Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.

Email Jon to talk about soccer.

Awkward First Touch: The Week in MLS

Posted by: Jon Marthaler under Soccer Updated: April 18, 2014 - 8:41 AM

Every week, local soccer expert Wes Burdine (@MnNiceFC) checks in and tells us what's going on in Major League Soccer. When he's not writing, he's podcasting about the same topic. Wes?


1. FC Dallas 2, Seattle Sounders 3

You can read what’s below or just have this kid perform it for you. God bless the internet machine.

Voice Over: Dr. David Banner: physician; scientist. Searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation alters his body chemistry. And now when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs. The creature is driven by rage and pursued by an investigative reporter. [Banner:] "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." The creature is wanted for a murder he didn't commit. David Banner is believed to be dead, and he must let the world think that he is dead, until he can find a way to control the raging spirit that dwells within him.          

Short Version: Clint Dempsey has scored five goals in two games. Also, the Sounders won.
Highlights: Deuce’s second goal was a well-worked team goal that took apart Dallas.

2. FC Dallas 2, Seattle Sounders 3, Part Deux

The World Cup is eight weeks away. The Seattle Sounders have two defenders who could be representing the United States. One of those World Cup hopefuls is spritely young Deandre Yedlin. The other is jack-of-all-trades Brad Evans. Because I know that Jürgen Klinsmann reads this column regularly, I’m going to give him some free advice.

The Seattle Sounders are tied for the second worst goals against record with 10 goals given up in 6 games. Deandre Yedlin’s simply dumb penalty he conceded against Dallas is part of that problem. Brad Evans (who, admittedly plays a midfield role for the Sounders, rather than the fullback role for the Yanks, but don’t cloud my observations with facts) has missed the last four games for the Sounders. All but two of those goals have been scored with Evans off the pitch. Chew on that Jürgen.

3. Philadelphia Union 2, Real Salt Lake 2

I’m not sure I have written or discussed the Philadelphia Union much at all this season. Much of this comes from my own prejudice, since I didn’t think they would be any good this season. Surprisingly, though, they have put together some good performances; granted, these good performances have been mostly draws. And those draws have come against mediocre squads like Montreal, Chicago, and... Okay, let me stop myself and start over. How about this? "The Union have played some games and they haven’t been terrible."

What I should really say is that on Saturday, Philadelphia put in an impressive performance against a superior Real Salt Lake squad. They went down twice because of two poor moments of defending. However, going forward, the Union look to have some real ammunition with Andrew Wenger (recently swapped for Jack McInerny with Montreal Impact), Connor Casey, Vincent Nogueira, and stand-out Leonardo Fernandes. Wenger scored on his debut only minutes after McInerny scored on his debut for Montreal, so that worked out for everyone.

Short Version: Halfway through writing I realized that Philadelphia weren’t doing as well as I suspected they might be doing. They’re fine, but still not very good.
Highlights: MLS has been supplying late-game goals aplenty this season, and this game was no different, as Maurice Edu headed in an equalizer in the 90th minute.

4. Hello, Atlanta!

Yesterday, Major League Soccer welcomed its 22nd team into the fold, in Atlanta. The team will be owned by Home Depot co-founder and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. This is the fourth announcement of a team (Miami hasn’t officially been given a franchise) in the past year, which has led to many fans of existing teams pulling at their collars and grumbling about expanding too fast.

There are quite a few things we don’t know about the future Atlanta team, such as what will happen to the existing soccer team, the Atlanta Silverbacks, who play in Minnesota United FC’s league, the NASL. What do we know? They will play in the new Falcons stadium (boo!), which will have removable football lines (hooray!) and which will have a roof that lowers to make the stadium more intimate for smaller soccer audiences (hooray!, I think). The team will use Black and Red as the primary colors (boo! Why use same palette as your football team) with some gold thrown in (Hooray! Because it promises to be tacky). The team will start playing in MLS in 2017 (I have no feelings on this).

Fans from Columbus took it upon themselves to welcome Atlanta to the league with a picture of General William Tecumseh Sherman, the man who burned Atlanta to the ground towards the end of the Civil War. Well played, Columbus.

5. Real Salt Lake v. Portland Timbers. Saturday, 8:30 PM, MLS Live

Real Salt Lake are undefeated; Portland Timbers are without a win. This is Thunderdome type stuff. This is also what we would call a high-energy game, so for the drama of seeing if Portland can start to get their feet, there will also be the promise of a pretty exciting match-up.

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