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Jordan Morris tallies goal, assist as Sounders win big

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Jordan Morris missed all of last season due to a torn ACL, and his international career seemed similarly dented by the injury. Today made it clear that he’s back with a vengeance.

The 24-year-old was a force as he scored a goal and assisted another in a 4-2 road victory over Chicago.

It was his pinpoint cross to Victor Rodriguez that opened the scoring, and Nicolas Lodeiro delivered a perfect ball to meet Morris’s run through the channel as Seattle doubled its lead inside the opening 20 minutes. Morris’s goal will give USMNT added hope, as he perfectly timed his run and completed the finish despite heavy contact from the defender making things very awkward.

While Morris faded after the opening 20 minutes and was eventually withdrawn with four minutes remaining, but his outburst to start the game is promising given the USMNT will convene next week for the international break. Morris now has three goals and an assist to start the Major League Soccer season, a fabulous start on his way back from injury. His quick start to the campaign also gives Seattle its best start to a year with three games in a row off the jump, tying 2009 for a club record.

USMNT fans will want to see more from the 24-year-old, but a healthy and in-form Jordan Morris is a massive asset to the national team that is still looking for consistent performances up front.

MLS Preview: FC Cincinnati hosts first MLS match

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As we reach week three of the MLS season, exactly half of the league’s teams are still looking for their first win of the year, including FC Cincinnati, which hosts its first-ever MLS match.  Below, we’ll preview the top three upcoming matchups on tap this weekend in MLS:

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers — Sunday, 5 p.m. ET

Major League Soccer fully arrives in Cincinnati this weekend, as FC Cincinnati hosts its first ever MLS game. Like its previous two games, this one will be no easy task for the expansion side, as it hosts MLS Cup finalists, the Portland Timbers. It’s a reunion for Fanendo Adi, who left the Timbers last summer to join FC Cincinnati in a trade between the two clubs, but it’s also a big test for the Timbers. Amazingly, the Timbers are winless in 22 consecutive matches when Diego Chara is out. The Colombian was sent off in last week’s rout at Los Angeles FC, putting his team behind the eight ball early in the season.

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 1 p.m. ET

Suddenly, with the acquisition this week of Nicolas Gaitan, on paper at least, the Chicago Fire look like they can be a playoff squad. Veljko Paunovic’s side features Bastian Schweinsteiger dropping deep as a centerback, Dax McCarty patrolling midfield, and then Gaitan, Alexander Katai and Nemanja Nikolic and this team has the spine and talent to make a deep playoff run. They’ll get a chance to test themselves against a team always in the playoff picture, and one that’s benefitted by the return of Jordan Morris. After routing FC Cincinnati and soundly beating the Colorado Rapids how will the Sounders respond to its first road match of the season?

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

This game may have gone under the radar in the past, but both of these teams have four points from two games and are off to a hot start in the 2019 MLS season. It’s a return to D.C. for Mike Petke, who helped D.C. United win MLS Cup in 2004, while it’s also a chance to see Wayne Rooney against one of the best pair in MLS history, Kyle Beckerman in midfield and Nick Rimando in goal. Real Salt Lake’s young, Homegrown-filled squad could surprise D.C. in Audi Field, unless Rooney and Luciano Acosta have something to say about that.

Full MLS Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Saturday

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders – 1 p.m.

Columbus Crew v. FC Dallas – 2 p.m.

Houston Dynamo v. Vancouver Whitecaps – 3 p.m.

New York Red Bulls v. San Jose Earthquakes – 3:30 p.m.

Orlando City v. Montreal Impact – 4 p.m.

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake – 8 p.m.

LA Galaxy v. Minnesota United – 10:30 p.m.

Sunday

New York City FC v. Los Angeles FC – 3 p.m.

FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers – 5 p.m.

Atlanta United v. Philadelphia Union – 7 p.m.

Toronto FC v. New England Revolution – 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids v. Sporting KC – 9 p.m.

Need to Know: Sounders, MNUFC quickest out of the gate

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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While we’re already through two jam-packed MLS Saturdays in 2019, it’s still far too early to make any sweeping judgments about this or that, so we’re prepared to ride the fence a little longer as we observe and discuss a few major talking points…

[ MORE: What did we learn on a wild Premier League Saturday? (video) ]

Fear The Loons

For a two-hour period of time Saturday night, the single-table MLS standings read as follows:

If you spent more than 15 minutes watching Minnesota United at any point during their first two seasons in MLS, you’re probably convinced that the above image is a cheeky photoshop. Not the case, because the Loons won their second straight game to start the 2019 season on Saturday, 3-0 away to the hapless San Jose Earthquakes, and were briefly the only team in the league with six points (more on the team that later joined them in a moment).

Given the fact they’ve played perhaps the two worst teams in the Western Conference — if not the entire league — it’s tough to say just how much better Minnesota are than they were in the last two years, but the fact remains: they’ve beaten a pair of worst-in-the-conference/league candidates, so it’s no longer them. Head coach Adrian Heath is convinced the roster is lightyears ahead of where it was, and that point is nigh impossible to argue.

Fear The Sounders More

The Seattle Sounders leapfrogged Minnesota before the night was over, and Brian Schmetzer’s side looked downright terrifying in doing so — for the first 15 minutes, at least. After racing out to a 2-0 advantage in the 8th minute, Seattle never really got out of second gear the rest of the way, mostly because they didn’t have to.

It almost feels like, after going to MLS Cup in back-to-back seasons and having very little of an offseason as a result, Seattle looks fully rested and re-energized after bowing out a full month earlier than they had recently done. Starting quick has never been a strength of the Sounders, but they’re already flying out of the gate to start 2019.

Houston is a problem

Speaking of sides that have impressed on this very young season, the Houston Dynamo have looked more than solid while juggling CONCACAF Champions League and start of the MLS regular season, reaching the quarterfinals of CCL and picking up a very deserved and hard-fought first league victory on Saturday.

The three points didn’t come easily for Wilmer Cabrera’s side, as they fell behind in the 34th minute — on the Montreal Impact’s only shot on target for the entire game — before responding almost immediately, courtesy of Memo Rodriguez just two minutes later.

Cabrera opted to rotate half of his potent attacking quartet, dropping Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto to the bench while leaving Mauro Manotas and Tomas Martinez in the lineup. The gamble paid off, as it was Quioto who set up Manotas’ 86th-minute winner.

Manotas has to be the least heralded 19-goal scorer (last season) in league history, and he’s got two in two games to begin the current campaign. If you’re looking for an under-the-radar pick for the Golden Boot, or throwing out darkhorse candidates for best most complete forward in the league, you could do a lot worse than the 23-year-old Colombian.

Full MLS scoreboard

Chicago Fire 1-1 Orlando City SC
New England Revolution 0-2 Columbus Crew SC
FC Dallas 2-0 LA Galaxy
Houston Dynamo 2-1 Montreal Impact
Real Salt Lake 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps
San Jose Earthquakes 0-3 Minnesota United
Seattle Sounders 2-0 Colorado Rapids

Need to Know: What went down on MLS opening day

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The 2019 MLS season got underway on Saturday, and did so with a flurry of action — and goals — across the campaign’s first 10 games…

[ MORE: Rapinoe, Heath lead USWNT back to draw England (video) ]

If you missed the day’s action, here are four of the biggest stories, outcomes, debuts or revelations you need to know…

Michael Bradley Revenge Tour – 2019

First things first, 2019 is a contract year for Michael Bradley, Toronto FC’s $6.5-million-per-year midfield engine. While the one-time (and maybe still) U.S. men’s national team captain can hardly ever be accused of prioritizing money over all else in his career, it’s the whole “getting paid” part that makes him a professional. Beyond the cash he stands to make or lose on a potential next contract, Bradley must first prove he’s got enough left in the tank to warrant the Reds extending an offer in the first place.

Fine, have a season-opening brace in a 3-1 victory away to the Philadelphia Union, one of the Eastern Conference’s six playoff teams from a year ago. What happened to TFC in 2019 was no doubt an embarrassment and an affront for a player of Bradley’s standard.

Taking into account the above two factors, no one should be at all surprised when Bradley turns in Herculean performance after Herculean performance in 2019, shutting up his longtime haters and reminding those who might have jumped ship that he’s far from finished.


Meet the future of the Galaxy, Efrain Alvarez

Efrain Alvarez is a 16-year-old Mexican-American superstar in the making, and he already looks like he’ll be MLS’s next great teenage export to Europe. Making his MLS debut on Saturday, the Los Angeles-born Mexican youth international (he switch from the U.S. to Mexico at the U-15 level, in 2016) needed just eight minutes to make his mark and spark the Galaxy’s comeback.

Paging U.S. Soccer: let’s get on this, ASAP…

As for the Galaxy’s 2019 prospects, the only thing I feel comfortable saying with absolute certainty is this: they will be very fun to watch, and equal parts maddening, probably during the course of one every game. The best thing I can say for Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side on his MLS coaching debut is this: after falling behind on a comically atrocious mistake that gift-wrapped Chicago’s opening goal, they knew how to play from behind without handing the Fire a second and/or third goal. Oh, yeah, and he’s already willing to play the Galaxy’s (considerably talented) academy kids.


Keep an eye on Minnesota

Minnesota United appear headed for respectability and a — dare I say it — push for a playoff place in 2019. Finally, after struggling defensively for two seasons, the Loons went out and make a trio of signings that might just prove franchise-altering in very short order: Osvaldo Alonso, Ike Opara and Jan Gregus.

While you’re undoubtedly familiar with the work of Alonso and Opara, Gregus probably has you thinking to yourself, Who? Who, indeed, but the 28-year-old Slovak international proved in Saturday’s 3-2 win away to the Vancouver Whitecaps that he is the midfield anchor Minnesota had been missing. Signed from Copenhagen this winter, Gregus was extremely tidy in possession (he completed 93 percent of the 84 passes he attempted) and provided solid cover for a backline that knew no such thing prior to his arrival.

Darwin Quintero remains one of the league’s biggest game-changers (one goal and two assists), which might not go to waste yet again now that the rest of the roster has a bit more quality and experience.


Orange ball alert

It is with great pleasure that I inform the masses that the Colorado Rapids were forced to break out the orange ball on the opening day of the season, thanks to near white-out conditions at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and the coldest game in MLS history (18 degrees at kickoff).

What did we learn about the Rapids or their opponents, the defending Western Conference champion Portland Timbers, on this day? Other than the fact that 3-3 draws and 94th-minute equalizers in heavy snow are tons of fun to watch, of course? Not a single thing, thanks to said weather conditions turning the game into a glorified Thanksgiving day pickup game in the backyard.

Full MLS scoreboard

Seattle Sounders 4-1 FC Cincinnati
LA Galaxy 2-1 Chicago Fire
Philadelphia Union 1-3 Toronto FC
Vancouver Whitecaps 2-3 Minnesota United
Colorado Rapids 3-3 Portland Timbers
Orlando City SC 2-2 New York City FC
Columbus Crew SC 1-1 New York Red Bulls
Houston Dynamo 1-1 Real Salt Lake
San Jose Earthquakes 1-2 Montreal Impact
FC Dallas 1-1 New England Revolution

Sounders announce commitment to be carbon neutral

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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SEATTLE (AP) The Seattle Sounders have announced a commitment to become carbon neutral, or make no net contribution to carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere.

[ MORE: New deal for Barca boss ]

The Sounders worked with the Seattle firm Sustainable Business Consulting to calculate the organization’s greenhouse gas emissions and develop a plan to eliminate those sources in the 2019 season and thereafter.

For sources that can’t be eliminated, like team travel, the Sounders will work to offset emissions in cooperation with Forterra, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainability.

“Sustainability is a key pillar of our club and this new step is a logical extension of the efforts we have already had in place,” team owner Adrian Hanauer said in a statement.

The Sounders will host a tree-planting event on Feb. 24 in Burien to kick off the program.