Week 3 of the Major League Soccer season brought us a four-pack of braces, a little joy for both expansion teams and another set of juicy angles to think about as the season’s first month edges toward a close.
Let’s take a look back:
Powering up in Portland
After following up their 2015 MLS Cup title by missing the playoffs last year, the Portland Timbers appear to be fully back on track in 2017. Portland’s talented front six of striker Fanendo Adi, attackers Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Sebastian Blanco and defensive midfield anchors Diego Chara and David Guzman have led the Timbers to a perfect start, with Valeri recording a brace and Adi and Guzman bagging a goal each to move Portland to 3-0-0 with a 4-2 win against Houston on Saturday night.
Couple that attack with a backline that’s been solid thus far despite some necessary rotation, and you’ve got a lot of love in the Rose City.
What championship hangover? The Timbers' rivals up north reminded all challengers that they're more than well-equipped to defend their title in 2017, as the reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders dispatched of the previously perfect Red Bulls 3-1 on Sunday night after watching their first championship banner go up in the rafters at CenturyLink Field.
Atlanta on fire
And speaking of offensive might, that wasn’t a bad follow-up effort by Atlanta United.
Six days after pummeling fellow expansion club Minnesota United FC 6-1 in the snow, Atlanta put the beatdown on Chicago on Saturday, winning 4-0 against the 10-man visitors in front of 45,000-plus at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Reigning Alcatel MLS Player of the Week Josef Martinez was once again a menace, building on his hat trick at Minnesota with two goals against Chicago, including this tight-angle beauty:
Had Atlanta held on against New York in Week 1, they’d be tied with the Timbers on top of the league. As things stand, they’re 2-1-0, have the league’s leading scorer in Martinez and generally look like one of the most impressive expansion teams in MLS history. Not bad for a brand-new club.
A milestone for Minnesota
It was an excellent result for the Loons, who fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to eventually take a 2-1 lead before holding on for the final 20 minutes while down a man. That they earned the point at Colorado – who were 11-0-6 at home last year and hadn’t conceded two goals at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since October 2015 – made the draw all the more impressive.
Feilhaber finds the mark for SKC
It took them well over 200 minutes to do it, but Benny Feilhaber ended Sporting KC’s goalless start to 2017 in spectacular fashion on Saturday night, audaciously picking out the top corner from way out to give SKC a 1-0 lead in their 2-1 home win against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Feilhaber, who was omitted from the US national team roster for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers earlier this week, was a beast all night for SKC, putting all his brilliance on display with this 39th minute golazo:
The goal was a high point in a therapeutic night for SKC, who thoroughly outplayed previously perfect San Jose and could’ve easily found the back of the net several more times at Children’s Mercy Park. If they can maintain their excellent defensive record and continue improving on the offensive end, Peter Vermes’ side might start rolling.
USMNTers lead TFC to all-Canadian win
Feilhaber didn’t get the call to the USMNT, but a pair of players who will suit up for Bruce Arena later this week – Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley – showed very well in Toronto FC’s 2-0 road win at Vancouver on Saturday. Altidore, in particular, played well, serving as the focal point of the TFC attack with Sebastian Giovinco out injured and scoring a fine goal that sealed things for the Reds late on. The win ended a successful season-opening road trip for Toronto, who will open their 2017 home schedule on March 31 against Sporting KC with an undefeated 1-0-2 record.
Digging deep in Big D
They’re not blowing anyone away, but FC Dallas just keep on racking up the results in 2017. Their latest work? A come-from-behind 2-1 home win against the New England Revolution keyed by a second half brace from forward Maxi Urruti, who now has three goals in two MLS appearances and four strikes in five matches across all competitions. The man is a one-man wrecking crew, and Dallas – who are as deep as they are talented – look like a safe bet to be in the running for yet another Supporters’ Shield.
LA get on track, RSL take another misstep
After two-straight losses to open the season, the LA Galaxy finally got back on track on Saturday, taking advantage of a first-half Kyle Beckerman red card to defeat 10-man Real Salt Lake 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Beckerman’s ejection changed the entire course of the match, which RSL was leading and controlling prior to the veteran midfielder’s sending off just before the break. LA took advantage in the second, getting goals from Dave Romney and noted RSL killer Emmanuel Boateng to cancel out RSL’s DP-driven Albert Rusnak-to-Yura Movsisyan opener and drop Salt Lake to 0-2-1 on the year.
A downer for DC
Despite the return of playmaker Lucho Acosta from injury, D.C. United’s goalless run to start the 2017 season continued on Saturday, as they fell 2-0 at home to Columbus Crew SC on two penalty kicks. And just in case falling to 0-2-1 wasn’t enough for United, they also lost striker Patrick Mullins to injury in the 27th minute.
While it was a downer of a day for D.C., Crew SC showed well in a new, 3-6-1 formation, with rookie Alex Crognale performing solidly at center back and Ola Kamara and Federico Higuain burying a penalty apiece to move Crew SC to 1-1-1 on the season.