Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A look back before we look ahead

Now that MLS week 1 is in the books I thought it would be a good time to look back on the week's action. The most notable thing about week 1 was the terribly comical defending. In over half the games teams scored meaningful goals thanks to awful defending: Sporting KC, Chivas USA, Vancouver, Colorado and DC United were all gifted goals by poor defensive performances. However, when you watch a team's local broadcast they always credit these goals to attacking team as if they've done something fantastic.This happened in the Chivas USA broadcast in which Zarek Valentine and Jimmy Conrad looked amateur. Conrad looked extremely slow in both marking and on the ball. SKC's C.J. Sapong (who in my opinion was just as influential on the match as Omar Bravo) continually had Conrad on the back foot and guessing to where the rookie would be next. Valentine on the other hand had the pace to keep up with Kei Kamara, however, his inexperience in positioning cost Chivas. They definitely missed Jonathon Bornstein in this one.

Back to Sporting, I have said that Colorado has the best attack in the league, and I know SKC played Chivas USA. But if SKC can get Teal Bunbury and Jimmy Smith healthy they could have the best and most exciting attack in the league. Again, they won't be playing Chivas's poor defense every week. Sporting also needs to figure their backline out as well. If they plan to out score everyone this season they're going to have to come up with a plan B for the likes of Salt Lake and LA Galaxy. SKC's defence looked fragile on set pieces, and against a better attack may have given up another goal or two.

Vancouver's Eric Hassli was excellent in his team's 4-2 win against Toronto FC, who will give Chivas a run for the worst defence in MLS. Hassli has been much maligned since arriving in MLS. My hope is that he can prove to MLS teams, pundits/bloggers and fans that you don't have to bring in players from Central and South American countries, rather, there is a wealth of talent in the lower leagues of Europe. This weekend we may see the New York Red Bulls debut of Luke Rodgers with Juan Agudelo away on USMNT duty. I'm rooting for Rodgers to succeed and more English lower league players to be persued by MLS teams.

Finally, it was great seeing the large crowds out at MLS stadiums over the weekend. From the highlights on MLSsoccer.com it seemed the lowest attended matches were those of FC Dallas and San Jose. Earthquakes' fans are excused do to the torrential downpour that settled over the area. I hope this will last the season and in some markets will as the returning hope of opening day brings out large crowds. But I've said it so many times that to keep these people in attendance teams have to win. Designated players other than David Beckham are not going to make significant upturns in attendance. The Chicago Fire did have more people in attendance during the days of Blanco, but don't forget that during that time Chicago was challenging for top honours in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls are drawing based on their lovely stadium and the quality of their team. Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez are just bonuses in truth. I'm not a big fan of the DP, but if he is able to significantly account for a teams winning then that justifies the player's wage. I don't think Beckham has justified his wage on the field of play and numerous other DPs have been the same. Though I wasn't a big fan of the signing in the offseason and I still think he'll level out, I felt Omar Bravo was worth his wage in week 1.

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