Worry ye not, Major League Soccer fans, for the soccerball has returned for season numero 15 and there's not a work stoppage in sight. Opening weekend didn't disappoint - unless you're me, which you're not (unless you are) - and there were some cracking goals scored, some excellent debuts and several statements of intent. I'm looking at you, Salt Lake. Here's what happened during week one.
"Smash the Union" read the Seattle Sounders supporters' tifo on Thursday night at Qwest Field, and they got their wish. Debut club Philadelphia Union found themselves 2-0 down by half time.
Brad Evans slotted home neatly in the 11th minute after neat play between Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani, and the Colombian youngster doubled Seattle's lead just before half time with a stooping header from a set piece. Four minutes earlier, he'd been lying helpless on the ground after the second bookable challenge by Toni Stahl. Piotr Nowak, Philly's coach, spoke out in the aftermath against Seattle's histrionics - in truth, the Sounders were comfortable enough to do without them.
On Friday, Chivas USA hosted Colorado Rapids but could not make the most of home advantage. Chivas had their chances but were unable to beat the magnificently bearded Matt Pickens, and Omar Cummings curled in the winner ten minutes after half time. He benefited from a fortunate ricochet but finished brilliantly.
Preki's Toronto FC faced a tough trip to Columbus Crew on opening day and it was the Crew who got off to the perfect start. Guillermo Barros Schelotto set up English defender Andy Iro to head them into the lead and Schelotto made it two to secure three points against a dangerous looking TFC side.
In Texas it was Houston Dynamo who drew first blood on the Lonestar State derby against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. An even first half hour was goalless but Mike Chabala gave the Dynamo the lead with a neat finish from the edge of the penalty area with ten minutes to go before half time. But the lead didn't last long, and Atiba Harris swept inside the full back before unleashing a wonderful shot past Pat Onstad to level the game.
FCD had a goal correctly disallowed just after the hour mark and it was the beginning of a string of opportunities for Jeff Cunningham, but his radar was just slightly off-kilter. Neither side was satisfied with the draw and both attacked with intent but no real success. 1-1 at full time, and bad news afterwards for FCD's Kyle Davies, who was confirmed to have broken his arm and dislocated his elbow during the game.
With the Union's first game out of the way, much of the weekend buzz was around the first league game at the fantastic Red Bull Arena. New York Red Bulls came out on top against Chicago Fire thanks to a blistering volley by Joel Lindpere. The Fire created chances of their own but were foiled by the woodwork.
CommunityAmerica Ballpark's five-a-side pitch is now in numbered days in MLS and played host to Kansas City Wizards versus DC United. The Wizards took just 8 minutes to break the deadlock. Londoner Ryan Smith drew two early saves from Troy Perkins, who could only parry the second for an unmarked Kei Kamara to tap it home. The wet conditions certainly didn't help his handling.
Smith was again the key in the 35th minute, controlling a long ball and laying it off to Davy Arnaud who drilled the ball past Perkins for 2-0. Smith himself bagged the third, rolling the ball in after it squirmed out of the hands of Perkins from a low cross less than ten minutes into the second half. With 20 minutes left, a Dejan Jakovic handball gave the Wizards a penalty and Jack Jewsbury ensured that a bad result became an embarrassment for DC.
Reigning champions Real Salt Lake got off to a flying start in California. Javier Morales took just 13 minutes to fire a 30-yard thunderbolt past San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon. Fabian Espindola doubled the lead with a lovely lob from the edge of the area, and with 52 minutes gone the Quakes lost Chris Leitch to a red card for a professional foul. Just to rub salt into the wound, Morales found the net with a world class finish from the free kick to make it 3-0.
In the final game of the weekend, New England Revolution headed for Carson to play LA Galaxy. An early Landon Donovan free kick found Edson Buddle who stood firm under pressure to head home the only goal of the game.
There's not too much to worry about in terms of the league table(s) at this stage, but there were some special goals scored Stateside at the weekend and you can see them all here.