The best (and worst) from MLS in Week 3
You’ll want to watch the great goals and a few swell assists, but we beg of you - do not allow small children to watch one of the worst goalkeeping blunders in league history.
And did D.C. United coach Ben Olsen really say that? Ooof.
Here are some bests and worst from MLS Week 3.
Games in March barely matter in the big picture; see “Seattle wins 2016 MLS Cup” for a more complete explanation. So by extension, singular moments don’t often matter in the big, big picture.
There are exceptions, of course, and Minnesota United had one. When the final whistle blew at DSG Park outside Denver, Adrian Heath’s expansion club had its first point, having surprised Colorado with two goals to draw with the Rapids.
After lopsided losses to open MLS days, no organization needed a point so badly. You just know that tie felt like a win for previously dazed Loons supporters.
Best way to celebrate an important night
In Seattle, the banner went up. More than 45,000 fans roared in delight. Cherished memories were feted from that 2016 MLS Cup triumph. And to put the exclamation point on it all, the champs finally delivered a performance more befitting the champs, a 3-1 win over the visiting Red Bulls.
Also file this under: “Best championship hangover cure.” Because the Sounders seemed to have one.
MLS Week 3 was stocking stuffed with crazy-good assists. Darlington Nagbe’s improvisation while on the ground was something to see, even if it wasn’t an official assist. Alberth Elis’ laser-guided pass to Romell Quioto was sensational.
But watch this one as Yamil Asad’s pass eliminates eight (eight!) defenders, leaving Atlanta United teammate Josef Martinez to finish off the 10-man Chicago Fire in a 4-0 romp-and-stomp.
Worst week (team and individual Division)
Obviously, any week with a loss is a bad week. But Vancouver, man. They fell in CONCACAF Champions League to Tigres (no real shame in that). But to compound it with a 2-0 loss at home to Canadian rival Toronto? And to see Brek Shea – perennially infuriating in his inability to put all that size, speed and talent to best use – ejected for mouthing off? Tsk, Tsk, Brek Shea.
Best player to watch (while you still can)
Sooner or later, the sand in the MLS hourglass will run out on Cyle Larin, Orlando’s fine young striker, one who seemed destined to leave MLS for Europe the moment he signed with MLS. Now Larin has three goals in two games for the Lions, and the only questions seem to be: How big will the offers get? And might it be a summer departure? Or might Jason Kreis get the guy for all of 2017?
Best source of inspiration
When FC Dallas spent $2 million on Paraguayan striker Cristian Colman, it represented a serious commitment from a club far more comfortable investing money in academy pursuits. That was the most FCD had ever spent on a player. The idea was that Colman was the 14-16 goal scorer the club hasn’t had in almost a decade.
Well, Colman’s ROI remains to be seen. Meanwhile, this has clearly lit a fire under Maxi Urruti, who scored twice Saturday in the second half to rescue a match in which FCD wasn’t at its best otherwise. Urruti has four goals so far in 2017 (MLS and CCL) and may be on his way to a career year.
Best MLS debut in a losing effort
More than 400 days after his signing, New England Designated Player midfielder Xavier Kouassi finally made his injury-delayed league debut. And you know what? Not bad; at least, not bad until he got understandably tuckered, not just from lack of previous playing time but also from the warm Texas night. New England looked good in the first half, and Kouassi’s smart work at the bottom of that diamond midfield was among the reasons.
Did you have “Dave Romney” as one of your Week 3 candidates for best goal? Of course you didn’t! Don’t be silly. Still, the LA Galaxy’s unheralded, second-string left back made no mistake in absolutely clobbering this corner kick on the full volley.
Yeah, the Real Salt Lake marking was ridiculous, but you still gotta finish it. Bonus: It was the game-winner as LA took all three points on the road.
Best signs in a losing effort
Yes, the rebuilt and dynamic young Dynamo team took its first loss of 2017. But scoring twice in a half against in-form Portland, inside that Providence Park cauldron no less, still says good things about Wilmer Cabrera’s counter-attacking team.
They’ll need to learn how to manage leads and respond to tactical adjustments – credit Portland’s Caleb Porter there – with their own re-arrangements. Still, no shame in a setback at 3-0-0 Portland.
Best stat from Week 3
Speaking of those unbeaten, untied Timbers: Porter’s team is the 20th in Major League Soccer to start 3-0-0. From those 19 others, 18 made the playoffs, four won Supporters Shield and two claimed MLS Cup. A steadily growing roster of clubs (22 now) means that sort of season-long progression is tougher to duplicate, but it still seems reasonable as an indicator. (Thanks to Timbers statistician Mike Donovan for that one.)
Best player after three weeks
Look, no one hands out MVP for what you do in March. Still, it’s worth noting how good Diego Valeri has been for the Timbers this year. Getting extra protection behind him from newcomer David Guzman, and with another newcomer, Sebastian Blanco, adding some extra attacking umph from the wing, Valeri is doing even more Valeri things than usual. He has four goals and two assists.
Worst start for a coach
It’s debatable whether Ben Olsen started the year in trouble at D.C. United, where ownership seems either, a.) so extraordinarily frugal that it would not pay out a contract under any circumstances, or b.) just too apathetic to care about anything until they get into that new stadium. Either way, Olsen has got to be in the Hot Seat Club now.
United is three games into the season with no wins and, far worse, no goals. That includes two home games (plus a 4-0 road loss). Subtract results against United, and the three clubs Olsen’s team has faced own a combined 1-2-3 record otherwise. Saturday, the team had as many yellow cards (3) as shots on goal.
Worst thing to say after a loss
From Olsen: “Overall, it was a step in the right direction.” While that may be accurate in some ways, that is certainly the last thing any supporter wants to hear about a 2-0 loss at home. From a coach whose team has yet to score.
Best way to head into a critical U.S. national team week
When he can stay healthy, Jozy Altidore is pretty good at soccer. He darn sure was Saturday at BC Place. His turn and finish here is so tidy that Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston is helpless despite having good positioning against the U.S. international. Altidore’s contribution to TFC’s road win: one goal, one assist.
Worst time to hit a fantastic goal
You just have to wonder if Benny Feilhaber had struck this bending wonder a week earlier, would it have been enough to get him on that U.S. roster this week. Either way, well done, man.
Worst time for a serious howler
We implore you, hide this one from the children. It’s pretty brutal. It’s among the worst all-time goalkeeping blunders in 22 years of league history. And to make matters worse for poor David Bingham, the Earthquakes ‘keeper had just been named to that aforementioned U.S national team roster. (Somewhere, former England ‘keeper Robert Green is nodding in earnest sympathy.)
Follow Steve Davis on Twitter @SteveDavis90.