Week 1 in MLS gave us a better idea of which teams will perform above or below expectations. Sporting KC, for example, were impressive in a 3-1 win against the Whitecaps. New midfield acquisition Gadi Kinda looked like a star. Atlanta United lost Josef Martinez, and are now scrambling to find strikers to replace him. Inter Miami went to LAFC and only lost 1-0, a respectable display.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting matchups of Week 2.
Seattle Sounders vs. Columbus Crew
As I talked about on the High Press Soccer MLS podcast with Harrison Crow, and wrote about in my predictions piece, I’m high on the Crew this year. At least in Week 1, they lived up to expectations, picking up a 1-0 home win against NYCFC.
NYC spent nearly the entire 90 minutes down a man after Maxime Chanot picked up a third-minute red card for denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. We can’t get a full picture of either team when it was 11v10 for most of the time, but it is a very positive sign for the Crew that new No. 10 Lucas Zelarayan both drew the red card and scored the 56th-minute game-winning goal.
Seattle won 3-2 in their first game, with Jordan Morris scoring a pair of goals off the bench. Thanks to the coronavirus, the big storylines surrounding this game are off the field. But this looks like a matchup of elite teams, and it will be interesting to see how the Crew compare to a Western Conference favorite.
Philadelphia Union vs. LAFC
This is the Sunday nightcap on FS1, and it deserves the high billing. This is a big road test for the young Philadelphia Union after a disappointing 2-0 loss in Dallas last week, in which they gave away a second-half goal to Zdenek Ondrasek.
Philly came close to generating chances, with 15 shot attempts, but finished with only 0.71 expected goals. One of their big concerns heading into the season was whether they had enough in attack to produce at an elite level. It is up to their strikers — Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos — to make the most of half-chances.
LAFC didn’t look world-beating in Week 1, but they should be able to bring Eduard Atuesta back into the starting lineup (though Francisco Ginella played well against Miami). Carlos Vela, as we saw last week, is good enough to steal results on his own. Philly will have to find a way to generate their own moments of magic.
Toronto FC vs. NYCFC
As mentioned above, NYC were down to 10 men for most of last week and thus had to spend all of their time sitting back in a 4-4-1. We’ve seen them already in the Concacaf Champions League, where they poured in the goals against San Carlos, winning the first leg 5-3. We should get more of a sense of manager Ronny Deila’s system when NYC travel to Toronto.
TFC, for their part, collapsed in San Jose after building a 2-0 lead. They looked like they had a shot at a nice 2-0 win, but they gave up two second half goals, including a free-kick golazo in stoppage time, to settle for a 2-2 draw. With Jozy Altidore in the picture — and it was Altidore who drew the penalty kick that Alejandro Pozuelo converted last week — TFC are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto will try to bounce back in their home opener. They played a 4-4-2 formation last week, with Altidore and Pozuelo together up top a la Jozy’s former partnerships with Sebastian Giovinco. They will continue to develop that formation this season, with younger guys (Jacob Shaffelburg, Tsubasa Endoh) playing bigger roles than in previous years.
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