MLS Week 1: A Look Back

MLS Week 1: A Look Back

Major League Soccer

MLS Week 1: A Look Back

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The first week of the MLS season has come and gone and won't soon be forgotten after giving us some unforgettable moments, and thrilling finishes.

Whether it was Charlie Davies' emotional comeback, Juan Agudelo's game-winning goal, or Kevin Hartman's clutch late saves, or Vancouver's thorough dominance of Canadian rival Toronto FC, MLS Week 1 had it all.

From a team standpoint, the Whitecaps and Colorado Rapids had the most dominant performances, while Sporting Kansas City's Omar Bravo, Colorado's Omar Cummings and Vancouver's Eric Hassli posted impressive first matches of the new season.

Here is a look back at all ten of last week's MLS matches: 



Man of the Match– Juninho. The Galaxy midfielder's long-range blaste helped the Galaxy come away with a valuable road win.

Honorable Mention- Steve Zakuani. His team lost, and failed to score, but not because of Zakuani's play. He should have had two or three assists if his teammates could finish.

A Night to Forget– O'Brian White. The Sounders forward moved well and put himself into good positions, but he squandered some truly golden scoring opportunities and could struggle to keep a starting job at that rate.

Random thoughts– The Galaxy played without Juan Pablo Angel, Donovan Ricketts and Omar Gonzalez and didn't miss a beat. Josh Saunders was very good in goal and the Galaxy defense held up well despite missing its anchor in the back. …Chad Barrett got the start up top for the Galaxy but was largely invisible on the night. … Alvaro Fernandez was a non-factor in a performance that has to be worrisome. …Sounders midfielder Erik Friberg had a promising debut, but he faded badly in the second half.



Man of the Match– Eric Hassli. The French striker delivered a pair of finishes in the Whitecaps romp. The big man moves well and looks like he'll be the dangerous target striker Vancouver needed.

Honorable Mention- Davide Chiumiento. The Whitecaps playmaker showed the vision, quickness and intelligence you want to see in an attacking midfielder.

A Night to Forget– Ty Harden. Struggled with containing Hassli, Harden is likely to find himself on the bench again once TFC head coach Aron Winter realizes that Adrian Cann should be playing at centerback.

Rookie Watch– Michael Boxall. The UCSB product started in central defense and put up a solid display. Boxall went overlooked in the MLS Draft, but Vancouver looks to have gotten a steal.

Random thoughts– Toronto's 4-3-3 formation was overrun repeatedly by the Whitecaps midfield, particularly on the flanks. TFC fullbacks Adrian Cann and Dan Gargan struggled badly, but TFC should be able to upgrade at left back and move Cann back to centerback. The Whitecaps offense looked good, but their next opponent, the Philadelphia Union, should provide a much tougher defensive test.



Man of the MatchJuan Agudelo. The young striker was a handful for Seattle defenders all night, drawing a penalty and scoring a beautiful game winner. He's visibly stronger than last year, but still has the quickness to beat defenders.

Honorable Mention- Greg Sutton. Earned the start over Bouna Coundoul and responded well with some clutch saves in posting a shutout. His distribution and confidence on the ball are a major upgrade over Coundoul and the main reason he's starting.

A Night to ForgetJhon Kennedy Hurtado. The normally steady Seattle defender gave up a penalty kick and was beaten on Agudelo's game-winner. He struggled to deal with Agudelo's size-speed combination.

Rookie WatchServando Carrasco. The Seattle midfielder got a surprise start and had a quiet night in a playmaking role, with Teemu Tainio keeping him under wraps. He isn't likely to stay in the lineup once Steve Zakuani returns, but Sigi Schmid clearly has confidence in the Cal product.

Random thoughts– Tainio and Jan Gunnar Solli look like the real deal. …Alvaro Fernandez showed some flashes, but still didn't make the impact you want from a Designated Player. … Jeff Parke had a strong night and looks like the real leader of the defense.


D.C. United 3, Columbus Crew 1 (HIGHLIGHTS)

Man of the Match – Josh Wolff. The 34-year-old striker hooked himself up the rejuvenation machine and delivered a stellar performance, mixing flair, pace and a deft passing touch to be a dangerous presence. He scored a class opening goal and fit perfectly atop Ben Olsen's 4-4-2 formation.

Honorable Mention  – Charlie Davies. The comeback story that keeps getting better. His two-goal performance stole the headlines. He showed confidence to hit his PK just minutes after entering the match and tremendous burst on his second goal.

A Night to Forget  – Robbie Rogers. Expected to pick up some of the attacking load in Guillermo Barros Schelotto's presence, Rogers was a healthy scratch and came on as substitute with the result already in hand. Though he scored a PK, Rogers followed the game with an ominous Tweet acknowledging his days in Columbus are numbered.

Rookie Watch – Perry Kitchen. The U.S. U-20 captain slotted seamlessly into United's back line, delivering a stout performance at centerback. He was a vocal presence all night, provided cover behind left back Marc Burch and played a big role in suffocating Crew forwards Jeff Cunningham and Andres Mendoza.

Random Thoughts – Aside from slipping on Davies' second goal, Crew centerback Chad Marshall had a dominant night and showed no ill-effects from a preseason concussion…On a relatively quiet night for Andy Najar, the D.C. attack showed it can create chances even when Najar isn't dominating. …Dax McCarty's leadership qualities were on display and he looks like a solid choice as D.C. captain.


Houston Dynamo 0, Philadelphia Union 1 (HIGHLIGHTS)

Man of the Match– Danny Califf. The Union centerback scored the early goal for Philly and helped anchor an impressive shutout working alongside new MLS arrival Carlos Valdes.

Honorable Mention- Faryd Mondragon. The Union's new goalkeeper showed the leadership qualities and impeccable positioning that have helped him have such a successful career in Europe.

A Night to Forget– Dominic Oduro. The speedy Dynamo forward squandered some golden opportunities that have to leave Houston fans wondering whether he was worth re-signing. 

Rookie Watch– Will Bruin. Houston's first-round draft pick was active and had a would-be goal stopped by a good Mondragon save. He looks like a good bet to hold onto his starting job.

Random thoughts– Houston controlled possession for much of the match, and created more chances than Philly, but finishing was a problem. Califf may have scored the goal, and earn SBI Best XI honors for the week, but Carlos Valdes had the look of a player who could be an MLS Best XI defender for the season. Danny Mwanga came into the season highly-regarded as a player poised for a breakout sophomore campaign, but settled for a reserve role in the season opener. While Carlos Ruiz's elbow looked bad, it was hardly red card worthy. Ruiz jumped in the air and his arm was near his waste when he hit Andrew Hainault, who was caught flat-footed and didn't jump.


FC Dallas 1, Chicago Fire 1  (HIGHLIGHTS)

Man of the Match– Kevin Hartman. The FC Dallas goalkeeper got back to his 2010 ways, delivering a handful of clutch late saves to help Dallas salvage a point at home.

Honorable Mention- Zach Loyd. The FC Dallas left back was a threat going forward, helping set up Milton Rodriguez's equalizer, and was solid defensively.

A Night to Forget– Brek Shea. A red card ended Shea's night early and left Dallas overwhelmed as the Fire pressed for a winner. Only Hartman's heroics prevented Shea from being the goat in a loss.

Rookie Watch– Jalil Anibaba. The Chicago Fire defender looked sharp in his debut and isn't likely to come out of the starting lineup any time soon.

Random thoughts– The Chicago Fire's highly-publicized 3-5-2 formation didn't last very long and the Fire looked much better once it switched to four in the back. Fire forwards Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari had promising debuts, but centerback Josip Mikulic was the most impressive of the Fire newcomers. The Brek Shea centerback experiment didn't go so well, even before the red card.


Colorado Rapids 3, Portland Timbers 1  (HIGHLIGHTS)

Man of the MatchOmar Cummings. Scored once and his endline run in the eighth minute led to the Rapids' first goal of 2011, from Jeff Larentowicz.

Honorable Mention- Marvell Wynne. Defender neutralized many attempts by Portland to attack from his side and outran fast midfielders.

A Night to ForgetRodney Wallace and Adin Brown. The Timbers' defender and goalkeeper had a very difficult time with the Rapids' attack. Wallace struggled to mark Cummings and was replaced midway through the second half, and Brown, under attack for much of the first half, couldn't wrap up a save on a deflection off his hands that turned into a Cummings goal. 

Rookie Watch- . The Portland forward from Colombia had a great scoring chance in his MLS debut and missed an open net, but looked fast and made some runs against the Rapids.

Random thoughts– Kenny Cooper hit a free kick just right to score Portland's first MLS goal in the second half… D Kosuke Kimura of the Rapids was playing with a heavy heart in light of the natural disaster in his native Japan but showed well… Rapids F Quincy Amarikwa had a strong stint off the bench for Colorado… The Timbers saved some face with a better second-half effort, and some 400-500 fans traveled to the Denver area for the inaugural game.


Chivas USA 2, Sporting Kansas City 3 (HIGHLIGHTS)

Man of the MatchOmar Bravo. The DP was able to capitalize off two Chivas mistakes and score a brace in his first match, displaying a clinical ability needed for Sporting.

Honorable Mention- Kei Kamara. Struggled with his own chances at net, but helped create chances going forward; should become more of a threat when Teal Bunbury returns from injury.

A Night to ForgetZarek Valentin. Playing centerback, the defender struggled with his communication in the backline at times, he was able to rebound, but continues to be a developing prospect.

Rookie WatchC.J. Sapong. Opportunistic finish gave him first goal and led him to declare that it was like "dancing with fairies."

Random thoughts– Marcos Mondaini with a strong night in his debut, clearly appears to be the offensive catalyst for Chivas…Jimmy Nielsen made a number of key saves for Sporting as he continues to shine as one of the best goalkeepers in MLS…Chivas appeared dangerous in dead ball opportunities and scored two goals from set piece attempts,tying their number from 2010.


San Jose Earthquakes 0, Real Salt Lake 1 (HIGHLIGHTS)

Man of the Match– Kyle Beckerman. The Real Salt Lake midfielder delivered the game-winning goal and bossed the midfield as he often does.

Honorable Mention- Nick Rimando. The veteran goalkeeper had a case of the bobbles on Saturday, but he also made several top-class saves to preserve a valuable shutout.

A Night to Forget– Chris Wondolowski. The reigning MLS Golden Boot winner missed some chances he would have converted in 2010, including a free header in front of goal off a perfect cross from Chris Leitch.

Rookie Watch– Anthony Ampaipitakwong. He only made a nine-minute appearance off the bench, but Ampaipitakwong looked comfortable in possession and had a promising debut that won't hurt his chances of getting more look.

Random thoughts– Earthquakes newcomer Simon Dawkins came off the bench and provided a good spark to the San Jose attack. Real Salt Lake centerback Chris Schuler played in place of Jamison Olave and while he wasn't burned for a goal and made his share of plays, Schuler was also exposed on a few occasions. RSL's normally potent attack was definitely missing Andy Williams' creativity. He was rested after playing in Tuesday's Champions League victory. Ryan Johnson's suspect finishing makes it all the more likely Steven Lenhart will start once he returns from injury.


Los Angeles Galaxy 1, New England Revolution 1 (HIGHLIGHTS)

Man of the MatchJuninho. Another fantastic goal from distance and exceptional performance in midfield despite the rainy conditions by the emerging Brazilian star.

Honorable Mention- Sharlie Joseph. A well-timed run gave him the opening goal, but Joseph's distribution kept the Revs dangerous on the counter.

A Night to ForgetMatt Reis. The normally steady Reis struggled to hold onto the ball in the wet conditions and was lucky to be bailed out from conceding the opening goal earlier in the match.

Rookie WatchA.J. Soares. Tested often by the Galaxy attack, Soares' failed clearance led to Juninho's goal, but Soares proved increasingly capable as the match wore on.

Random thoughts– A.J. DeLaGarza with another solid performance to show why he should be considered the first choice centerback with Omar Gonzalez….Other than Joseph, the Revolution showed little attacking prowess…Juan Pablo Angel made his return to action and immediately provided a needed spark in the Galaxy attack.


 What did you think of Week 1's results? Which players impressed you? Who do you think was the most disappointing player of Week 1?

Share your thoughts below.

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