MLS First Kick 2010 rewind
MLS Player of the Week Javier Morales scored two majestic goals to kick off Real Salt Lake’s defense of their MLS Cup title in a 3-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes. Joel Lindpere’s goal gave the New York Red Bulls a league opener to remember at Red Bull Arena. Guillermo Barros Schelotto played a part in both goals as the Columbus Crew began their bid for a third consecutive Supporters’ Shield with a 2-0 win. The Kansas City Wizards had the offensive explosion of the week, defeating D.C. United 4-0. For extended highlights of all the First Kick action, click here.
First Kick wins vs. postseason berths
Is success in First Kick an indication of postseason joy? Overall, teams that qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs over the first 14 seasons of MLS have a 52-36-24 record in their season openers (.571 winning percentage). Teams that failed to make the playoffs are 11-30-11 to kick off their campaigns (.317).
To look at it another way, in MLS history:
— 83 percent of the teams that won their openers qualified for the playoffs (52 of 63)
— 54 percent of the teams that lost their openers qualified for the playoffs (36 of 66)
— 69 percent of the teams that tied their openers qualified for the playoffs (24 of 35)
Teams that ended up winning MLS Cup are 10-3-1 in their season opener. The league’s first champion, D.C. United, lost their first game in 1996, and the 2005 LA Galaxy lost their season opener. The third? Last year’s champion, Real Salt Lake, who opened the season with a 2-0 loss at Seattle Sounders FC.
“The [road] problem was all between the ears. I told the guys we wanted to come out here and establish a foundation.”
— Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis, to The Salt Lake Tribune after his team’s 3-0 victory in San Jose.
“This stadium should sell itself in a way, with the noise. Every time it is sold out and you have fans behind you it will bring six or seven points a season because of the support you get.”
— New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, to the Newark Star-Ledger.
”It’s not about one star player. It’s about the team, the leadership of Carlos de los Cobos and the culture he’s created. That’s more important than one player creating magic, like lightning in a bottle.”
— Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman to the Chicago Sun-Times regarding Cuauhtémoc Blanco’s departure from the club after last season.
“This [tonight’s loss] is a slap in the face, because we have been playing pretty good soccer, and it is clear that this team has a long way to go to improve.”
— D.C. United forward Jaime Moreno, after his club’s 4-0 loss at Kansas City.
Previewing Week 2: April 1-3, 2010 (all times ET)
Thursday, April 1
Real Salt Lake at Houston Dynamo, 9 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / ESPN360.com)
* All-time series: Houston leads, 6-2-4. Last year: Houston 1-0-2
* The Dynamo have never lost to Real Salt Lake at Robertson Stadium, winning five of the six meetings in Houston. The only time RSL took even a point came in a 1-1 draw on June 20, 2009.
* For the first time since joining RSL in August 2007, Javier Morales posted a multi-goal game. . With two goals against San Jose last week, he also doubled his goal haul of 2009, when he notched one goal and five assists.
* RSL’s 3-0 road win matched their biggest margin of victory ever in an away game and the most goals they’ve ever scored in a road game. The last time? Last year’s Eastern Conference second leg, a 3-2 win at the Columbus Crew.
* RSL failed to score in its first five road games a year ago, and weren’t victorious on the road until its seventh road match (a 2-1 win at the LA Galaxy, June 13).
Chivas USA at LA Galaxy, 11 p.m. (ESPN 2 / ESPN Deportes / ESPN360.com)
* All-time record: LA Galaxy lead, 10-3-5. Last year: LA 2-0-1.
* The teams are meeting in the first SuperClásico of 2010, their first encounter since last year’s Western Conference Semifinal Series. The Galaxy won that series 3-2 on aggregate, the first time the Home Depot Center rivals have met in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
* Chivas USA were shut out in all three league meetings a year ago. Their last goal vs, LA in a regular season match came in a 2-2 draw on Aug. 14, 2008 (a league scoreless streak of 297 minutes).
* Chivas USA lost in their home opener for the first time since their inaugural season of 2005.
* Edson Buddle got his 2010 season off to the best possible start, scoring the Galaxy’s lone goal. He suffered through an injury-plagued season last year, with just five goals.
Saturday, April 3
Chicago Fire at Colorado Rapids, 4 p.m. (TeleFutura)
* All-time record: Chicago leads, 16-11-5. Last year: Chicago 2-0-0
* The Fire’s victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park last year was their first in Colorado since a 1-0 win Oct. 6, 1999 at Mile High Stadium. The Rapids won five of the 10 meetings in between with five draws.
* For the first time in club history, the Rapids opened their season with a road win, downing Chivas USA 1-0 last Friday.
* Acquired from Toronto FC barely 24 hours before kickoff, Marvell Wynne was put directly into the Colorado starting lineup by coach Gary Smith, in an unfamiliar position of center back (instead of his usual right back) – and still helped the Rapids record a clean sheet.
* The Rapids are a perfect 3-0-0 in home openers since Dick’s Sporting Goods Park opened for the 2007 season, outscoring their opponents 8-2.
New England Revolution at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* All-time record: D.C. United lead, 25-19-8. Last year: New England 1-0-1
* For the season-opening loss to the LA Galaxy, the Revolution were missing several key players – but perhaps none more influential than the injured Shalrie Joseph. “It is a big blow not having Shalrie,” Revolution coach Steve Nicol said. “… It has to be something pretty significant for him not to play, and this is something he can’t play with.”
* For the second consecutive season the Revolution started two rookies in their season opener. Zach Schilawski and Seth Sinovic were given games against the Galaxy; Kevin Alston and Darrius Barnes (also in the lineup against LA) started in First Kick 2009.
* The 4-0 defeat by D.C. United in Kansas City matched the club’s heaviest First Kick loss ever, that a 4-0 loss to the LA Galaxy to kick off the 2000 season.
* Andy Najar started on the right of midfield for D.C., becoming the eighth-youngest player to start an MLS game. The 17-year-old is a homegrown midfielder from the club’s youth academy.
New York Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders FC, 10:30 p.m. (FSC / FSE)
* The teams opened the season against each other a year ago, Seattle Sounders FC kicking off their inaugural campaign with a resounding 3-0 triumph at Qwest Field on March 19.
* That 3-0 victory by Sounders FC kicked off a start to their first season where did not allow a goal until the fourth game (a 1-0 loss to Kansas City on April 11).
* Fredy Montero scored two goals vs. the Red Bulls to begin his 12-goal campaign; for the second consecutive season, he and Brad Evans combined for the goals in Seattle’s First Kick victory.
* Joel Lindpere gave the near-capacity crowd of 24,572 at Red Bull Arena an MLS opener to remember when he lashed home a drive from the top of the area for the game’s lone goal. “I’m a little bit surprised no other teams in Europe picked him up when he was out of contract,” said Red Bulls boss Hans Backe.
* The opener at Qwest Field attracted a Sounders FC record crowd of 36,241, besting the previous mark of 35,807 set for the Western Conference Semifinal Series first leg vs. Houston last year.