Let us all rejoice! The MLS is back and that gives us here at Lynq Sports a great opportunity to start covering the games for you. Tommy has started covering our local team, the Chicago Fire, and I’m excited to bring you a bit of a weekly recap with some power rankings to cover what’s left over. We’re really excited to cover some more soccer and we hope you enjoy our newest endeavor!
26. Nashville SC (L)
It’s a rare occurrence for an expansion team to open their inaugural season well in the MLS scene as only four expansion teams have ever won their opening match, and Nashville wasn’t really planning on breaking the mold. The acquisition of Walker Zimmerman from LAFC just before the season began will help make this a bearable season for the young club; he already scored a goal, won nine aerial duels, and led his team in ratings by a wide margin. It’s likely going to be a rough season for Tennessee’s newest franchise, but that’s what we come to expect with expansion squads.
25. FC Cincinnati (L)
FC Cincinnati is still a young franchise but they’ve had a bit of time to come along, and this season seems like it could be a bit better than the last couple. A pair of early goals to Red Bulls took the wind out of Cincinnati’s sails, but a strong second half inspired hope for the onlookers. The attack took on a different form as the midfield pressed, forcing the issue and a pair of goals. The young American combination of Brandon Vázquez and Frankie Amaya look to have a developing connection while ex-Brighton man Jürgen Locadia stuffed in the second goal off the bench.
24. Vancouver Whitecaps (L)
Vancouver ran into a bit of a buzzsaw when they drew Sporting for their first match of the season. For the most part they were ripped to shreds, but there were some positives. The best performance came from right back Jake Nerwinski who was a great passing option and even scored a goal. The center back play was a bit concerning as was the lack of firepower up front, but very little is expected of the Whitecaps this season.
23. Orlando City (D)
Shutting down Real Salt Lake isn’t the easiest task, but that’s exactly what City did Saturday evening and their ratings reflected it. João Moutinho and Ruan played great soccer on the flanks while central defenders Jhegson Méndez, Antônio Carlos, and Robin Jansson all rated highly themselves. We’ll need to see a bit more out of the top of the formation before Orlando City starts to climb the rankings, but the defense really looked spectacular.
22. Chicago Fire (L)
New manager Raphaël Wicky had a tall task to stand up to last season’s champions for his first match, but the Fire did put up a decent fight. They struck first early in the second half, but after that the Sounders flexed their muscles and dominated the rest of the match. Robert Berić was assisted by young American Đjorđje Mihailović, but the midfield will need a lot of work before it can compete with the big dogs.
21. Houston Dynamo (D)
Talisman Mauro Manotas did what he does best by scoring on opening night, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win as Houston split points with the Galaxy. That’s not a bad result really, but it would have been better to keep the Galaxy out of goal early on. Matías Vera and Tomás Martínez will be key to keeping Houston competitive this season.
20. San Jose Earthquakes (D)
Chivas loanee Oswaldo Alanís proved he was worth the loan fee by scoring and packing in for a great defensive showing. In fact, he was the only San Jose player to rate above average for the match. Others were close but we’ll still need to see a bit more production out of the front six if San Jose are to turn these draws into victories. The Argentine duo of Andrés Rios and Christain Espinoza were good options at the top of the formation.
19. Real Salt Lake (D)
It was a bit of a disappointment that Real was not able to defeat Orlando City, but dismissing the masterclass the defense put on would be a travesty in itself. All five defensemen that played, especially Donny Toia and Marcelo Silva, were incredible and completely negated anything Orlando tried to do on offense. The next step will be inspiring the multitude of attackers on the field to play up to their potential.
18. D.C. United (L)
Even with the leave of Wayne Rooney and absence of Paul Arriola, DC has too much talent to be losing to Colorado. The big names all performed well despite the loss. Bill Hamid was great between the pipes despite allowing a pair of goals. Newcomer Julian Gressel struck gold in his first match with the club as he assisted on the only goal and top-dollar transfer Edinson Flores caused trouble on the left wing all night. Steven Birnbaum and his fellow defenders will need to shore up before their next showing.
17. Inter Miami CF (L)
Inter Miami was actually very impressive in their first showing, and building a good roster from the expansion draft had a lot to do with it. Luis Robles looked very comfortable and in charge in goal, making a few excellent saves, and the attack was putting pressure on LAFC all night. Robbie Robinson will have to be much better if he would like to secure a starting position, but Plizzaro and Pellegrini did a good job to keep the attack moving despite those issues.
16. Montreal Impact (W)
Thierry Henry’s new side started off better than his Monaco spell ended, and now with the transfer of Victor Wanayama, he may have a real team on his hands. Max Urruti had a nice game at striker with a goal, and Honduran winger Romell Quioto joined him in the scoring column. Clément Diop put on a show in goal to keep Montreal in front, but he’ll definitely welcome the Kenyan Capitan onto the field in front of him. Seeing how Henry adjusts for Wanayama will be interesting.
15. Colorado Rapids (W)
English midfielder Jack Price helped secure a surprise victory over DC United as the Rapids season got off to a blazing start. Price’s stellar performance coupled with Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio as the Rapids couldn’t stop creating scoring chances. If the back line can get a bit stronger as the season progresses they’ll be a serious issue in the playoffs.
14. Portland Timbers (L)
Despite their depths of talent, Portland had maybe the worst first showing of any team in the MLS. Three goals to Minnesota was not only unexpected, but also unacceptable. The center backs aren’t very good and Jeff Attimilla is out with injury, but that performance was inexplicable. Dario Zuparić and Larrys Mabaila were terrible in the back. Giving up three goals in the opener is just terrible.
13. New York Red Bulls (W)
There were highs and lows in this match, as there are in any match, but for the Red Bulls it seemed a bit extreme. The win over Cincinnati was nice, three goals with massive contributions from Florian Valot and Kyle Duncan, a fluid midfield, all great things. The issue was that they gave up two goals to Cincinnati, and that shouldn’t be happening, especially with Aaron Long, Tim Parker, and Amro Tarek on the roster. Left back also looks like an issue position as the best option is seventeen year old John Tolkin.
12. Sporting Kansas City (W)
It was a smashing start for Sporting as their 3-1 victory over Vancouver is an indicator that they’re ready to really compete this season. $8.5 million man Alan Pulido was worth the price tag as he and Gadi Kinda both scored on the night with defenders Luis Martins and Roberto Punčec assisted. Kinda and Punčec were also making their league debuts for KC. Johnny Russell had a rough start on the left wing and Ilie Sánchez will need to be a bit better as the central facilitator, but the rest of the squad were able to pick up their slack pretty easily.
11. Philadelphia Union (L)
Philadelphia’s loss wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it. What’s surprising is that the defense and goalkeeper actually played decent games compared to the rest of their squad. The front of the formation was truly bad, the top three in the 4-3-1-2 all rated poorly and couldn’t produce much on target. Admittedly Philadelphia is extremely light on quality forwards, but that doesn’t earn you any sort of handicap. They’ll need to figure out the attack soon.
10. Los Angeles Galaxy (D)
With injuries to key players like dos Santos and Álvarez, the Galaxy still gave a decent showing despite the draw. Top signing Chicharito had very little impact on the match but Boca loanee Cristian Pavón did by scoring the teams only goal. The midfield seems like the place to improve after the opening game, but if Chiharito and Pavón can create a solid tandem then there will be much less to worry about.
9. New England Revolution (L)
Unlike many of the teams on this list, New England actually have a fairly sorted midfield. Of course, that didn’t win them their opening match over Montreal despite a goal from Teal Bunbury. New England’s defense was suspect at beat and goalkeeper Matt Turner turned in a disappointing performance. A couple injuries did hamper the Revolution but that isn’t enough to excuse the loss.
8. Columbus Crew (W)
Columbus Crew pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the opening slate when they handed NYCFC a 1-0 loss. Three new players on the roster excelled throughout the match and pushed them over the line to victory. First was Lucas Zelarayán, the goal scorer, followed by Darlington Nagbe in the midfield and ex-PSV keeper Eloy Room. These three and a slew of returning stars helped open the season with a bang.
7. Atlanta United (W)
Atlanta did find victory over Nashville, but they certainly would have taken defeat in exchange for disaster not striking. Josef Martinez, undisputed as the best player in the league, went down with a torn ACL and will be lost for the year. If there’s a team with the facilities to replace him and recover it’s certainly Atlanta, but his loss will be felt heavily. Rising star Ezequiel Barco and Emerson Hyndman scored and won the match for Atlanta.
6. FC Dallas (W)
It was a great day for the Texas squad as they toppled their Philidelphian opponents 2-0 and saw great performances up and down the pitch. Newcomer Thiago Santos gave a Casemiro-esque performance in the midfield while youngster Tanner Tessmann impressed with in his first top flight match with an assist. It was an incredible performance from a Dallas team that should only get better when other players find their health.
5. Minnesota United (W)
Kevin Molino and Ethan Finlay are to thank for the crushing victory over Portland on Sunday evening as the players excelled in the attack, scoring twice and assisting twice, respectively. Forward Luis Amarilla supplied the third goal, but the defense still needs a bit of work. The entire back line was a bit underwhelming and ought to look much better than they did. Granted, Portland is a talented squad, but to compete for a title Minnesota needs to be much better on the back line.
4. New York City FC (L)
I would be lying if I didn’t say that this loss surprised me a lot. NYCFC were beaten thoroughly, but there was a lot that didn’t end up going in their favor, mainly the red card three minutes into the match for Dutch defender Maxime Chanot. So losing while playing with ten men isn’t that big of a deal for me, improving the midfield is. Playing a different game plan right out of the gate is a tough ask but they need to be better in all situations.
3. Toronto FC (D)
A pair of unassisted goals from Alejandro Pozuela and Richie Laryea should have been enough to power Toronto over the finish line for the victory over San Jose, but the Earthquakes had other ideas. The defense apparently had other ideas as well as every player on the back line including the goalkeeper scored below average ratings, dooming Toronto to a draw when a win was absolutely in the cards.
2. Seattle Sounders FC (W)
The title holders Seattle drew a developing Chicago team to prey on for their first win of their title-defending campaign. A shaky first half developed with an early goal allowed, but super-sub Jordan Morris was able to save the day as his second half brace was enough to earn victory. The defensive midfield could use a bit of work but nit-picking this team is pointless this early on.
1. Los Angeles FC (W)
Last year’s best record and this year’s favorites played a nice game against expansion side Inter Miami and earned a victory despite not dominating. Carlos Vela had an incredible night as he slung crosses from the wing and showed why he’s one of the best players in the league with a beautiful chip over Victor Robles. Eddie Segure secured the back line, Brian Vermeer dealt with his work in goal well, and young midfielder Brian Rodriguez impressed with his passing and knack for goal. The biggest question is whether they’ll end up missing Walker Zimmerman or not.