MLS Weekend Recap: First Impressions

MLS Weekend Recap: First Impressions

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 29, 2010
  • 4 Comments
  • 2010 Week 1, MLS Weekend Recaps

Javier Morales looks for focused in 2010. (Getty Images)

The first weekend of action has come and gone in Major League Soccer. With that we’ve learned a little bit more about each club. Some good, some bad and some just down right ugly.

Don’t worry this post won’t be a usual “good, bad and ugly” type of post. I’m thinking of doing my weekend recaps a little different this year. Basically I jotted down notes from each game and will present them that way, instead of going game-by-game like in years past (its a time saving thing on my part really).

First impressions usually go a long way, especially when you look at how the schedule now lays out for each club. No longer can a club coast it from the start and hope for a late rally to get into the playoffs. Only half of the league will enter the playoffs now unlike in years past when the league was smaller. When the league had ten teams and eight got in you could coast most of the season but now you cannot.

This weekend we saw that some clubs are clearly already behind the eight ball while some are well ahead.

1. Javier Morales is back and the league should be on notice.

I said before the season that one guy for RSL that needed to step up this year for them to repeat was Morales. Boy did he not disappoint in week one. His two goal effort will easily earn him Player of the Week but let’s talk about those goals. They were certainly something else. Aside from the goals his play was exactly what RSL needs out of the midfield, controlling and commanding. If he continues to be the general in the midfield and lead the offense like this then look out, RSL will easily be in the thick of things for both MLS Cup and the Supporter’s Shield race.

2. RSL gets off to right start on the road.

Big thing for RSL this year was being more consistent on the road. Last year the were consistently bad on the road winning only two games all season away from Rio Tinto. Well they definitely got off on the right foot this year winning a big one at Buck Shaw Stadium. Sure the San Jose Earthquakes aren’t a Seattle or Columbus but this win will easily give them the lift they need to do well this year on the road.

3. Loads of questions for San Jose.

Joe Cannon was pissed after the 3-0 loss on Saturday. So pissed he stayed up late andĀ apologizedĀ to the fans on Twitter and Facebook. He’ll have to get his defense in check quickly or else he’ll be out as the Quakes signed recently waived keeper from Chicago Jon Busch yesterday. Cannon wasn’t the only one that was pissed on Saturday. You could easily say the whole team was in a bit of a funk. Manager Frank Yallop did a lot of work this winter to improve the defense but so far nothing paid off. If anything their midfield can’t hold possession long enough to create offense. They need a playmaker badly.

4. Columbus yet again dominates Toronto

Oddly enough I watched a lot of this one during the Dallas-Houston game on Saturday. It was a little more entertaining than what was going on at Pizza Hut Park. Guillermo Barros Schelotto continues to do his thing and the Crew continue to do well because of it. Lovely free kick from Schelotto to Andy Iro for the first goal and Schelotto’s finish on the second goal wasn’t too bad either.

5. Toronto won’t be good anytime soon.

Preki and TFC made a lot of moves recently and so far none are paying off. The thing about a Preki coached team is they never win pretty. Don’t expect any pretty wins in Toronto anytime soon either. Until their offense gets figured out it could be a rough start here. I like O’Brien White and Dwayne De Rosario up top but even that may not be enough right now. Also defensively they are still way behind where they should be. They may have gotten some bad breaks from the officials but let’s face it, this club isn’t anywhere close to being a playoff team right now. Its early though, Preki will get it sorted out.

6. Ryan Smith may be one of the better signings

I think it is safe to say this was the strongest start of any eastern conference club this year, yes even stronger than Columbus. The Kansas City Wizards made a statement on Saturday over D.C. United in their 4-0 win. Newcomer Ryan Smith had a lot to do with it. His pace and control in the midfield set the tone early for the Wizards. It also didn’t hurt that D.C. looked awful in the back.

7. KC that good or D.C. that bad?

For Curt Onalfo his first game as manager of D.C. looked an awful lot like his last as manager of Kansas City. A nasty blowout loss on the road. The goals came early and often from the Wizards and yet again we see that Onalfo still has a lot to learn about putting together a good defense in this league. He’s always had a quality keeper in either Kevin Hartman or now Troy Perkins but the defense in front has always been a bit suspect. Onalfo has a lot of questions to figure out in the coming days or else things could get ugly real quick in Washington.

8. Houston and Dallas still have a ways to go.

The Dynamo look a lot different in the midfield with Geoff Cameron and as much as I am rooting for him to do well there I’m a bit unsure now if the move will pay off like we thought it would. He did well at times but he never really got the offense going on Saturday for the Dynamo against Dallas. Then again ever long ball he hit on Saturday got caught in the massive winds at Pizza Hut Park. That may have had something to do with it.

On the other hand Dallas created chances but once again their defense fell asleep at the wrong time. Luckily for them it only happened once. The injury to Kyle Davies hurts them too, what a freak injury too.

9. LA wastes chances but still gets three points

Another guy we said before the season that needed to step up did so on opening night. Edson Buddle tacked the only goal home for the Galaxy in a 1-0 win over the Revs. But after that early goal the Galaxy failed to cash in on any other chances. You still have to like Bruce Arena’s squad though, they commanded the field in this one and really let little by in defense.

10. Cummings starts off strong, Chivas starts cold

Maybe the goal of the week was Omar Cummings turn and shoot. We said for Colorado to do well this year that Cummings (and Conor Casey) needed a hot start. Cummings did his part but really other than this goal there wasn’t much to this game with Chivas. Neither side created a lot of chances but Colorado cashed in when it mattered most. I think the Rapids needed this road win in a big way to, getting off on the right food was big. As for Chivas though they need to find a proven striker here.

11. Fire fail to show, NY cashes in on chances in Red Bull Arena debut

The MLS debut for Red Bull Arena went pretty much as planned for the club. A near sell-out against the Fire and a three points. Joel Lindpere proved yet again why he will likely be the Newcomer of the Year. His strike was something else too. This win was important for the club, after last years terrible record getting a win early has to feel good.

As for the Fire you really wonder where things have gone. Their midfield looked out of sync as losing Blanco really showed in this one. The offense never really got going in result of that. I still think of the clubs that lost on opening weekend they have the best chances to correct things moving forward. They do still have Brian McBride and and Collins John can chip in they’d be in the hunt.

12. Growing pains in Philadelphia

We definitely saw some interesting things out of the new expansion side from Philly. Peter Nowak’s club looked…well…ok on opening night. Offensively they were confusing though. Why on earth would Danny Mwanga be parked in the middle of the midfield instead of up top where he belongs. He’s a striker, not an attacking midfielder. Also the defense looked rather dull too. David Myrie looked out of place going against Steve Zakuani. Not sure if he made Zakuani look as good as he was or if Zakuani really improved this winter (I think its a bit of both).

Lots of growing pains are here in Philadelphia folks. They’re decent but lets be real honest they won’t be at all like Seattle was last year.

13. Sounders hold their own in opener

Zakuani looked ten-times better in this one than he did all of last year. Fredy Montero got a goal like we figured he would and Freddie Ljungberg showed how good he is yet again (though he’ll be lucky to play 15 games this year with the way people play him). I don’t think we can put too much weight into this win just yet, after all Philadelphia really never tested Kasey Keller who looked bored on Thursday night. But I’m not shocked at all at how dominate Seattle was over Philadelphia.

14. Big D comes up short

We can blame it on the massive winds (20-30mph for that matter) on Saturday at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco but only having 8k+ show up for the season opener was a major buzzkill for the club and the league. The club did put together a strong marketing campaign this winter and for the most part it was good. The true test really will be against the Crew on April 10. If another sub-par attendance figure comes out of this one then we’ll know their efforts weren’t good enough.

I may have more on this subject later today.

15. Everywhere else numbers looked good.

Take Dallas out of the picture here and we’re looking good.

Seattle: 36,241 (another sellout; the way it should be done)
Chivas USA: 18,653 (much better for them definitely more than expected at HDC)
Columbus: 13,536 (came up short but still not as bad as…)
Dallas: 8,016 (…thing is it looked more like 4k)
New York: 24,572 (first league match and it was a near sell-out)
Kansas City: 10,385 (sellout; their new digs can’t come soon enough)
San Jose: 10,589 (sellout; a new stadium will definitely help)
Los Angeles: 21,376 (3,000 more than last year’s opener, very promising)

This week’s home debuts: Houston, Colorado, D.C.

16. League web-site still comes up short

Don’t blame all the new writers for this folks, blame the company that built the new web site. Way too many issues still. For one we had no match tracker during the early games, which was pretty rough for folks like AP writers and beat writers who need certain times of the game for shots and what not. Second, the new video service is great but still coming up short in the long run. We can get decent highlights but they dropped the ball in not letting the fans create their own highlight packages like last year. And lastly, when the hell are they going to re-direct the old site to the new one? Just seems confusing right now.

  • Strong marketing campaign in Dallas during the off-season? How do you figure? They completely ignored two thirds of the target audience (Family and Hispanic). In Dallas you need all three markets to be successful. That has never changed. All of the off-season advertising was aimed at the smallest demographic they have, the English speaking hardcore fan. Nothing about that campaign was going to get the average citizen of the DFW metroplex out to the game. Especially considering that those ads never mentioned when the games would be played.

    The home opener got zero publicity. No visibility at all in any of the media outlets. The local TV partner was not used to build any hype for the club. It is hard to do that when they don't announce the partner a day before the match. Even then if a casual fan was persistent enough to go to the team's website to get tickets, they probably were turned away by a website that had all the looks of an enterprise that had gone belly up. Two week old stale content plus no indication whatsoever that a game was being played that week. That was the topper: “No promotion of the game on their own site.”

    This is reminiscent of the Dallas Mavericks when they were owned by Ross Perot Jr. FC Dallas needs to be to sold to their “Mark Cuban” for the club to become relevant in the entertainment landscape of the Metroplex.

  • Very true Chamo, but the reason why I called it strong is because at least they made an effort this year. Last year was pathetic (and they knew it too from talking to folks there).I think the reason why they didn't market to their old staples (families and hispanics) was because they just expect them to come now, plus with Dallas Cup going on too they figured they'd just show up.

    At least they tried this year to market more than before, not saying it was good but its more than we can say they've done before.

    As for the whole web issues, let's just say the entire league dropped the ball on this whole web site stuff lately. The launch of the new sites, plus not redirecting the old ones aren't making things easier on fans.

  • Strong marketing campaign in Dallas during the off-season? How do you figure? They completely ignored two thirds of the target audience (Family and Hispanic). In Dallas you need all three markets to be successful. That has never changed. All of the off-season advertising was aimed at the smallest demographic they have, the English speaking hardcore fan. Nothing about that campaign was going to get the average citizen of the DFW metroplex out to the game. Especially considering that those ads never mentioned when the games would be played.

    The home opener got zero publicity. No visibility at all in any of the media outlets. The local TV partner was not used to build any hype for the club. It is hard to do that when they don't announce the partner a day before the match. Even then if a casual fan was persistent enough to go to the team's website to get tickets, they probably were turned away by a website that had all the looks of an enterprise that had gone belly up. Two week old stale content plus no indication whatsoever that a game was being played that week. That was the topper: “No promotion of the game on their own site.”

    This is reminiscent of the Dallas Mavericks when they were owned by Ross Perot Jr. FC Dallas needs to be to sold to their “Mark Cuban” for the club to become relevant in the entertainment landscape of the Metroplex.

  • Very true Chamo, but the reason why I called it strong is because at least they made an effort this year. Last year was pathetic (and they knew it too from talking to folks there).I think the reason why they didn't market to their old staples (families and hispanics) was because they just expect them to come now, plus with Dallas Cup going on too they figured they'd just show up.

    At least they tried this year to market more than before, not saying it was good but its more than we can say they've done before.

    As for the whole web issues, let's just say the entire league dropped the ball on this whole web site stuff lately. The launch of the new sites, plus not redirecting the old ones aren't making things easier on fans.