It’s back! The 2018 MLS season kicked off this past weekend. All the hype from the off-season is over; now is the time where the teams get to show their worth in this new season. If you missed any of the action, we here at Philly Sports Network have you covered with our “This week around MLS” series. Here’s our first installment of 2018. This week around MLS Week one!
Toronto FC 0
Columbus Crew SC 2
The MLS Cup champions started off the 2018 MLS season by welcoming Columbus Crew SC to the six. This was no Championship party for Toronto. Columbus came out of the gate swinging. After losing two of their best attacking players in the off-season, many thought Columbus would fall off a bit. However, Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos and Gyasi Zardes beat down on Toronto FC’s center backs.
Toronto who are in the midst of Concacaf Champions League play midweek, may have felt a bit of fatigue playing on the weekend. Their offense was not clicking like usual; they had a few great chances to score, but couldn’t find the back of the net. The champions will have to wait until week three to get the chance to grab any points.
Houston Dynamo 4
Atlanta United FC 0
The Atlanta hype train was moving at full speed moving into opening weekend. That train flew from its track when it hit Houston. The Dynamo exposed Atlanta’s suspect defending, and stood up to Atlanta’s strong offense. Houston looked really impressive. Many were surprised by their play; I wonder how many of them remember they were one game away from MLS Cup last season.
Atlanta has an impressive attack, but their midfield and defense is very suspect. There was a huge gap between their midfield and back line. Houston attacked that space, and made Atlanta scramble. They then found the open spots, and finished their chances. Now maybe more people should be high on Houston, and see Atlanta’s major flaws.
Philadelphia Union 2
New England Revolution 0
Philadelphia and New england are being talked about as the teams racing towards last place in the east. One of the teams taking the field in this match showed that they want that last place spot more. New England showed some promise early, but their disorganization doomed them. Losing a center back in the first 25 minutes to a denial of a goalscoring opportunity. Killed any forward moving momentum. A late second half red card finished them off for good. New England is a mess. They’ll move on to week two without their two center backs , and without two disgruntled players looking for a trade.
The Union looked like a team trying to shake off what people said about them. The team and their young homegrowns showed well. While there were still some uneasy moments, they bailed themselves out, and found a way to win a game that they should have won. In the past that was not always the case.
Orlando City SC 1
DC United 1
An eastern conference clash between Orlando and DC produced some fireworks. DC United had a golden opportunity early with a penalty. That opportunity faded when the chance was pushed onto the crossbar by Orlando’s keeper Joe Bendik. DC was able to find a break through from a free kick that missed everyone and ended up in the net. It was a tough night for Orlando.
Video review referee caught Orlando’s PC in the wrong resulting in a late first half red card. However Orlando never gave up. They kept pressing trying to find a goal in the second half. In the third minute of second half stoppage time, the ball bounced to the Lions newcomer Stefano Pinho. He slotted home the chance and helped Orlando pick up a point. In a crucial conference game DC dropped two points, and Orlando picked up a huge point.
FC Dallas 1
Real Salt Lake 1
In Dallas two western sides fought in an early conference game. Real Salt Lake looked to sit deep, and hit Dallas on the counter attack. They did this, and relied on their defensive organization to help keep the home side out of the goal. This style of play paid dividends as Joa Plata used his speed to get into a dangerous position and score the opener against Dallas. As for their defensive organization, it worked well, until one fatal flaw.
Late in the second half, Real Salt lake had all but beaten Dallas at home. However Dallas pushed on. They found some opportunities, but couldn’t find a goal. Late on Maxi Urruti found the ball inside the box. He pulled the trigger on goal. RSL defender Marcelo Silva tried to cut off the angle, but he ended up deflecting the ball past his keeper and into the net. This late goal helped Dallas split the points with Salt Lake.
San Jose Earthquakes 3
Minnesota United FC 2
In what looks like the most competitive game of the weekend, San Jose met Minnesota United at Avaya Stadium. Early on it looked like it was going to be a one-sided affair. San Jose started strong. They controlled the game in the first half and scored two goals at the 27th and 28th minute. A third goal early in the second half, helped Minnesota wake up.
In the 81st and 85th minute Kevin Molino pulled goals back for Minnesota. While the team looked unorganized early on, the Loons showed fight. Eventually they fell short of getting any points. The downfall for Minnesota came from switching off in vital moments. When they want to they can be dangerous. They will have to find a way to stay on top of it for a full 90 minutes to get better results.
Seattle Sounders FC 0
Los Angeles Football Club 1
The first game of LAFC’s career came at Seattle. There’s no doubt that LA will be looking to imitate Seattle’s success in their first year as a team. In this game they were able to get three huge points in a hostile environment. LAFC was chomping at the bit to play their first competitive game. When Diego Rossi scored the clubs first ever goal, LAFC fans got a taste of what joy MLS is. Their defense and keeper were also inspired. They beat up on a half-strength Seattle side.
Seattle was without crucial starters, like Clint Dempsey, due to their midweek Concacaf Champions league tie. The sounders were able to put some good attacks together but couldn’t find a breakthrough. Seattle fans will be upset that they were upstaged by the young guns, but they will get another chance to get points back from LAFC later in the season.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
Montreal Impact 1
A Canadian east vs west showdown between Montreal and Vancouver produced some great action. Montreal went into Vancouver trying to get some road points against a newly put together team. That would not happen on this day. A back and forth first half left hope for both sides of getting points, but the second half showed that this would not happen. Vancouver was on the front foot in the second half and got goals from their new striker Kei Kamara and one of their own Alhonso Davies.
Montreal drew one back late on, and pushed for an equalizer that wouldn’t come. In the end the difference was the ability of Vancouver’s attackers being able to find dangerous space in and around Montreal’s box. Better defending could have prevented Vancouver’s goals. Instead they got three huge points at home!
Sporting Kansas City 0
New York City FC 2
New york City went west for their first match of the season, visiting Sporting Kansas City. SKC looked like a shell of themselves. Their attacks floundered. When they tried to find their striker, the play never progressed. They’d get the ball to their number nine, and the ball would be played backward, or sideways, never forward. This lead to their ineptitude, and gave NYCFC the chances to counter.
City took those opportunities and found ways to shred SKC’s usually stout defense. NYCFC produced some moments of magic and showed that they could be a strong contender this season. Their dominance on the ball and ability to overwhelm SKC’s defense gave them all three points.
LA Galaxy 2
Portland Timbers 1
With the shadow of LAFC looming, LA Galaxy needed to do well in their home opener against Portland to keep a share of the spotlight. They were able to do just that in Carson California. Portland came in to LA and decide to sit deep and do what they could when in possession to create mismatches. This backfired quickly. When they couldn’t get possession LA countered and found areas to attack Portland’s back line. Newcomer Ola Kamara opened the scoring for LA, and Romain Alessandrini added a second goal before halftime.
Portland pushed in the second half and eventually got one back. They then were allowed to be on the front foot. LA were not able to produce too much in their attack, and were forced to sit deeper and defend. Luckily they did their job, and walked away with all three points!
With week one in the books, we are beginning to see how this season is turning out. Teams and players are shaking off the rust, and the prospect of greatness is still within reach for every team! Come back next week as we look back at week two. Now take a look at the goals and saves from week one. As well as the players that stood out, and where each team ranks on the power rankings.
Week one goals:
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 5, 2018
Week one saves:
Startin' the season strong with some spectacular saves. 🙌 https://t.co/WQmwWK1dTu
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 7, 2018
Team of the Week:
Player of the week, week one:
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 6, 2018
Week One Power Rankings:
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 6, 2018
Week 2 Fixtures:
Saturday, March 10th –
Columbus Crew SC vs Montreal Impact | 1:00 PM EST
New England Revolution vs Colorado Rapids | 1:30 PM EST
Real Salt Lake vs Los Angeles Football Club | 3:30 PM EST
Houston Dynamo vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC | 6:00 PM EST
Chicago Fire vs Sporting Kansas City | 6:00 PM EST
New York Red Bulls vs Portland Timbers | 7:00 PM EST
Orlando City SC vs Minnesota United FC | 7:30 PM EST
Sunday March 11th –
Atlanta United FC vs DC United | 3:00 PM EST
New York City FC vs LA Galaxy | 5:00 PM EST
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports