PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 12: Lionard Pajoy #23 of the Philadelphia Union tries to dribble the ball around Kalif Alhassan #11 of the Portland Timbers during the first half of the game at JELD-WEN Field on March 12, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Major League Soccer, First Kick: Timbers Take It To The Union

All of the changes that Peter Nowak made are backfired on Philadelphia, not that Portland is complaining because they were 3-1 winners

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Major League Soccer 2012, Week 1: What We Learned

The Western Conference dominated the Eastern Conference in Week 1 of MLS action. LA Galaxy ran out of gas late against RSL, while Vancouver Whitecaps looked fantastic going forward.


Portland Timbers Vs. Philadelphia Union, 2012 MLS: Timbers Storm Back To Win, 3-1

After a sloppy first 45 minutes, the Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union woke up and put on a show in the second half. To be more specific, the Timbers waited to get down a goal and then put on a show of their own to grab a season-opening 3-1 win, which delighted the boisterous home crowd and left the Union wondering, "what exactly did we do?"

Neither team really found their footing in the first half as both looked like they were still in pre-season. The Timbers had a couple chances, including a penalty appeal that was waved off and a shot that skipped just inches wide of the post thanks to a bad play by Zac MacMath, but it wasn't exactly a pretty half by the home side and Philadelphia wasn't any better.

Somehow, Gabriel Gomez managed to put the Union in front early in the second half. They hadn't generated much all match, but Gomez ripped a free kick from 35 yards that froze Troy Perkins and took a slight deflection before finding the net for the opening tally.

Once the Union went in front, it was all Timbers. They answered Philadelphia's goal quickly when Andrew Jean-Baptiste's header hit a diving MacMath in the hands, then somehow scooted under him and over the line for a goal that was all on the 20-year-old goalkeeper. Things didn't get much better for the Union as a dozen minutes later Kris Boyd said hello to MLS with a nifty header to make it 2-1 Timbers before Kalif Alhassan's chipped cross to the back post actually went in the goal to give Portland a comfortable win.


FC Dallas Vs. New York Red Bulls: Dallas Gets Revenge With 2-1 Win

After a long offseason, FC Dallas got their revenge over the New York Red Bulls with a 2-1 win at FC Dallas Stadium. New York had knocked FC Dallas out of the playoffs back in the fall in Frisco.

Goals came from Ricardo Villar and Zach Loyd, each assisted by newcomer Blas Perez. New York's lone goal came mid-way in the second half from Kenny Cooper.

Dallas controlled the tempo of the game early on and in the 11th minute Loyd made it 1-0. Perez took a ball off a botched clearance from midfielder Dax McCarty, found Loyd, who put it away past rookie keeper Ryan Meara.

In the second half it was another solid play from Perez who took another bad ball from New York defender Roy Miller. Perez opened up Villar who chipped Meara for the game's second goal.

New York did manage to make it interesting a little bit later with substitute Kenny Cooper, who chipped Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman.

Things got chippy between the two clubs as each had a couple yellow cards apiece. McCarty picked one up early in the match and basically became a non factor after that. The Red Bulls struggled in the midfield today thanks to Dallas' pace on the wings with Fabian Castillo, Brek Shea and Jair Benitez.

Perez was easily the man of the match for Dallas as he not only had two assists but he opened up the offense on a more than one occasion for the home side.


Earthquakes Vs. Revolution: Chris Wondolowski Does His Thing In Victory

New year, same old Chris Wondolowski.

The San Jose Earthquakes forward wasted little time in picking up where he left off, scoring in the 15th minute against the New England Revolution on Saturday during MLS's First Kick. That turned out to be the only goal of the match, as the Earthquakes won 1-0 over a team that many expect to be among the league's worst.

For most of the match, the Revolution lived down to those expectations. They rarely threatened during the first 75 minutes and only forced Jon Busch into one save all evening. Lee Nguyen did provide a bit of a spark for the Revolution, but that wasn't enough, for the Revs who were playing without Pepe Moreno. The Colombian forward has apparently not yet joined the team, despite promises from the front office that he is on his way.

The result marked the first time the Earthquakes had won on First Kick since rejoining MLS during the 2008 season.


LA Galaxy Vs. Real Salt Lake: Late Goals Propel RSL To Victory

Apparently, the LA Galaxy aren't quite as invincible as so many of us made them out to be. Despite taking a second-half lead at home, the Galaxy surrendered a trio of goals after the 73rd minute to fall to Real Salt Lake 3-1 on Saturday during MLS's First Kick. It was the Galaxy's first loss at home since falling to FC Dallas in the 2011 playoffs, ending a streak of 19 MLS matches.

Until Sean Franklin's own goal that tied the score 1-1, the Galaxy had very much looked like the better team. Edson Buddle's goal off a beautiful David Beckham delivery in the 71st minute had been their breakthrough moment, but they had been knocking on the door several times before then. In the first half, Landon Donovan and Marcelo Sarvas both hit shots off the crossbar and the Galaxy had threatened on several other occasions.

The own goal changed the tide. Sebastian Velasquez sent in a cross that didn't look particularly dangerous, but it deflected off Franklin, and Josh Saunders could do nothing to stop it. About seven minutes later, RSL struck again. This time it was Javier Morales pouncing on a rebound just inside the 6-yard box.

The wheels really started to come off when Fabian Espindola closed the scoring in the 85th minute. Espindola was able to get to a long ball, easily shirked AJ DeLaGarza and raced in 1-v-1 with Saunders. Showing calm and composure, Espindola had no trouble finishing it.

That seemed to wake up the Galaxy as they created several more chances after Espindola's goal, but Nick Rimando was up to the task each time and preserved the victory.


Rapids Vs. Crew: Columbus Totally Punchless In Loss

The Columbus Crew got off to a horrible start last year and managed to rebound to make the playoffs. Their fans will be left hoping for a repeat after Saturday's abomination against Colorado Rapids. Not only did the Crew lose 2-0, but they looked absolutely horrible in doing so.

The Crew managed just five total shots in the match and rarely forced Matt Pickens to do much. All of the Crew's shots came from outside the penalty area. Meanwhile, they allowed the Rapids to fire off 17 shots, eight of which came from inside the penalty area.

The Rapids received goals from defender Drew Moor and Quincy Amarikwa. Drew's goal came off a header in which defender Kosuke Kimura found him at the far post on a cross. Amarikwa's goal came off passes from Jeff Larentowicz and Kimura. Larentowicz sent a long pass to Kimura, who fed Amarikwa near the top of the area. Amarikwa fired it from the top of the area.


Whitecaps Vs. Impact: It's Going To Be A Long Season In Montreal

The Vancouver Whitecaps scored early in both halves and and basically cruised to a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Impact, who didn't show much promise in their first ever MLS match. Sebastien Le Toux scored in the 4th minute and Camilo Sanvezzo tallied an early candidate for goal of the year in the 54th minute to provide the scoring in the match.

Both goals, while showcasing a certain explosiveness from the Whitecaps, also highlighted some pretty awful defending by the Impact. On the first goal, it was a poor decision on the part of Tyson Wahl that allowed Le Toux to get behind the defense and go 1-v-1 with Donovan Ricketts. On the second, Sanvezzo was basically allowed to dribble through most of the Impact's defense within the space of about 10 yards. It was a very Keystone Kops moment, although credit to Sanvezzo for controlling the ball and blasting it past Ricketts.


Major League Soccer, First Kick Viewing Guide: What To Watch For

All the preseason hype has led to this, here's how to watch and what to watch for during Major League Soccer's First Kick festivities.

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