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MLS Week 3: A Look Back

UnionCelebrates (ISIphotos.com)

Photo by ISIphotos.com 

The Philadelphia Union threw one heck of a homecoming party on Saturday, and capped it in style with a victory Philly soccer fans won't soon forget.

Almost as promising as the more than 34,000 that turned out for the Union's 3-2 win over D.C. United was the performance by a Philly team that looked miles better than the squad that lost to Seattle in the season opener.

The defense was far more organized (a ten-minute stretch in the second half notwithstanding) and the attack showed signs of life. Roger Torres really does have the look of a future star while Sebastien LeToux has solidifield himself as a fan favorite for his hard-working style and an unforgettable hat trick.

Does this mean the Union will be challenging for a playoff spot? They may still be a few players away, but at the very least there is reason for optimisim and reason to believe we won't see another nightmare expansion season like Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC endured.

In case you missed it, here is my FoxSoccer.com piece on Philadelphia's inaugural home match.

Here are some more observations from Week 3 in MLS:

Stevie Nicol just never ceases to amaze. Every year New England loses players and every year Nicol finds new impact players to plug in. Zach Schilawski's hat trick was a quality display of finishing and both he and fellow rookie Seth SInovic look like the latest diamonds unearthed by Nicol.

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Toronto FC fans that made the trek to see TFC's 4-1 drubbing at the hands of New England had to be asking themselves why it was Jim Brennan, and not Nick Garcia, that retired. Garcia is a liability and Toronto is (at least) two centerbacks away from being a serious playoff contender.

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Edson Buddle is in the zone. It isn't as if he hasn't had great runs before in his career, but he could be part of something special on an LA team who already has the strong defense in place. If Buddle can keep this up, the Galaxy will have to be favored to win a third MLS Cup title.

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Houston's third MLS Cup looks ages away after a home loss to the Galaxy. Brian Ching's absence figured to hurt the Dynamo attack, but it's becoming clear that the losses of Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark are going to prove extremely difficult to overcome. That's not to say the Dynamo should be counted out, but it is clear that Houston is going to have to spend this summer to fill the team's dire need for a forward and a playmaker.

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As if returning most of the key pieces of its championship team wasn't enough, RSL could have one of the off-season's best winter signings in Alvaro Saborio, who's clutch equalizer helped RSL tie Seattle and put more pressure on Jason Kreis to have the Costa Rican in the starting lineup. It's a nice problem to have.

As for Seattle, Brad Evans will want to forget about Saturday after being beaten for both of Real Salt Lake's goals. The late goal aside, the Sounders should feel good about taking a point away from Rio Tinto Stadium.

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There isn't a more surprising winless team in MLS than the Chicago Fire, which has one point from three matches under new coach Carlos De Los Cobos. Costly defensive blunders and an underachieving offense have to be worrying Fire fans. As for De Los Cobos, he's on a two-year guaranteed contract so he isn't likely to feel much pressure yet, but he should.

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San Jose deserves credit for winning on the road and doing so impressively. Their defense looked very shaky in the season-opening loss to Real Salt Lake, but with rookie Ike Opara looking like the player he was touted as being coming out of college, and with veteran Jason Hernandez healthy, the Earthquakes just might have a defense that can keep San Jose out of the West basement. I won't give them much more than that because the Earthquakes offense is still pretty undewhelming.

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Jesus Padilla came off the bench to provide a vital spark for Chivas USA. Will this lead to Padilla living up to the hype surrounding his arrival to MLS last season?

As a whole, Chivas USA showed more toughness and life on Saturday, things that were painful absent in season-opening losses to Colorado and Los Angeles. The Rojiblancos still need a top striker, though Dario Delgado looks like a quality centerback option.

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The Red Bulls didn't show much energy in losing to Chivas USA, and while it shouldn't be used an excuse for losing, why does MLS have an East Coast team making consecutive trips to the West Coast (NY played Seattle last week and Chivas USA in Carson last Saturday).

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More concerning for the Red Bulls than jet lag is the inconsistent play of Bouna Coundoul. When he's on, Coundoul can be a dominant and acrobatic goalkeeper. When he's not, he can be a mistake-prone, timid and unreliable goalkeeper.

Coundoul's performance makes it even more mind-boggling that New York didn't sign Jon Busch. It likely has nothing to do with faith in back-up Greg Sutton, but more the likelihood that the Red Bulls will try to bring in a foreign goalkeeper this summer.

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Curt Onalfo's decision to use Jaime Moreno off the bench was a curious one. Did he fear the abuse Union defenders would inflict on the aging star? Either way, D.C. had no offense to speak of until he entered the match.

If Moreno's benching had more to do with his inability to give more than 45 good minutes, D.C. is going to be in a world of trouble offensively. Chris Pontius looks better suited to play on the wing and Danny Allsop looks like a player who won't do a thing unless he's getting quality service.

D.C. United's bigger problems lie in the back, or perhaps more specifically, with the D.C. midfield's inability to support the back four. In all three games, D.C. has seen its back-line overrun because of a lack of defensive support from midfield. That is something that will remain a problem while Clyde Simms is injured.

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Columbus has to feel disappointed about coming away with just a point after leading FC Dallas until the final seconds. Yes, Eric Avila's stunning equalizer probably shouldn't have counted because of his handball just before that play, but Crew star Guillermo Barros Schelotto deserves some blame for leaving Avila alone to complain to the referee.

While FC Dallas showed heart in finding a late equalizer, playing a second straight match in front of less than 10,000 fans (8,422 to be exact) is awful. Will Dallas fans ever make the trip north to Frisco to watch FC Dallas, or will FCD owners have to think about a new plan (and new home)?

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That's all for now. I'll add some more thoughts through the day so feel free to check back in.

What stood out for you from Week 3 in MLS? Who impressed you the most? Who do you think looked awful?

Share your thoughts below.

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Comments

  1. Nothing better than DC fans that can’t read.

    “Like what I see so far, but it’s only 2 matches.” – twitter.com/BlacknBlueKC

    Don’t think twitter.com/BlacknBlueKC ever said anything about winning MLS Cup.

    And BnBKC is right, Kurt Morsink starts for DC. He’s an automatic selection. That’s hilarious.

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  2. It’s ridiculous. KC is undefeated, and un-scored-upon, yet can’t get anywhere close to the press that LA is getting. I always thought the MLS was different from other leagues where preference is overtly given to bigger clubs, (i.e. EPL & Manchester United) but I am apparently wrong. Preference is OBVIOUSLY given to NY and LA. KC is being blatantly ignored. 1st place int eh eastern conference and there is no mention of the KC on the MLS front page, and now Ives weekend review doesn’t so much as mention them? It’s bush league journalism.
    I love the site, but that’s unacceptable Ives.

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  3. It’s 25% better, and more to the point, it shows improvement, a sliver of hope, and passes the five-digit psychological barrier. The post should really be updated.

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  4. I don’t want to sound like I’m bagging on Le Toux, because the guy was one of my favorite Sounders and I was really disappointed that Philly grabbed him. But out of position or not, he missed quite a few wide-open opportunities when he played in league play. Several right smack in front of the goal. It was frustrating because he played well in the Open Cup, but during a regular season match his touch was really poor and although he hussled, his cuts were late and many times he wouldn’t pull the trigger when he should have. All that being said, I think this match and his play couldn’t have happened to a more awesome guy and a harder worker. I wish he would have hit the back of the net a couple more times as a Sounder though

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  5. Fire was WAY better than FCD last year and are better than FCD this year. We obviously have had a slow start but I’m sure the results will come

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  6. I was at the Houston game at midfield, and although the Galaxy was the better team that was one of the poorest reffed games I have seen (since last year…). I am surprised it has not been talked about, but Toledo (the ref) was over screaming at Dom and I think the 4th official for a minute that he had the game under control before he literally ran over and gave Landin a red card. It was painfully obvious he was pissed and getting payback when he did it…he had lost control of most everything.

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  7. Come back to the Cotton Bowl FC DALLAS, that’s your true home. Dart rail train and bus system is in place, railroad system that travels to and from Ft.Worth its the perfect setup for your fans to make it to the games. No need to pay for those ridiculous tollway fees, no need to waste a whole tank of gas to drive to your inconvenient so called house! and you would actually be IN DALLAS where you belong! come back to where your true soccer fans are at, LIVE and WORK with your blue collar hard working fans show them that you LOVE DALLAS that you are a part of the heart of Texas, and then your fan base will definitely build up and the Fans will love you, right now it seems like your just an outsider playing for Dallas,Its like the story of a person making it out of poverty and moving to Beverly Hills(not that Frisco is anything like the Hills but you get my point) and they never look back to what got them there in the first place. Go back to your roots FC DALLAS, back to where you built your true soccer aficionados fan base because I can assure you that there are so many more people that want to love you and be part of your life and you will see that everything will fall in place.

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  8. I almost feel like he deserves better. NE have been above average because of him. He’ll never get a SSS in NE, the support/attendance is always pretty low, and he won’t have the cash flow to spend big on players. He’ll be back in the UK soon enough, but he has been total class for MLS.

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  9. Ya I love going to Cowboys stadium so I get to pay the great parking and ticket rates! Pizza Hut Park aint too far, all the roads leading out there are done, it used to take ages, but I don’t buy that argument anymore. I live right next to DFW airport, it took my 20 minutes to drive out there this weekend, parking was free, and the ticket was $15 off the web.

    People don’t want to go out there because they don’t feel the love for the team, which can now be attributed to HSG and their terrible mismanagement in public relations to get the franchise to the level it needs to be.

    But seriously, a ‘good’ team, we finished the last season spectacularly, have the golden boot, and buckets of young talent, and just tied the arguably the best team in the league, we are a good team, all that’s missing is support.

    Get out there and watch your team! Quit bitching about it being too inconvenient for this and that.

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  10. FC Dallas’ issue is not location. It is horrible marketing and overpriced tickets.

    The no call on the handball was a correct call by the ref. It was clearly ball to hand and the proximity of Avilia to GBS when GBS struck the ball made it a clear no call.

    GBS should have been red carded not only for his complaining/whining to the ref after the equalizer, but throughout the whole game. He was an embarassment.

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  11. He disappeared last year because, when he did earn a start, he was starting next to Montero. Neither of them is a booming presence up front. Now he is playing next to Moreno who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and open up the front for some good passing lanes. He is a smart technical player but he needs another forward to protect him and open up some room.

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  12. With the win on Saturday, he also earned his 100th league win all of which came while coaching the Revs. The only other coaches to hit this mark in the MLS are Sigi and Bob Bradley. Congrats to him on that!

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  13. Going on 4 year FCD season ticket holder and live 10 minutes from PHP. And yes, they need to move (to another location in DFW). This is getting pathetic.

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  14. Victories over TFC and DC should come with asterisks.

    Both teams are terrible with guys at multiple positions who shouldn’t be in the league.

    Col. 2-0 TFC*

    Revs 2-0 DC*

    Phil 3-2 DC*

    Revs 4-1 TFC*

    *Victory not indicative of overall team trajectory due to suckitude of opponent.

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  15. Brad Evans wasn’t the only loser at RSL. Keller and Sigi helped give away the two points also. Keller nonchalantly walks the ball over end line for the final corner, and Sigi once again plays kick ball for the final twenty minutes. Can’t hold a lead when you play like that. It didn’t work last year, and wont this year either.

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  16. I’m a little confused why people think that was a good performance by Philadelphia. DC are a joke this year and the Union nearly handed United a draw. Philadelphia looked just as poor as they did against Seattle, only this time, they played a team that was unable to string two passes together during the entire first half and have a defense that would have to try in order to be less organized. The lesson I took from that game is that the Union are bad, DC are worse.

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  17. Dallas actually got approximately 10,500 to Saturday’s game. It was the Dallas Morning News who misreported the 8,400 number. That paragraph needs to be changed.

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  18. It feels like a matter of time before he’s offered a solid job back in England and leaves. He really has worked wonders here.

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  19. FCD was one of the best teams in the league over the 2nd half, which is to say after they made moves for the lineup they have right now. And then they went and got Kevin Hartman and got better. Did Fire get better?

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  20. I have friends in Dallas and they won’t make the trip for two main reasons. One Frisco is to far north and its out of the way of everything. Second is they will only support a good team, even if they signed just one good dp they’d be happy. Dallas really needs to relocate to Arlington or somewhere else in DFW. Arlington is just a good location because it is right in the middle. Hence why the Cowboys built their new stadium there.

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  21. I’d like to see what Bryan Jordan can do for the Galaxy. He’s had his moments before, like his goal against Real Salt Lake, and his goal against AC Milan. Jordan’s pace makes him a nice prospect to play alongside Buddle and would really help Buddle break backlines down.

    ——————–Buddle—-Jordan——————

    Magee——————–Juninho—————Donovan

    ————————Kovalenko———————

    Dunivant———-Leonardo—-Gonzalez——–Franklin

    ————————Ricketts———————-

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  22. I forgot to mention Marko Perović and his potential. This guy came on a sub and showed some skill and looked like a mad dog showing his teeth. He didn’t care if TFC was down and out–dude has great feet, size and strength. I can only imagine what we would see if a HOU or SSFC had this guy running the show up top. His appearance was rightfully overlooked by a stunning triple by the rookie. I only hope that’s not the story of the season, because Perovic is exactly what the league needs right now–young foreign talent.

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  23. I can’t believe how many foreign goalkeepers RBNY have gone through over the years. This is the one country perhaps over any other where teams should not have to use up a foreign player slot on their keeper.

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  24. A brute like Alsopp should not need “good service”. He should bang around enough to make due with any type of service.

    I thought there were a handful of 50/50 balls hit his way that he either did not anticipate well enough, or didnt fight hard enough to get to.

    Contrast that with A Moreno who fought for every ball within 20 yards and eventually drew the freekick on the winner and you realize why he never got past League 1.

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  25. I am getting concerned about DCU this season. It’s not just that they lost first three games (two on the road and one at home), but they are also allowing 3 goals per game on average. They cannot expect to win unless they fix their defense.

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  26. “D.C. United’s bigger problems lie… with the D.C. midfield’s inability to support the back four.”

    Like I’ve said before, when you start Morsuck in your midfield, this is what happens. I would know, I’m a KC Supporter.

    Buddle looks unstoppable at the moment. Hustle, skill, scoring with the head and the feet from insane ankles (even if Onstad did give him a hole to shoot through) dude is on right now. Hope Bob Bradley has the guts to give him a call up, if nothing else to at least show his stuff in training.

    Speaking of call-ups, I hope Ryan Smith makes his father’s US connection work for him so he’s eligible for US in 2014 and KC has an additional international spot to play with. Like what I see so far, but it’s only 2 matches.

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  27. I think KC could be a real threat this year. The game was ugly though, from both sides. And I don’t think the KC defense was really all THAT great. CO kept getting offside calls (two of which were NOT offside).

    My favorite moment was when Omar Cummings just booted the ball right in the keeper’s face. Keeper goes down like a sack of bricks and doesn’t get up for 2 minutes.

    It was like the Zapruder film, just priceless. Clip of the week IMO. The only crime there was that it wasn’t also a goal.

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  28. Yes, KC is for real. They beat DC with offense, Colorado with defense. They held Cummings and Casey to very few good looks. Ryan Smith is newcomer of the year so far.

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  29. Other Week 3 Observations:

    Chijindu of Chivas USA has serious potential and deserves to start every week

    John Busch deserves a job somewhere else…(PHI, NY, HOU…)

    Ryan Smith of KC is a freak and will have broken someone’s ankle by midseason (Jeff Larentowicz is lucky it wasn’t him on Saturday)

    Tim Ream IS the real deal

    When asked about Beckham, the LA Galaxy squad replied “Beckham? Beckham who…?”

    Chicago is really missing Blanco’s presence in the midfield and pretty soon the front office needs to bring back that excitement–before it’s too late

    We may very well see at least two players hitting the 20 goals mark this season

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  30. It’s going to be a very black year for my Black & Red. We may end up the worst team in the league, I think we’re that bad.

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  31. But, word has it that Bruce Arena is very concerned that Edson Buddle may become the Wayne Rooney of the Galaxy. If he gets injured or loses form while Donovan is away with the Nats, what then in terms of offensive production? btw: i am a Galaxy fan and not just being sarcastic.

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  32. Wow, where did Le Toux come from? I guess when he went from being the Sounders’ top dog in 2008 in USL-1 to just being a role player last year in the jump to MLS (and Scmid usually played him out of position on the wing) he just sort of disappeared. Now in Philly he’s the man again and is playing up top — and he’s exploding. I’m a DCU fan and even I was impressed by Le Toux’s display. Here’s to hoping United/Union becomes a great rivalry.

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  33. I forgot thst FC Dallas tied the Supporters Shield holders after constantly being advertised to lose, too.

    There’s no FCD love on this site.

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  34. Good start for the galaxy. They are going to be a tough team to beat this year. Berhalter is still out with an injury, yet Leonardo has stepped in nicely and has done a nice job in his absence. Sean Franklin in the midfield hurt the galaxy. He is a very athletic player, but he did not have the positional sense at some points in the game. The galaxy are 3-0-0 and landon has not scored. That is a good sign for the galaxy because landon is going to miss some time with the world cup. Edson is playing well right now. The second goal was a difficult chance but he put it away beautifully.

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  35. go ahead and call it a lucky win- Quakes fan don’t care at this point! the team and fans were desperate for something good to happen. hopefully we get a look at our brazilian forward Eduardo on wednesday in a revenge Open Cup match against RSL.

    as for Redbull’s goalie situation, we’ll gladly trade Busch to you for a draft pick and some $. I’d trade Cannon myself, but doubt GM Doyle has the stones for that one.

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