Week 2 of MLS is in the books. This wacky, complicated, parity filled, league is back in full swing, and what a weekend it was.
Here at the weekly rewind we’ll go over things that are interesting (at least to me, hey it’s my column) or quirky about MLS. One part game review, one part observation, all MLS.
Let’s get to it!
Welcome to the league kid
This week was a big one for Niki Jackson, who made his professional debut with the Colorado Rapids in the 65th minute against the New England Revolution. One minute later he grabbed his first professional goal, leveling the score at 1-1. Welcome to the league, kid!
Unfortunately for the Rapids, Jackon’s goal wouldn’t be enough to escape with a valuable road point as Chris Tierney would bag the go-ahead goal with the last kick of the game, beating Tim Howard with a beautiful free kick.
Reversal of Fortunes?
After they dismantled preseason darlings Atlanta United 4-0 in Week 1, a lot of people (*cough, me, cough*) pegged the Houston Dynamo as one of the teams to beat in the West. Through most of their Week 2 match with the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Dynamo looked like the better team. They generated 21 shots on goal (seven on target) and absolutely dominated possession 67-33. Unfortunately for Houston they lost in the statistical category that matters most—the final score. The Whitecaps came out on top 2-1 after Kei Kamara celebrated his 100th MLS goal when he buried a penalty kick in the 28th minute. Congrats to Kei on this milestone!
As for Atlanta United? They shook off that 4-0 Week 1 loss and finally got that D.C. United monkey off their back after losing to DCU three times last season. ATLUTD took it to D.C. with a 3-1 victory back home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Part of the turnaround was due to a more organized in the back with 34-year-old Michael Parkhurst in at center-back and 34-year-old Jeff Larentowicz sitting in front of the back line as a true #6. Granted D.C. United still appear to be finding their offensive rhythm (looking at you Darren Mattocks), but Atlanta’s Leandro González Pírez and Franco Escobar’s athleticism appeared complimentary to Parkhurst and Guzan. Not sure how sustainable relying on two 34-year-olds every week is, but for now it worked and Atlanta come away with a 3-1 win.
LAFC making people look foolish
Good. Lord. LAFC dropped five goals on an RSL team that many thought (and still believe) would be a top end playoff team in the West. Frankly, this writer still is not sure if LAFC can sustain their success, particularly with World Cup absences looming over the summer months, but through two weeks Bob Bradley certainly has his team playing cohesive football. They consistently pressured RSL, created turnovers and used their speed out wide to create chances, while Carlos Vela grabs his first MLS goal.
After their Week 1 road win in Seattle, we all asked a few questions of LAFC, but they may have answered a few this week.
The Timbers were one of the trendy teams people were picking to win the West in the preseason. After all, they finished atop the West in 2017 with 53 points, why couldn’t they do that again this year?
So far things have not gone quite according to plan. These first two weeks have been brutal for the Timbers who were beaten by an uneven LA Galaxy in Week 1 and absolutely torn apart by a New York Red Bulls side in Week 2 that was resting and rotating players as a result of the second leg with Tijuana this Tuesday.
Sure, some of this could perhaps be blamed on a coaching transition or injuries. Or maybe it’s the fact that they have zero depth on defense. Either way, the Timbers have some things they need to figure out.
Gyasi Zardes Recovery Tour
Gyasi Zardes bagged his second and third goals of 2018 with his brace in the Crew’s (#SaveTheCrew) 3-2 victory over the Montreal Impact.
What Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter has been able to coax out of Zardes this early in the season has been nothing short of incredible.
I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it’s within the realm of possibility that Zardes could have more goals than Ola Kamara this year. As an unabashed Galaxy fan, I’m hoping that Sigi Schmid can help the offense find it’s mojo, but Ola and the Galaxy certainly aren’t off to the same start that Gyasi and the Crew are.
Random “how very MLS” thought of the week
The MLS cup final could legitimately be played in a baseball stadium this year. Is there anything more MLS than that? Here we are touting our soccer specific stadiums and how much progress the league has made, and, while it’s still very early, NYCFC looks to have a legitimate shot at hosting the MLS Cup final at Yankee Stadium come December 8. Look, the ownership has boatloads of money, and I understand the hurdles to building a stadium in New York City, but good grief! Build your own stadium, please! I feel like I’m watching professionals play on a kids AYSO field.