>By Evan Ream

Wow, what a great opening weekend! MLS First Kick 2011 has made me upset that it is only Monday now and I have to wait until Friday to watch more. This weekend had it all: There were goals, upsets, red cards, dream debuts, flops, and tons of drama. Here are a few thoughts on each of the games that took place this weekend:
LA Galaxy 1 Seattle Sounders FC 0
Despite the score line, this was actually an even game that was won by a single moment of brilliance from Juninho. The bad news is that Seattle had nearly all of their first choice starters while LA was missing Donovan Ricketts, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, and Juan Pablo Angel. The game itself was actually pretty boring; Seattle looked like they didn’t even want to be there. O’Brian White missed a few chances that Blaise Nkufo would have likely put away, but that is why he couldn’t even get minutes for Toronto last year. No one on Seattle looked very good. Steve Zakuani showed flashes, but we got the first glimpse of what may turn into a long season for Seattle.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4 Toronto FC 2
This may have been the game of the week; good thing the feed was totally working on Match Day Live…OH WAIT! After this game, maybe Vancouver showed us that they did actually know what they were thinking all along, or maybe they were just playing Toronto FC. Toronto looks terrible, they will need to get things together for this week’s game against Portland: to lose to two expansion teams in two weeks would probably end any hope they had of being good at all this season. Vancouver’s Eric Hassli had a great debut; showing that he can be the goal scorer they need. The important player for them however, may end up being Davide Chiumiento, who showed class and skill in the Whitecaps inaugural game. For now, the Whitecaps are near the top of the table and it will be interesting to see if they can stay there.
 
DC United 3 Columbus Crew 1
Everyone will remember this as the Charlie Davies comeback game, but for United fans it was so much more. Even without Davies, United dominated this game with their new acquisitions. They had some unforced errors and slip-ups, but this can be attributed to the new players. Dax McCarty, though he struggled on his set piece delivery, was impressive from the get go and combined well with the other midfielders. The biggest question for United was about the defense, which proved strong. Perry Kitchen looks like a Rookie of the Year candidate and Dejan Jakovic looks like a possible Defender of the Year. The way the United team played as a whole was impressive, stringing together passing sequences that haven’t been seen since the Jaime Moreno-Christian Gomez days. Unexpectedly, Josh Wolff was very impressive up front and was unlucky to not score more than one goal. If there was a downside to the whole day for United, it was that Joseph Ngwenya was absolutely awful, but once Davies gets 90-minute fit, he shouldn’t be starting anyways. United look to have the depth (especially in midfield) to make a strong playoff run this year. On the flip side, Columbus were awful. Though they had a similar number of shots on goal and possession to United, the quality of each was just not the same. Columbus was unimaginative in the final third and did almost nothing attacking wise until Robbie Rogers came on. If Robbie Rogers is your key offensive player, your season is definitely not looking good.
 
New York 1 Seattle 0
This game is all about three things: Thierry Henry’s penalty miss, Juan Agudelo’s first start and goal, and Seattle’s second consecutive mailed in performance. Thierry Henry was pretty bad and is apparently now injured again; that doesn’t bode well for NY. On the bright side, Juan Agudelo scored an amazing first career goal. The 18 year old who had just two regular season and two playoff games combined coming into this game showed that he has the potential to be the real deal. Agudelo should be one of the biggest storylines in MLS this season. For Seattle though, things aren’t looking so good. Has Sigi Schmid lost this team? I know they lost to two of the best teams in the league in one week, but outside of Steve Zakuani there was no spark; no one seemed like they wanted to win. Only time will tell, but for Seattle they are one loss away from being in panic mode.
 
FC Dallas 1 Chicago 1
There isn’t much to report here other than that Dallas (outside of Zach Loyd) didn’t look as good as they did last year. It will be interesting to see if Brek Shea continues to get minutes at center back; I doubt Schellus Hyndman will let just one red card get in the way of this experiment. Chicago was equally as unimpressive, though they did get a point on the road, which is more than anyone expected from them.
 
Philadelphia Union 1 Houston Dynamo 0
This is a very impressive result for the Union, who will look to make the playoffs for the first time this year. The defense looked very solid, as did new keeper Faryd Mondragon. This is the type of game that Philadelphia was incapable of winning last year; a low scoring affair where the team grinded out a victory while not playing the best soccer. Unfortunately for MLS and Union fan, Carlos Ruiz was back to his antics. There is perhaps no player in league history I hate more than Ruiz; he deserved a red for his reckless elbow to Andrew Hainault’s head. Houston should have taken at least a point though; Dominic Oduro once again proved his reputation as a terrible finisher by missing a sitter. This Houston team badly misses Brian Ching.
 
Colorado 3 Portland 1
Not really a surprising result from Colorado here. The Timbers showed that their defense is suspect and Colorado showed that their attack is great. This game went down pretty much as everyone expected it to.
 
Real Salt Lake 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0beckerman_RSL_205
I was at this game and I am proud to report that so far my prediction (link to MLS preview) of Chris Wondolowski coming back down to earth is so far correct. Both teams had pretty much the same amount of good play, but RSL showed that their players (in this case Kyle Beckerman) have more class when it matters. Beckerman hit a screamer of a goal while Wondo was forced to rue his three missed sitters.
 
Sporting KC 3 Chivas USA 2
I thought KC’s attack would struggle in the first part of the season, especially without Teal Bunbury. Apparently, I was wrong as KC put up a 3 spot on the road against a pretty decent defense. It is too early to tell if KC will be one of the best teams in the league or if Chivas will be one of the worst (likely it will be somewhere in the middle ground), but for now, what we can take away is that new Sporting KC designated player Omar Bravo looked like the real deal, scoring two goals. It will be fun to watch what this attack can do once it gets Teal Bunbury back.
 
LA Galaxy 1 New England Revolution 1
The Galaxy should have won this game. Period. I don’t care what the ref called, or how many goals got called back. The Galaxy had the ball pretty much the whole game and limited the Revolution to pretty much two chances the entire game. Landon Donovan looked like he didn’t want to be there as did a lot of the rest of the LA team, but they still dominated the whole game and have absolutely no excuse to not have 6 points from two games. The Galaxy will likely lose next week to Real Salt Lake and they will lament their missed opportunities in this game. If they lose the Supporter’s Shield by only 1 or 2 points, they can look back to this game as to why. For New England, despite getting the result, it looks to be another long year. Shalrie Joseph is the only player worth noting on this team; it is only a matter of time before he becomes frustrated with his inferior teammates and gives up. Very few MLS teams have ridden one player all the way to a playoff berth, but the Revolution will have to do exactly that this year.
 
Golden Boot Watch:
Player                       GP     G     A
Charlie Davies            1        2      0
Omar Bravo               1         2     0
Eric Hassli                 1        2     0
Juninho                      2        2     0
Atiba Harris                1        1     2
 
Unbeaten Teams Remaining:
DC United
Sporting KC
New York Red Bulls
Philadelphia Union
Chicago Fire
New England Revolution
LA Galaxy
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Colorado Rapids
Real Salt Lake
FC Dallas

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s