all week with an injury caused by a tackle from LA's James Riley the game before. And Sporting KC's Graham Zusi sat out in order to be rested for the Champions League return leg against Cruz Azul (as was teammate Paulo Nagamura).
THE REPLACEMENTS: Forget the refs. The guys who took the field in place of the likes of Morales and Zusi who were the real highlights of the weekend. Young, creative playmakers Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Leo Fernandes (Philadelphia Union) and to a much lesser degree Jimmy Medranda (Sporting Kansas City) were among the top performers of Matchday 2. The Union have to find a way to keep Fernandes on the field. Throw in young Canadian Jonathan Osorio who had an outstanding match for TFC, and the future of the league looks to be in good hands. Matthew Doyle breaks down two of the guys here.
HOW'D THEY MISS THAT? Two other young talents will be remembering Week 2 for chances they're probably still replaying in their head. Montreal's Andrew Wenger had a 1-v-1 against the 'keeper in the third minute that he couldn't convert on (WATCH IT HERE). And Diego Fagundez, who was snakebit in Week 1, saw Zac MacMath come out of nowhere to make the save (WATCH IT HERE).
EARLY REVELATION: After two weeks it has to be John Hackworth's Philadelphia Union. They've looked like the 2013 edition of the team they beat Saturday: the New England Revolution. Sprite, quick, technical and energetic. Maybe it's the Gonçalves situation, but this Revs team looks like something's weighing on them. They seem slow and pensive on the ball and far from the decisive and confident squad of 2013. How does Heaps restore the magic?
KICKING AND CUTTING: Who out there can kick a soccer ball while operating a chainsaw? Thought so. Meet the guy who can. Timber Joey.
CAP HIM NOW! We're guilty of it every week -- demanding that a new player be admitted into the USMNT club. This week it's probably FC Dallas center back Matt Hedges or Union center back Amobi Okugo. The latter had a masterful performance on the Philly backline, all while wearing the captain's armband. But who's the player no one is talking about, but soon will? Apparently, Chivas USA manager Wilmer Cabrera thinks that when Eric Avila learns the right back position, he'll be a candidate.
BUTT OF THE JOKE: That's Jay DeMerit, who helped Chivas USA score a goal by redirecting a shot into his own net (WATCH IT HERE). The fact that he did it with his rear end is not lost on two fans, who the veteran gladly retweeted. Here's that other goal the second fan refers to: WATCH IT HERE.
@D6MERIT your ass is clinical. One shot. One goal.
— Main Man (@MainMan425) March 17, 2014
@D6MERIT you've also scored 2 goals against Chivas, both in LA, both on March 16th...
— Kristjan Aug (@krisaug5) March 17, 2014
HEAD-TO-HEAD: While everyone was focused on Dempsey vs. Bradley this weekend, Chris Wondolowski (SJ) and Nick Rimando (RSL) engaged in the best one-on-one battle between potential US World Cup players. Wondo got an early leg up with a goal, but then Rimando answered back with a great save on a glancing header and a close-range stop in the 31st minute.
FROM GOAT TO HERO: No Chivas USA player involved here. Instead, it's San Jose's Victor "El Muma" Bernardez, who scored two goals and was the hero of the latest Earthquakes stoppage-time comeback (he also made a grand exit by running off the field at the final whistle). But it would've been hard to bet on Muma being the scoring hero after this epic shank on a free kick in the 72nd minute with his team down 3-1.
CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS: According to our eyes at Red Bull Arena, John Leguizamo was on hand for the New York Red Bulls opener. And we have photographic proof that former San Jose Earthquakes intern, NFL star Andrew Luck, was at Buck Shaw Stadium to watch the Goonies (right). It's the last note in this rundown, but Marlon Wayans was at the SKC-Dallas match and was involved in the pre-game coin toss.
SOUNDERS SUPPORTER CELEBRITY: We're not talking about part-owner Drew Carey, who'll be on Dancing with the Stars on Monday. Instead it's Sounders supporter Mr. Chainz. We don't know his real name, but he did something clever with his jersey that caught the attention of more than one media outlet.
INJURY WORRIES: Especially for you Fantasy enthusiasts, keep an eye out for updates on the following players who left matches with ailments -- Jason Hernandez looked distraught as he was stretchered off in San Jose. Left back Chris Klute was forced to exit at Red Bull Arena. Aaron Maund and Jordan Allen of RSL had issues. Chicago right back Lovel Palmer walked off with a leg problem. C.J. Sapong took a knock in the first half and came out at halftime. A tackle from Jackson left Brad Evans limping and he left before halftime, but he says it's nothing serious.
ROOKIE SIGHTINGS: We wouldn't have imagined third-rounder Alex Martinez seeing action in the second match of the season for Sporting KC, where rookies typically need time to learn the system. And second-rounder John Berner started in goal for the Colorado Rapids and Harrison Shipp was not out of place for Chicago. But the standout from the college rookie class was San Jose midfielder J.J. Koval, who came off the bench for the final half-hour and gave his team a boost, filling in at center back.
BEST TACTICAL MOVE: Caleb Porter moved Gastón Fernández to center forward which earned the Timbers their game-tying goal. But FC Dallas manager Oscar Pareja really hit pay dirt with two late subs in the match against SKC. First forward David Texeira earned the free kick and fellow substitute Michel pinged the perfect set piece with his left foot for Matt Hedges to head home (WATCH IT HERE). It was FCD's only shot on goal of the entire match.
EARLY TRENDS: Very small sample size, but the Portland Timbers needed late goals to salvage draws at home on the first two weekends, while reigning champions Sporting Kansas City conceded late in both of their matches and have just a point to show for it.
LOCKER ROOM MYSTERIES: The Philadelphia Union have not announced the signing of Brazilian Fred just yet, but it turns out that he already has a name on a locker at PPL Park. It's the same deal with Martinique man Kevin Parsemain, who not only has a locker, but also has a number (No. 77) in Seattle. The word is they'll sign him this week.
HAMMING IT UP: The Earthquakes take an interesting pregame team shot, courtesy of the facial expressions by Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart and the random fan in the mix.
TOO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN?: So what ails the Timbers, who struggled against the Chicago Fire at home? Could it be that they have too many playmakers (Fernández, Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri) and not enough options at the No. 9 forward spot? Max Urruti presses and chases, but the now-departed Ryan Johnson, despite his shortcomings, was better at occupying a backline all by himself. Plus, the Jamaican was a player who could actually represent a real target for crosses.
FASHION STATEMENT OF THE WEEKEND: It was made by RBNY manager Mike Petke (below right), who donned a salt-and-pepper jacket. It was a great way to celebrate his new contract with the club, but when you're the Supporters' Shield winner, opposing fans are going to take aim at you:
Petke shops at the Burlington Coat Factory
— Jared Thornburgh (@DoubleOhNegatve) March 15, 2014
GOAL CELEBRATIONS: Thierry Henry's video camera celebration has received all the attention (see what Henry saw in this new footage of his antics), but the most daring celebration has to belong to Luke Mulholland of RSL. The Englishman dared try to mimic Joao Plata (see the Ecuadorean's jig here) with a dancing celebration. It just didn't look right -- see here for yourself.
QUAKES PRESIDENT SOUNDS OFF: Dave Kaval and the Seattle Sounders' Emerald City Suppoters had an interesting back-and-forth on Twitter with the topic being ticket prices for the Quakes vs. Sounders match that will inaugurate Levi's Stadium, the new home of the NFL 49ers. Lines like this make it worth a read: "Remember we were playing @MLS soccer here in San Jose when you guys were minor league."
GONE TO THE BIRDS: Someone give this groundskeeper dude a raise. Look at how deft he was at snatching this stray pigeon. I'd like to see how good he is against stray cats.
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUAKE: As we await for newly acquired Yannick Djaló to play his first minutes with the Earthquakes, there's a clear lack of playmakers in the squad. In the first two competitive matches of the year, Shea Salinas is taking on the role himself. Outside of the long ball, he's the primary catalyst, making things happen in the run of play as well as with his set-piece delivery. Two assists on Saturday are not a coincidence.
INTERESTING MOVE: Winger Cordell Cato playing right back for San Jose was new, but another one that came out of the blue -- Montreal Impact midfielder Collen Warner, who has mainly featured in the center of the park, on Saturday was asked to play a wide right midfield role. He played the pinched in role in RSL's diamond previously (speed's not his game), but he didn't look entirely comfortable with the wider positioning at BBVACS.
GRAPHIC FAIL: We're convinced the graphic operator on the NBCSN broadcast was a closet Seattle fan and did this on purpose to tweak the Portland Timbers, after the allocation order controversy in the wake of Dempsey's return to MLS:
Uuuuh, something's not right with this picture. pic.twitter.com/n1MxfColAX
— Hairy M. Stache (@LevesquesStache) March 16, 2014
INVADER AT RBA: New York City FC don't begin play in MLS until next year, but their fans are already stoking the rivalry with the Red Bulls. Check out Martí Torres, who went to the RBNY-Colorado match wearing this:
— Martí Torres (@QBNDorian) March 15, 2014
TIFO TALK: Red Bull Arena saw one of the top tifo displays of the weekend featuring Petke, alongside the "We're All Seeing Stars" theme unveiled by the Cauldron (see both below).
— Brian Tsao (@BTsao) March 16, 2014
One more from tonight. pic.twitter.com/y2dtKrWQrz
— The Cauldron (@KCCauldron) March 16, 2014
TIFO FAIL: Kansas City's South Stand supporters group on the other hand coined a new phrase in the American soccer lexicon thanks to a tifo display that wasn't executed to perfection. The word "DEFEND" turned into "DEEF'D," which actually had people looking it up in the dictionary. Lo and behold, it's apparently listed, except it's not a verb. But the soccer usage is still a work in progress: To be deef'd.
— GJD (@akaG_off) March 16, 2014
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: Goes to the Houston Dynamo. Tell me you don't think so, too:
— HoustonDynamo (@HoustonDynamo) March 16, 2014
PRETTY PICTURES: Here's one of the better looking ones we saw from Saturday. It's from Sporting Park after the Aurelien Collin that put SKC ahead:
— Cassie Hutchison (@CassieHutchison) March 16, 2014