Game-by-Game: Notes on MLS Week 1

My schedule is all f-ed up for reasons I won't get into (OK, OK, if you must know, a puking, shitting plague afflicted my household and lasted the entire weekend; this was a powerful, powerful bug), which threw off how I intended to handle posting/submitting content on the action. That "submitting content" has to do with the round-up piece I sent to Write On Sports, which I'll link to when it appears. Assuming things go according to plan, I'll be doing a more polished/formal set of game summaries for Write On Sports and will post more speculative (OK, silly, loosey-goosey) stuff on this site.

And one big thing: I'm not going to watch every game this year and would LOVE to have people fill in blanks, or even call me on what I post, for a fuller discussion of the games. Every little bit helps.

I'll start with some general comments before getting to the game-by-game thoughts on the weekend's action - mainly things to keep an eye on for the future. But before getting to that, time to check in with how my picks panned out: 3-3 - not too shabby, though I would have done better had I gone with more ties. OK, some more general comments:

- It was weird seeing an ESPN broadcast without Eric Wynalda - and a bit disappointing as well.

- Say what you like about Max Bretos - personally, I love the guy and think about half of everything he says is tongue-in-cheek - but he pulled off a poised, intelligent interview with MLS Commissioner Don Garber. He sounded prepared, aware, and showed he's more than the clown-prince of American soccer broadcasters.

- Finally, it is nice to finally have something concrete to bat around, y'know? Real, actual results and player performances in games that count? Still, it's going to be hard to figure out which games to watch each week.

Moving on, now, to specifics:

Colorado Rapids 2 - 1 DC United (report)
I'm still recovering at how lopsided this game was - at least in the first half: Colorado really took the game to DC, especially down the flanks. And is it time to finally dub Facundo Erpen a liability? It's either that, or Herculez Gomez is just that good - and I'm not there yet. Terry Cooke also had a hell of a game, as did Kyle Beckerman. Greg Vanney looked quite poised out left; the entire Colorado defense did until Luciano Emilio snuck in that late goal. But you know who was fairly absent? Jovan Kirovski. When does that experiment get dubbed a failure? That didn't matter in the end 'cause DC either came out flat, or the Rapids just outplayed them.

Columbus Crew 0 - 0 Red Bull New York (report)
It's a shame it's not permissable to dub a team turning in the better performance a "win" when it comes to prognosticating; if that were the case, I'd dub my call for a Columbus win "within bounds" and bump my record for predictions to 4-2. For my money, Columbus played the better game once they got on track (I expand on this a bit in a post for The Offside - though I have to confess that, by the time the Columbus game was on, the plague had struck, I was dizzy, and frequently concentrating on one puking kid). Even Red Bull had control for much of the first half, the doubts about their ability to score found some justification. The brighter spots for the Crew came with the "Two G's" - Eddie Gaven and Ned Grabavoy. While it's significant that Columbus couldn't get a telling foot, or head, on the ball, they should find some optimism in the fact that they created clear openings.

Chivas USA 2 - 0 Toronto FC (report)
I didn't see all of this one, but the parts I did see featured one-way traffic - all of it going Chivas' direction. The biggest problem for the expansion side came with the fact that every attack seemed to falter the minute the ball crossed the center stripe. Chivas hardly looked picture-book perfect, but they looked a damn sight better than Toronto. Still, Kljestan scored a nice enough goal.

Chicago Fire 1 - 0 New England Revolution (report)
Seriously, go to the highlights page on and check out the saves Matt Pickens made to preserve the win for the Fire. Twellman seemed to have done pretty well, as did Dorman so maybe there is some hope for the Revs this year.

Real Salt Lake 2 - 2 FC Dallas (report)
It's too early to say for which team this result was most predictive: on the one hand, you get the sense that Dallas is continuing to live on that weird credit that carries them through the regular season, only to desert them in the playoffs; on the other, you wonder if Real Salt Lake is doomed to eternal fits of screwing up. And, love him or hate him (I'm in the former), how about Jeff Cunningham running over to kiss the giant picture of himself after scoring his first? Say what you will, the guy produces; if nothing else, he's the current goals leader, right?

Houston Dynamo 0 - 0 Los Angeles Galaxy (report)
Something I read last night told me this was a seriously dull game, though the highlights showed a thing or two of interest. Still, those guys seemed to have watched the actual game and I didn't, so who am I to say? The one thing that did stand out? Landon Donovan bursting through a seam and almost beating Pat Onstad with a left-footed shot. Based on the highlights that looked like the prettiest move of the game.


Mark in NRH said...

It was a soccer feast this weekend -- I got to watch all but the Chivas/TFC game.

Dorman looked incredibly dangerous this weekend. Very unlucky to not put 2 in the net.

I thought the 1st half of LAG/Houston was very exciting. The second half blew. LAG will be very good when Beckham comes along. Their midfield will be lethal.

I really liked what I saw out of the Crew. This club will be very solid soon. I really like the young make-up to this team.

Juan said...

I'm a 23y.o. Boca Juniors hardcore fan, seasonal ticket holder since i was 6 and i can't believe guillermo barros schelotto is gonna quit boca after 10 years for columbus.. he is the best player who ever wore boca's shirt.. i honestly don't know if the american fans will be able to stand his behaviour on the pitch... he talks a lot to the refs and opposite players, has an intense body language but he is never disrespectful.. He is the most educated player of South America.
Having spent my holidays in DC, went to see DC United vs Olimpia.. i have no doubts Guillermo won't have any trouble adjusting to the kind of football you guys play.. but the question is, will the fans be able to adjust to him? i don't know.. i just hope he will stay in Boca.

All the best for Guillermo...
All the best for Columbus Crew then.


The Manly Ferry said...

thanks to both of you. That's exactly the kind of stuff I'm fishing for, Mark; more perspective is good 'cause Lord knows I can't see all these games (and it's not just that my wife won't let me).

And, juan, God bless you. You gave me fodder for The Offside space. Very curious about the new signing. Schelotto actually sounds like a hoot on the field and, if he's good as he sounds, he can only help Columbus - and the league.