We've got our league back. The first week had everything: goals, drama, late drama, thrills, bizarre haircuts and intense rivalries. In that last category, perhaps the most severe is the animosity developing between Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy. Following a come-from-behind 3-1 away win by RSL (HIGHLIGHTS), captain Kyle Beckerman threw down the gauntlet. "When have they been a better team?" he asked, claiming LA has big stars, set pieces and little else.
The typically caustic Bruce Arena will certainly point to two consecutive Supporters' Shields and a Western Conference final win over RSL as times when his Galaxy were better. On the day, however, he held his hands up. “This game is on me,” Arena said. “It's my fault, I think I should have used fresher bodies.”
Arena used much of the same lineup that played against Toronto midweek in the CCL. David Beckham agreed with his coach's assessment. Edson Buddle, meanwhile, was still cursing Nick Rimando's form in net. Watch their post-game reactions. (VIDEO)
Rimando himself had a different idea about what turned the game. Javi Morales had been substituted into the match 13 minutes before he scored the game-winner. "When Javi comes on the field," Rimando said, "you know something is going to happen."
The 3-1 result marked a scoreline flip of the 2011 Western Conference final last year. Another playoff matchup with a different result on the first matchday of 2012 was FC Dallas' tidy 2-1 win over New York. (HIGHLIGHTS)
One key difference for FCD was the offseason addition of Blas Pérez. Though he didn't score, the Texans think they're onto something with the new Panamanian international. "He may be that striker we’ve been looking for since we’ve lost Jeff Cunningham," Schellas Hyndman said.
Also kept off the scoresheet was Thierry Henry. The clearly disgruntled Frenchman has a simple fix to the Red Bulls' malaise. “Win games,” Henry said. “And score more goals than the opponent.” (VIDEO)
Jurgen Klinsmann attended the match at FC Dallas Stadium. Before it, he hung a scarf on the Lamar Hunt statue. (VIDEO) He also took some time to talk about his US player pool, pointing out that Herculez Gomez, with five goals in four games in all competitions, is very much on the depth chart. “The Mexican clubs are really kind of surprised that our coaches go down to Mexico,” he said. “We have them [players based in Mexico] all on the radar screen.”
Klinsmann won't be able to ignore Gomez's continued career renaissance for long. Maybe fans will create signs for the former MLSer, much like the one Vancouver supporters unfurled for new coach Martin Rennie: "THE REN-NIESANCE BEGINS."
Rennie kicked off his MLS career with a victory, leading his new team to a 2-0 triumph against Montreal. (HIGHLIGHTS) Sebastien Le Toux scored just four minutes in, the fastest goal to begin any MLS season. “We don’t even give ourselves a chance for the game to settle in and we’re already down 1-0,” Jesse Marsch said.
Le Toux's was quick, but the second was better. A flowing move involving all four of the Whitecaps' attackers, the play looks even more glorious with a view from the sidelines: take a look. (VIDEO)
Looking good is something that consistently evades the Crew when it visits Colorado. Columbus posted its fifth straight shutout loss away against the Rapids in a 2-0 loss. (HIGHLIGHTS) “Every time we come to play here recently, we just don’t play well,” Chad Marshall said. “We come out flat and we come out slow. I really don’t get it.”
Though the result was the same, there's a different feel about Colorado. Oscar Pareja says his team is becoming allergic to giving up the ball. "We have developed an attitude that we are uncomfortable when we're not on the ball," Pareja said. "So when we lost it, I start seeing the players with that feeling, 'We need to get the ball back.'”
Two Rapids players will be forgiven for not celebrating as enthusiastically as usual after a win. This weekend marked the year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami which devastated Japan. Kosuke Kimura has helped raise money for support, and new signing Kohei Yamada was in Japan during the catastrophe. “It’s been one year, but it feels like it happened a week ago,” Yamada said.
Yamada's cross-Pacific relocation this offseason dwarfs the move D.C. United wants to make. Though the club signed a new lease at RFK Stadium Saturday, the club is looking at Buzzard Point as a possible new home.
RFK, of course, hosted the team's first game of the season, a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. (HIGHLIGHTS) C.J. Sapong headed home the winner at the death. Then the 2011 Rookie of the Year fired a warning shot to the rest of the league: “I'm still hungry.”
The offseason months haven't diminished Chris Wondolowski's appetite for goals either. He scored the only goal for San Jose in a victory against New England. (HIGHLIGHTS) By now, his teammates know full well how lethal he is in the box. "I gave the ball to Wondo and started celebrating," Shea Salinas said.
Jay Heaps' revolution of the Revs still has a ways to go. The team posted a rather poor 68.6 passing percentage in the match. “The times when they were dangerous, we gave away the ball,” lamented Matt Reis.
Chivas USA also mourned a one-goal loss. Andre Hainault scored in injury time to give Houston the away win in The Home Depot Center it craved three months ago. (HIGHLIGHTS) "'Almost' doesn't mean all that much," Robin Fraser said. "At the end of the day when you look back at this result, nobody's going to think 'almost.' It's going to be a 1-0 defeat. That's a reality."
For live TV action with teams still active today, keep the channel on ESPN2. Arsenal and Newcastle kick off at 4 p.m. ET, with Portland hosting Philadelphia on the same channel at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Of course, it could be worse for Chivas USA. That's how teams must feel when reading about the fate of the two contracted teams in Florida. A decade on, Miami is still upset about losing the Fusion. “It is truly a pity the Fusion couldn’t stick around,” Michelle Kaufman wrote, “because it was just starting to get fun.”
Lastly, Mario Balotelli gave an interview to Noel Gallagher and explained how he knows magic, the fireworks incident and the Why Always Me t-shirt. Here's an excerpt, about the goal that led to Balotelli unveiling his now iconic shirt: “Gallagher: Did you have a feeling you were gonna score that day? Balotelli: I thought I was gonna score three.”
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