The start of the season always brings with it some wildly unexpected moments and this past weekend was not one to disappoint. Here are our top picks:
Philadelphia Union Shock Columbus Crew in a Historic Home Opener at MAPFRE.
Andre Blake’s breakout performance saved Philadelphia six times and is likely the main reason for the Union’s first road win in the history of the series. Columbus Crew had won the previous seven meetings at MAPFRE Stadium. It was the second week he was forced to perform, albeit the Union lost at home 2-0 last week, he still he parried away eight shots by FC Dallas. The star performance came from the former DC United fixture Chris Pontius who scored his first brace since June 24, 2012. Chris Pontius had suffered recurring setbacks from a nagging hamstring injury since 2012 interspersed with flashes of brilliance in recovery. His best performance was in 2012, when he scored 12 goals and grabbed seven assists, helping lead D.C. United to the 2012 Eastern Conference Championship. Could Philly be the new opportunity he’s been looking for? His eye for lynchpin plays will contribute a great deal to to key passes and offensive creativity. His first goal came as a result of eyeing ball-watching off a throw-in allowing him to easily tap the ball past Columbus’ goalkeeper Steve Clark in first half stoppage time. His second came off a play from Le Toux to Ilsinho who Crew’s Parkhurt closed down, but the clearance fell upon Pontius who quickly netted the second and winning goal for Philadelphia. Kei Kamara’s response goal wasn’t enough to give Columbus Crew their home opener victory, a win that seemed all but impossible to lose to an underdog like the Union. Perhaps this is the year when Philadelphia Union will shed that defeatist title that’s been haunting them for years.
It’s Not All About Amarikwa’s Stunning Goal of the Week in San Jose!
In what was a complete team effort, two fantastic goals and a solid defense, the San Jose Earthquakes were victorious at home securing a crucial 2-1 win over the 2015 MLS Cup champions on Sunday afternoon. In first-half stoppage time, Amarikwa, in his first goal at Avaya Stadium since being re-signed, not only slammed a 35-yard golazo over Timber’s Kwarasey, he set the new team record for longest strike.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 14, 2016
The first goal of the night came from Mr. MLS Consistency himself, Chris Wondolowski, who gave the Earthquakes a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute yesterday, and also scored the only goal during last week’s match against the Colorado Rapids. Yesterday marked his 111th goal in career play and he’s well on the way to retaining the 10+ goals per season performance for a seventh consecutive year.
The Earthquakes back four also handily managed an onslaught from Portland’s offense which wasn’t going quietly outshooting them 16 to 8.
Kip Colvey, Marvell Wynne dealt with the Timbers wingers while Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson handled the middle. The late goal from Portland’s Jack McInerney was a momentary lapse in San Jose’s otherwise spot-on back line. The afternoon match ended quite differently than what Portland would have predicted.
New York is Blue? NYCFC Feeling a Bit Blue Maybe.
We don’t think NYCFC just learned how to soccer, as was the prevailing wind on Twitter yesterday, but there is a marked change from the confusion of cluttered stars of last season as it appears the pieces are falling into place. Many who came to the sold-out match at Yankee Stadium assumed Toronto FC’s Giovinco would blow NYC out of the water, and not for lack of trying, he was only able to help secure a comeback tie. Captain David Villa dealt New York City FC’s brace but they began losing the 2 goal lead in the final moments of the first half. Villa’s first goal was a penalty kick in the 23rd minute after Marky Delgado fouled Tommy McNamara in the box. A booming cheer came from the 30,315 fans for their first home goal. Five minutes later Villa again scored off a free kick from Andrea Pirlo. It felt like a win was nearly certain.
But Giovinco’s free kick to Damien Perquis at the end of the first half put Toronto FC on the board and, in the 77th min scored one of his own to tie the match 2-2. After a frenzied final 7 minutes with both teams pressing for a game winner, the final whistle brought Opening Day at Yankee Stadium to a conclusion with a draw.
Patrick Vieira began his era with a dramatic 4-3 win away to the Chicago Fire. Yesterday’s match was further proof that he intends to shake things up. While the New York Red Bulls drop points two weeks in a row, although New York isn’t blue or red yet, it’s at least a relevant question worth asking.
Derby in Texas Was a Blast… Unless You’re From Dallas…
Definitely next time Houston and Dallas face-off in this classic, it’ll be a quick sellout. After a blistering 5-0 emphatic win over FC Dallas, we could hardly recognize the former leaders of the West and their 20-year-old wonder goalkeeper. Until last weekend, the Dynamo were 0-7 in the series over the past three seasons, conceding 23 goals. After a complete restructuring of the Houston side, and perhaps a little overconfidence on Dallas’ part, the Dynamo are proving that you can put the fun back in the game. While Philadelphia Union is probably kicking themselves a bit for it, Andrew Wenger played a hand (or foot rather) in three of the five Dynamo goals, with two assists and one goal. Last week, Wenger had a lot to say about the special dynamic the team. “Even before we scored the goal, it was fun the movement we had on the field and the way we hunted the ball,” Wenger reflected. “When you have a team working together like that, it’s special.”
We wouldn’t worry too much about FC Dallas or Jesse Gonzales just yet. Away matches are a completely different beast than home matches in the under the Frisco sun.