Real Salt Lake

Photo credit: New England Revolution / Twitter: @NERevolution

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

RSL fires head coach Cassar three games into 2017 MLS season

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Jeff Cassar is out as head coach of Real Salt just three games into the 2017 season, the MLS club announced on Monday.

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Cassar became the boss at Rio Tinto Stadium following Jason Kreis’s departure in the weeks after MLS Cup 2013. Cassar’s RSL teams posted an overall record of 38W-37L-30D during his tenure, qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2014 and 2016, but failing to advance to the next round on either occasion.

[ MORE: Sat. (afternoon) roundup — NYCFC dominate, disappoint; ATL roll ]

With his last contract set to expire over the offseason, Cassar was handed only a one-year contract following RSL’s elimination from the 2016 playoffs, making Monday’s news hardly surprising.

[ MORE: Sat. (late-night) roundup — FCD, PDX emerge as early favorites ]

Assistant coach Daryl Shore will take over in the interim. Former New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke was named head coach of Real Monarchs, RSL’s USL affiliate, during the offseason. His name will be spoken regularly in speculating about Cassar’s replacement. Robin Fraser, who served as an RSL assistant from 2007-2010 and has two seasons of experience as head coach of Chivas USA, is another popular pick.

MLS (late-night) roundup: Early favorites, FC Dallas & Portland, emerge

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With three MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 31 more to go…

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Portland Timbers 4-2 Houston Dynamo

Isn’t it just wonderful when you look forward to a game all week, and when Saturday finally arrives, it lives up to everything you hoped of it? That’s Portland versus Houston, in a nutshell. Tied for the Western Conference’s top spot after two weeks, only Atlanta United looked to be on par with Saturday’s combatants in terms of attacking intent and ability.

What transpired at Providence Park was a six-goal thriller chock-full of brilliant midfield play, inspired final-ball making in and around the penalty area, and some decent finish on the business end. Diego Valeri scored twice (once from the penalty spot), and David Guzman and Fanendo Adi added goals of their own for Portland, erasing a 2-1 halftime deficit after Erick Torres (penalty kick) and Romell Quioto had the visitors halfway home with three points. Quiot’s goal, mostly for Alberth Elis’s seeing-eye through ball, was particularly stunning.

Valeri started the comeback just before the hour mark, and Houston couldn’t slow the momentum once Portland began rolling downhill.

2017 looks to be the start of a golden attacking age in MLS, and these two (young) sides are leading the charge. Portland and Houston’s next meeting? July 29, in Houston.


Real Salt Lake 1-2 LA Galaxy

It’s a strange new world, where LA find themselves Robbie Keane-, Landon Donovan- and Bruce Arena-less, and without a single point from their first two games of the 2017 season. Through 68 minutes on Saturday, zero points from three games seemed a distinct possibility, trailing away to RSL despite their man advantage since the 44th minute.

As far as headers go, you’ll not find one more impressive than this one from Yura Movsisyan to put RSL up in the 18th minute.

Dave Romney and Emmanuel Boateng got the goals to bring LA back from the depths of the unthinkable, and give Curt Onalfo his first win since replacing Arena this offseason.


FC Dallas 2-1 New England Revolution

FCD just keep doing work, whether it be in league play or CONCACAF Champions League. On Saturday, three days after a dogged CCL semifinals first-leg affair with Pachuca, Oscar Pareja’s men came back from a goal down to New England and move to seven points from three games.

Lee Nguyen put the visitors ahead, from the penalty spot in the 10th minute, one of just four shots from Jay Heaps’ side on the night. The comeback wasn’t quick, but it didn’t have to be. Maximiliano Urruti hit twice six minutes apart, in the 71st and 77th minutes, to not only rob New England of their first win of 2017, but their first points as well.

The 2017 Supporters’ Shield goes through Dallas, though Portland inch closer and closer with each passing week.

[ MORE: MLS (afternoon) roundup — NYCFC dominate, disappoint; ATL roll ]


Sporting Kansas City 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Sporting KC have their first goal, as well as their first win, of 2017 following a mostly dominant performance against San Jose. Benny Feilhaber’s long-range, knuckle-balling bomb opened the scoring in the 37th minute (WATCH HERE), and David Bingham’s epic howler made it 2-0 with a minute of regular time remaining.

Good thing for Sporting, too, as all concentration and focus disappeared once stoppage time began. Florian Jungwirth pulled a goal back in the 91st, and Tim Melia was called into action again a minute later. His Save of the Week candidate preserved a narrow, but thoroughly deserved three points for the home side.


Orlando City SC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

At some point, Cyle Larin will stop scoring every goal for Orlando, and I’ll be forced to formulate a lede other than “Cyle Larin’s going to Europe, and soon,” but that day isn’t today, as the 21-year-old Canadian international bagged his second and third goals of the season, each time putting the Lions in front.

The fluidity in the build-up to the second goal shouldn’t go unnoticed, as clinical as Larin may have been with his chance. Carlos Rivas is 22 and two full years into his MLS adventure. He’s made the jump from deer-in-the-headlights newcomer, to full-time contributor on a good team. That’s him with the simple lay-off to Matias Perez Garcia on the second goal, and he absolutely deserves a secondary assist for it. I’ll be petitioning the league on his behalf first thing Monday morning.


Colorado Rapids 2-2 Minnesota United

Minnesota have their first MLS point, just barely. Adrian Heath’s side came back from a goal down — then blew their first MLS lead in under two minutes, but that’s neither here nor there — to draw away the stingiest defense in all of MLS last season.

Dominique Badji put Colorado ahead in the 17th minute, but that was canceled out by Kevin Molino from the penalty spot five minutes into the second half. Christian Ramirez put Minnesota 2-1 up in the 58th minute, but Marlon Hairston equalized 108 seconds later. Such is life as an expansion team, but it brings the Loons’ goals conceded average down to 4.3 goals per game.


D.C. United 0-2 Columbus Crew SC

Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara converted a penalty kick each — no drama between the Argentine and a striker named Kamara this time — as Crew SC picked up their first win of the season, away to D.C., who look a serious contender for second-worst team (sorry, Minnesota) in MLS through three games. 0 goals scored, 6 goals conceded; 1 point won.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

New York City FC 1-1 Montreal Impact
Atlanta United 4-0 Chicago Fire
Vancouver Whitecaps 0-2 Toronto FC

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Chicago on Fire; TFC lose Giovinco to injury

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The second MLS Saturday of 2017 is just about about halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Chicago Fire 2-0 Real Salt Lake

Two weeks into an MLS season is absolutely too early to make bold predictions based off of 180 minutes of soccer, but since I said it before the season started, I’m going to ride this pony until it keels over: Chicago’s going to the playoffs. Last week, they came from behind to rescue a point on the road against Columbus Crew SC. On Saturday, the blitzed RSL in the opening 15 minutes, took care of business defensively, saw out a mostly comfortable 2-0 win in their 2017 home opener.

Nemanja Nikolic bagged his first MLS goal to opening the scoring, only 11 minutes on the clock, and Arturo Alvarez made it 2-0 barely four minutes later.

The final score would have been extremely lopsided if not for the (typical) heroics of Nick Rimando. With four points from their first two games of the season, Veljko Paunovic’s side has already matched its haul from the first month of 2016 (four games).

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Toronto FC

Philadelphia and Toronto drew 2-2 but — who are we kidding? — the real story here is the health and well-being of Sebastian Giovinco. The tiny Italian was subbed off in the 45th minute, after Oguchi Onyewu destroyed the 2015 MLS MVP in a collision of knees at midfield. The official diagnosis from TFC was a “leg contusion.”

As for the other 89 minutes, 55 seconds: Jozy Altidore is off the mark for 2017, converting a penalty kick moments after Giovinco left the field after Jay Simpson scored his first MLS goal to put Philadelphia ahead in the 11th minute. TFC took the lead — ever so briefly as it was — in the 71st minute, as Justin Morrow fired past Andre Blake. Two minutes later, C.J. Sapong rounded Clint Irwin and made it 2-2, which is how the game would end.

New York Red Bulls 1-0 Colorado Rapids

Tim Howard played out-of-his-mind amazing on his 2017 debut (WATCH HERE), but Colorado were ultimately undone by an own goal, scored by Eric Miller, in the 45th minute. On the plus side, Colorado haven’t conceded a goal scored by their opponents through two games. They’re equally stingy, and annoying to watch and play against, this year as they were in 2016, which is to say, they’ll be involved in lots of 1-0 games these next eight months. Through two games: a 1-0 win, and a 1-0 loss.

MLS (afternoon) roundup: FCD start Shield defense; Giovinco’s PK saved

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The first MLS Saturday of 2017 is just about about halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

LA Galaxy 1-2 FC Dallas

The LA Galaxy FC Dallas don’t rebuild; they reload. Sure, Fabian Castillo left late last summer, and sure, Mauro Diaz will miss most of the 2017 season as he recovers from a torn achilles. To which Oscar Pareja shrugs, “So what?” Rather than fretting, Pareja opted to further bolster and already loaded squad of dynamic youngsters, to the point he now has two capable starters in every outfield position.

The other thing he’s got at his disposal to start the season? Flexibility, in spades. For Saturday’s opener against LA, Pareja opted for a 4-4-2 featuring Maximiliano Urruti and winter signing Cristian Colman up top, Kellyn Acosta and Carlos Gruezo in the middle. En route to a 2-1 win at StubHub Center, Urruti and Acosta bagged goals — each of the highest quality and pinpoint precision — and FCD’s Supporters’ Shield is off to a flying start.

Columbus Crew SC 1-1 Chicago Fire

Early-season soccer can be mighty tough to watch — especially in MLS, especially for two teams who’ve only just undergone a major transformation during the offseason just gone by. It didn’t help Chicago that one of the crown jewels of their offseason, former LA midfielder Juninho, was unavailable through suspension carried over from Liga MX. Thus, Dax McCarty, who was also acquired this winter, operated on an island, with very little in terms of defensive protection alongside or creative license ahead. Nemanja Nikolic spent the majority of his MLS debut in an offside position. Regardless, David Accam remains one of the most criminally underrated attackers in the league, and rescued a point in the 73rd minute.

On the other side, Crew SC started a pair of brand new signings at center back — Jonathan Mensa and Nicolai Naess — just behind newcomer Mohammed Abu alongside the incumbent Wil Trapp. U.S. youth international Zack Steffen, who’s 21, made his MLS debut in goal. Likewise, it was the established stars — Justin Meram and Ethan Finlay — who linked up for a well-worked opener.

Real Salt Lake 0-0 Toronto FC

Sebastian Giovinco saw his penalty kick saved by the penalty kick-saving magician otherwise known as Nick Rimando, as RSL and TFC played to a scoreless draw at Rio Tinto Stadium. Non-penalty division, the game’s best chance fell to Joao Plata late in the second half, but the diminutive Ecuadorian international blazed his breakaway effort over the crossbar, and the Reds were let off the hook.