DC United Show Signs of Improvement
It was never going to be a quick turnaround. After their embarrassment of a season last year, the team acted quickly, revamping heavily. The club opted for experience and brought in seasoned pros such as Fabian Espindola. He was the one who scored the equalizer at RFK Stadium. The goal showed mental strength, as DC were trailing to a rare Jhon Kennedy Hurtado goal. The goal came from a clever set piece routine, showing signs of a new-look team gelling.
Later, the club took a deserved lead, and could have held on for three points. This side is still in its infancy though, and Nyarko’s stunning trickery that led to Quincy Amarikwa’s equalizer is not the end of the world. All in all, DC United look a better prospect than last season’s train-wreck, but there is still work to be done.
Luyindula is the Answer to New York’s Creative Issues
Another week, another draw. New York Red Bulls once again cannot create chances outside of Lloyd Sam at the minute. In last season’s Supporters Shield success, Luyindula played a great late role in the season by taking up a new playmaking position from his traditional striking role. It worked a treat for New York and added a new dimension to their game.
Against Chivas, the new players continued to disappoint, but a familiar face in Luyindula returned to the team and improved the team going forward. He scored the equalizer with the last kick of the game. While he might not score every week, the more he plays, the more goals he will be involved in. It’s certainly true that the Red Bulls need as much help as they can get.
Forwards Need to Provide for Kansas
Dom Dwyer’s spell at Orlando City turned a raw rookie trying to make his way in America into a competent striker for Kansas. It was a timely boost on their way to the MLS Cup, as Claudio Bieler seemed to disappear in the second half of the season after starting so well. In the new season, the big money striker still appears to be a marginal figure. With KC also shipping Teal Bunbury out to the New England Revolution, it basically leaves the Champions with only Dom Dwyer and C.J. Sapong as their strikers.
Those two should thrive with the likes of Zusi playing behind them and yet Dwyer’s goal last week against the Earthquakes broke a streak of 571 minutes without a goal from a Kansas striker. Against the Rapids, his late winner broke a streak of 690 minutes without a goal from a striker in open play. Kansas are lucky that the midfield and wide players have provided. However, sooner or later, the strikers need to be the game-changers.
Sounders Feeling the Heat
Sigi Schmid was on the verge of losing his job last season. Perennially tipped to win MLS, the Sounders still have yet to do it. Last season, a desperate role of the dice saw Clint Dempsey return to MLS with the Sounders for big money. It was expected that he would drive the franchise to that elusive MLS title. Instead, they were easily beaten in the playoffs by Portland Timbers, their rivals.
Schmid retained his job, but it was safe to say he was under immense pressure. Losing to reigning champions Sporting Kansas City only showed how wide the gap between the two was. Then, plucky upstarts Toronto FC and their big spending made a mockery of the Sounders as Defoe punished them. To once again struggle this week against the Columbus Crew makes Schmid’s seat all the more uncomfortable.
Toronto’s Progress is Unfinished
It couldn’t have started any better. Defoe has scored three all ready, Bradley has been a creative linchpin for the Canadians and the veterans such as Caldwell have helped reinvent the team. Yet their progress took a battering against Real Salt Lake, as Jeff Cassar’s team ran out 3-0 winners. The Utah side have been a model for MLS success, which is in complete contrast to Toronto’s strategy of big spending. Time will tell which strategy leads to success, Salt Lake’s continuity or Toronto’s lavish spending.