Sunday, April 8, 2007

Week One MLS Games

Colorado 2 - D.C. 1: Colorado's stadium looks amazing, though not as intimate as Toyota Park. I love the roof and the fans who came out in 30 degree weather. Their Rapids did not disappoint. Their possession, especially in the first half, was spot on. I think I counted over 15 or 20 passes in a row at one point, which is pretty amazing considering D.C.'s 5-man midfield. Luciano Emilio looks class, and Brown looked impressive, too.

Chicago 1- New England 0: Chicago pulled out a win, thanks in large part to a stellar peformance from their new franchise goalkeeper Matt Pickens. He pulled out an unbelievable save to push away a well-placed shot from Andy Dorman. The Fire didn't look too dangerous for large parts of the match. They seem to be missing a link between the midfield and the forwards. The Revs' rookies emerged with considerable merit, especially Cristman. Once Noonan, Joseph, and Parkhurst get health, New England will be just fine.

FC Dallas 2- Real 2: There were a couple of lucky goals from both sides in this one. Each team still looks they are trying to find the right lineup tweaks. Dallas looked instantly better when McCarty came on. For Real, Adu and Ballouchy will cause teams headaches all season long with their creativity. Real might feel hard done by from the scoreline, but to be fair, they should have done more with their early possession.

Chivas 2- Toronto 0: Chivas looked confident in possession, and their midfield will cause teams problems with Guevara pulling the strings. Toronto couldn't manage much of anything in the second half. Buddle fazed in and out, looking generally listless in the last 20 minutes. Conor Casey gave the team a spark with his ability to pressure the backline and maintain possession, but the midfield lacks a creative spark. A rough first game for the team from north of the border, but they should improve over the course of the season as the team gels. Chivas found a forward in Galindo who will cause Center Backs problems all season long.

Columbus 0- New York 0: In tough conditions, the bright spots in this game came in the midfield engines from both squads. Claudio Reyna is total class, pacing the game with steady passing and knowing where to be on the field. Nobody can doubt that Guevara wouldn't have run back to block that cross at the end of the game, when Reyna had run 40 yards to cover the near post. Grabavoy has surely staked out his place in the crowded Columbus midfield, as his creativity and daring were what drove Columbus forward. He looks much improved and more confident than at any point in the last couple seasons.

Houston 0- L.A. 0: Couldn't watch this one, but the scoreline can't be satisfying for either team. L.A. probably thought they could steal one from a tired Houston side, but there's no underestimating Dom Kinnear's team, no matter the circumstances.

Biggest Highlight of the Weekend: The opening of Colorado's stadium. Anything is better than watching the Rapids in cavernous Invesco Field. But the fans finally have the cathedral they deserve.

Biggest Moan of the Weekend: The Refereeing, with possibly the exception of the Chicago-New England game. I thought that the referees in all the games let too many cheapshots go. If this continues, it will result in several injuries throughout the course of the season. More importantly, it makes MLS look like a 2nd-tier league where common thuggery and cheapshots run rampant and the players aren't protected. Although the referee in Colorado-D.C. issued some early yellow cards, that wasn't the solution. He needs to learn how to calm the players down and not give out early cards because his only recourse after that will be to eject the player.

Most Humorous Moment: As someone else pointed out, when the players walked out in line with the kids at the beginning of the match (which I love, thank you MLS), the players were wrapped up in their warm jackets while those tiny, freezing kids looked like the tough-guys.

Until next week...

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