We're now through Week 2 of the MLS season and plenty of early storylines have emerged as we look ahead to the rest of the marathon. Here are this week's 27 takeaways, one for every MLS team, coming off the second week of action.
To have any chance of success as an expansion team in your inaugural campaign, your big players have to produce. That's why Cecilio Dominguez’s brace against a solid Rapids team is a great sign of the role he can play for a team that look like they should be aiming for a playoff spot — at the very least.
No wins in two games is a slight concern but the reality is that Chicago have created chances in both fixtures and there are promising signs to build on. The real concern should be with giving up five goals in two games. They don’t have enough firepower to overcome conceding an average of 2.5 goals a game.
It goes without saying that serious questions need to be asked about a team that concedes five set piece goals. Direct free kick aside, the other four goals were simply about poor marking and a lack of hunger, desire be first to the ball. Set piece defending isn’t about skill, it’s about having the the will to win your 1v1 duel in the box and that’s something Jaap Stam’s men were severely lacking against NYCFC.
It’s been an underwhelming start to the season with no wins in two games and only one goal scored. The amount of space afforded to Diego Fagundez for Austin FC’s equalizer is the kind of defensive lapse Colorado can’t afford if they are to make a real push for the top spots in the Western Conference.
Columbus had a very welcome bye week as their entire focus is on the mouth watering clash with CF Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday.
Dallas were caught wide open at the back way more than Luchi Gonzalez would have liked. Cristian Espinoza’s goal was as much about the great pass and finish by San Jose as it was about poor defensive shape and positioning by Dallas. They cannot afford a repeat performance when the Timbers come to town next.
The defeat to Portland was close on the score sheet, but the Dynamo were thoroughly outplayed in the second half. If they are to close the gap on the very best teams in the West, it’s going to take consistent 90 minute performances — they can’t afford to be good for only portions of the game as they were on Saturday.
A point against the Sounders while missing Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi can only be a plus. However, there are still concerns about their defending as I never truly believed they would be able to keep the Sounders from finding an equalizer due to the fact that they’ve only kept three clean sheets in their last 29 league games.
In 2020 it took them nine games to record their second victory. They’ve achieved that mark in their first two games already. As for Chicharito, he has already scored more in two appearances than he managed in 12 during the last campaign and if he maintains this form, the Galaxy could once again become a force to be reckoned with.
Miami probably played better in the opening game against the Galaxy that they lost, than they did in this one. But the only thing that mattered was the strength of character they showed in being able to come from behind against last seasons Shield Winners. Gonzalo Higuain’s early season form has to fill Miami fans with optimism.
Emanuel Reynoso is the key to any hopes of getting over this slow start. He’s playing well and looks sharp on the ball, but he’s so talented that I still want to see him dominate even more. Defensively, Minnesota need to cut out the individual mistakes that are gifting opponents easy goals if they are to live up to their preseason expectations.
The best word to describe this team right now is efficient. CF Montréal have scored six times from just nine shots on target this season. They look deadly on the counter and have already had five different goal scorers. The only question mark is whether they can keep scoring at this rate to make up for the goals being shipped at the other end.
Nashville's successful 2020 season was built on having an incredibly stingy defense. They’ve allowed four goals in two games which looks bad at first, but when you realize they’ve only given up six shots on target, you have to assume that it’s only a matter of time until they get back to keeping regular clean sheets and grinding out 1-0 wins.
It doesn’t matter how you win, just win. That’s exactly what the Revolution did against D.C. United. It wasn’t pretty and they weren’t great, but they picked up three points to continue their unbeaten start to the season. I also must add, it’s such a pleasure to watch Carles Gil play football — smooth, intelligent, and extremely gifted.
They got a great win and scored some really good goals off set pieces but they actually could have won by an even bigger margin if they weren’t wasteful with some golden chances during the run of play. At the back, Sean Johnson pulled off some ridiculous saves to preserve the clean sheet.
The Red Bulls have not defended well at all this season. The most glaring example of the subpar defending can be seen in the amount of real estate afforded to Chicharito for his second goal. I don’t think they’ll find enough goals to make up for conceding easy ones, so they need to tighten up at the back ASAP.
Any time you can come from behind to rescue a point you’ll take it. They’ve yet to click into full gear but seeing Nani get on the scoresheet can be the spark that gets them going offensively.
Matching what they did last season after losing some key players is going to be tough. However, they still have enough quality to protect a lead much better than they did against Inter Miami. Giving up a free header to Federico Higuain was a very disappointing way to lose the game for a team that has silverware ambition this season.
Portland picked up a valuable three points on the strength of a very good second half showing. The game-winning goal was very well worked — Cristhian Paredes applied a super finish — and it showed us that even though they do a good job of building through their playmakers, they can also be very effective when going direct at times.
Cade Cowell stole the show. His goal and assist were both top notch and they were snippets of a performance that had everything — skill, a willingness to run, good link play with his team mates, and most importantly an end product. This looked like the team San Jose should be.
They’ll take an away point at LAFC, especially considering how the game started for them. Josh Atencio put in another solid shift and after a choppy first 15 minutes, the backline continued to show why the coaching staff were high on the 3-5-2 formation — they hardly gave LAFC an inch.
The finish by Gianluca Busio was exquisite. The deft first touch to kill the ball and the way he opened up his body as if he was going to aim for the far post only to sneak the ball into the near post was exceptional. There will be a collective disappointment at not being able to see the game through however.
On paper, they’ll still feel they are the best Canadian team in the league yet they’ve failed to beat the other two so far this season. The reason is simple — when you are conceding an average of three goals a game you probably aren’t going to win many games. The goals will flow freely, there’s too much attacking quality, the question is whether they can prevent them going in at the other end enough to fulfill their lofty ambitions.
This is a team that was written off before a ball was kicked this season, but two games in and they look quite good. They were well organized at the weekend, their shape was good, and at the moment they are creating more chances than most of us expected them to. The play in wide areas has been encouraging.