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MLS week 1 round-up: Wondolowski hits the ground running, Galaxy fall short

While there was plenty of exhilarating action on the pitch of this year’s opening MLS weekend, MLS fans could be forgiven for keeping an eye on the telly.

NBC Sports, who agreed a new three-year deal worth $10 million per year with the league for the secondary English-language domestic rights package, debuted its MLS coverage this weekend with coverage of FC Dallas against New York Red Bulls.

In addition to full match coverage featuring former BBC test cricket announcer Arlo White, who covered Seattle Sounders last year, NBC Sports also aired a pre-game show live from Dallas featuring former Jamaican international Robbie Earle, of Port Vale and Wimbledon fame.

NBC was rewarded for their extensive coverage with a fast-paced grudge match, with FC Dallas getting revenge on the team that dismissed them from the MLS playoffs last season.

FC Dallas 2-1 New York Red Bulls

Unlike four months ago, Dallas’ pace on the counter-attack proved too much for New York. While the home side looked cohesive defensively, Red Bulls appeared disconnected on attack.

Though New York controlled the majority of possession, especially in the second half, Red Bulls mounted few chances on goal, as Thierry Henry and Juan Agudelo were held in check by Dallas’ back four led by American captain Ugo Ihemelu.

Zach Lloyd took advantage of two poor clearances by New York of a Brek Shea corner to put Dallas ahead in the 11th minute.

Brazilian Ricardo Villar doubled the lead in the 61st minute by burying a beautiful pass from Blas Pérez.

Kenny Cooper entered the game for New York in the 63rd minute and made an instant impact, generating several chances before depositing Henry’s long-ball into the net 12 minutes later. But it would prove to be too little, too late.

LA Galaxy 1-3 Real Salt Lake

For 73 minutes, everything went Los Angeles’ way. Galaxy dominated possession and scoring chances.

RSL received good fortune in the opening half, with both Landon Donovan and Marcelo Sarvas hitting the post behind RSL keeper Nick Rimando.

David Beckham, who started the match in center-midfield but had more success on the right, thought he had cracked the defense, delivering a cross that Edson Buddle put into the net in the 71st minute.

Then it all unraveled for L.A.: Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 17 minutes.

RSL introduced Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio, both recovering from injuries, late in the second half, turning the tide in the visitors’ favour.

A Sean Franklin own goal in the 79th was followed by a Morales strike less than a minute later.

Fabian Espindola secured the three points for RSL with a poised strike after maneuvering past both A.J. Garza and Juninho too easily.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2 -0 Montreal Impact

A spirited sell-out crowd at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver learned that the home side, known for their high-octane offense, had learned to play defense.

Asian imports Jun Marques Davidson and Lee Young-Pyo led a surprisingly-strong defensive effort. Sanna Nyassi squandered Montreal’s only quality chance by striking the ball well above the bar in the 59th minute.

Franco-American Sebastien le Toux scored just four minutes into the match with a superb individual effort, flicking the ball forward into space, releasing from his mark, then calmly depositing the ball past an over-committed Montreal keeper.

In the second half, le Toux’s chemistry with Eric Hassli sprung Camillo, who shook two defenders and buried the ball inside the far post in the 54th minute.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 New England Revolution

Chris Wondolowski (pictured), who has captured or shared the MLS Golden Boot the past two seasons, potted a Shea Salinas delivery in the 15th minute to give San Jose the lead.

It was all the scoring that the Quakes needed. New England, who finished last in the Eastern Conference last season, showed no signs of relinquishing the cellar.

Colorado Rapids 2-0 Columbus Crew

Colorado Rapids keeper Matt Pickens earned dinner from most of his teammates this weekend, making several stellar stops to keep their match against Columbus Crew scoreless.

Quincy Amarikwa then secured the three points for Colorado with a brilliant strike from 20 yards into the top corner in the 89th minute, ensuring a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, one of MLS’s most prolific franchises.

D.C. United 0 -1 Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City, last season’s Eastern Conference champions, brought in a host of attacking forwards in the close season, who immediately set to work barraging the D.C. United goal throughout the match.

Kei Kamara led SKC’s counter-attack throughout the match, and nearly opened the scoring, just missing the post in the 35th minute. Graham Zusi and Bobby Convey connected on several near-misses as well.

D.C. United thought it had survived to earn a point until C.J. Sapong, last season’s Rookie of the Year, redirected a corner inside the far post in stoppage-time, giving SKC a well-earned three points.

CD Chivas 0-1 Houston Dynamo

Of the 11 warm bodies to don Chivas shirts this weekend, only two showed any signs of life.

Juan Pablo Angel had a few chances on goal, including a smart flick in the first half that found woodwork.

Dan Kennedy was arguably the best keeper in MLS this weekend with several show-stopping saves, including robbing Will Bruin and Bryan Ching point-blank despite shoddy defending in front of him.

Unfortunately for Chivas supporters, Kennedy slipped on the turf in stoppage-time, giving Canadian Andre Hainault just enough of a gap to slide in the winner for Houston.

By Sreesha Vaman


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