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Things we learned from MLS 2017, Week 2: MLS done Van Damme wrong

Yes, Week 3 is already here - so this is a little bit of a look back and a look ahead.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Alejandro Bedoya doesn't understand "context"

Philadelphia and Toronto played each other to a 2-2 draw that was defined by two penalties: Alejandro Bedoya missed his chance to put the Union two goals up in the first half; Jozy Altidore bagged his opportunity to send TFC into half-time on level terms.

But events on the field were overshadowed by Bedoya's post-match comments:

It looked a soft call, so Bedoya suggesting Altidore "tends to go down easily in the box" wasn't an outrageous thing to say, though it was curious that the often outspoken midfielder started by saying he hadn't seen the foul that provoked the penalty call in the first place, nor had he seen a replay.

But apparently Bedoya was comfortable enough with what he was told to complain to the referee about the call and to suggest his USMNT colleague was inclined to take a dive when given the chance.

Altidore took exception to the comments, Tweeting at Bedoya that he had "a lot to say but never to anyone's face". 

And Bedoya responded with "it's a shame quotes get taken out of context".

Which is indeed a shame, but doesn't really apply at all in this case.

The context of Bedoya's quote about Altidore is clear from the video: he said the TFC man "likes to go down easily and let's leave it at that" in response to a question about the foul that drew the penalty that was Toronto's equalizer. The question was presumably asked because it was a debatable call, and the context of Bedoya's response was him entering into that debate - without even having seen it, by his own admission.

There is no additional context added by the fact Bedoya was half-smiling when he talked about Altidore - that merely establishes he is amused by his own comment, or at least conveys he's not angered by the regrettable habits of a fellow national teamer.

Unless he's suggesting his smile indicates sarcasm or an obvious joke, but that would reduce the rest of his statement to gibberish: he'd be saying he didn't see the alleged foul at the time or on replay, he didn't think Altidore had even done anything to provoke the ref, but he still thought it wasn't a penalty because he'd been told it wasn't and that was enough for him to complain to the referee.

That...makes no sense. If that's the true context then it simply tells every referee in the game to pay no mind to Alejandro Bedoya because he doesn't hesitate to argue about things he knows nothing about.

The context is either Bedoya willfully talks nonsense, or he thought a controversial decision was controversial and likely induced by Altidore.

Either way, it was a comment made to the press in the locker room. Bedoya knew he was being recorded for publication. He wasn't saying anything behind Altidore's back. So Jozy got a little muddled in the heat of the moment too.

The details of the whole sorry affair are recorded by our colleagues at Stars and Stripes FC.

2. MLS doesn't understand fun

LA Galaxy had a player suspended for diving after the Week 1 round of matches, so when Portland Timbers Diego Chara took a dive against the Galaxy - and provoked Jelle Van Damme into a protest that earned a yellow card, which was swiftly followed by a foul (or maybe also a dive) that drew another yellow and saw Van Damme sent off - well, the Galaxy's digital team responded perfectly.

MLS responded cluelessly. First, the league let it be known via Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl that the viral video would be "addressed". Next, its Disciplinary Committee fined but did not suspend Chara for his dive.

MLS: tough on lighthearted viral videos, but not tough on the causes of lighthearted viral videos. Another act of inconsistency by the DisCo goes unpunished, and the league makes itself look humorless along the way. Solid Week 2, MLS: showing mid-season form already.

3. Minnesota is the first bad team of MLS 2017

No need to dwell on this obvious point: Minnesota United followed a 5-1 loss in Week 1 in Portland with a 6-1 home-opening loss to fellow expansion side Atlanta. Minnesota has played two games in MLS and lost them both by an aggregate score of 11-2. Minnesota is not a good team.

Plenty of time to become a good team. But right now, Minnesota is bad. So bad, if these results persist any longer, other teams will start to be viewed with disdain if they can't put five goals past the league's northernmost United.

4. LA vs RSL will tell us if one these teams is really in early-season trouble

Three games isn't much of a sample size, but if the results are consistent enough it's fair to draw a conclusion. A team that wins three in a row is enjoying a run of good form, for example.

Real Salt and LA Galaxy are off to slow starts in 2017. In Week 2, RSL lost, 2-0, in Chicago, after having tied 0-0 at home with Toronto FC in Week 1. Meanwhile, LA lost 1-0 to Portland to record its second consecutive home loss of the new season.

RSL has one point but no goals from two games. LA has no points (and only one goal) from its first couple of outings. On March 18, RSL hosts the Galaxy. Salt Lake is still looking for its first goal of the season; LA is still looking for a first point. A score draw would help both teams ease away from their respective troubles, but any other result will leave one of them looking at a troubling early-season pattern of failure.

5. Portland vs Houston is the biggest game of Week 3

The marquee Week 3 match-up in MLS will be Seattle Sounders' home opener against New York Red Bulls. The defending MLS Cup champ against the 2015 Supporters' Shield winner and the best team in last year's Eastern Conference until the playoffs).

But MLS teams find it a little more difficult to build squads that are reliably good from year to year than is the case in other leagues playing under other rules. Every off-season, MLS hands its poorer teams tools with which to make themselves better: the best picks in the SuperDraft and additional allocation money (effectively growing a given team's salary budget), for example.

So while it's fair to assume teams that were successful in one season will be successful in the following season, it's not a given and the better sides in any particular year in MLS reveal themselves over the course of the regular season (and then the playoffs reveal the teams that best over the last six weeks or so of the year).

In the very early stages of 2017, two of the better MLS teams to date will meet in Week 3. Houston Dynamo will play Portland Timbers in Portland on March 18. Houston has opened up with back-to-back home wins, beating Seattle and Columbus. Portland has posted a big win over Minnesota home and scrambled out of LA with another three points.

The season is only two weeks old. We don't yet know which teams are reliably better than most. The Timbers were maybe a little lucky to meet two teams that clearly haven't quite figured themselves out yet; the Dynamo has had the benefit of playing both its matches at home.

It's early days in MLS 2017, but only five teams of the 22 in the league still have unblemished records. RBNY, San Jose, Portland, Houston, and Orlando are the sides that have recorded 100% wins in the regular season to date (and Orlando has only played one league game so far this season). For what it is worth - which is little at this stage of the year - Portland vs Houston is the true league's-best clash on offer in Week 3.