MLS Week 1 breakdown
Galaxy, Houston, and Seattle impress in Goalazo-filled Week 1
April 20, 2021
THE FIRST WEEK OF THE 2021 MLS season is done but the anger towards the news in Europe has kind of crowded out the news on the field across the globe. It has been less than 48 hours since Vancouver and Portland wrapped up Week 1 but it seems like three weeks with all that has taken place but here is one last look back of our thoughts.
First of all, the quality of play was fairly strong for the first week of the season. There were a ton of high-quality goals that generated some buzz and then there was also some strong performances, even while some of the best players in the league were out injured.
With all that said, here are my thoughts from the opening weekend.
Seattle big winner/Minnesota big loser
Friday’s night game between Seattle and Minnesota was perhaps the most telling of the weekend as Seattle was clinical with its finishing and coasted to a 4-0 result. The result slightly flattered the hosts, but Seattle was without Nico Lodeiro and obviously Jordan Morris and still came a way with a convincing win – with all goals coming in the second half.
For Minnesota, this team can obviously still be good and Emanuel Reynoso is expected to be a dominant player in the league this season. But after playing so well down the stretch in 2020, this was not the start that the team wanted to have.
The game was tight in the first half, but Joao Paulo’s goal just opened it all up and Minnesota was left chasing it for the remainder of the game.
Ramos had Houston ready
One of the bigger surprises this weekend was the Houston Dynamo which downed San Jose 2-1 at home in the league’s first game of the season. Houston, short on weapons, was the better team than San Jose and its performance was on the heels of solid veterans Memo Rodriguez and Joe Corona – who put forth a really nice shift.
As for San Jose, making judgements the opening weekend in this league is never a wise thing to do, but Matias Almeyda has a lot on his plate ahead of next week against FC Dallas.
Atlanta & Orlando sluggish in draw
There wasn’t anything impressive with Orlando City and Atlanta United slugging it out to a 0-0 draw and neither team looked impressive – at all – in the final third. For Orlando, it almost looked as if they could have used a forward. Perhaps this guy at Barnsley could help.
For Atlanta, this should be a bigger concern as this was their third game of the season following two 1-0 wins in both legs of its Champions League round of 16 against Alajuelense FC. The roster is obviously a far cry from where it was in the days of Tata Martino and the Frank De Boer era is now over. But the club has a ways to go to reestablish itself as a contender. While Josef Martinez will likely continue to improve as he progresses from his recovery, the team has a lot of holes to fill.
As for Orlando, the team may or may not get Daryl Dike back but this was a tough outing and it is capable of more.
LA Galaxy impress, Miami decent
The Galaxy has been a bad team for years now. Zlatan only masked the problem for two years. Chicharito seriously underperformed last season and now Carlos Pavon is also gone. On the flip side, the Galaxy now have a manager who knows how to win in this league with Greg Vanney.
That was on display on Sunday when the Galaxy rallied for a 3-2 win over Inter Miami in Florida. The big story is that Chicharito was stellar in a two-goal outing that gave the Galaxy a season-opening win. While the Galaxy’s defense still showed that it needed a lot of work, you get the sense things are trending up. American.
U.S. national team midfielder Sebastian Lletget picked up an assist in the win and was 41-46 in passing with 54 touches.
As for Inter Miami the club conceded poorly timed goals but considering the odd offseason and the low expectations, it was a decent outing and one to build from. Robbie Robinson scored a nice goal and the team hung with the Galaxy for most of the game. They playoffs will still be an uphill climb, but it will be interesting to see this club in the coming weeks.
Red Bulls fall to KSC
Most people were curious to see how the Red Bulls will react the mass transformation of the club in the offseason under new-ish manager Gerhard Struber. The Red Bulls played really well for awhile and Caden Clark gave the team a lead in the 55th minute with a splendid goal inside the box.
But the club had a nightmare minutes later when in under the course of 90 minutes, Kansas City struck twice. Andrew Guttman was having a terrific outing at left back but got caught for a handball, and then on a counter attack, Kyle Duncan lost his man and Kansas City was on top.
The game was played at a frantic pace and the Red Bulls gradually declined throughout the game. Struber’s approach is very much in-line with the global Red Bull approach and this is still a work in progress. The playoffs will be a stretch but it is possible to see the team improving with better conditioning and the arrival of Frankie Amaya and Patryk Klimala.
Caden Clark impressed in this game, apart from his goal. Defensively he looked to handle the press well.
As for Sporting Kansas City, it was a fine effort from a short handed squad and it is off to a strong start in an strong Western Conference.
DC United upsets NYCFC
It is hard to expect anything out of DC Untied with a new manager in Hernan Losada who openly questioned his team’s ability to play the way he wants for 90 minutes at this stage. Like the Red Bulls, it is a press-oriented team and that was on display in this one. NYCFC was simply inept with the ball while DC United took advantage of a nice goal from Russell Canouse and a terrific goal from Brenden Hines-Ike.
DC United should improve this season as this is a big change in direction from Ben Olsen. Paul Arriola, once healthy, should thrive in this system.
As for NYCFC, this was a typical bad early season game. We’ll readdress if it continues to be a problem.
13. ?? Paul Marie curls home a stunner for San Jose's first goal of the seasonpic.twitter.com/GjeD6TWZrS— Kendall Baker (@TheKendallBaker) April 19, 2021
Brenden Hines Ike
Ok.. MLS week 1 GOALAZZO ranking (so far - it’s changing quickly)— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) April 18, 2021
Gold: Joao Paulo
Silver: Paul Marie
Bronze: Brenden Hines-Ike ???? pic.twitter.com/u01J5OcVBq