Week 2 of the Major League Soccer season is in the books. Teams have made a case for being considered favorites and others left fans scratching their heads. Here are five things learned from week 2.
Are Sporting KC and Montreal Impact the league’s best teams?
While Sporting and Montreal lead their respective conferences and both have collecting six points from six, it must be argued that neither have played the best teams in MLS, yet. Sporting have now beaten Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps, both pointless in 2016. Meanwhile, the Impact have picked up maximum points against New York Red Bulls and the Whitecaps. Of course, the Red Bulls have lost both of their opening games. Although both Sporting and Montreal have put together excellent squads in 2016, they have benefited from unexpectedly poor opposition to start the season. Remember, it is not how you start in MLS, it is how you finish.
Parity reigns supreme in week 2
LA Galaxy and FC Dallas had little difficulty in casting their week 1 opponents –DC United and Philadelphia Union – aside. Yet, week 2 was much different as the Galaxy fell to Colorado Rapids away from the Home Depot Center and Dallas lost their intrastate derby to Houston. While LA can be forgiven for giving up a stoppage-time winner to Marco Pappa, Dallas were thoroughly outplayed by Houston, losing 5-0. Dallas were better in several key areas: 55% possession, 79% pass success rate and 11 total shots, according to Whoscored.com. However, Dallas did make the most of their chances and were absolutely destroyed by Houston winger Andrew Wenger, who picked up Man of the Match honors thanks to his one goal and two assists – all coming in the opening 30 minutes of the game. Dallas will host Houston in early June, and by then, Dallas will need to have figured out how to corral Wenger and withstand Houston’s early onslaught.
Jordan Morris is sleepless in Seattle
Deployed as a right wing in Seattle’s 4-2-3-1, Jordan Morris has found life in MLS more difficult than the college ranks. Morris had 19 touches against Real Salt Lake on Saturday according to Whoscored.com, 21 fewer than the previous week. Of Seattle’s four attackers, Morris registered the fewest touches. In addition, Morris only made nine passes, the fewest of the team’s starting outfield players. Substituted in the 75th min, his replacement Darwin Jones did no better. Morris’s immediate inclusion in the side looks partly down to Seattle’s thin roster and the need to get such an important young player into the starting XI. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid has to find ways to integrate the 21-year-old into the side better, and help him find some form, or it is going to be a long season for both Morris and the Sounders.
Flavor of the month
After the first two weeks of the season, it appears the favored formation of MLS is either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. For the most part, managers are selecting teams with one striker. There are exceptions, however, most notably Chicago Fire. New manager Veljko Paunovic deployed a 3-5-2 against Orlando last weekend. His selection of David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike as his strikers was not only a bold choice, but the right one, too. Despite only picking up one point from a possible six, Paunovic’s Fire look far more exciting and attacking than the appalling side Frank Yallop led during his tenure with the club.
Ignacio Piatti is on fire
Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti has started 2016 on fire: two matches, three goals and one assist. Add in an 85% pass success rate and it is no wonder the Impact are flying high after two match days. The Argentine is in his second full season with Montreal, and if the opening two games are any indication, Piatti will top his numbers from 2015 – ten goals and eight assists. In Saturday’s win over the Red Bulls, Piatti completed 41 of 50 passes for an 82% success rate. With Didier Drogba coming back soon, Montreal may have, arguably, the best attack in MLS.
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