MLS Week 2 breakdown
Week 2 MLS thoughts: LAFC-Philly classic, Chicarito's retirement & more
March 09, 2020
THE SECOND week of MLS gave us one of the league’s best early season games in recent years and also some performances from teams that should have real concern at this early point. MLS is, of course, hard to predict and we’ve all seen how the standings can fluctuation rapidly, but the haves and have nots are easier to spot – and these early season games are fair barometers of a team’s status.
Here are my musings from Week 2.
LAFC – Philadelphia classic
In what was one of the best early-season MLS games I can remember, Los Angeles and Philadelphia played to a 3-3 draw at the Banc of California stadium.
LAFC does indeed have it a little more difficult with early season games which are combined by the CONCACAF Champions League. Yes, the opening game win over Inter Miami wasn’t great either. But this game shows that LAFC will be just fine.
Philadelphia had to play a near perfect game just to get a result. Jakob Glesnes hit one of the greatest free kicks in league history. The opening goal Sergio Santos was also one of extreme quality. And even with scoring two goals like that, all Philadelphia could muster was a point. The odds of teams being able to score goals like that on a weekly basis are slim.
Whoa... seriously. Wow. Take a bow Jakob Glesnes pic.twitter.com/GQUQqmtxFQ— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) March 9, 2020
For now, LAFC are sitting pretty. There are some legitimate concerns over goalkeeping and that might have to be addressed midseason. The club is also banking a lot on the development of Tristen Blackmon and that should happen. But LAFC wasn’t even defeated when Philly was able to pull of special plays.
Philadelphia should also feel pretty good about itself. It didn’t get steamrolled and showed a lot of offensive growth. If Brenden Aaronson can become a scoring threat and notch up assists with a final pass, then they’re in business too.
In the end, the game left both teams feeling pretty good about where they stand – and provided some amazing entertainment. Including one of the best free kicks in the history of the league.
Red Bulls concern
The Red Bulls gave up a late equalizer to Real Salt Lake, but the team should feel extremely fortunate to even get a result. RSL was much, much better in this game and it forced the Red Bulls into emergency defending on numerous occasions.
Utah is a tough place to play early in the season. The altitude is a factor and you could see the Red Bulls fade from the team.
The Red Bulls need a lot. They need better distribution out of the back, midfielders who can hold the ball, and a center forward that can make up for Bradley Wright Philiipis of a few years ago. More outings like this will see the team get exposed. Minnesota, it’s next opponent, could have a field day on the Red Bulls.
Atlanta got by Cincinnati in its first home game of the season. The fact that Atlanta has six points doesn’t really mean all that much since the opponents have been Nashville and Cincinnati. But, all that is good for a team that looks as if it could be slow starters under de Boer – again.
To be fair, Barco, Hyndman, and Pity have been very solid in the season’s first two games. But without Josef, there aren’t going to have as many options outside the field. Overall, I think Atlanta will figure out a way to get into the summer at or near the top. But then it will take some magic to find a forward, most likely on loan, who can fill the void.
Emerson Hyndman is playing quite well to start the season - 2 goals in 2 games. After a period of adjustment last year, he seems like a good fit for what de Boer wants to do& plays well with Barco. pic.twitter.com/1BIiHOaSau— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) March 8, 2020
As for Cincinnati, two difficult road losses to open the season and the team hasn’t played poorly. But it is also punching above its weight too.
Dallas – Montreal entertaining, revealing
Matt Doyle has said it for quite some time that FC Dallas hasn’t been coming up short because of its kids. It has been coming up short because of the underperforming veterans. I agree completely.
This year, that might be the biggest reason for optimism this year. If the kids continue to improve, Dallas could be quite good.
Against Montreal, Dallas fell into a deep 2-0 hole on the heels of two goals from former FC Dallas midfielder Maxi Urruti (who is probably the best player in the league over the first two games this season). But Dallas was able to rally after the subs came in.
17-year old Ricardo Pepi equalizes for FC Dallas in stoppage time. Exciting end to this one. Disappointing end for Montreal but I’m still impressed with Thierry Henry’s start pic.twitter.com/Xr1qpRybUT— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) March 7, 2020
But for Dallas, Zdenek Ondrasek made the difference in helping the club rally for a draw. The Czech Republic forward is playing like the player Dallas has lacked in recent years.
Dallas is still not at 100%. Brandon Servania is injured and Paxton Pomykal is still not at the level where he can start. Jesus Ferreira is off to a slower start but should figure it out over the next few weeks while he’s with the U.S. U-23 team.
Dallas is really going to miss Ferreira, Cannon, and Pomykal over the coming weeks.
As for Montreal, Thierry Henry is exceeding all expectations and is certainly getting the most out of the team’s limited talent. They are going to take their knocks at time this season but Henry should be around for the rebuild over the next few seasons.
Chicarito on retirement
Maybe Chicarito really is heading into retirement. Through the first two games of the LA Galaxy season, the famed Mexican international has been invisible. Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Vancouver was a tough for Galaxy fans to watch. Chicarito was a complete nonfactor.
The good news, however, is that he’s visibly frustrated about it – and it probably isn’t all his fault.
The problems with having Chicarito replacing Zlatan is figuring out who was going to get him the ball. Zlatan can create his own opportunities. Chicarito doesn’t and almost all of his goals are from close range. So who is going to get Chicarito the ball in dangerous areas? It comes down to Pavon, Lletget, Dos Santos, Kljestan, Katai, fullbacks, etc. You an’t expect Chicarito to be someone he’s not.
Galaxy manager GBS on any potential worries regarding Chich tonight in the loss.— Cesar Hernandez (@cesarhfutbol) March 8, 2020
"I am more worried about the result."
He later said that they attempted to put the ball into the box but that "we couldn’t find him."#LAGalaxy
The Galaxy has a bunch of areas that need improvement – goalkeeping, central defense, defensive midfield. But providing service is crucial. Maybe it will improve in the weeks ahead, but pressure is starting to mount.
Minnesota flying out of the gate
Minnesota has been the best team in MLS over the first two weeks. Adrian Heath’s team steamrolled San Jose on Saturday 5-2 and the game wasn’t even that close. Coming into the season, I had doubts about the team to create up the middle. For now, that doesn’t appear to be a problem as Minnesota’s strength out wide on the counterattack is creating a ton of space all over the field.
Jan Gregus is off to a terrific start and Ike Opara holds the backline steady. There aren't many weaknesses on this team.
As solid as Kansas City has been, Minnesota has done it against better opposition and on the road.
Minnesota now has six points and is heading into a four game home stretch where they could start to rack up serious points.