We were on deadline last Friday night till 9:30 and then we spent the weekend and beyond packing up the Backpost home offices for relocation. Not an easy job: Our signed Rodney Marsh and Jeff Durgan jerseys require special packaging and extra transport fees.
We’re just about on the other side of it all, but in the process we missed posting on the MLS opener between Seattle and expansion Philadelphia, the first real game at Red Bull Arena, and the opening weekend league-wide, along with an eventful Premier League weekend and some good outings for Yanks Abroad in general.
Here are a few reactions on the MLS opening weekend, and we’ll get back at everything else once we’re fully relocated and reconnected to the InterWebs:
Sounders Bust Union 2-0
The atmosphere in Seattle was incredible–36,000-plus turned up in a driving rain and spent the entire game chanting and singing.
There were two mohawks on the field, as Seattle’s second-year man Steve Zakuani sported a subtle one and Union defender Danny Califf went full Travis Bickle with his.
Zakuani was the most dangerous player on the field for much of the night. Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso—a Cuban defector—also had a great game.
Freddies Ljungberg and Montero weren’t quite clicking last Thursday, but they are poised to be one of the league’s more potent attacking combos
Philadelphia started a surprisingly young group—with two players, Michael Orozco and 18-year-old Danny Mwanga—playing out of position. They also continued the tendency for hotheadedness that they showed in preseason, as Califf was yellow-carded in the early going, and his partner in central defense, Toni Stahl, was red-carded in the 40th minute.
This Philly team was spirited, and will probably get better results at home (especially when PPL opens), but Seattle was head-and-shoulders better and seemed like a long-established franchise rather than last year’s expansion team.
Red Bulls Douse Fire 1-0
The atmosphere at Red Bull Arena was electric and loud (much as it was the previous week in the exhibition against Santos), the result was positive (ditto) and the opening goal was scored by new midfield signing Joel Lindpere (again).
The team was also noticeably sharper and more energized than previous years’ editions, and yet there were signs of the old MetroBull funk, struggling under the surface: In the first half, with the score still 0-0, Mike Petke—who had a great game—attempted a clearance while running toward his own goal—and nearly put it over RB keeper Bouna Coundoul, prompting the guy in front of us to say, “Hey we already opened one arena with an own goal.” He was referring to Nicola Caricola‘s own goal that gave the New England Revolution a 1-0 win over the MetroStars in their inaugural home opener back in 1996—aka the Curse of Caricola
Fire forward Brian McBride came within two inches of scoring on a bicycle kick in the first half, his effort bouncing harmlessly off the post, and then Chicago spent the last ten minutes pressing heavily for an equalizer. It was an all-too-familiar scenario for old-school MetroBull fans, and yet … the Fire didn’t get it.
We might actually be in a new era with this team. The old Red Bulls/MetroStars would most definitely have given up a late equalizer—and may have coughed up two.
Javier Morales wins Player of the Week:
An excellent two-goal, one assist outing for the Real Salt Lake star, no doubt, and it’s a nice way for him to start the new season after having left last year’s MLS Cup in the early going with an injury. But this result may say as much about the woeful status of the Quakes as it does about Morales and RSL. They open at home with a 3-0 pasting? Could be another long year in San Jose. D.C. United also needs to get its house in order after absorbing a 4-0 drubbing at Kansas City, United coach Curt Onalfo‘s former team. Said veteran striker Jaime Moreno, “This [loss] is a slap in the face … and it is clear that this team has a long way to go to improve.”
In the other opening games, Guillermo Barros Schelotto set up the first goal and scored the second in Columbus’s 2-0 win over Toronto; FC Dallas and Houston split the points (1-1) in the Texas derby in front of a paltry crowd of 8,000-something at Pizza Hut Park—less than half the attendance for last year’s opener; and Edson Buddle scored a sixth-minute goal for Los Angeles that proved to be the winner over New England. Landon Donovan got the assist.