After Week Three the Fire remain on four points after allowing four goals in Atlanta to an attack that is firing on all cylinders right now. Before recapping the other games involving Eastern Conference teams I would just like to point out that it is a very long season and we are just getting started. A loss in this fashion for the Fire doesn’t go down well I know, but the next three games are at home. A couple of positive results in those matches and the homestand would provide a nice springboard to the rest of the campaign. On the other hand if there are a few negative ones it could be too damaging. Even though it is still early those three games could be crucial to Fire’s hope this season.
NYCFC 1-1 Montreal
Rodney Wallace scored again this week and he is looking like a nice under-the-radar signing for NYCFC. Jack Harrison slid the ball inside to Wallace who nicely rolled the ball backwards to Alex Ring. Ring’s shot produced a rebound that Wallace pounced on to put NYC up one. NYC dominated much of the first half but failed to push their lead, which ended up costing them. Piatti looked certain to level the game in the second half but his clever effort came back off the post. The teams traded a few chances until a ball over the top caught some of the NYC defense sleeping and Dominic Oduro leveled the score. Montreal is still looking for their first win but will probably be happy with this point. NYC could have put the game away early and had several changes at the end as well.
Vancouver 0-2 Toronto
Toronto picked up an impressive win on the road in Vancouver. They scored two goals shortly after Brek Shea picked up a Red Card late in the second half. There was a nice cross over the back post and Jozy Altidore headed the ball back across goal into a dangerous area where Victor Vasquez headed it into the net. Just minutes later Altidore added Toronto’s second in classic Jozy fashion. He spun his defender showing off his strength and finished neatly. It was a feisty game between the two teams and a really good result for Toronto, especially playing without Sebastian Giovinco.
DC United 0-2 Columbus
Columbus picked up their first win of the year on the road at RFK Stadium. Both goals were scored from PKs. The first was scored by Federico Higuain and the second by Ola Kamara. Kamara drew both penalties and he was in dangerous positions throughout. Columbus had a flurry of chances very early in the game before DC settled into the game. DC looked much more dangerous and fluid with Luciano Acosta making his first start of the season. However they will still be looking for their first win and first goal. Yes, they yet to find the net after 3 games.
Orlando 2-1 Philadelphia
This game was very scrappy early on before both teams got into the swing of things. Orlando playing without Kaka was pretty impressive and the makeshift back line of Orlando with Will Johnson playing right back looked pretty solid throughout. Carlos Rivas brought down a ball over the top extremely well. His excellent first touch allowed him to run into the box before rolling the ball across the six-yard box for Cyle Larin to tap home the opening goal. Rivas was involved in the second goal as well after a sweet bit of combo play from Orlando. There was a ball forward to the checking Rivas who laid the ball off nicely to Perez Garcia. By that time Cyle Larin was already streaking forward knowing the through pass was coming. He ran onto the ball and slotted home the winner. Larin just doesn’t miss those chances. Philadelphia did level the game through CJ Sapong but it always seemed as if Orlando would find a winner.
FC Dallas 2 v New England 1
New England went to Dallas looking for their first win and could not hold onto an early lead. Lee Nguyen scored from the penalty spot after an early foul off of a corner kick. Kei Kamara was close to making it two after a driving run into the box. New England struggled to threaten after that. Dallas dominated possession and had the better of the chances throughout. Dallas was made to wait until the 70th minute before leveling. A few minutes after that Maximiliano Urruti rifled in another goal giving himself a brace and Dallas the full three points.
Seattle 3-1 New York Red Bulls
This was certainly billed as the main event of the weekend in MLS. Seattle’s home opener drew a huge crowd where they were celebrating their 2016 MLS Cup. Both teams traded blows for the first 20 minutes or so before a mistake by New York in their defensive end. The ball was coughed up allowing Jordan Morris to beat Luis robles to the loose ball. Morris got a slight touch on the ball before being tripped up by Luis Robles and the referee pointed to the spot. Clint Dempsey scored the ensuing penalty kick. In the second half Sal Zizzo put a nice ball into the box and Bradley Wright Phillips glanced a header into the net after it deflected off a Seattle defender. Nicolas Lodeiro later clipped a ball toward the back post for Jordan Morris to head in the go ahead goal. Seattle added a third later on when Harry Shipp redirected a Joevin Jones shot from deep. The result ended Red Bulls regular season unbeaten streak at 18 games.
Hot (Time) Take
Out of all the Eastern Conference teams this weekend the standouts were Atlanta, Orlando and Toronto. Toronto getting all three points in Vancouver was impressive for a team that is hoping to get back to the MLS Cup. Orlando finding a winner was equally impressive. Cyle Larin again, week after week is showing why he is so highly regarded. Orlando is going to be really tough to beat on their home field. And as much as it pains me to say it, Atlanta was explosive again. Yes, they had a man advantage for nearly the entire game but they had the Fire on the back pedal from the first minute. Atlanta and the array of attacking talent they have just seems overwhelmingly difficult to defend and contain. However I believe it is not all that gloomy for the Fire though. In 2016 the 6th place Eastern Conference team Philadelphia won 11 games, drew 9 and lost 14. In 2015 the 6th place team was Toronto. They won 15, drew 4 and lost 15 games. Point is these teams both finished around .500 and if the Fire do-so they should be close to a playoff spot. What is most important now is that they remain in striking distance. That is why these next three games at home will be crucial.