Major League Soccer has kicked off the 2016 season and set a record amount of goals on opening day. With the fixtures coming fast and furious in the weeks to come, here are five things we learned from week 1.
1. Patrick Vieira off to a winning start, defense still needs work
Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira got off to a winning start in charge of New York City FC. Despite the club’s flowing attack, the defense is still shaky. More than once, Chicago Fire strolled through the back four, and Frederic Brillant was anything but brilliant. While the defense harkened back to a season ago, the team looked much better in possession, controlling 57% of the game according to WhoScored.com. The team complete 494 passes, 190 more than the Fire, at a 79% success rate. Deployed in a 4-3-3 formation, NYC’s midfield did a fantastic job of protecting Andrea Pirlo, who was able to complete 81% of his passes. Thanks to the support of Mix Diskerud, six tackles during the game, Pirlo was provided a chance to dictate play. Once Frank Lampard is fit, however, Vieira may have difficulty shoehorning him into the side, if NYC continue to play well in midfield.
2. LA Galaxy have most depth in MLS
The Galaxy continue to have an embarrassment of riches. Not only do they have star players capable of the spectacular, the Galaxy also have role players on the bench that can make a difference. Case in point, Giovani Dos Santos left Sunday’s match against DC United at halftime. His replacement, Mike Magee, went on to get the game winner before adding a second in the 87th minute as LA won 4-1. The Galaxy still have the likes of MLS veterans Alan Gordan and Jeff Larentowicz to come back from injury. The Galaxy’s depth will be put to use later in the season as they currently have the oldest squad in MLS. However, Bruce Arena will have the benefit of being able to rotate his squad early and often.
3. DC United look rough
DC United traded Chris Pontius to Philadelphia, Perry Kitchen was out of contract and neither side could come to an agreement, and Bill Hamid is injured for at least the next four months. DC United’s Ben Olsen has his work cut out for him this season, and the side he deployed at the Home Depot Center looked like a ramshackled bunch. The midfield of Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nayarko on either side of Marcelo Sarvas, did very little and the three midfielders combined to make four tackles; which was just one more than LA’s Nigel De Jong. Looking at DC’s team, it should be a concern where the quality is in the side. Maintaining until the summer transfer window should be the team’s best hope, with hopes of a late season’s playoff push.