Week One Recap: First Impressions

Week One Recap: First Impressions

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 23, 2009
  • 2009 Week 1, Amado Guevara, Brian Ching, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Davy Arnaud, Dwayne De Rosario, Fredy Montero, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Justin Mapp, Kasey Keller, Kenny Cooper, MLS Weekend Recaps, Osvaldo Alonso, Paulo Nagamura
Dwayne De Rosario was a handful for KC this past weekend. (Brian Stephens, WVH Photo Correspondent)

Dwayne De Rosario was a handful for KC this past weekend. (Brian Stevens, WVH Photo Correspondent)

We got one week under our belts and already a lot to discuss. Week one left us with plenty…and I do mean plenty of quality goals. We also got a few surprises on the week as well like Chivas’s Paulo Nagamura and his random two goal effort over the Rapids. Lastly we got some solid crows for the opening week (Dallas may have been the biggest shocker after reports of only 5,000 tickets being sold a couple weeks ago).

I felt like doing something a little different for this week’s recap. Instead of going game-by-game here I thought it would be more appropriate to go team-by-team in a first impressions kind of mode. I am a big believer in the eye-ball test for teams, meaning that first impressions do go a long way.

As always feel free to pipe in your thoughts on the first weekend of action below.

Chicago Fire:

Offensively they didn’t impress me all that much. They put a decent attack together against a rather mediocre defense in FC Dallas. Still a three goal effort on the road is good no matter how the attack looked. The goal with Justin Mapp is exactly what you expect out of this club though and it is something I can see this club doing a lot this season. Blanco’s free kick was pretty sweet too.

Defensively they weren’t bad, giving up an early cheap goal from Kenny Cooper. Giving up a goal from beyond midfield is a keeper issue and just a smart play by Cooper. Really nothing to go crazy over.

Still this club gave me what I expected. A slow start with a strong finish.


Chivas USA:

I said in the season predictions and previews that if this club stays healthy they will be really tough to handle out west. They don’t have a lot of flashy talent but they have the guys that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to get the job done. Head coach Preki still finds a way to get everything out of what he has on the field, even if it isn’t his best 11.

How about Paulo Nagamura and his two goal effort? Four career MLS goals and he nets two to start the 2009 campaign. Not a bad way to start at all. It didn’t hurt that the Rapids really gave him a lot to work with on each goal.

Defensively this club didn’t look bad but I have to say they need a new keeper in a bad way here. Zach Thornton is decent but he is no longer a reliable guy between the posts. His little give-away in the goal mouth can’t be done on any level.

I thought the new additions weren’t too shabby either. Striker Eduardo Lillingston and defender Mariano Trujillio had decent debuts for their new club.


Columbus Crew:

What can you say about this club? In 2008 they were the toughest team to beat and that is carrying over in 2009. I felt offensively they had the bulk of the chances in their game against Houston but were unable to really capitalize on what they had until late. Guillermo Barros Schelotto is still a genius in the midfield and really no one can handle him, even one of the better defensive clubs in the league.

This club is still dangerous on all ends though. I kind of felt they could have had the early advantage with the Chad Marshall goal that was called off due to a foul on Marshall. That call really could have gone either way but kudos to the official for sticking to his call on it.

I think overall things will still run through Columbus in 2009.


Colorado Rapids:

I have a feeling this will be a long year in Colorado. While the one goal was a positive thing the defense and the midfield play were rather pathetic. They were able to put some decent pressure on late but no one made a solid enough effort to really test Chivas keeper Zach Thornton late.

I think for me it comes down to a lack of creativity in the midfield for this club. We know Christian Gomez failed to work out there last year but I think it is already time to begin looking for a DP-level playmaker in the middle for this club. Someone like a Schelotto or a Blanco that elevates this club to a new level. I really think that is the biggest thing missing for them and could be the difference between making the playoffs or not this season.

Still Conor Casey showed me that his late run a year ago was no joke. That is a good thing for Rapids fans.


DC United:

We thought it in preseason play but now in regular season play we still believe it. It could very well be a long season in DC. Tom Soehn is probably already on the hot seat for his club’s performance in the second half against LA. Sure some calls (that handball call, are you kidding me?!) didn’t go his way and that nasty collision between Devon McTavish and Greg Janicki didn’t help either.

I thought early on things were going to be different for DC. They came out and impressed me early on with a nice two goal lead. But their downfall was due to their biggest weakness, their defense.

Still some pluses to note, I really thought both first round picks played well this weekend which means things could quickly get on the rise in DC. Rodney Wallace recorded an assist and Chris Pontius recorded the first goal by a rookie this season.


Kenny Cooper was yet again the bright spot for FCD. (Getty Images)

FC Dallas:

Ah, the home club for me. Well the crowd was much better than we expected. The new dance team looked alright and Kenny Cooper scored from midfield. Not much else to really leave you with here.

Defensively the club didn’t look any better than what we’ve seen out of them for the last couple years. In the midfield we saw a couple decent bits out of David van den Burgh (no surprise) but nothing too great out of newcomer David Ferreira. He has to find a better way of controlling the game for Dallas in the midfield. If he doesn’t no one else will.

I thought offensively aside from Cooper’s long-range blast, there wasn’t a whole lot there. The chances looked decent but after reviewing them a couple times they actually weren’t all that great.

Not a great start, and not a real surprise either in their start. I kind of feel it will be a very long year in Dallas for this bunch.


Houston Dynamo:

Pretty much what I expected out of this bunch. Sound on defense yet only to give up a really good goal that not too many could score like that (and not too many keepers could save). I gotta say I was impressed a bit by Chris Wondolowski in the offensive end for Houston. While I don’t think he will be the best partner to Brian Ching in 2009 he certainly made his case for it. He found himself in a decent position more than once but he just needs to find a better way to put the ball home in the back of the net.

Overall though not bad out of this bunch. The only real downer was probably the field at Robertson Stadium, it was a total mess.


Not the greatest start to the season for Jimmy Conrad and KC. (Brian Stevens, WVH Photo Correspondent)

Not the greatest start to the season for Jimmy Conrad and KC. (Brian Stevens, WVH Photo Correspondent)

Kansas City Wizards:

Defensively it was about what I expected. The lack of defensive quality in the midfield always puts more pressure on this club’s backline. When you add in the fact that Toronto now has some serious talent in their midfield it really showed up for me on Saturday night. I watched a few highlights a couple times and noticed just how out of place some guys in blue looked. It may have been the quick counters that Toronto was getting but it just seems like KC has more guys committed forward than what their defensive midfield can actually handle.

Still they were in this game thanks to two amazing strikes by Davy Arnaud. Pick either one and they could be goal of the week material. It seems that just as last year Arnaud will carry this club on his back offensively. Thing is those types of goals don’t always come every week.

A positive note to finish them off here, rookie Graham Zusi looked real solid in the offensive third for this club.


LA Galaxy:

Looked okay. The slow start defensively was expected for this bunch but the two late goals by Landon Donovan put the defensive issues to rest for the day. The equalizer was something else though, very clutch.

Still growning pains are going to be apart of this club for the next couple months. They have a solid core of rookies, a decent amount of veterans and then Landon Donovan. Thing is Donovan can only carry this club so much like he has done in years past.

Their rookies showed up in the starting lineup weren’t bad but did help DC out more than their own. Omar Gonazlez has talent but man did the kid ever give up a goal for DC.

Its going to take a lot to get this club to the next level but if everyone can be patient and also if they can get a little luck this club could surprise some.


New England Revolution:

Their game was no biggie. Defensively they were more impressive than I expected without Michael Parkhurst and offensively they were able what I expected with no Taylor Twellman. Their two rookies looked great though. Kevin Alston showed his quality was really locked down a tough player in Darren Huckerby on the wings. Darius Barnes also started in the backline with Alston and really impressed me, plus the kid has a cannon for a throw-in.

I said on Friday that Kheli Dube would have to carry the scoring load for the Revs and he came through. The Revs really didn’t show a lot of negatives but then again didn’t give up a lot of positives either. I did think that the Quakes would score a couple on them but give Steve Nicol credit for picking a defense out that not many would have expected to see a couple months ago. Starting two rookies in the back is always bold but Nicol always finds a way to make it work. It also didn’t hurt that San Jose couldn’t hit anything on Saturday night.


New York Red Bulls:

Lets get real honest about this club. If their defensive additions don’t pan out quick this could be a long year for them. Plus the key guys in the midfield that are expected to produce failed to do so against Seattle. I wonder how long it will take before Juan Carlos Osorio realizes that Juan Pietravallo is just not a good idea.

This club has a lot of expectations surrounding them and really I am wondering exactly how they will live up to them this year. The first impression they gave me in 2009 was not a good one. It was similar to what I said about them a season ago. Sound offensively, a bit over hyped in the midfield, lacking in defense and nothing special in goal.

I said it Friday and I will say again, is Danny Cepero really an upgrade to Jon Conway? I wasn’t a Conway fan but after reviewing some of Thursday night’s game I am starting to wonder if Cepero is any better.

It will get better in New York, but Osorio better get use to hearing his name on the hot seat again if it doesn’t come quickly.


Real Salt Lake:

Off in week one, check back next week.


San Jose Earthquakes:

They picked up where they left off a year ago on offense. No one could hit anything, okay, well that wasn’t true as they hit the post a few times. Still it wasn’t a good offensive showing by the Quakes. Though I think we saw what is to actually come from this club. The first goal is always the toughest to get in a new season and it will come for this club soon enough.

I think once Weaver and Huckerby settle into this season they will start seeing more chances come their way. I thought the Quakes held New England off pretty well in the midfield, which isn’t always easy to do with Shalrie Joesph out there.

Again another rookie showed promise out there. Quincy Amarikwa looked pretty solid for San Jose. I think he will eventually link up well with Weaver and guys like Shea Salines.

Defensively they are still as solid as before. The one mistake ended in a New England goal. I don’t see this club giving up too many multi-goal games though this season anyways.


Seattle was full of joy on Thursday night. (Getty Images)

The eye-ball test was real good for this club. I think everyone will see them more as a club that isn’t in their first year than one that is. They became the first expansion club since Chicago in 1998 to win their first game…and we all know what Chicago went on to do in that season.

Hard to really find a lot of faults in this club after their first game. Fredy Montero was a beast. Osvaldo Alonso may have been the best USL-to-MLS addition that we’ve seen since Brian Ching. He answered a lot of questions that I had about him and his ability to go from USL to MLS.

Defensively the club looked okay. Nothing great but Kasey Keller did show that he still has it.

Oh and that crowd looked amazing.


Toronto FC:

A nice group of TFC supporters decended on KC. (Brian Stevens, WVH Photo Correspondent)

A nice group of TFC supporters decended on KC. (Brian Stevens, WVH Photo Correspondent)

Aside from two You-tube worthy goals given up this club looked a lot better than what we had seen out of them a year ago. I said on Friday to keep an eye on Amado Guevara and he did not disappoint with his two-goal effort. Dwayne de Rosario was a handful in the midfield for KC, as he set up a couple goals for the Reds.

Defensively they looked better, not great but better. I think their offense will easily carry them this season while their defense could cost them some games down the stretch.

Make no mistake, this club should contend in 2009 though.

  • joel es latest socce

    Great week 1. Many of the goals were high quality.

  • overmars

    &quot;Osvaldo Alonso may have been the best USL-to-MLS addition that we&rsquo;ve seen since Brian Ching.&quot;<br />
    <br />
    Ching was a Sounder as well, this team has a good compliment of USL Sounders, watch out.

  • Great week 1. Many of the goals were high quality.

  • overmars

    “Osvaldo Alonso may have been the best USL-to-MLS addition that we’ve seen since Brian Ching.”

    Ching was a Sounder as well, this team has a good compliment of USL Sounders, watch out.