The MLS season got underway with something for everyone in week one. There was an upset or two, five of the 12 matches ended in a draw, and an expansion team from the Midwest that has made some interesting roster decisions got dominated in their opening match. In short, time is a flat circle and change is as inevitable as it is slow. That along with the continuing march of Concacaf Champions League left us with plenty to cover for the Americans in MLS this week.
The CCL continued mid week and an American that had a surprisingly good performance was Atlanta United wingback Brek Shea. He managed to help the Atlanta attackers get into dangerous spots and chipped in an assist on the team’s third goal as the Five Stripes advanced in the tournament. Since he’s Brek Shea he also had a few hiccups in the start with a shot that he seemed to rush that hit the side netting and an attempted rainbow in his own defensive third that was creative if not ideal defending. It should be noted that his showing against DC United was... pretty bad as the left side of the defense was torn apart by DCU.
Elsewhere in the tournament, SKC continued their domination of Toluca and advanced on a 5-0 aggregate with a 2-0 win in Mexico. The 3⁄4 American backline of Graham Zusi, Seth Sinovic, and Matt Besler kept a clean sheet in front of Tim Melia while Kelyn Rowe came on as a sub, as he also would on Sunday night against LAFC, for 20 minutes as a left midfielder.
Also advancing were the Red Bulls with a 3-0 win in their own 5-0 aggregate over Atletico Pantoja. Sean Davis opened his account in the tournament with the opening goal in the match. Houston took care of business beating Guastatoya 2-1 at home.
Let’s get the Michael Bradley trolling out of the way
As many people have called him throughout his career, the American Frank Lampard had a stellar game against the Philadelphia Union with two goals. The first came on a late run on a cross though the box:
The second was thanks to what might pass for defensive indifference as Philly just let a second ball roll slowly to just above the penalty spot where the American legend hammered it past Andre Blake. Christian Pulisic might be getting some company at Chelsea! (He won’t be). Toronto bounced back after a pretty embarrassing showing in the CCL and did go back to it a defensive setup in the match to get a 3-1 result against a Philadelphia team that had difficulty breaking down the visitors. Alejandro Bedoya committed two fouls.
The Orange Visibility ball makes its debut
Another often overlooked thing that makes MLS the best worst league in the world is the Orange Visibility Ball. It seems like every year a blizzard strikes in one of the frigid locales that the league insists on holding late winter games in and 2019 was no different. Colorado and Portland faced off in suburban Denver where the home team went down a man after 30 minutes. The match would be what you might expect out of soccer played in a snowstorm. Kellyn Acosta and Benny Feilhaber each found the scoresheet with an assist and a goal respectively. Feilhaber seems set to play a deeper more defensive midfield role with the Rapids while Acosta lined up on the left side of the midfield.
(WARNING THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC DEPICTIONS OF A COMIC INABILITY TO DEFEND)
Joining Bradley in the American brace club was Jordan Morris. After step back in 2017 a year marred by injury in 2018, the forward made a statement of intent for 2019 with a two goal game against expansion side FC Cincinnati. Every dog has his day and Morris had a good one over the weekend. His second goal was a particularly nice rocket fired into the upper 90 to put the Sounders up 3-1.
Goalkeeper showdown in the nation’s capital
It was an epic showdown between Brad Guzan and Bill Hamid. If you haven’t been paying attention to the... well sort of strange way that Hamid has taken aim at every other American goalkeeper not named Bill Hamid in recent months you might have missed that back in January, after not being called into January camp, Hamid said he was better than any of the netminders called in for camp cupcake (his agent should tell that to Manchester City, but that’s none of my business). Ahead of the DC United opener against Atlanta United he extended that bit of self-promotion and told everyone he’s better than Brad Guzan, who was also not in January camp, as well. For his part Guzan evoked the goalkeepers’ union - a kind of unspoken bond that links the only players on the field who can use their hands - and basically said Hamid was being disrespectful and unprofessional. On the field, DC beat Atlanta 2-0 with Hamid letting in fewer goals but Guzan coming away with more saves.
As far as players who were in January camp and weren’t fighting about who deserves to be Zack Steffen’s backup, Paul Arriola had a good game on the right wing - yay, he’s not a right back after all. After looking like the teams would head to the half at 0-0, Arriola opened the scoring on a corner that Atlanta couldn’t clean up.
Elsewhere in MLS
The LA Galaxy unveiled a statue for a legendary former player - I’m pretty confused as to why David Beckham is standing in front of a monument to Robbie Keane though.
Speaking of the Galaxy - you can read about Efrain Alvarez here as discussed by Alex Muncy here. He’s also got some info about Jonathan Lewis’ assist for NYCFC.