There were eight games on the schedule this round, and while they supplied their share of excitement, the entire slate was clouded by the awful news out of Columbus, Ohio, where 22-year-old former Crew midfielder Kirk Urso passed away early Sunday morning.
Both Sunday games began with a moment of silence in honour of Urso, as reaction poured in from all over the North American soccer world.
While former teammates, opponents, coaches, and fans offered condolences and fond memories of Urso, league business carried on. There was a heavyweight clash in front of a massive crowd in Seattle, and a bottom-of-the table stalemate in Portland.
Earlier, there were hot tempers in Montreal and hot temperatures in Houston. Three MLS sides kicked off CONCACAF Champions League group play, and there was plenty of action off the field, including trades, big-name acquisitions, and some potential legal trouble for the Impact’s Designated Player.
Let’s take another look.
Hours before Columbus kicked off at D.C. United on Saturday night, Urso — who’d been sidelined since June following groin surgery — tweeted “Let’s go Crew! Huge game tonight!”
Hours after the Crew fell 1-0 to their Eastern Conference rivals, Urso was gone. At 12:50 a.m. ET, uniformed police officers were summoned to a Columbus bar/restaurant called Park Street Patio, and Urso was transported to nearby Grant Hospital. He was pronounced dead an hour later.
WATCH: Urso talks preseason
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Columbus Crew and Hunt Sports Group are with the Urso family in this time of need,” said a statement from the team, which declined to offer further details. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday morning.
The 10th pick of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft, Urso started the first five games of the season for Columbus, just months after captaining the University of North Carolina to the NCAA championship in December 2011.
Before college, Urso played in the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, scoring the winning goal against Belgium that put the United States into the knockout stage.
Ben Speas, Urso’s teammate at both UNC and Columbus, tweeted the following upon hearing the news: “I feel sick, speechless. Just doesn't seem fair. [You’re] forever in my heart, Captain Kirk. I love you brother.”
Urso is the first active MLS player to die during a season.
Tossed in the Clink
The crowd of 60,908 fans at CenturyLink Field remembered Urso with a moment of silence before the Seattle–LA game on Sunday night, and then two MLS rookies went out and scored the first goals of their careers to help the Sounders thump the Galaxy 4-0.
Alex Caskey and Andy Rose, who played college soccer at Davidson and UCLA, respectively, scored the third and fourth goals of the rout, which extended Seattle’s unbeaten streak to six games.
Eddie Johnson opened the scoring just six minutes in, glancing a header into the far corner after an excellent cross from Mauro Rosales. It was EJ’s 10th goal of the year.
The defending champs threatened several times in an entertaining, well-played first half, but they failed to finish their chances — and then saw their 1-0 deficit balloon to 4-0 in the second half.
Sounders FC's new German Designated Player Christian Tiffert made his debut in the match, and the streaking club also has recent Honduran signing Mario Martínez waiting in the wings.
Texas Hold 'Em
Houston Dynamo are on a roll in the East, and they also have a recently signed midfielder chomping at the bit in former MLS All-Star Ricardo Clark.
WATCH: Carr’s header goes far post
The Dynamo kicked off the week on Friday night, blanking New York Red Bulls and their new DP, Tim Cahill, 2-0, in a clash of Eastern Conference powers.
The visitors appeared listless and disorganized from the start, giving up a goal to Jermaine Taylor just two minutes into the match at BBVA Compass Stadium, where the temperature hit 97 degrees.
Calen Carr made it 2-0 in the 28th minute, and Houston cruised the rest of the way, vaulting the Red Bulls into first place in the East.
Winners of five consecutive games, the Dynamo have conceded just one goal in their past seven matches. They are undefeated at BBVA (8W-0L-3D) this season, and unbeaten overall in their last eight games.
While Houston rolled to a fifth straight win, several other teams tried to stop runs in the opposite direction.
Colorado Rapids got a 38th-minute goal from Joseph Nane and made it stand up for a solid 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake, ending a club-record losing streak at six games.
In Portland, the Timbers snapped a five-game skid with a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas, but the Pacific Northwest club might have gotten more: They played with a man advantage for the final 38 minutes after FCD defender Zach Loyd received a second yellow card.
At Gillette Stadium, Sporting Kansas City halted a three-game winless stretch and kept pace with Houston atop the East with a 1-0 win over New England. Teal Bunbury scored the game’s only goal on a breakaway in the 20th minute.
The Revolution were playing their first game since trading club icon Shalrie Joseph to Chivas USA last Wednesday.
The loss to Sporting KC was the Revolution's fourth defeat in five games and left them 12 points shy of the fifth and final playoff spot in the East with 12 games to play.
Two places above them in the standings, expansion Montreal Impact kept their playoff hopes flickering with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia Union.
WATCH: Rivas sent off for headbutt
But the Impact’s uphill battle to the playoffs may have gotten steeper on Friday, when an Italian prosecutor recommended a one-year ban for Montreal striker Marco Di Vaio, who is accused of failing to report a match-fixing attempt during the 2011 Serie A season.
Montreal’s game against Philly turned nasty in the 68th minute after Union striker Antoine Hoppenot and Impact defender Nelson Rivas tangled and Hoppenot appeared to sling Rivas to the turf.
Rivas popped up and head-butted Hoppenot, drawing a straight red. Philly striker Jack McInerney came to Hoppenot’s defense and also drew a red, for shoving Rivas.
There was no dust-up in the Chicago Fire-Toronto FC game on Saturday night, but there was an ejection, and some late drama: TFC defender Logan Emory received a second yellow card in the 79th minute, paving the way for Chicago defender Austin Berry to head home a free kick from Pável Pardo five minutes later, breaking a 1-1 deadlock.
The 2-1 win kept Chicago in fifth place, five points ahead of Montreal with three games in hand.