Vancouver halts the Dynamo's scoring streak; D.C. United's defensive issues
With a limited Major League Soccer schedule this week, the chances for the usual level of MLS-grade tomfoolery was cut down significantly.
And yet here we are, with enough to talk about from three games involving six teams to fill out the weekly review. Because a number of players were away from their clubs do to the international calendar, several new names got a chance to make their mark.
Houston comes up dry in Vancouver
With all-out attack mentality becoming Houston's new personality under second-year head coach Owen Coyle, the Dynamo were establishing themselves as one of the must-watch teams of 2016.
Saturday's trip to Vancouver proved how hard it is to keep up the scoring pace. Houston, which had scored 11 and conceded seven through three games, fell 1-0 to the Whitecaps, failing to score for the first time this season in the process.
It wasn't for lack of trying on the attacking end; the Dynamo simply couldn't put the ball in the net. Say what you want about the penalty earned by Vancouver's Pedro Morales, Houston had their chances to leave Canada with at least a point.
Maybe it was a lack of sharpness that undid the Dynamo, though that seems a little unfair considering the threat they posed to the Whitecaps goal. Both Lionel Miranda and Ricardo Clark hit the woodwork. Luck, it seems, is measured in inches.
Meanwhile, Vancouver earned their second win of the season, both of them coming thanks to penalties converted by Morales. It's all well and good to get points the ugly way now, but Carl Robinson's team hardly looks like an MLS Cup contender.
The "Cult of Tommy Mac" was served again on Saturday, and though the "Cult of Kwadwo Poku" also got to see their hero play, he failed to make much of an impact in another game that NYCFC failed to make their own.
Against New England, Tommy McNamara's 10th-minute goal set the home side up nicely, as the midfielder followed up David Villa's bar-rattling shot to head home the opener. That's two goals on the season now for a player who sometimes defies explanation but finds ways to be effective in Patrick Vieira's lineup.
It's a credit to the former Chivas USA man that it doesn't take the absence of Mix Diskerud via international duty for McNamara to earn a spot in the lineup (it probably does, however, take the absence of Frank Lampard due to injury... again).
Sadly, but not entirely unexpected though, is NYC FC's inability to make good fortune count for anything. After a poorly-defended set piece led to an equalizer for New England's Chris Tierney, the home team got a break when Gershon Koffie was shown a red for a tackle on McNamara.
For 40 minutes, NYCFC held a man advantage and did nothing to leverage it into three points. On the small field of Yankee Stadium, playing against 10 men doesn't matter nearly as much as it might in a bigger venue.
Throw in a bit of imbalance and early season ineffectiveness, and you have a team who should be kicking themselves for not securing all three points.
Two teams, actually. The Revolution arrived in New York without Lee Nguyen (USMNT duty) and with Charlie Davies (injury) on the bench but still had the talent necessary to grab the win.
The defensive issue
It seems that defense is an issue for the team that calls our nation's capital home. A slow, hesitant D.C. United backline was victimized twice by FC Dallas winger Michael Barrios on Saturday as the visitors rolled to a convincing 3-0 win at RFK Stadium.
Kofi Opare filled in for Steve Birnbaum (away on national team duty) alongside Bobby Boswell and the combination didn't work well together. It was Opare, in concert with right back Taylor Kemp, who fumbled a clearance chance and allowed Barrios to hit the opener. Boswell was spun around on the second, beaten by a fine, if simple, ball from Mauro Diaz.
For all the issues with D.C. defense, however, it must be said that Oscar Pareja's Dallas team is brutally efficient on the attacking end.
By the time Max Urruti tacked on an insurance goal late in the match, the visitors had run and passed the life out of Ben Olsen's United team. FC Dallas is a very, very good team that can deal with international windows well thanks to their squad's depth.
Team of the week
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.