Monday, March 12, 2012

MLS FirstKick 2012

Major League Soccer is in full swing after an exciting weekend of season openers.  MLS FirstKick boasted a number of feisty match-ups with a few surprising results.  If you missed any of the games, here's a brief recap of the opening day action.

LA Galaxy 1-3 Real Salt Lake
Perhaps the biggest talking point from the weekend was RSL's 3-1 upset of the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  Reigning MLS champs and undefeated at home last season, with the return of Edson Buddle, LA are heavy favorites to bring home the crown again this year.  However, Real Salt Lake raised some eyebrows and some questions of the Galaxy's title credentials.  Making a big statement by taking all three points from the HDC in week one, it looks like RSL are a good bit stronger than most would have predicted.  RSL's GK Nick Rimando had an outstanding game and at times looked as if he were playing in a cup final.  With all four goals coming in the last twenty minutes, this was a cracker; just the type of game you look for at the start of a new season.
FC Dallas 2-1 NY Red Bulls
Another surprising result, the Hoops avenged last season's wildcard playoff loss with a confident display at FC Dallas Stadium.  From the first whistle, Dallas was all over the pitch and took only eleven minutes to find the net.  New York's defense was atrocious and honestly never gave the Red Bulls a fighting chance.  The atmosphere in Dallas was electric as the sell-out crowd of almost 21,000 harried the already struggling Red Bulls with chants and vuvuzelas.  Panamanian striker Blas Perez shined for the hosts on the afternoon assisting both goals with the second coming at sixty one minutes.  Kenny Cooper came on for NY, scoring a consolation goal late in the game.  It was strange to see him in a Red Bulls kit, but he still managed to extend his record of goals scored on the Dallas home pitch.  This was a very strong showing by FC Dallas, and an equally poor outing for their opposites.  New York have a long way to go if they plan on accomplishing something this year.  

Demerit "impacts" Montreal's Nyassi
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 Montreal Impact
A rivalry now stretching almost two decades, this was the match that began the 2012 MLS season.  The Whitecap's 2011 inaugural season was less than a resounding success, but the expansion side were finally putting together the pieces at the end of last year.  With an offense boosted by the likes of Sebastian Le Toux, the Caps showed this year's newbies how its done.  Le Toux punished the Impact for an early defensive foible and scored three minutes into the game...welcome to the big leagues Montreal!  The Impact were able to hold their own, but simply failed to make the most of their chances.  Vancouver again found the net nine minutes into the second half, and the visitors simply could not rally.  The vocal crowd at BC place were happy with their second consecutive opening day win.
San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 New England Revolution
The first match for these two sides ended along the same lines as did last season for the pair.  Chris Wondolowski, the Quake's goal-scoring hero opened his 2012 account after fifteen minutes, capitalizing on a Revs defensive error.  Despite showing fight in the dying moments of the game, this retooled New England squad were not up to snuff.
DC United 0-1 Sporting KC
CJ Sapong spoiled DC's home opener with a goal that could not have come any later.  Sporting controlled the match and looked like scoring all night.  Opting for the dramatic finish, a Zusi corner supplied the right cross and KC strolled out of United's stomping grounds with all three points.
Colorado Rapids 2-0 Columbus Crew
The fans at DSG Park were treated to a dejavu of last season's wildcard playoff match.  The Rapids showed up ready to play, scoring late in both halves to put Columbus to the sword.  The hosts provided a confident game whereas the Crew essentially failed to assert themselves.  There's a growing rivalry between these two and this year the Rapids have already taken the upper hand.
Chivas USA 0-1 Houston
Another stoppage time winner, Houston were finally able to break the spell, winning on opening day.  In an otherwise unimpressive match, the Dynamo struck two minutes into stoppage time, leaving the Home Depot Center and the hapless Goats with nothing to cheer about.
Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union
The Timbers host the Union Monday night.  It should be a fair fight, but the interesting thing will be to see how each club's new acquisitions fit with their established styles.  Should be a good match.

Look for more MLS updates throughout the season, as well as player profiles, and Open Cup specials.  As always, thanks for the reading The Beautiful Game!!

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