- Keith Hickey

Three home wins. Five draws. Parity’s a bitch.

At least Vancouver fans will be happy.

After all the exciting buzz around the start of the season (“Soccer’s bigger than hockey if you squint like this and pretend games on FSC don’t get their asses handed to them in the ratings by the WNBA and reruns of Pawn Stars and if you act like Seattle is representative of the average attendance of rest of the league! I‘m totes serious, for realsies!” ), we had a painful reminder of how far MLS has to go.

We’ve all heard pundits say something along the lines of “Show this game to anyone who doubts that soccer is exciting and you'll make them a fan.” Well, if you had shown me a tape of Los Angeles v. Philadelphia when I was a kid, I probably would have taken up bird-watching or poetry or joined the glee club or something. That was a dire game. Peter Nowak can go on Extra Time Radio all he wants and tell Simon Borg how he wants his team to play attractive soccer, but by starting two defensive midfielders and Carlos Ruiz, he’s showing you exactly the type of cynical football he wants to play.

And we might as well call Bruce Arena the soccer dementor. A DaveyBecks™ free kick gets redirected in, and he just sucks the soul out of a the game. After the soft red, he digs in like it’s Verdun and absolutely kills any hope of the least bit of excitement. Which as manager, is probably a sound strategy, but I was hoping for the lights to fail so everyone there could go home and watch paint dry for some mental stimulation.

Seattle continued their quest to get Sigi fired by twice giving up the lead against San Jose, who have quietly become one of the most likeable teams in the country. MLS originals, you have to sympathize with a fan base who have been screwed over so many times. They’ve also managed to build a playoff contender with a solid core of American players (Just six players currently on the Quakes' roster are foreigners, and one of them is on loan). They’re about as “plucky underdog” as you can get.

New England, Toronto, and New York, (all Eastern Conference) drew at home with Portland (Western Conference expansion team, second to last place overall coming in), Chivas (Western Conference, last place overall coming in), and Houston (formerly Western Conference, last place in the East). Sporting Kansas City (Eastern Conference) gave up late goals against Vancouver (Western Conference expansion team) to draw 3-3. Los Angeles (Western Conference) beat Philadelphia (Eastern Conference). Colorado (Western Conference) beat D.C. (Eastern Conference). Real Salt Lake (Western Conference) and Chicago Fire (Eastern Conference) didn’t play, but you’d expect the Royals to win that because, well, they’re pretty damn good at soccer.

If you’re on an average team in the east, you’ll have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. If you’re on an average team in the West, hope you get traded to the East if you want to play postseason soccer.

Speaking of trades, that was great PR by New York to secure the acquisition of one of the best players in MLS history on April Fool’s Day. And just in case not everyone understood that the Red Bulls were a complete joke, the sub-14,000 attendance for DeRo’s first appearance will have hammered the point home.

Attendance, besides the uninspiring performances by most teams, was the most disappointing aspect of week three. The aforementioned New York drew 13,664. Columbus had 14,549. The Quakes can be forgiven for their lowly 10,276, since that’s all Buck Shaw Stadium holds and they've got a stadium on the way, supposedly. Toronto’s 18,568 would be good for most teams, but TFC is used to selling out, and had an average attendance last year of over twenty thousand. The most disappointing by far, however, was New England. The Revolution attracted just 7,114 for their draw with Portland. That is, even by New England’s modest standards, a pitiful crowd.

It’s not all misery, though. Vancouver’s thrilling three goal comeback to draw with Kansas City was witnessed by 20,518 at Empire Field. When you know that a huge part of KC’s initial lead was down to the two goals of Ontario-born USMNT player Teal Bunbury, is seems as though this week, American soccer’s saving grace is... Canada.
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