Don’t let the low-key scorelines fool you: Underneath all the 1-0 and 2-1 results, this week was powered by extremes.
The leading headlines came from the top and bottom of the standings (rather than the lukewarm middle). Several games did a 180 from one half to the next, and a polarizing figure provoked a visceral reaction in his return to Seattle.
We also saw an extraordinary streak come to an end, an overflow of firsts and, to top it all off, a severe storm in Chicago that caused a match to be abandoned after a lengthy delay.
Let’s take another look.
WATCH: SKC stays unbeaten against RSL
Much has been said about Sporting Kansas City’s 4-3-3 formation and the high-flying offence it generates. But the real story of SKC’s record-breaking start to the season lies on the other side of the ball.
Peter Vermes’ men, who sit atop the Eastern Conference table, headed into this past Saturday’s meeting with Real Salt Lake, the number one team in the West, riding a 245-minute streak during which they had not allowed a shot on goal. Not a goal, mind you, but a shot on goal.
That streak was snapped this week, but Kansas City fans will hardly mind since it ended on a harmless header from RSL’s Nat Borchers in stoppage time of a 1-0 Kansas City win.
The home team’s goal came on a 63rd-minute header from Aurelien Collin and lifted KC to a 6W-0L-0D start, the best in MLS since 1998.
San Jose Earthquakes are off to a promising start as well, sitting in second place in the West with a 4W-1L-0D record ahead of Saturday night’s visit to Red Bull Arena, where they took on New York Red Bulls, the second-place team in the East.
In addition to matching the second-place teams in each conference, the game featured the top three scorers in MLS, with Thierry Henry (seven goals), Kenny Cooper (six), and Chris Wondolowski (six) all suiting up.
All three contributed to an eventful first half, as Henry fed Cooper for the game’s opener just five minutes in, and Wondolowski brought San Jose back for a second time, tying the game at 2-2 with a diving header in the 35th minute.
New York’s Dax McCarty and the Quakes’ Rafael Baca scored the game’s other goals, opening their respective 2012 accounts.
San Jose put New York on their heels for much of the second half, but could not find a go-ahead goal, as the teams split the points with a 2-2 draw.
At the other end of the Western Conference table, the defending champions LA Galaxy hosted the second-year Portland Timbers in a match between two teams looking to end losing streaks. Los Angeles had dropped two in a row, while the Timbers had lost three straight.
WATCH: Beckham seals win with 30-yard strike
The visitors controlled the first half and took the lead 23 minutes in, when striker Kris Boyd deposited an expert finish inside the far post from 20 yards.
Portland were on the verge of taking that lead into the break when Robbie Keane got loose on the left and cut the ball back for Landon Donovan, who made no mistake from 12 yards.
That was Donovan’s first goal of 2012, and his teammates Juninho and David Beckham followed suit after the break to reverse the tide and give LA a 3-1 win. Juninho tucked a 22-yard shot inside Troy Perkins’s near post, and Beckham bagged his first of the year with a beautiful 25-yard curler into the top right corner.
D.C. staged a similar rally at New England, where new Revs signing Jose Moreno opened the scoring six minutes in. Maicon Santos equalized 13 minutes later, redirecting a Dwayne De Rosario bicycle kick into the back of the net, and setting the stage for Chris Pontius. The D.C. attacker entered the game in the 79th minute, and scored the game winner three minutes later - his first goal since he suffered a broken leg late last season.
In Texas, FC Dallas left it even later, with Brek Shea scoring a terrific 88th-minute winner to lift The Hoops to a 2-1 comeback win against expansion Montreal Impact, whose spot-kick goal was the first in MLS for Italian striker Bernardo Corradi.
Montreal’s one goal did not hold up for a win, but three other teams beside Kansas City rode that slim margin to victories this week.
Most notable of those were Seattle Sounders FC, who used defender Zach Scott’s brilliant glancing header - his first career goal - to edge Colorado Rapids 1-0. The game marked Rapids’ midfielder Brian Mullan’s first visit to CenturyLink Field since last April, when he broke Sounders FC winger Steve Zakuani’s leg with a reckless tackle.
Not surprisingly, the Seattle faithful booed Mullan all game, and the Rapids winger was frankly happy to take his medicine and move on.
Toronto FC would love some medicine - or some remedy - for what ails them at the moment. After Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Chivas USA, the Reds are 0W-5L-0D and off to the worst start in franchise history. The return of Torsten Frings next week will help, but TFC are officially in crisis mode.
New Chivas midfielder Oswaldo Minda scored his first MLS goal to lead The Goats to their third road win of the young season.
Philadelphia Union were searching for their first win, home or away, this week, and they got it, despite fielding a makeshift backline and facing a Columbus Crew team eager to bounce back from last week’s shellacking by New York. The Union made Gabriel Gomez’s 38th-minute penalty stand up for a 1-0 win.
Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo were both coming off long lay-offs when they met on Sunday night at Toyota Park. The Fire had not played since April 1, while the Dynamo hadn’t lined up since March 23rd.
Yet, they faced more hurry-up-and-wait, as lightning delayed their match twice before it was finally abandoned at 1-1 after 65 minutes had been played.
The goals came from Will Bruin and—appropriately enough, considering the circumstances—Logan Pause.