Major League Soccer's Rivalry Week a mixture of drama and mismatches
The first MLS Rivalry Week of the season produced the most one-sided rivalry win in the history of Major League Soccer, some last minute heroics, and a few results of note that didn't fall under the "rivalry" banner.
The battle for New York wasn't much of a battle in the end.
After a week of buildup around the rivalry between New York City FC and the Red Bulls, the team from across the river in Jersey took apart the second-year team 7-0 at Yankee Stadium. The victory sent a clear message that while the Red Bulls haven't been at their best in 2016, and NYCFC has seen an improvement from year one, there is still a gap between the two organizations in MLS knowhow.
The brutality of it was almost too much to bear. The Red Bulls showed no qualms about heaping punishment on their rivals, using set piece opportunities to show a relentless desire to not just win, but to embarrass their opponents. It's almost as if all of the talk of NYCFC's rise had sparked something in the Red Bulls. There's no telling if it will carry over -- the Red Bulls have been marked by a depressing inconsistency this year -- so for the moment it's just about the "rivalry" between the two teams remaining painfully one-sided.
Patrick Vieira is already spinning the crushing defeat as a one-off that doesn't mean anything for the rest of his team's season. His team is professional and has experienced leadership, but it won't be easy to shake off a 7-0 defeat in a game that could have solidified NYCFC's burgeoning playoff credentials.
Cyle Larin scored twice on two assists from Kaka to give Orlando City their first win in seven matches, a much-needed boost to the club after a troubling fallow period. Of course it had to be Kaka and Larin connecting to get the Lions back on the winning side of things -- neither of the club's recent attacking additions, former Kaka teammates Antonio Nocerino and Julio Baptista, have done much to help the cause.
Orlando City can also thank Joe Bendik for some fine work in net to maintain a second half tie that eventually gave Larin the chance to score the match-winner. Orlando's goalkeeping situation over the last few seasons has never been stable, and though Bendik does not have a reputation as one of the league's elite keepers, he has proven to be solid choice this season.
Meanwhile, Montreal got a goal from Ignacio Piatti, but suffered without Didier Drogba at the top of the formation. The Impact's penchant for the counter -- on the road and with Dominic Oduro leading the line -- is fine, but if the finishing is lacking there's little chance of escaping with any points.
The Impact are now winless in six and have watched their good start to the season give way to mediocrity.
Some sort of classic
Sunday night's California Clasico between the Galaxy and Earthquakes probably won't go down in the annals of the matchup, but it did provide a bit of drama to close out the Rivalry Week proceedings. Fatai Alashe's late equalizer earned the Quakes a point, salvaged some pride out of the rivalry game, and cancelled out Marvell Wynne's unfortunate own goal from just four minutes earlier.
But the Galaxy will find it hard to stomach a draw in a game they dominated. LA wasted chance after chance, from a host of players, in a game that showed again the fine line between success and failure in the sport.
Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos both lacked the sharpness to put the ball in the net and give the Galaxy a win that would have launched them a few spots up the table.
Not that San Jose didn't have they're own opportunities. Credit must be given to substitute Chad Barrett for the one chance the Earthquakes did put away -- it was Barrett's energy to recover a loose ball, and his cross that found Alashe's head, that allowed his team to leave Southern California a point to the good.
A few more things
For a team that simply couldn't figure out how to put together a decent road performance, FC Dallas's 4-2 win at New England was fairly astounding. The Revs made some of it very easy, but it should be noted that Oscar Pareja's side did the job without Mauro Diaz or Maxi Urruti, and lost Michael Barrios to injury early in the game.
Houston fell 1-0 to Chicago, the latest in a season of humbling results for the Dynamo, and just the second win of the season for Chicago. With both head coaches of foreign extractions, it's interesting to ponder the fortunes of teams that have underwhelmed mightily so far and are currently sitting at the bottom of their respective conference. Veljko Paunovic is in his first year with the Fire, and may get the benefit of the doubt; but how long will Owen Coyle get to fix things in Houston in his second season?
RSL has some sort of hold over Sporting Kansas City, and there doesn't seem to be anything SKC can do about. For the second consecutive time, RSL beat Sporting in Kansas City. The win makes four straight for RSL over the team that beat them in the MLS Cup final back in 2013.
Team of the weekend
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.