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Real Salt Lake rally highlights opening weekend
by Ridge Mahoney, March 12th, 2012 2:11AM

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[MLS WRAP] Seven games were played on Saturday and Sunday as MLS kicked off its 17th season; Real Salt Lake dropped the defending champion Galaxy down to earth with a 3-1 win at Home Depot Center, while the other conference champion, Sporting Kansas City, provided the only road win by beating D.C. United, 1-0, at RFK Stadium. Here are a few points to ponder ...

GALAXY ‘D’ SUFFERS WITHOUT BIG ‘O.’
Unbeaten at home last year, the Galaxy took a 1-0 lead over RSL with an Edson Buddle goal, then threw away the lead with a Sean Franklin own goal, then threw away the game by conceding twice (Javier Morales, Fabian Espindola) within two minutes.

Rookie Tommy Meyer started alongside centerback A.J. DeLaGarza. Meyer replaced Andrew Boyens, whose ball-watching had provided Toronto FC with one of its goals in a 2-2 Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday. After Franklin’s own goal, substitutes Morales and Espindola scored after the Galaxy back line had been carved open.

Los Angeles could cite some bad luck as a factor in its first loss since Nov. 14, 2010, in the Western Conference final against FC Dallas, as two shots came back off the crossbar. Yet it leaked a lot of goals during preseason, so further changes seem necessary if it is to repeat last year’s league-leading total of 28 goals allowed.

‘CAPS CANADIAN COUP. Vancouver welcomed Canadian rival Montreal to MLS by beating the Impact, 2-0, with goals by Sebastien Le Toux and Camilo as the club unveiled its strengthened attacking force. Two other members in good standing, Eric Hassli and Davide Chiumiento, earned assists on the goals.

Coach Martin Rennie’s attacking options have excited the fan base, yet the opposition notwithstanding, posting a shutout could also be significant. Defenders Martin Bonjour and Lee Young-Pyo made their MLS debuts, and a goal-line clearance by Lee plus five Joe Cannon saves enabled Vancouver to post the zero. It registered just five blankings last year.

ROADIES STAY LATE.
The top two finishers in the Eastern Conference last year that also met in the playoffs, Sporting Kansas City and Houston, posted the only away wins of the seven weekend games by scoring in stoppage time to win, 1-0. Despite topping the conference in 2011, they won only six of 34 away matches combined.

C.J. Sapong reminded everyone why he was Rookie of the Year in 2011 by heading home a Graham Zusi (who else?) corner kick in the 93rd minute to spoil a superb showing by D.C. keeper Bill Hamid. His seven saves had stymied SKC for a long time, but not long enough. Dynamo defender Adrian Hainault showed off his predatory instincts by trapping a goal-bound shot with his right foot and drilling it home via his left to stun Chivas USA in the 92nd minute. The Canadian led Houston last year in postseason scoring by hitting the net twice during its run to MLS Cup.



3 comments
  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: March 12, 2012 at 9:55 a.m.
    Just to let you know, Ridge. There were 3 away wins and 4 home wins this weekend.

  1. Jim Hougan
    commented on: March 12, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.
    Re the Galaxy match: who or what is "the Big 'O'"?

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: March 12, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.
    > Jim H: The "Big O" is Omar Gonzalez who was loaned to a German team after the season, only to tear his ACL in the first days of practice, and thus is out until around mid summer.


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