MLS First Kick ’11 is as Good as Advertised

Flying V

Photo by Mafue

MLS could not have asked for a better opening weekend of soccer than this weekend.  After a somewhat pedestrian first match between the Galaxy and Sounders, there were a ton of story lines to follow in this weekend’s games.  While it may be a lot to ask for every weekend to be this exciting (although we can hope) there is no doubt that this season is looking like a great one.

Just like Don Garber planned it.

Vancouver 4, Toronto 2

What a tale of two cities.  Expansion Vancouver certainly kicked off their first first-division season in style.  The fans were decked out in white as part of the “White Out”, celebrity fan Steve Nash sat among the masses and led the cheering, and the action on the pitch could not have been better for the home team.  Eric Hassli started the scoring in the 15th minute and, after Dwayne De Rosario equalized, it was all Whitecaps.  The Toronto defense was exposed and the Reds looked pretty bad; it may be worst case scenario for them at least in the near future.

For more weekend reviews…..

Colorado 3, Portland 1

I was intrigued by this match because I wanted to see how Colorado looked in their first match that counted after their MLS Cup win, as well as see how our other newest club looked.  Kenny Cooper contributed a goal (and points for my MLS fantasy team) but otherwise it was all Colorado.  The Cummings/Casey duo again looked dangerous in front of the goal, a must for the Rapids, and it was last year’s key pickup Jeff Larentowicz who got the scoring started for Colorado.  A tough first match for Portland, but their next three matches are very winnable: at Toronto, at New England, versus Chicago.

Dallas 1, Chicago 1

If you stepped away to the fridge for a beer, you missed the scoring in this one.  Milton Rodriguez for Dallas and Diego Chaves for Chicago scored within two minutes of each other, and defense carried the game.  Hats off to Dallas for selling out their stadium, after receiving so much criticism for their poor draws last year.  Let’s hope that they are building a tradition of being a tough ticket to get.  Kevin Hartman picked up where he left off last season, facing 12 shots (5 on goal) and conceding one goal.

D.C. United 3, Columbus 1

I did a story for the site on this match, but I want to make a few follow-up points.  Can any Crew fan fill me in on Robbie Rogers absence for most of the match?  He had a discernible and positive impact when he was subbed on in the 65th minute, and he may have made a difference playing the full 90.  Charlie Davies is getting the attention from this one, but the DC backline (which was horrendous last year) played very well in this match.  But with Perry Kitchen called up to the U-20s and Jed Zayner picking up an injury, their depth may be tested (find more information here).

New York 1, Seattle 0

Daniel did an excellent job covering this match for MLS Talk, so I will refer you to his analysis.  But allow me to continue heaping praise on Juan Agudelo.  The guy will be something special if he is allowed to grow properly both in a playing sense and media sense.  I also hope the European clubs dismiss him as an overrated American so he plays in MLS for a while longer.  I’d like to hear from Sounders’ fans – what can your team do to generate some goals?  Goalless now in two matches.

Real Salt Lake 1, San Jose 0

RSL is a very efficient team.  They manage only two shots on goal and that’s all they need for Kyle Beckerman to find the winner.  It was a good win in bad weather and there was nothing in this match that doesn’t make you think RSL may be the best team already.  For San Jose, they are in a tough spot like we expected.  They need to win home games against the favorites in the West to be considered playoff contenders; this match will do nothing to make anyone think that they are one of the better Western Conference teams.

Sporting KC 3, Chivas 2

Newcomers shined for Kansas City in this quality away win.  James Madison University rookie C.J. Sapong scored the first goal in the second minute and newcomer Omar Bravo added two more in this match.  Both teams should be very concerned about their defense, however.  Sporting KC allowed two goals on only four shots on goal, while Chivas obviously had some defensive lapses.  Does this match assert the Eastern Conference’s dominance over the Western Conference?  Probably not, but it is a good win for a potential playoff contender.

Philadelphia 1, Houston 0

Another match where if you turned your head you missed the goal, as Danny Califf scores off a long throw-in.  Kudos to Houston for another good crowd of almost 20,000 to begin the season, but a disappointing offensive output.  They needed some points from this match, as their next two (at Sounders, at Red Bulls) could see them trailing early in the season, never a good place to be.  The Union also needed this one, as five of their next six matches are against 2010 playoff teams and the sixth is against Vancouver.

Los Angeles 1, New England 1

Paging Mr. Angel, please pick up the white courtesy phone.  The Galaxy need him healthy or need other players in their midfield to step up if they want to create more scoring chances.  Again it was Juninho who salvaged the point for LA, and the good news for their supporters is that they have taken the early lead in the Supporters Shield race.  It is good that New England salvaged a point from this match, but they showed some concerning tendencies in the match.  Joseph’s third minute goal was their only shot on goal.  Their home opener is DC United, so that will be a good test of where they stand.

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