MLS Files: MLS 2012 First Kick Weekend Review
Written: By Daniel Valenzuela – Pictures Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com
Fourteen teams opened their season this weekend. As expected on opening weekend, the play was more energetic than precise. Nonetheless, fans were treated to some spectacular moments and teasers of what awaits us in the coming months. Here are five thoughts from this weekend’s matches.
1. The attacking central midfielder. It is refreshing to see that a majority of the winning teams this weekend played with a central player dedicated to facilitating the attack. Colorado Rapids (Castrillon), Sporting Kansas City (Zusi), Vancouver Whitecaps (LeToux), San Jose Earthquakes (Wondolowski), FC Dallas (Villar), and Real Salt Lake (Morales/Gil) all play with an attack minded central player. Houston and Portland were the lone 4-4-2 winners this weekend. The attacking midfielder isn’t new to MLS but it’s good to see that teams dedicated to attacking soccer are getting results.
2. West dominates. The Western Conference convincingly dominated the weekend. Granted, the West enjoyed home field advantage. Nonetheless, the teams in the west look good . . . or at least better than their Eastern Conference counterparts.
3. New York is terrible. They are flat out bad. New York put on a pathetic performance in their 2-1 loss to Dallas. Not to take anything away from Dallas, but New York lacked urgency, precision, and movement. I blame the coach, Hans Backe. His job is to make sure the team is ready and motivated to play on day one. His team is too good and too expensive to play as poorly as they did on Sunday. If there is justice in this world, I hope Henry slapped Hans Backe in the tunnel after the game. For the sake of the Red Bull fans, Backe needs to get it together.
4. Sebastian Velasquez. The kid can play. Velasquez’s start against the Galaxy was a great end to the fairy tale rise of the young midfielder this preseason. However, things are just beginning. Velazquez showed that he not only has the individual technical ability to be a difference maker but also the discipline to defend. He’ll do well in Real Salt Lake’s possession game and will be one to watch as the season progresses.
5. Oscar Pareja breathes a sigh of relief. The Colorado Rapids earned a victory but they were less than impressive against an awful Columbus Crew. The players don’t recognize the timing, decision making, and pace necessary play in Pareja’s system. Clearly, the team is a work in progress and isn’t ready for the likes of Real Salt Lake or the Los Angeles Galaxy. However, they aren’t far away. Coach Oscar Pareja needs a few more pieces for his vision to be realized in Colorado. Luckily, the Crew were so bad that Pareja pocketed three points, some easy credibility for his system, and confidence for his team.
Share your thoughts below on this weekend’s games.