Week 3 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!
NYCFC keeps winning
NYCFC was without their star goal scorer David Villa this week, but they continued their winning ways. I am officially all in on Jesus Medina and a believer in NYCFC. I fully expect that they will remain one of the top teams in the league throughout this season. They are deep and talented all over the pitch. Vieira has done a terrific job of shoring up the defense over the last two seasons and the offense continues to be a well oiled machine.
I can’t wait until this team is full integrated with one another, they truly make the game beautiful.
It’s difficult to deny the fun this edition of the CONCACAF Champions League has delivered. Three MLS teams were in the quarterfinals, with New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC advancing to play Chivas and Club America respectively. However, when you look at how the MLS teams in CCL have performed during the start of the MLS season, there are only two teams who presently look ready to play: New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas. Frankly, Dallas doesn’t really count as they were knocked out early and by inferior competition, no offense to Tauro FC.
Teams like the Seattle Sounders and TFC are powerhouses in MLS, having gone to back-to-back MLS Cups. Granted Seattle is heavily banged up (missing no less than seven players would be difficult for any team to combat), but in league play they have really stumbled losing to LAFC in their home opener and then being absolutely run off the pitch on the road in Dallas. It is fair to ask questions of Seattle despite them doing well integrating Seattle Sounders 2 players into the first team. It’s disheartening to see a team that many thought would come out and be a force in the league stumble so heavily.
As for Toronto, they seem to be 100% in on CCL. Heavy squad rotation has lead to some close losses in their first two league games. Losing to Columbus at home is not ideal but could be forgiven considering their short week coming off a tough CCL matchup. Losing to their rivals 1-0 in Montreal may in fact be harder for TFC fans to deal with. Something just seems to be lacking in this Toronto side to start league play. Maybe some of the killer instinct we saw last year is missing now that they won MLS Cup. Perhaps it’s that they simply have bigger fish to fry with Club America on the horizon, but for this writers money it isn’t a good look.
Hamming it up in LA
For many Galaxy fans, the start to the 2018 campaign has been frustrating. Sure a 2-1 win over the Timbers in the home opener was nice and a 2-1 loss at NYCFC isn’t the worst result. But, the backline looks shaky at best, and hamstring injuries to Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini and Joao Pedro is starting to sound like a familiar refrain. One has to wonder if new Director of Sports Performance, Pierre Barrieu, and his fitness regiment have played a factor. Either way Galaxy fans are probably experience a little bit of PTSD with all of the injuries.
Oh and there is this:
Overall not a good start in LA. Here’s hoping things turn around.
MLS during international breaks
This week we have an abbreviated slate of games, begging the question "Why isn’t MLS off during this international break?" Sure, I understand that we just began league play a week prior but at some point do we need to try and adhere to the international calendar a bit more so situations like this weekend are avoided? Many teams will be fielding second, and in some cases third choice rosters which hurts the overall quality of soccer on display for the week. Seems like we may be better served to have the weekend off from MLS and be able to enjoy the international slate of games.
Random “how very MLS” thought of the week
D.C. United, played in front of the largest crowd in MLS history during their Week 2 game against Atlanta United. Just one week later, they played a “home game” against the Houston Dynamo at the Maryland Soccer Plex in front of one of the smallest crowds in MLS history. It hearkens back to the early days of MLS when the league felt unstable. Luckily, this purgatory that D.C. United find themselves in will soon come to an end when Audi Field is completed.