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Five thoughts after Major League Soccer’s flashy Opening Day

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Welcome back Major League Soccer. You were missed.

MLS came back with vigor on Sunday, with 36 goals simultaneously wowing and making us wonder whether defending quality was at an all-time low.

[ READ: MLS Rewind for Week 1 ]

It also allowed us to wonder how wrong some predictions were, and how right others would look in just a few months time.

Let’s say ‘thank you’ for… Fabian Castillo. FC Dallas’ 23-year-old Colombian wizard turned on the jets again for Sunday’s 2-0 win over Philadelphia in Frisco, Texas. Castillo had a goal and put three of his five shots on target, once again showing us that he could play and star in almost any league on Earth… and that’s not exaggeration. Even given that he was playing a young and rebuilding Philadelphia defense featuring two players aged 23 or less, it was electric.

While his status for this weekend’s Texas Derby is up in the air, we’re glad we got an early reminder of how lucky we are to have Castillo on our soil.

during the MLS match at StubHub Center on March 6, 2016 in Carson, California.

Totally saw this coming: Ben Olsen is a heck of a coach, and he’s a good bet to sort out DC United’s problems after the departures of Perry Kitchen and Chris Pontius, but I’m not sure who was betting on his side shutting down the highly-favored Galaxy at the StubHub Center. Los Angeles clobbered DC, 4-1, with Mike Magee turning the screws on the Black-and-Red.

Didn’t see that coming: New England allowed the third-fewest goals in the East last season, while Houston tied with Philadelphia for the fifth-fewest goals scored in MLS.

Of course, there was a 3-3 tie at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday. New England rallied from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to pick up a point, and Dynamo manager Owen Coyle probably threw something through a window after Daigo Kobayashi zipped inside the Houston defense to head home an equalizer in the 93rd minute. Woof.

Let’s keep an eye on… Tsubasa Endoh, Toronto FC

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The Japanese-born Maryland product was the ninth pick of the 2016 SuperDraft and is frenetic to watch. Keeps the ball on his foot like a magnet and could have the benefit of being next to Jozy Altidore and on the other side of Sebastian Giovinco in the front of TFC’s 4-3-3. He could also absolutely fall down the pecking order, but Greg Vanney is giving him a chance to flourish, and his electricity is present. Might the 5-foot-7 attacker be able to learn a thing or two from Seba?

Can hardly wait for… New York City FC vs. Toronto FC, 5 p.m. ET Sunday

The two sides split last season 1-1-1, but the one I recall most fondly took place on July 12. David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco both tried to own the heart of Yankee Stadium with five of the eight goals scored in a 4-4 draw. Toronto led 3-2 at halftime after Seba had nabbed goals in the 34th, 40th and 43rd minute.

By the time Patrick Mullins scored in the 84th minute, you could’ve convinced us there were still several goals left. Let’s see another like that between two skilled teams on the postage stamp in the Bronx. After NYC thrilled in a 4-3 road win in Chicago, could we see another goalfest at Yankee Stadium.

Griezmann: Playing for Barcelona is ‘not the easiest’

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Over the summer, Barcelona shelled a whopping $135 million to land Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid.

It was a match made in heaven; the rest was supposed to be history.

Only that hasn’t been the case for the Frenchman in Barcelona.

Despite scoring a brace in his debut at the Camp Nou, Griezmann’s impact and influence on the field has quickly dwindled. In 11 league appearances with the Catalan giants, the 28-year-old has scored four goals and added three assists, signs that the World Cup winner is, in fact, struggling with his new team.

Speaking to Telefoot, Griezmann revealed that playing for Barcelona is not an easy thing to do, but that with hard work, his fortunes will turn around for the best:

“It is hard, I knew it would be, it is not the easiest place. This is a new team, a new club, new tactics, a new position. I have to work, try to understand my team-mates, after they will understand me too and it will work just like that… Critics will always be there. But I am good, I am proud of where I am. Only work pays off. I have to take confidence and it will all come just like that.”

This season, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has frequently deployed the Frenchman as a left winger, with the hope that he will link up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The positives form such an ideology have yet to be reaped, however. Griezmann is scoring a goal every 224 minutes, a career worst.

The 28-year-old, too, has played in a central role on a couple of occasions, specifically during the absences of Messi and Suarez, but it hasn’t worked out for a player that has made a career from roaming that part of the field.

The building clamor at the Camp Nou is borderline justifiable – mainly because it’s now evident that Griezmann is wrestling with adapting to the expectations and systems in place in Barcelona.

But the high-flying attacker has proven he’s worth the price time and time again, and now he’s on the record saying that he’ll do everything in his power to do so with his new club.

Real Monarchs beat Louisville City to win first ever USL Cup
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Real Monarchs scored three unanswered goals as they routed Louisville City 3-1 at Lynn Stadium to win their first ever USL Cup title.

Noah Powder’s goal in the 66th minute sealed the deal for the visitor’s, adding to the goals scored by defenders Erik Holt and Konrad Plewa in the first half.

Surprisingly enough, it was Lou City who got off to a superb start on Sunday night, though.

Only six minutes after the initial whistle, Lou City’s leading goalscorer, Magnus Rasmussen, scored the game’s first goal, breaking a record for the fastest goal in a USL Cup final.

The defeat brings an end to Lou City’s historic run of consecutive USL Cup-winning seasons.

On July 1, former Real Salt Lake defender, Jamison Olave, took over as the Monarchs interim coach following Martin Vasquez’s unexpected resignation.

Man arrested after English soccer player reports homophobia

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TRANMERE, England — A footballer in England’s third tier reported being subjected to homophobic abuse from the stands, leading to police making one arrest.

Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop told the referee of the abuse at halftime of the League One soccer game at Tranmere as his team won 2-0.

Tranmere says it is very disappointed to learn of a homophobic comment made.

In a statement, Merseyside Police condemned abhorrent incidents.

Police Chief Inspector Jason Crellin added that “hate crime has no place in our communities, and not least at a showcase sporting event attended and watched by many people.”

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video)

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Brazil became Under-17 world champions for a fourth time in dramatic fashion as Lazaro Vinicius Marques’ scored a 93rd-minute winner to edge Mexico 2-1 at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

Brazil’s comeback started in the 84th minute when Kaio Jorge converted from the penalty spot, following VAR’s decision which ruled contact on the tournament’s Golden Ball winner, Gabriel Veron, inside the 18-yard box.

With Brazilian legends Ronaldo and Cafu in attendance, the host’s had the better of chances throughout the first 45 minutes. Without any luck, however, Brazil were unable to get the ball past Eduardo Garcia, instead hitting the bar on several occasions.

Then in the 66th minute, Mexico – winners of the tournament in 2005 and in 2011 – stunned the home crowd when Bronze Ball winner Eugenio Pizzoto’s cross into the box was headed into the back of the net by Bryan Alonso Gonzalez Olivan, breaking the deadlock between two sides that had met in the same game back in 2005.

What was going to be a stunning, underdog victory for El Tri, turned into a heartbreaking night for Marco “Chima” Ruiz and company.

Brazil, on the other hand, are now only one championship away from tying Nigeria’s record of five championships.