MLS Season Begins: LA Galaxy Cruise, New York Snooze

The 2013 Major League Soccer Season began last weekend, with Los Angeles Galaxy picking up where they left off in…

Chris Deacon

Contributor

Mike Magee

The 2013 Major League Soccer Season began last weekend, with Los Angeles Galaxy picking up where they left off in December.

A first career hat-trick from Mike Magee was added to by Robbie Keane as the MLS Champions cruised to a 4-0 victory over Chicago Fire. Former Chelsea and Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini made a shaky start to his league debut, almost gifting Chicago an easy goal when he failed to clear the ball properly early in the match. After that it was all Galaxy, with Magee netting his first half opener thanks to a slight deflection that took it away from goalkeeper Sean Johnson. His second was a curled effort from the edge of the box; his third a brilliant volley amid chaos following a long throw into the penalty area. Keane scored a late fourth when Omar Gonzalez nodded Michael Stephens’ cross down for him to poke home at the near post.

Magee was named MLS Player of the Week for a stunning opening weekend performance. He then spoke to lagalaxy.com about his flourishing relationship with good friend Keane: “Me and him have always had a common understanding,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not a conventional strike partnership with us both not being the biggest of dudes and liking the ball at our feet, but it’s always worked fine. Even when I was out left and he was up top; it’s always clicked so I’m glad that today was more than the same.”

The 28-year-old tried his own version of Irish international Keane’s famous celebration after his third strike found the net. Keane dubbed it “terrible” with a smile and added: “He obviously saw the real one after.”

A fine win by Galaxy couldn’t be matched in Portland, where New York Red Bulls crumbled from 3-1 up to draw 3-3 with the Timbers. A disastrous first half on the artificial turf at JELD-WEN Field had Caleb Porter’s side on the ropes but they battled back and nearly stole a late victory.

The opener came when Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts palmed a heavy backpass from veteran Mikael Silvestre right into the path of Edgar Espindola, who calmly swept home his first goal for New York. Diego Valeri slotted in an equaliser that earned him Goal of the Week before Espindola struck again after 24 minutes. Jamison Olave then powered home a third with the away side capitalising on the disorganised home defence. Darlington Nagbe grabbed one back after Luis Robles spilled a long range effort from Valeri. With eight minutes remaining, Jose Valencia smashed a ball across the box and Olave directed it into his own net. In the final seconds, the home side almost completed a tremendous comeback when Ryan Johnson hit an overhead-kick narrowly wide.

Elsewhere in the MLS, Sporting Kansas City beat Philadelphia Union 3-1 with Sebastien Le Toux scoring his first goal of the year for the Union. Sporting KC took control thanks to goals from Graham Zusi, Oriol Rosell and Claudio Bieler. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made two crucial saves in the second half to help KC to a comfortable victory.

Former QPR captain Ryan Nelsen’s Toronto FC slumped to a 1-0 defeat against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Gershon Koffie scored the only goal as Vancouver also lost their captain, Jay DeMerit, to an achilles injury. Further south, Houston Dynamo beat DC United 2-0 as James Riley (an own goal) and Ricardo Clark scored in the last ten minutes to snatch all three points.

Also on opening weekend; FC Dallas beat Colorado Rapids 1-0, Real Salt Lake cruised to a 2-0 win over San JoseColumbus Crew comfortably swept Chivas USA aside 3-0 and Seattle lost 1-0 to Montreal.