Here are ten thoughts on Week 1 of the 2016 MLS season.
- Back With A Bang
There was no better way to forget MLS’ CONCACAF Champions League woes than a thrilling Opening Day of the 2016 season, one which saw 36 goals scored in ten games across the league.
Of those ten games, multiple teams scored in six. The level of play ranged from high in Portland-Columbus and Montreal-Vancouver, to hugely entertaining in NYCFC-Chicago and LA-DC United.
MLS is notoriously tough to watch in the spring, as teams try to figure out their identities and play themselves into shape, but the early returns for the new season promise a faster start – perhaps necessitated by the ever-rising level of sophistication and ability around the league.
In any case, MLS’ decision to have all 20 teams kick off on the first Sunday in March was a huge success. Expect to see a similarly packed Opening Day next year – and hope that each week of the league’s coming-of-age 21st season is as exciting as its first week was.
- The Giovani dos Santos Problem
The LA Galaxy appeared to be going up in flames once again in Sunday’s nightcap at the StubHub Center, trailing DC United at halftime, when a couple of things happened.
Firstly, Ashley Cole came out with his hair on fire like we haven’t seen since he got his final Arsenal contract offer.
Secondly, Giovani dos Santos came off with a left leg injury. His replacement, Mike Magee, would score twice, win a penalty, and spark LA’s much-needed come-from-behind 4-1 win.
Obviously, Magee deserves a ton of credit. Much like Chris Wondolowski, he’s made a career out of understanding spacing and popping up in the right spots at the right time. He’s going to be hugely important for the Galaxy this year.
But it’s no surprise that LA began to click after dos Santos’ exit.
Dos Santos is the definition of a luxury player. He doesn’t fit anywhere tactically – doesn’t play enough defense to start on the wing, but frequently drifts out of games in which he’s utilized either as a second forward or #10 – and he has a tendency to kill space.
LA’s disintegration aligned fairly closely with dos Santos’ arrival last year, but unlike fellow mid-2015 acquisition Steven Gerrard – who himself is in a sad state of affairs these days – the Galaxy are committed to dos Santos long-term.