With the international window packed with action both across CONCACAF and the wider world, the weekend’s MLS slate only featured three games. That said, there was plenty to soak in on Saturday, and you might not have caught it all on the first pass. Here’s a quick rundown of the proceedings.
As far as dream debuts go, it’s hard to beat Niko Hansen’s. The Columbus Crew SC rookie came off the bench to make his first MLS appearance on Saturday, and soon banged home a late game-winner to help his club "send a message" against the vaunted Portland Timbers. His elder teammate Justin Meram put him in his place with an on-camera, mid-interview dousing after the final whistle – just to keep the kid grounded, we’re sure.
No, it wasn’t all Minnesota misery at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution can feel bullish about their attacking options after watching playmaker Lee Nguyen orchestrate a torrid display. Juan Agudelo bagged a brace and Kei Kamara got on the scoresheet too, but Nguyen was at the heart of the Revs’ dynamism in the final third, reminding us all of the quality that made him an MLS MVP finalist in 2014.
Oregon in Ohio
The Timbers suffered both a blown lead and a late loss at Columbus, but 100 or so of their devoted fans still savored a weekend jaunt to central Ohio just the same. That’s largely because this match marked their team’s first trip back to MAPFRE Stadium since their 2015 MLS Cup triumph, the occasion that put the first star above the crest of a storied club.
Bulls firing blanks
For more than a year the Red Bulls have been near-unbeatable in general, and specifically at their gorgeous home ground. They went 13-2-2 at Red Bull Arena in 2016 and built an 18-match unbeaten run that lasted until last week’s loss at Seattle.
So credit is certainly due to RSL for earning a road point at RBA under interim head coach Daryl Shore – in fact, the Utahns fell inches short of stealing a win. But RBNY made the task much easier for the visitors by turning in a woeful display of finishing. Of 18 shots taken, New York could direct only three on target, with even the usually clinical Bradley Wright-Phillips missing a sitter or two. Head coach Jesse Marsch has plenty to ponder in the week ahead.