Major League Soccer returned with (mostly) glorious wonder this weekend, with several eye-opening surprises and some dead-on certainties.
[ REPORT: Diskerud off to Sweden ]
1) Houston can be electric — Mauro Manotas didn’t start up top for Wilmer Cabrera’s new Dynamo, and he may not get the chance after Erick “Cubo” Torres lined up between Honduran wingers Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis.
The Mexican striker scored, Quioto added a second, and each man could’ve easily had a brace as Houston picked up a 2-1 home win over the reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders. The three-man attack was a CONCACAF nightmare for Seattle, especially without Brad Evans. Barring injury, Houston’s a must-watch.
2) Resilient Red Bulls prove a spoiler — Atlanta United’s raucous debut crowd saw Yamil Asad put the hosts up 1-0 in a match designed for a Georgian win; The Red Bulls had played three nights earlier out in Vancouver, and this would’ve been a forgivable 0-1 start to the season.
But Daniel Royer made it 1-1 in the 76th minute before Spurs loanee Anton Walkes, prodded by Mike Grella and Kemar Lawrence, turned an own goal into the Atlanta net six minutes later. It was a rude welcome to MLS for United, and another reminder that Jesse Marsch is not to be overlooked.
3) Dallas looks the part — There are a lot of folks who expect FC Dallas to take another Supporters’ Shield, and their 2-1 road win at the new-look Galaxy isn’t going to change too many of those minds.
We’d watch this duo tangle on a week-to-week basis. FCD had the answers. New LA captain Jelle Van Damme had a standout night at center back, but it wasn’t enough as Maxi Urruti and Kellyn Acosta sandwiched Dallas goals around a Gio Dos Santos tally to take three points back to Texas.
4) Minnesota “Outshined” — Chris Cornell wasn’t doing any favors to the Northern state when he described a bout of low confidence as ‘Looking California but feeling Minnesota’ in the Soundgarden hit, but United’s first MLS match fit that description a bit too easily.
Aside from Christian Ramirez’s feel-good goal, the Loons were battered by a veteran Portland side. Two goals for Fanendo Adi and two more from Diego Valeri highlighted the 5-1 win, one that could put hopes too high in Oregon. As for whether it will make the outlook unrealistically bleak in Minnesota, that’s another story.
5) Orlando pride — While Atlanta debuted a new team, its new stadium won’t be ready until later in the year. Orlando City SC, meanwhile, rolled out a new home. In a way, it was the perfect projection of where many hope MLS will one day arrive: soccer-savvy supporters packing pristine, cavernous homes. And Orlando City Stadium was rowdy, wonderful, and victorious. Now will it see many more wins with Kaka out for six weeks?