Eleven games, 22 teams and 33 goals in three days. That's a lot to keep track of, so we're running back over some of the notable weekend happenings across MLS.
Home teams humbled
#Welp: Exactly one week after this space extolled the enduring power of home-field advantage in MLS, hosts stumbled across the league. Four away teams picked up victories on their travels this weekend and three more earned road draws to give the home sides an overall mark of 4-4-3, compared to 6-3-3 in Week 8. In short: Road wins are massive!
Sounders late show
The New England Revolution were enjoying a picture-perfect visit to Puget Sound.
- Enjoy some fresh seafood and gorgeous views? ☑
- Soak up Seattle's pressure and lash out on the counterattack? ☑
- Stun a rowdy CenturyLink Field crowd of well over 40,000 souls? ☑
- Protect a 3-0 lead and calmly whittle away the final 15 or so minutes of the game? Um…
Just watch the highlights. This one was a thrill ride:
Jozy has a doozy
If you were out and about as the weekend started, you might not have witnessed Jozy Altidore’s bull-in-a-china-shop display for Toronto FC vs. the Houston Dynamo on Friday. The US national team star – who’s already scored half of his 2016 total in the first two months of this season – bagged both goals in the 2-0 win, including a particularly telepathic combination with his strike partner Sebastian Giovinco:
Drives from downtown
Altidore did his damage deep inside the penalty box, but several others dialed up long-range drives. Montreal’s Marco Donadel scored on a deflected bid that he struck (first-time, no less!) from just inside the center circle. Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer netted a daisy-cutter from 20 yards out. And Carlos Rivas absolutely tagged a vicious blast from well outside the box down in Orlando. Goalkeepers’ nightmares all around.
Dax goes back
Dax McCarty readily admits that his offseason trade from the New York Red Bulls to the Chicago Fire caught him by surprise, and he made an emotional return to his longtime home this weekend. While the result didn’t break in his new team’s favor, his former club’s fans made sure to give him a warm welcome as he lingered long after the final whistle to share some love.
Slugfest in Texas
If you were watching the 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, you won’t soon forget the epic showdown in the Western Conference Championship between FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers. There wasn’t quite as much on the line when they had their first meeting of 2017 at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, but they still gave the fans a good show with a back-and-forth affair marked by lovely goals and great goalkeeping. Are they on course for another postseason classic?
Smooching siblings in SoCal
Given their recent struggles, both the LA Galaxy and the still-winless Philadelphia Union badly needed to taste victory on Saturday night. Unfortunately for them and the fans in attendance at StubHub Center, their attempts at scoring went pear-shaped in a scoreless draw that does little to relieve the stress for either head coach. You know the old adage about ties being like kissing your [gender-neutral sibling of choice]? It doesn’t always work in soccer, but this time it sure does.
Playing out of the … oops
Both Columbus Crew SC and New York City FC adhere to admirable philosophical ideas about style of play. They tend to stubbornly insist on building their passing sequences from defense through midfield and on to attack, rather than lumping it long. And it comes with the territory that this methodical approach occasionally backfires. But it’s not often that you see each team gift-wrap a goal for the other with dueling blunders in the back.
Gone cold in Colorado
The Colorado Rapids were 2016’s biggest surprise, falling just short of the Supporters’ Shield and forging deep into the playoffs with a team-first identity and record-breaking defense. But after winning their season opener, they’ve gone winless since, losing five games and drawing one, most recently at Orlando City this weekend. What’s wrong with the Mile High Club?
ATLiens phone home, and not in a good way
Ahh, the innocent joy of an expansion debut season. Life in MLS has gone so swimmingly for Atlanta United – in nearly every sense – that the sting of Sunday’s gut-punch loss to an extremely opportunistic D.C. United hurt just a bit more for the huge crowd at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Five Stripes were superior in nearly every statistical category except the score, and have now lost more home games than they’ve won. That expansion life is tricky tough, y’all.
Suddenly stingy in Minny
Minnesota United's defense was the butt of many jokes after the Loons leaked 24 goals in their first seven MLS games. HOWEVER ... MNUFC hung out their first clean sheet last week and were only unlocked by a highly scrappy Florian Jungwirth goal vs. San Jose this weekend in an unlucky 1-0 loss. Going 191 minutes between concessions is a marked improvement in Minnesota.