Because MLS is the Nailed It! of soccer leagues, teams had the option of recognizing the international break and taking a little time off this week while their players represented their national teams, or not. The result was 12 teams playing short handed and fans being treated to depleted sides with their best players missing. That also meant that there was a chance for players to get a start when they might otherwise be on the bench or out of the 18 completely.
Weird result at a weird field: All that meant that things like, Kellyn Rowe looked lively on the wing for New England and Juan Agudelo scored a nice goal on a header is the main highlight for Yanks playing in the NYCFC at New England Revolution match. NYCFC managed to draw the Revs 2-2 away from home in the end though. Swagudelo did sorta chip Sean Johnson - so this counts as a double US player highlight technically:
Juan Agudelo comes in on the 60th minute— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) March 24, 2018
[three minutes pass]
Juan Agudelo scores https://t.co/OycvMgErvM
Pass the Advocare: The FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers match was warm enough to require water breaks and it looked it, except for the Oscar Pareja sweater over dress shirt combo. In what was generally a fairly tepid game, a big highlight was Jacori Hayes providing an assist to Roland Lamah. The central midfielder dribbled at the Portland box but cut the ball back to Lamah who fired it past Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson:
That’s not a gherkin, it’s Chris Durkin: In Columbus, Ian Harkes and Durkin did their best to anchor the midfield for DC United, though they spent much of the game tracking back, trying to break up Columbus Crew attacks and keep up on transition. There weren’t many highlights for DCU in this one for the young Americans who got minutes, in fact Paul Arriola had a tough game and managed just one shot in 90 minutes. On the other side, with Wil Trapp away on national team duty, Ricardo Clark started and played a full 90 minutes for a really uptempo and fun to watch Columbus Crew team. Gyasi Zardes didn’t have much of an impact on the score sheet as the Crew beat DC United 3-1.
Durkin’s passing was a real highlight for DC, Ben Olsen really has a lot of work to do with this team, but he could be the core of a midfield for years to come unless he goes abroad.
On his very next touch he acted more decisively. Stepped past Higuain, and hit Arriola with a quality diagonal ball. (Arriola had a bad game. Whatever Olsen is trying to do with him, it's not working.) pic.twitter.com/yuY8NyYJzQ— Scuffed (@zlebmada) March 25, 2018
Rumble in the Harrison: The New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United faced off with NYRB missing key starters including Tyler Adams and Kaku. The decidedly ‘B’ team roster never seemed to be troubled by Minnesota as their press limited the Loons’ ability to build anything going forward and created chances in transition. The result was a 3-0 scoreline with homegrown forward Alex Muyl starting the scoring and provided a brilliant assist to Bradley Wright-Phillips. Defender Tim Parker has settled in nicely since moving over from Vancouver and provided an assist and helped keep a clean sheet.
For Minnesota, it is clear that the injury to Kevin Molino means a new chance for Miguel Ibarra to get some minutes on the wing, though he was as bottled up as the rest of the visitors going forward. Striker Christian Ramirez is still looking for his first goal of 2018 and Matt Lampson looked every bit the player Chicago was eager to part with on draft day. In short, Minnesota has some work to do still.
Here’s Muyl’s assist, the ball is a work of art and the finish should be in the Louvre:
Rocky Mountain Tie: Tim Howard, Marlon Hairston, and Edgar Castillo of the Colorado Rapids welcomed their USMNT teammates Matt Besler, Ike Opara, and Graham Zusi to suburban Denver and treated them most unkindly. Castillo managed to get an assist to Dominiqe Badji in the 5th minute and led Colorado 2-0 after 9 minutes. The lead wouldn’t last as SKC came back drawing even on a Diego Rubio goal that was assisted by former US U-23 forward Khiry Shelton. There’s not really a highlight to show off in this one, but this is a telling stat about Sporks:
Sporting KC has allowed nine goals in its first three games and eight minutes this season.— Paul Carr (@PaulCarrTM) March 25, 2018
Last year, SKC allowed nine goals in its first 13 games.
Vancouver Void: The Vancouver Whitecaps were subject to a VAR call that put them down a man against Atlanta last weekend. After appealing the card and further video review, the video assisted referee decision was reversed - this is peak VAR and probably as good an argument as exists for scrapping the system. In any case, they welcomed a roster with LA Galaxy players on it. Somehow no goals were scored in this one so David Bingham recorded a clean sheet with Perry Kitchen clogging up the midfield and Chris Pontius and Brek Shea each proved their existence on their respective rosters by coming off of the bench.
The move to Club Leon has done wonders for Landon Donovan's development, behold his first goal in two years: