As March continues on, the weather is beginning to get nicer and Major League Soccer continues to provide excitement across its slate of games. While Chicago continues to work on its defensive issues that were exposed by Seattle, they did provide plenty of exclamation points on offense. Elsewhere, Wayne Rooney accounted for four goals in DC, the Galaxy survived a late Loons surge, and Cincinnati got its first ever MLS win.
Trending Up: Jozy Altidore returned from injury to rescue all three points for his club with an 80th minute goal.
Trending Down: Portland became the first club in MLS history to concede three or more goals in each of its first three games.
DC United 5-0 Real Salt Lake
Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney had himself a night in the nation’s capital, turning back the clock en-route to producing a hat trick and adding an assist in DC United’s run-away victory against nine-man Salt Lake.
United’s attacking playmakers had the visitors on their backfoot most of the night with relentless pressure and well-timed runs that resulted in a 22-4 shot advantage and firm control over the game. Rooney’s second of the night was his most impressive, slipping behind the defense and chipping RSL goalie Nick Rimando.
Lucas Rodriguez provided the icing on the cake and delivered the goal of the week in the 76th minute, hitting a stunning volley off Rooney’s well-placed corner kick into the top corner, leaving Rimando with no chance and sending the home fans into jubilation.
LA Galaxy 3-2 Minnesota United
Playing without star striker Zlatan Ibrahimović for the second straight game, the resurgent Galaxy were able to hand the Loons their first loss of the season, behind an early penalty and impressive team goals finished off by Chris Pontius and Sebastian Lletget. Lletget was the show stopper for the host, as he was able to volley a great cross from Uriel Antuna into the near post and restore the Galaxy’s two goal advantage, as Minnesota were beginning to mount their comeback.
Despite conceding three times Minnesota goalie Vito Mannone played well, making four saves on the night and working hard to keep the Loons in the game. The Italian goalie’s most impressive save came late in the game, sliding across goal to deny an unmarked Diego Polenta on a close-range effort.
Minnesota got late goals from Angelo and Jan Gregus, the later sneaking past on a poor effort from LA’S David Bingham, but it was not enough for the visitors to salvage a point. Despite the loss, it is a strong start to the season for Minnesota, as they have taken six points from three away games, and scored eight times thus far, with their high-powered attack led by star Darwin Quintero firing on all cylinders.
FC Cincinnati 3-0 Portland Timbers
Welcome to MLS, Cincinnati! The expansion side packed the house for their home opener, and provided plenty of fireworks for the 32,000 strong crowd throughout the night en-route to picking up their first MLS win. The Cincinnati fans showed up in full force and let their voices be heard, a wonderful celebration for the new side and a great addition to the MLS family.
Kendall Watson was the first to rise to the monuments occasion, heading home a Leonardo Bertone free kick for Cincinnati’s first home goal. Allan Cruz doubled the host’s lead in the 61st minute with a delightful, clever back heel that caught Portland’s Jeff Attinella completely unaware.
Spencer Richey stepped up huge for his team, making a pair of great saves midway through the first half to preserve the lead, the second of which was a sprawling effort to deny a point-blank shot at the back post. He later stopped an impressive effort from Diego Valeri to gain his side’s first clean sheet in MLS.
NYRB 4-1 San Jose
New York looked to shake off any negative feelings from its CONCACAF Champions League elimination, firing off four second half goals to overwhelm San Jose and keep them on zero points for the season.
San Jose opened the scoring quickly, with a great counter-attacking goal in just the 5th minute from Cristian Espinoza, and threatened on numerous occasions throughout the first half. The momentum began to swing when Alex Muyl was substituted on in the 35th minute by New York, as the hosts began to create the more dangerous chances. Muyl broke things open for the Red Bulls in the 51st, and scored again in the 71st to give his side the lead, putting himself in a great position to finish balls in the box.
Daniel Royer continues to play fantastic soccer this season, providing the critical pass on both of Muyl’s goals, and scoring himself in the 89th to wrap up the scoreline. It seemed he was the catalyst for everything New York had going right in Champions League, and was a key contributor again Sunday.
With the team no longer forced to think about Champions League, New York will be a consistently dangerous team and a top contender in the East.