Sometimes, the crazy, unusual and just plain entertaining things happen all at once. Week 9 in MLS was one such time, as the league enjoyed a whopping 33 goals scored across all 11 contests, a couple sterling comebacks and a higher dose of woodwork than normal. Add that to your MLS-standard amount of unexpected results, and you have the makings of a pretty fun week.
There’s a lot to get to in this week’s edition of The XI. So let’s get to it.
I: The most dangerous lead in soccer is 3–0
Nothing was going right for the Sounders. Then, everything did, almost all at once. Looking back at Saturday’s thrilling 3–3 draw vs. New England, it’s instructive to remember that the defending champs started off their evening like this:
Oof. And it only got worse from there. Seattle hit the woodwork (more on that later), and New England scored a second, then a third. The second half dragged on. Then, around the 74th minute, they got a bit of luck. And then it snowballed:
The draw marks the second week in a row that an MLS game that featured one team up 3–0 has ended 3–3 (the Union allowed the Impact to come back last Saturday).
II: There were a whole lot of good goals
Choosing the best of all the 33 goals scored in Week 9 is going be much, much tougher than normal. Should it be Maximiliano Urrutti’s dribble and side-netting finish through traffic against his former club (part of a fun 2–2 draw between the Timbers & Dallas)?
Or maybe you prefer your side-netters with a little less traffic, like this sweet Benny Feilhaber strike in Sporting KC’s 3–0 win over RSL?
Carlos Rivas nearly took the net off in Orlando’s 2–0 win over Colorado:
While NYCFC’s Jack Harrison scored the first of two in NYCFC’s with a goal that could not have hit the net more softly:
Like volleys? There was one of those too, as Andrew Jacobson’s strike helped Vancouver to a 2–1 win over Canadian rival Montreal:
Yeah...it was a good weekend for goals.
III: The return of Dax
One of the offseason’s most unexpected storylines came roaring back to the forefront this week, as Dax McCarty returned to Red Bull Arena for the first time since the former Red Bulls captain and fan favorite was shockingly traded to the Chicago Fire.
The Red Bulls won 2–1, but Chicago’s goal came thanks to a wonderful little bit of persistent play that the whole stadium had seen plenty of times before (though not usually so far up the field):
The real story, though, came afterward. Despite the loss, and the undoubtedly awkward feelings of returning to his former home field, McCarty stayed after the game and signed autographs, shook hands, and took selfies:
It's not usual behavior for an away player, but McCarty isn’t just any away player in Harrison, N.J.
IV: The return of Kaka
Kaka’s start to the 2017 MLS season lasted a mere 11 minutes, as the Brazilian needed to be taken off right at the start of the inaugural game at Orlando City Stadium.
Since then, the Lions have made that stadium a fortress, and Kaka returned from injury to drive that home with an emotional (if not especially difficult) goal against Colorado:
V: There were a whole lot of hit posts
For as many quality goals as there were in Week 9, there also seemed to be an unusually high workload for the league’s woodwork.
The Sounders were the worst offenders, hitting the post or crossbar three times before their sterling comeback, including this from Ozzie Alonso (who would go on to score the dramatic equalizer):
This post hit from Cordell Cato was a more pleasing bit of play to watch than the Florian Jungwirth goal that actually gave the Quakes a 1–0 win vs. Minnesota:
The Galaxy’s Joao Pedro accomplished the ever-so-rare double-post hit in LA’s 0–0 draw vs. Philadelphia:
While Jermaine Jones just decided to cut out the middle man entirely and deliver a kick straight to the post itself. No ball needed!
VI: Face save and a beauty
RSL goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel did what he had to do in this instance, but Sporting KC still won 3–0.
VII: Toronto rounding into form
TFC didn’t get off to a great start this season, but Sebastian Giovinco showed last week that he was starting to get his groove back on the field. This week, Jozy Altidore showed the same. The U.S. international scored both goals in a 2–0 win over Houston on Friday, including this nifty piece of work with Giovinco himself:
VIII: The best Argentine in Atlanta
On Sunday, at least, it was D.C. United’s Luciano Acosta. The diminutive man from Buenos Aires was superb in United’s 3–1 win over Atlanta United, setting up a goal and scoring on this fantastic run:
IX: There were a couple good dummies
Just check out the dummy he used to set up Ola Kamara’s goal vs. NYCFC on Satuday:
Sadly, despite that and other non-statuesque plays from Federico Higuain (like this very nice goal), Columbus fell 3–2 in that game at home.
And while it didn’t lead quite as directly to a goal, Lee Nguyen had a clever dummy of his own, setting up New England’s third goal at Seattle:
X: Tifo of the week
Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake have developed a nice little rivalry since their MLS Cup showdown in 2013, with matches often turning quite physical. Sporting KC supporters took that idea and ran with it:
XI: This is an interesting custom jersey