ICYMI: Your one-stop shop for the absolute best MLS Week 3 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.
MLS TURNED ON ITS HEAD: They say not to make much of the standings in Week 3. But they are entertaining to look at. There you'll see Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew, who both missed the postseason in 2013, atop the East. FC Dallas, another team that failed to make the playoffs, are pace-setters in the West. And based on early indications, there should be more good things to come from those clubs.
RECORD STARTS: Toronto FC and Columbus had NEVER in their history started a season 2-0-0 before now.
Meanwhile, from an individual standpoint, Chivas USA's Erick "El Cubo" Torres has now scored a goal in each of his team's first three matches to start the season. That's at least as impressive as Jermain Defoe's three goals in his first two MLS games, no?
RECORD WHEN? LA's Landon Donovan is still one goal from becoming the all-time scoring king in MLS history. He's stuck on 135. Next opportunity? The LA derby on April 6 vs. Chivas USA (3 pm ET, UniMas).
HEADY PLAY: Michael Bradley needed 13 staples to seal a gash after clashing heads with D.C. United's Davy Arnaud, who was forced to leave the field after the impact. The TFC training staff bandaged Bradley's head (who knows who many rolls were needed), but it was the skin-tone variety. All in a day's work for Bradley, who also had a stunning pass on the Toronto FC game-winner (WATCH IT HERE), he knocked down the referee (WATCH IT HERE) and he had a nose-to-nose staredown with D.C.'s Fabian Espindola in the match (see below).
Someone asked Bradley, 'How many staples?' 'Dunno,' he shrugged. pic.twitter.com/RHzpOwC29R
— cathalkelly (@cathalkelly) March 22, 2014
— Keaton Robbins (@Keaton_Robbins) March 23, 2014
— Toronto FC (@torontofc) March 23, 2014
PITCH PROBLEMS: Blame the cold. A few fields around the league were in less than optimal condition over the weekend and the protagonists pointed it out. From BMO Field – "The field was not conclusive to playing any sort of football … I blame God for that. For the winter he's given Toronto," said TFC manager Ryan Nelsen – to Chicago (Yallop called it a "difficult surface") and Rio Tinto Stadium (Ned Grabavoy told media "The field's bad ... and that's being nice.").
ORANGE BALL: On the one-year anniversary of the SnowClasico (USA vs. Costa Rica World Cup qualifier), they were playing with an orange ball amid light snow flurries in Colorado. The weather conditions didn't matter to this Rapids supporter capo (right).
THAT'S HOW THEY DREW IT UP: Toronto FC's game-winner vs. D.C. started with a kick down the field from goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Bradley, their new Designated Player, eventually got on the ball and chipped it forward to fellow DP Gilberto, who was making his first start. The Brazilian's enterprise in the box led to the ball being cleared right to the third DP, Defoe, who found the back of the net.
MAN ON THE POST?: It's considered by many to be a must when defending set pieces – put a man on each post. Well, we saw the ball go right past players stationed on the post this weekend. Philly's Cristian Maidana (WATCH IT HERE) and New York's Richard Eckersley (WATCH IT HERE) were helpless.
MERCY FOR MAIDANA: Union fans were livid with the Argentine for his role on both Crew goals (the second strike stemmed from a Maidana giveaway in his own half). But he had accomplices on the second goal (WATCH IT HERE) – Union center mids Brian Carroll and Maurice Edu were both stretched out of position and unable to offer any cover.
GYM CLASSES: Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins will be giving them when the Colorado Rapids visit next. That's because Rapids veteran Vicente Sanchez clearly needs some tips on how to execute a somersault. Check out the Uruguayan's tumble after celebrating a PK goal and compare that to the sprite form of the Nigerian's.
MAGIC MOMENT OF WEEK 3: Goosebumps. That's when the music cut out on the Canadian national anthem in Toronto and the fans at BMO Field did the rest. Even Bradley called it "special" and Defoe says "it's one of the best atmospheres I've played in."
— Michael Milberger (@mmilberger) March 22, 2014
The best sequence of action came in the 18th minute in Kansas City with 1) a goal-line clearance, 2) a blast off the post and 3) an incredible miss from the goal line ... all happening in a matter of seconds (WATCH IT HERE).
The wildest moment? The two penalty kicks awarded to Colorado in a matter of six minutes (PK #1 here and PK #2 here) at DSG Park. The Rapids now have earned three penalty kicks in their favor in the first two matches of the season.
COMING OUT PARTY: That's what Columbus defender Giancarlo Gonzalez experienced against Philly, with massive play after massive play. Some of it was also emergency defending for a Crew side that showed they're vulnerable on the break. It was enough to outdo the Union's converted centerback, Aaron Wheeler, who stood out for the visitors on the day and also nearly scored an equalizer in the 89th minute.
JERSEY POLL: Three new MLS jerseys – Toronto's "onyx" jersey, Seattle's "pitch black" kit and Sporting KC's hoops shirt – all made their debut this past weekend. Your favorite?
HEAPS GOES BALLISTIC: There were plenty of histrionics from the Revs manager on the sideline vs. Vancouver and at one point play-by-play man Brad Feldman noted how he was "pacing like a mountain cat." Heaps' protestations may have been justified to a certain extent: Referee Hilario Grajeda was a bit inconsistent in his calls in the first half. But it's the regular refs' first game back since the agreement on a new CBA. We can cut them some slack.
REVS TURN A CORNER: Who would have thought that the New England Revolution would still be without a goal three matches into the season? (Doesn't help that Teal Bunbury looks less explosive than any time in recent memory – he'd be helped by a move to 4-4-2)
But despite the attacking struggles Saturday's Revs looked like a team that has turned a corner with the resolve they showed. The return of Jose Gonçalves donning the captain's armband probably has a lot to do with it.
PEER PRESSURE: D.C. United may have rebuilt their squad in the offseason, but it's no excuse for lack of success, especially with another new-look team like Columbus setting the pace in the East. "We've got to find a way to do it," head coach Ben Olsen said. "Other teams that are new and not yet gelling are doing it."
HACKWORTH'S BIG DECISION: We asked it last week and we'll ask it again – Can Philly afford to keep Leo Fernandes off the field? He came into the match in Columbus and revived a sputtering attack, also scoring a goal. Why is he so effective? He's a "midfielder" who acts as a forward. He's more explosive than Maidana and he's in the box a lot more than Vincent Nogueira. Which means he provides better support for Jack McInerney, who seems isolated for long stretches up top. Question is: Does Fernandes, for all his energy, have the stamina to go 75-90 minutes?
HAMMIES LEFT AND RIGHT: It's early in the season and so the hamstring muscle is particularly vulnerable for MLS players like New England's Kelyn Rowe, Chivas USA's Oswaldo Minda and Real Salt Lake's Joao Plata, who came off in the 36th minute vs. LA. And without the Ecuadorean's speed and unpredictability, RSL's attacking game was seriously hampered.
HAIRY SITUATION: The home opener was a special enough occasion for Crew forward Dominic Oduro that he got his hair done:
Game time!! Here is the hair of the day! pic.twitter.com/sisyoEJxbR
— Dominic Oduro (@Freakyfast8) March 22, 2014
NAME GAMES: Chicago Fire Homegrown rookie midfielder Harrison Shipp made his second start of his pro career vs. RBNY and he registered an assist, but his name is already playing just as well as he is.
HOLY SHIPP! HOLY SHIPP! HOLY SHIPP! #cf97
— Jeff Crandall (@jefecrandall) March 23, 2014
Red Bulls have to cut that Shipp out.
— Mark Fishkin (@MarkFishkin) March 23, 2014
TALKING TIFO: This section looks like it has the potential to be a weekly fixture on ICYMI. Thanks to home openers in Columbus (see "New Crew" and "Rise" tifo), Salt Lake (see "Remember the 7th of November" tifo), Montreal (see tifo), Toronto (see tifo), Chicago (see tifo) and Colorado, we had plenty to choose from. But the Rapids take the cake this week for its elaborate design:
— Eric Gorski (@egorski) March 22, 2014
THUMBS DOWN: The tifo was great, but when tifo encroaches on the field, it ceases being entertaining. We're talking about the streamers which interrupted play for over a minute in New England and the stoppage-time fan invader in Toronto (below).
— Devin Pleuler (@devinpleuler) March 22, 2014
NO DEUCE? NO PROBLEM: Missing Clint Dempsey due to suspension and Brad Evans due to injury, the Sounders opted for a 4-3-3 formation and a counterattacking game plan in Montreal. To the extent that the Impact were unable to convert on numerous chances – Marco Di Vaio is still out due to suspension – the Sounders plan worked.
TORONTO MAYOR ROB FORD: Why not drop his name in there, too? That's because everything happened in Toronto this weekend, including MLSE boss Tim Leiweke aiming this comment at the controversial mayor on the topic of BMO Field expansion – "The other good news I had today is that the mayor’s going to vote against our [stadium expansion] plan, which probably means we win 42-2,” Leiweke said. Get the full story here.
FIGHT DIAMONDS WITH DIAMONDS: That's what the LA Galaxy did on Saturday at Rio Tinto. Manager Bruce Arena lined up with Landon Donovan at the top of the diamond in central midfield, mainly to harass RSL's Kyle Beckerman and prevent his playmaking ability from deep. LA's Juninho was on the opposite end of the diamond from Donovan, while Baggio Husidic and Stefan Ishizaki pinched in on either flank.
But when your backline commits errors like misreading balls (USMNT's Omar Gonzalez at fault in the second minute) or just plain not marking players on set pieces (the Alvaro Saborio goal), a formation can only help so much.
IT'S ONLY WEEK 3: Someone needs to tell that to center back Hassoun Camara of the Montreal Impact. Yes, the Canadian side has now lost three straight to open the season, but the Frenchman may have taken this missed header on goal in the 57th minute a little too personally.
JERSEY MALFUNCTION: A slight one, involving Crew playmaker Federico Higuain (that's a "u" before the "a"). Let's see if this gets the same superstitious treatment as the Chris Wondolowski "W." The Crew won the game in the end.
— Steve Graff (@smgraff) March 22, 2014
BATTLE OF ATTRITION: Dallas manager Oscar Pareja and LA boss Bruce Arena are in the same boat. Pareja saw three central defenders go down to injury and cards (Adam Moffat, Andrew Jacobson and Hendry Thomas), while the Galaxy saw two more defenders suffer knocks (A.J. DeLaGarza and James Riley). In fact, LA expect some disciplinary action for the DeLaGarza injury, caused by a late Alvaro Saborio tackle.
BIKER BANDITS: Maybe it's because as a center back he doesn't get too many chances to show off, but San Jose defender Victor Bernardez really loves flipping the ball up to himself and applying the overhead kick. He did it for the second straight week (fifth minute) in Kansas City. At this point Bernardez is to the bike as what D.C.'s Bobby Boswell is to speaking to people on the field with his mouth covered (Boswell's 89th-minute bike attempt in Toronto will not make his personal highlight reel).
But the best bike by a defender this weekend was the Djimi Traore attempt that finished in the hands of the goalkeeper (WATCH IT HERE). His Sounders teammates will probably appreciate his goal-line clearance a bit more since it saved them from a frantic finish at the "Big O" in Montreal (WATCH IT HERE AT 05:20 MARK).
OUCH! THAT HURT!: We pointed out the blow suffered by Real Salt Lake's Chris Wingert last week. And because we're fair around these parts, it's only right to highlight what happened to Peguy Luyindula (CLICK HERE) and Sporting KC's Graham Zusi, who wore the captain's armband this weekend for the first time. But it couldn't protect him against this:
GOALKEEPER OWN-GOALS: The unfortunate incident happened to Montreal's Troy Perkins (WATCH IT HERE), but the discussion it prompted on the Sounders TV broadcast may have been even more bizarre in the 39th minute.
"I had one own goal in my own career, Ross," said color man Kasey Keller. "It was famously immortalized in the 50 Shades of Grey books."
"That's as far as we can go with that conversation at 1:37 pm," said play-by-play man Ross Fletcher. "I guess that's your favorite section in 50 Shades of Grey?"
"I was told that it was in the 50 Shades of Grey books," Keller responded.
"I don't believe it for a second," Fletcher concluded.
REDEMPTION FOR OUSTED: Vancouver's Danish 'keeper has been questioned ever since his arrival in the second half of 2013. But he was spectacular at Gillette Stadium to shut out the Revs (watch this save).
BIG, FAT GOOSE EGG: Ousted's shutout was only one of them. There's also the "zero" in the all-time win column for the Red Bulls when they play at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. Their record is now 0-7-4.
LONG MEMORIES: Supporters in Kansas City don't forget too easily. Just ask San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch, who reportedly got hit with "ball boy beater" chants for an incident that took place two years ago (read about it here).
SAY WHAT? For the first half-hour of Saturday's Dallas-Chivas broadcast, FCD play-by-play man Mark Followhill was convinced Goats left back Tony Lochhead was really Tony Lockwood. And NBCSN's John Strong showed he's worked a bit too much with Brian Dunseth when referring to Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant as "Brian Dunivant."
That's still better than what Rapids right back Shane O'Neill spewed within earshot of the sideline camera in stoppage time of the Rapids-Timbers match: "That's our [BLEEP] ball ... [BLEEP] off!"
BOLD MOVE: Speaking of the Rapids, new head coach Pablo Mastroeni has not been afraid to mix and match his lineup as Edson Buddle started in place of DP Gaby Torres vs. Portland. The key with those moves? Not playing Deshorn Brown as a center forward. The Jamaican's best attribute is his speed and he needs a full head of steam to go at people from the wing.
CAN TIMBERS FIND RIGHT FORMULA? Timbers head coach Caleb Porter gave Steve Zakuani his first start since April 2013, moving Designated Player Gaston Fernandez to the center forward spot in Colorado. Zakuani was active and Fernandez was anonymous, but it's tough to judge either player because the entire Timbers squad lacked urgency and played uncharacteristically slow at DSG Park.
It's early, but Fernandez, despite being talented, doesn't seem like a clean fit into the style and pace the Timbers developed last year. Meanwhile, ex-Timbers forward Ryan Johnson was busy scoring in China this weekend (WATCH IT HERE).
SET-PIECE SPECIALIST? That's what we might be able to start calling New York's Dax McCarty, who scored off a dead ball ... again (WATCH IT HERE). He's doing it at a 50 percent clip with RBNY, according to Peter Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau (4 of 8 goals scored with NY).
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: Here's our selection below.
If you have gone to last 7 SKC home matches, and still are in favor of FIFA calendar, you need to slap your numb face with your numb fingers
— SportingKCTill I Die (@SKCTID) March 23, 2014
IN MEMORIAM: D.C. United wore black armbands in memory of former player Shawn Kuykendall, who recently passed at the age of 32 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
MLS DOPPELGANGERS: Aaron Katzeman was inspired this weekend, coming up with one of the best look-a-likes of the season in Week 3 -- Crew GK Steve Clark and Macklemore. See for yourself (right). There was also the Nat Borchers/Muppet comparison, Galaxy 'keeper Brian Perk as "Peeta" and a suggestion from Rick in DC (@BlasianSays) that Michael Rappaport should play Steven Lenhart in a biopic.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) March 22, 2014
— Greg Lalas (@Gaetjens) March 22, 2014