Week 5 of MLS is in the books. 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!
Orlando City finally gets in the win column
After weeks of missing starters and integrating new players, the new look Orlando City SC finally had Meram, Klestjan, and Dwyer on the pitch in the same game, and boy was this a burner. Orlando is desperate for points in the table and would not be denied (though the Red Bulls B squad certainly tried).
New York would nab the first goal in the 7th minute, but Orlando responded with some nice build passing between Klejstan and Meram to find Will Johnson in the box for a tap in in the 15th. New York again would take the lead in the 24th minute, only for Orlando to respond with two Dom Dwyer goals (one questionable goal, where Dwyer essentially pushed Luis Robles into his own goal). It was New York's time to respond with an Aaron Long goal to knot it up in the 82nd. Orlando would get the go ahead goal in the 86th and close out the victory to secure three points at home.
This was an extremely fun match to watch with both teams really playing on the front foot and looking to create chances. It would have been game of the week if not for a certain match in Los Angeles.
Seattle hasn’t looked like the team that was grinding out results in the MLS Cup playoffs in 2017. No, instead they seem to have reverted back to their early season form that has plagued them the last several seasons. Injuries and suspensions continue to cause problems as depth and overall speed on the flanks have been issues.
Many are wondering what the overall plan is in Seattle with Jordan Morris out for the season. There's not a lot of depth up top and their core is aging. Could Seattle be in need of a mild reboot? They still have very solid pieces to build around, including Roldan, Lodeiro, Leerdam and a solid backline. It just seems that Seattle needs an injection of urgency (and health) if they want to return to the playoffs. The west looks as tough as ever and dropping points at home over the early part of the season is not a way to set yourself up for success in this evolving league.
Badji Hat Trick
Dominique Badji nabbed a hat trick against the Philadelphia Union this weekend, the first Rapids hat trick in seven years (the last Rapids hat trick was scored by Sanna Nyassi way back on July 20, 2011 against the New York Red Bulls). The Rapids needed this win. As the old saying goes you have to win the games you’re supposed to win. The Union fielded an extremely young backline, and with the Rapids at home this falls into that "supposed to win" category. Dick's Sporting Goods park has always been kind to the Rapids, and after a draw and a win in back-to-back weeks it looks like that trend will continue.
LA is Blue, White and Gold
El Trafico. We were all watching. LAFC looked ready to dominate. Carlos Vela and this roster of upstarts and reclamations pounced on the Galaxy with two goals in the first 45 minutes. After the break it looked like more of the same with LAFC pressing for a third goal that they would get when a low cross took a deflection off of Daniel Steres and into the back of David Bingham's net.
The Galaxy looked gassed and defeated fans started to drift and think: “We’ve seen LAFC sit back and defend a one goal lead in Seattle. We know they are able to lock it down and secure this result. Only one team in MLS history had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. We can save the introduction of Zlatan for another time, maybe that game against Sporting Kansas City that’s coming up. Yeah, that would be good. Oh look we’re now getting ole’d in our own building… OH MY GOSH, LLETGET JUST NABBED A GOAL. GAME ON.”
The rest is history. The Galaxy woke up began to press higher up the pitch and put pressure on an LAFC midfield that is still trying to figure themselves out. Zlatan came onto the pitch and did Zlatan things. Game over.
Rewatching this game, you see just how much on field gravity Zlatan has. With LAFC afraid of seemingly every touch. Veteran defenders like Ciman and Beitashour over-committed and directed too much of their young defense to cover the ground around Zlatan in this instant MLS classic. Now excuse me I’m going to go watch the match again.
How very MLS thought of the week
Look El Trafico was brilliant, certainly one of the best games and biggest comebacks this league has ever seen, but nominating Zlatan Ibrahimovic for player of the month honors for March seems a bit absurd. For all of the brilliance Zlatan provided over the weekend he only played 19 minutes in month.
Promoting aging stars, and bending the rules even for someone as brash and bold as Zlatan just puts MLS back into 1.0 territory.