10 Things We Learned from MLS Week 1
Major League Soccer finally returned to the pitch this weekend with eight games that brought us a bit of a surprise with 26 goals and three games seeing five scores.
While seeing goals fly in from all over the place was a nice spectacle, the biggest talking points came from the close matches played in Seattle, LA and Portland.
Here is a look at 10 things we learned from the opening weekend of play in MLS.
Seattle Loves Leaving It Late Against Sporting
For the sixth time in its last seven meetings with Sporting Kansas City, Seattle scored in the 90th minute or later.
That surreal stat was brought into play by Chad Barrett, who scored off of the bench in the 94th minute of the game at CenturyLink Field.
The goal was exactly what the doctor ordered for a Sounders team that needs to prove its worth during the 2014 campaign.
It Might Be Another Long Year in the Nation's Capital
After making a bevy of moves in the offseason to improve their team, D.C. United fell at home to Columbus, 3-0, on Saturday night.
United's major acquisition, Eddie Johnson, was shut down for most of the night by the Columbus back four, who looked like a well-oiled machine.
Ben Olsen's men got just one shot on target, which brought back memories of the disastrous 2013 season.
If the poor form continues for the Black and Red, Olsen could be out of a job very soon.
USMNT Fringe Players Impressed in Season Debuts
After the debacle in Cyprus on Wednesday by the European-based United States men's national team players, a few MLSers took advantage of the opportunity and stuck out over the course of the weekend.
The two most notable names to do so were Michael Parkhurst and Maurice Edu, both of whom returned to the States in search of playing time and a World Cup roster spot.
Nick Rimando also solidified his spot as the third keeper on the United States roster with a terrific display at the StubHub Center against the Galaxy.
One player that really stuck out was Will Bruin, who has a minimal chance of getting noticed by Jurgen Klinsmann, but it could be worth throwing his name in the discussion if he has more nights like he did on Saturday.
While he is not on the fringe, Clint Dempsey did show some positive movements in the second half for Seattle, which is a welcome sight to everyone surrounding the national team.
You Don't Mess with the Rimando
If any player deserves his own slide for his play this past weekend, it is Rimando.
The Real Salt Lake keeper made nine stops in his 109th career shutout, the last of which was a massive penalty save on Robbie Keane.
Rimando also set a bit of history while chasing it as he became the first player since 2002 to record nine or more saves and make a stop on a penalty shot.
The man who last did that was Kevin Hartman, who also holds the career shutout mark of 112, which should be broken this year by Rimando.
Philadelphia Might Actually Have a Functional Midfield This Season
Watching the midfield of the Philadelphia Union in 2013 was not a pretty sight.
Luckily, that was not the case in Portland on Saturday night as a few of the Union's new signings dazzled in their debuts.
The standout performer was Cristian Maidana, who made some terrific passes and key runs that opened up play for the rest of his teammates.
Edu was also a key in the holding midfield position as he tracked back to help out on defense on numerous occasions.
With those two already firing on all cylinders, it is hard to believe that wasn't a full strength midfield since Vincent Nogueira didn't get a chance to really shine.
Once the Frenchman finds chemistry with Maidana, the attacking duo could become something special.
Turfitis Costs the Red Bulls
You may have noticed that Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave were not included in the matchday squad for the New York Red Bulls.
The key reason for that was the turf that they would have played on at BC Place in Vancouver.
Ever since coming to MLS, Henry has not been a fan of playing on turf and the decision to keep him out of the 18 on Saturday backed that point up.
Olave is the other victim of turfitis on the Red Bulls roster and his presence in the back four was greatly missed as Vancouver went on to score four goals.
Having two of the best players on the New York roster sit out because of the playing surface will only add to the debate of whether or not all teams in the league should play on grass.
There May Actually Be Hope for Chivas USA After All
No one knew exactly what to expect from Chivas USA in its opener on Sunday against Chicago.
After 90 minutes, a pleasant taste was left in the mouth of outside observers as the Goats played some nice attacking soccer in the second half on their way to a 3-2 win.
While it is way too early to call this a complete resurrection of the franchise, it is a nice start.
Now, if only Chivas could work on its attendance problem.
Oscar Pareja's FC Dallas Will Be a Contender
Oscar Pareja proved last season in Colorado that he can be a top-notch manager in MLS, and he showed signs of that again in FC Dallas' first match of the season.
Pareja's team defeated Montreal, 3-2, in a wild game at Toyota Park that saw Mauro Diaz star in midfield.
Last season, Pareja dealt with a lot of young talent in Colorado and morphed that team into the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference.
If Pareja can do the same with the veterans in the FC Dallas squad, we could be talking about him as a top Coach of the Year candidate.
Colorado's Reasoning Is a Bit Interesting
While they did not play a game this weekend, the Colorado Rapids did make news as they finally named Pablo Mastroeni head coach.
When speaking about the decision on Saturday, Colorado club president Tim Hinchey had some interesting reasoning for waiting so long:
"I can appreciate everyone’s concern [over the timing]. But we weren’t concerned. We were never nervous....We wanted to make a decision for the next 10 years, not for just the season. I think we showed when we gave Oscar the support in his first year, we’re willing to wait."
If this 10-year plan works for the Rapids, that's great, but you have to believe the fans and players are just worried about getting off on the right foot against the Red Bulls on Saturday.
The Replacement Refs Made Some Questionable Calls, as Expected
With replacement referees taking charge of the eight matches this weekend, plenty of questions arose beforehand about how they would perform.
In all honesty, the referees did an average job, but they were criticized for some rulings.
The biggest mishap came when Real Salt Lake's Luke Mulholland had a goal wrongly disallowed in the second half of a heated game between the Claret and Cobalt and the Galaxy.
Fortunately, the mistake didn't affect the result, as Joao Plata scored a few minutes later and Rimando saved a penalty that was questionable at best.
Speaking of penalties, five were handed out throughout the league this weekend, a total that the league didn't see until the 22nd game of the 2013 season.
With everyone under a ton of pressure to bring the regular referees back, hopefully the replacements refs don't hang around too long in 2014.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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