The opening day of the 2016 Major League Soccer season is in the books, and though it left us breathless and befuddled at times, today was a good day.
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A handful of thoughts (and links) looking back at First Kick 2016…
New York Red Bulls 0-2 Toronto FC — FULL RECAP
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Toronto FC scored twice, and Sebastian Giovinco scored one of them and set up the other. 2016, same as 2015. Here’s the kicker: TFC were quite good defensively against the Red Bulls, which is why I’m happy to have picked them to finish top of the Eastern Conference this year.
Portland Timbers 2-1 Columbus Crew SC — FULL RECAP
MLS Cup 2015 rematch, MLS Cup 2015 deja vu — just like December’s final, Sunday’s season opener finished 2-1 to the Timbers. Dare I say, Portland might actually be (way?) better in 2016 than they were last year. That Diego Chara-Darlington Nagbe-Diego Valeri midfield trio is, in theory, perfect.
LA Galaxy 4-1 D.C. United — FULL RECAP
The LA Galaxy are going to run away with the Supporters’ Shield in 2016. The LA Galaxy are going to totally fall apart and miss the playoffs in 2016. Here’s the thing: I don’t know which of those two statements to hang my hat on just yet. One thing’s indisputable tonight: they were a million times better after Mike Magee replace Giovani dos Santos, with or without Magee’s two goals.
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-3 Montreal Impact — FULL RECAP
With or without Didier Drogba (they were without him on Sunday), the Impact are really good. The midfield is oh so solid, both defensively and going forward; Ignacio Piatti (two goals, one assist) is, when healthy, one of the best in the league; the defense, anchored by Laurent Ciman and Victor Cabrera, is imposing and terrifying. Drogba makes them MLS Cup contenders (favorites?), though they might get there without him anyway.
Seattle Sounders 0-1 Sporting Kansas City — FULL RECAP
Aided in part by a first-half red card, a shorthanded Sporting KC side (no Benny Feilhaber, Ike Opara, Brad Davis or Seth Sinovic) stole a pair of additional points from the Sounders who, it must be said, looked extremely flat in their first league game of the post-Obafemi Martins era. Also, it’s official: Roger Espinoza makes a world of difference in the SKC midfield. Hugely influential and irreplaceable player.
Orlando City SC 2-2 Real Salt Lake — FULL RECAP
Typically, dueling red cards is the storyline of any game. Indeed, it was headed that direction, until Orlando City scored in the 94th minute and again in the 95th to grab a point at home against RSL. Lost in all the late-game drama: Joao Plata is tied for top spot in the 2016 Golden Boot race (two goals).
Houston Dynamo 3-3 New England Revolution — FULL RECAP
The Dynamo aren’t half-bad, you know — offensively, at least. Will Bruin, Giles Barnes, Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger, with Erick “Cubo” Torres off the bench… that’s totally fine. Unfortunately for them, they’re still kind of a mess defensively (it cost them two points on Sunday), in part because they get very little help from the midfield.
Chicago Fire 3-4 New York City FC — FULL RECAP
Seriously. Click that link and watch the goals these teams conceded.
FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia Union — FULL RECAP
Mauro Diaz’s 2016 so far: one game played, two assists. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Speaking of things staying the same, Fabian Castillo got himself on the scoresheet before being stretchered off the field. Thankfully, the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Colorado Rapids — FULL RECAP
Jermaine Jones is suspended for five more games. Tim Howard is stuck at Everton for another three months. At least there’s something to look forward to, but it’s going to be a long year in Denver (again). There will be very few goals scored (again).