Here are the ten things we learned from Week 3 of the 2017 MLS season.
1. Timbers Continue To Fly High
The best game of the weekend was at Providence Park on Saturday night, and, though 45 minutes, the Houston Dynamo were stealing the show. At halftime, they deservedly led 2-1 behind goals from Cubo Torres and Romell Quioto.
Then the Timbers checked into high gear.
Portland absolutely throttled the Dynamo in the second half – outshooting them 13-1, outscoring them 3-0, and dominating so thoroughly that Caleb Porter didn’t need to make a single substitution en route to what would finish as a 4-2 Timbers win.
The game had the six goals, as seven yellow cards, two penalties, two ties and three lead changes. It was the kind of spectacle we don’t usually get in MLS until the late summer.
Houston departed the occasion with no points, but plenty of reason to feel good. They took the game to the Timbers for a half, and proved their mettle on one of the toughest stages in the league.
But when Portland is on, like they were in the second half on Saturday night, they are close to unplayable. The team’s front six is a buzzsaw. For a solid twenty minutes, Houston couldn’t complete consecutive passes.
The Timbers are the league’s only 3-0-0 team, and they’re on pace to score more than 100 goals. No club has looked more impressive in March.
2. Atlanta Impresses Again
The only team that has scored more goals this season than the Timbers is Atlanta, who put up another crooked number on Saturday afternoon and grabbed their first home win in the process against a familiarly hapless Chicago Fire team.
Atlanta, in the same vein as the Timbers, was absolutely overpowering. The Fire had 17% possession. One Atlanta player – center back Leandro Gonzalez Pirez – completed more passes than Chicago’s entire team did.
Some of that was Johan Kappelhoff getting sent off after just eleven minutes, but Atlanta looks like the real deal. Their front four covers more ground and puts more pressure on opposing defenses than any team we’ve seen in the first three weeks.
That work-rate is one of the benefits of building around young players, and it should continue to result in Atlanta wearing teams out in second halves. They’ve scored five goals after the 60th minute in their last two games.