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MLS roundup: Dallas moves top; Toronto, Columbus stay perfect

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The 2014 Major League Soccer season has barely started, but the desire to connect dots is irresistible. Though each team has only played between five and nine percent of their seasons’ games, we want to see this weekend’s results as part of a bigger story, one which builds on the season’s first two weekends. We want these games to be more significant than they are.

For example, Toronto got its second win in as many games, marking the first time in franchise history the team has started 2-0-0. But does a 1-0 win at home against D.C. United tell us anything about Ryan Nelsen’s team? When the result slides into the bigger story of Toronto’s revival, it becomes more meaningful than it should.

What about Sporting Kansas City’s win over San Jose? With Champions League behind the defending champions, it’s tempting to see their first win of the season as turning a corner. Through three games, however, the team still hasn’t scored an open play goal.

And then there’s the league’s running joke: Chivas USA. Wilmer Cabrera’s team lost 3-1 in Frisco, Tex., on Saturday, a result that fits nicely with the idea that the league-owned club will be the circuit’s obligatory doormat. In reality, Chivas USA looked more like the team that took four points through two rounds than the squad that finished last year at the bottom of the Western Conference.

It’s too early to tell where this weekend’s games fit in the bigger picture. After three weeks, we have no clue what that picture will look like. Right now, all we have are the results.

Here’s what happened on the third Saturday of the 2014 MLS season:

New England 0, Vancouver 0

With Kelyn Rowe and Saer Sene back in Jay Heaps’ starting lineup, the Revolution looked like their 2013 selves for the first time this season. Unfortunately for New England, that produced neither a win nor a goal, leaving the Revolution without either through three games this season.

(MORE: Everything there but the end product for New England against Vancouver)

Real Salt Lake 1, LA Galaxy 1

The Galaxy’s defensive problems persisted, giving up an early goal to Álvaro Saborío after leaving the Costa Rican unmarked on a set piece. Robbie Keane responded by finishing a trademark LA counterattack, sending the teams into halftime at 1-1. A lack of second half chances meant the two teams that opened the season with an RSL win in Carson, Calif., shared points at Rio Tinto.

(MORE: First half goals, lack of second half chances leave Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy drawn at Rio Tinto (video))

Toronto 1, D.C. United 0

Jermain Defoe’s third goal of the season gave Toronto a lead on the hour, and advantage Ryan Nelsen’s team would ride to their second win in as many games. While D.C. United improved on their opening day loss to Columbus, Ben Olsen’s team remains at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

(MORE: Bloodied Michael Bradley earning Toronto’s praise after staple-requiring win)

Columbus 2, Philadelphia 1

Bernardo Anor scored twice in the first half as Gregg Berhalter’s team built their second straight two-goal lead. Rather than building on it (as they did week one in D.C.), the Crew saw Leonardo Fernandes pull one back. Columbus eventually steadied the ship and held out for their second win in as many games.

(MORE: Perfect through two: Columbus answers opening day questions with win over Philadelphia)

Colorado 2, Portland 0

Donovan Ricketts’ 68th minute red card broke open the game for Colorado, who saw Vicente Sanchez convert the first of two penalties kicks in three minutes. Deshorn Brown put home the rebound of his 73rd minute attempt to give the Rapids their first win of the season, sending the Timbers to their first loss.

(MORE: Two goalkeepers, two penalties conceded as Portland falls in Colorado)

Sporting Kansas City 1, San Jose 0

A first half sequence that saw Sal Zizzo and Ike Opara hit Jon Busch’s right post left the teams even a halftime, a stalemate that was broken early in the second half. After Steven Lenhart was called for a hand ball in the box, Dom Dwyer converted from the spot for his third MLS goal and Sporting’s first win of the season.

(MORE: Defending champions get first win of the season, but scoring, chances still a question for Sporting Kansas City)

FC Dallas 3, Chivas USA 1

Goals from Fabian Castillo, Je-Vaughn Watson, and Michel turned a match that was even in the 70th minute into a decisive win for Dallas, with only Erick Torres’s third goal of the season providing consolation for Chivas. The win left Óscar Pareja’s team two points clear at the top of the Western Conference.

(MORE: Óscar Pareja’s still defying expectations, but who’s going to play defensive midfield next week for Dallas?)

Gabriel Jesus available to make Man City debut

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 27:  Gabriel Jesus of Palmeiras celebrates with the trophy after winning the match between Palmeiras and Chapecoense for the Brazilian Series A 2016 at Allianz Parque on November 27, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
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Manchester City have confirmed that new striker Gabriel Jesus is available to play against Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: United need Griezmann

Jesus, 19, agreed to move from Palmerias in the summer for $35 million but remained with the Brazilian side for the rest of their season as he was their to scorer en route to them winning the league title.

After a few weeks training at City he is now registered in the squad and ready to feature for Pep Guardiola‘s side to help them claw back the 10-point gap between themselves and current Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Jesus scored 28 goals in 85 games in all competitions for Palmerias and has shown great promise for the Brazilian national team, scoring four goals in his first six appearances for the Selecao in 2016.

Speaking about his arrival at City, Jesus is looking to hit the ground running.

“I want to win titles and Manchester City is a club that is used to winning,” Jesus said. “City is a Club that always competes for the title in the competitions it enters, so that was an important factor, and because of the manager, Guardiola, and the squad.”

Jesus has arrived at the perfect time to give an ailing City side a boost.

On the back of their 4-0 drubbing at Everton last weekend (City’s worst league defeat since 2008 and Guardiola’s worst-ever in the league as a manager) they need to beat Tottenham this weekend to keep alive any hopes of winning the title. City can’t afford any more slipups and their defensive unit has to improve.

Going forward Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling David Silva and Sergio Aguero have been in good form for most of the season, but adding Jesus will bring competition and Kelechi Iheanacho will also be pushing him all the way for minutes.

Many would like to see Aguero given some help up to and maybe Jesus can start alongside him in the weeks and months to come?

We all saw just how good Jesus can be during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Now he has all eyes on him as he prepares to make his long-awaited debut against Tottenham.

Kaka hoping to stay in Orlando beyond 2017

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 08:  Kaka #10 of Orlando City SC dribbles the ball during an MLS soccer match between the New York City FC and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on March 8, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
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Kaka is enjoying life in Florida.

The former Ballon d’Or winner is hoping to stay with Orlando City SC beyond the end of his contract, which runs its course after the 2017 season.

[ MORE: Real Madrid now winless in three ]

Kaka has been very good for the Lions, scoring 19 goals and 15 assists in 53 total matches. Reports had said he’s skip town after the third year of the deal, but Kaka refutes that idea.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“A misunderstanding because I am very happy here,” Kaká told reporters at MLS Media Day on Tuesday. “I had a three year contract, so this is the last year under this contract, but my idea is to stay here.

“Of course we never know what can happen at the end of the season or during the season, but my idea for now is to stay in Orlando and stay in the league.”

Kaka turns 35 in April, but has been consistently good even if injuries kept him to 24 MLS contests last season. If he puts forth a similar season, there’s little reason for Orlando — or another team — not to take a chance on Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite.

Gabriel Jesus cleared, could make Man City debut

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 20:  Gabriel Jesus of Palmeiras runs with the ball during the match between Palmeiras and Botafogo for the Brazilian Series A 2016 at Allianz Parque on November 20, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images)
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Gabriel Jesus could go straight into Manchester City’s starting lineup.

The 19-year-old Brazilian has finally been cleared to suit up for the English side after finishing a title-winning campaign with Palmeiras.

With four goals in six caps for the Brazil national team and an Olympic gold medal with their U-23 side, Jesus is among the hottest prospects in the world.

[ MORE: City fifth in “Money League” ]

City is struggling, and the fresh injection of attacking talent could be music to the ears of boss Pep Guardiola (who, fun fact, celebrates his 46th birthday today).

From the Manchester Evening News:

“He’s a great player. Going to Europe is a good thing for a player. He will grow quicker, he will start to understand football in another way and also be respected inside the football scene.

“I guess that for Gabriel Jesus it was a good thing to leave Brazilian soccer, he did everything he had could in [Brazil]. He’s going to a very difficult, competitive [type of football] but I think that he can be successful.”

Jesus had 21 goals in 46 matches this season with Palmeiras.

Casemiro: “Real Madrid aren’t ever allowed to lose”

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 18:  Henrique Casemiro of Real Madrid heads the ball against Daniel Wass of Celta de Vigo during the Copa del Rey Quarter Final, First Leg match between Real Madrid CF and  Celta Vigo at Bernabeu on January 18, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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The pressure at Real Madrid can be overwhelming, and the players who thrive there generally have thick skin and short memories.

They also take losses pretty seriously.

That goes for the manager as well, as both Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane and Casemiro have reacted to Real’s third-straight non-win in serious fashion.

[ MORE: Real no longer No. 1 in money ]

Remember, this is coming after the first match of the “slump” — a 3-3 draw with Sevilla — was the final match of a world record 40-match unbeaten run.

Casemiro, whose record in the Real Madrid lineup is as good as anyone’s, said this (via Marca):

“Yes, it’s worrying to lose again,” he said just after the full-time whistle. “Real Madrid aren’t ever allowed to lose. The defeat against Sevilla has hurt us.”

And if you want to tell Casemiro to relax, that only one of those matches was in league play and the club still leads the table by a point with a match-in-hand on nearly everyone… well… enter Zidane.

“I’m the one responsible and I must find the solution,” he said in his post-match press conference. “I wasn’t surprised by the way Celta played, as we knew that they’re a team that can really hurt you. I’m not worried, although it’s a bad moment. We know that we can overcome it and we are going to overcome it.”

I’m far from a Real Madrid fan, and you can credit Florentino Perez’s ideas and the hanky-waving fans for a lot of that, but it’s impossible not admire how seriously Real takes the business of winning. And maybe, just maybe, the fan and board expectations occasionally help the squad.