MLS is back! And with another full slate of games on tap this weekend, here are some storylines and players to follow for your viewing pleasure.
Jermaine Jones Is Already Suspended
It took all of 17 minutes for Jermaine Jones to commit a suspension-worthy foul. He got off with a yellow during the Galaxy’s home-opener against FC Dallas on this tackle, but the MLS Disciplinary Committee passed down official word that Jones will be suspended for one game. So, if you were wondering how Jermaine Jones would react to his new digs in LA and role as main enforcer following the departure of Nigel De Jong...you may not have been surprised by this at all.
This is also all great news for the Portland Timbers, who play the Galaxy this weekend and are no doubt looking forward to not having to deal with Jones in the midfield. All of our prayers for Darlington Nagbe’s ankles appear to have placated the soccer gods this time around.
Be the Zlatan
Maybe Jones was just warming up for a new teammate who is also suspension-prone? Rumors are lighting up the MLS circuit right now that the Galaxy have extended another offer to Zlatan Ibrahimovic to possibly join them in the summer. Sure, we have no idea if the enigmatic Swedish striker has any desire to leave Manchester United after just one season. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to dream. It would also mean that Oguchi Onyewu and Zlatan would be playing in the same league again, which means they could reminisce about the good old days when they were teammates at AC Milan.
Melia Steals the Show
In a week where Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid, and Luis Robles all balled out with impressive saves left and right, it was Tim Melia’s double save that stole the show for American keepers this week. Good thing he did, too. He was the one who gave up the penalty in the first place. Nothing like throwing your body directly in front of a boot to endear yourself to teammates and fans.
Player to Watch: Kellyn Acosta
Kellyn Acosta has been putting on his big boy pants lately. He gave FC Dallas all three points away from home against the Galaxy with a bullet of a finish. That goal comes on the heels of two rather stunning strikes Acosta put into the net in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. All in all, 2017 is a good year for Acosta so far.
If he can keep it up this weekend against National Teamers Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi in Kansas City, don’t be surprised to see the “Kellyn 4 USMNT” train pick up some steam heading into March qualifiers. He’s seen time almost exclusively as a defender with the senior team, but this kid has goals in him. Opening up the year with 6 points on the road against two teams expected to compete in MLS playoffs? That’s a good way to make a statement.
Games to Watch:
It’s going to be very hard for me not to write Portland’s name here all season, because they are A) very good in attack, and B) very mediocre in defense. With that said, Portland did just beat LA in preseason a week before the season started and the Galaxy will be shorthanded due to suspensions, so this one has the potential to be a more one-sided affair than originally thought.
Minnesota United vs. Atlanta United promises to be an interesting game, as both expansion sides seek their first win. On the face of it, I’d give Atlanta the edge in talent, but with a different team selection Minnesota could well have stolen some points from Portland last weekend, only falling behind by such a gaudy scoreline by giving up two goals in stoppage time.
FC Dallas and Sporting KC promises to be tightly contested between two of the West’s best, and I always love to watch Philadelphia and Toronto go at it. You just never know what will happen if those two teams go toe-to-toe in Philly. All in all, there should be plenty of intriguing match-ups to keep everybody satisfied.
Poorly Executed MLS Photoshop of the Week:
Jeff Cassar is not helping his cause with this turtleneck pic.twitter.com/Lqgh7IQFXR— Kevin McCauley (@kevinmccauley) March 4, 2017
WHEN THEY CALL A PENALTY /
NICK RIMANDO SAVE THE TEAM