Have you become re-adjusted to the wondrous MLS season yet? If not, Week 2 is coming up, and following this weekend’s games, we should have a much clearer picture of most team’s capabilities. Here are some interesting storylines to follow.
Nashville, Miami Search for First Points
Inter Miami and Nashville SC continue their MLS journey into Week 2, and look to improve on debut defeats. You can read about those games here, but for now let’s look at the upcoming fixtures.
After a one-nil loss to LAFC, next up for Miami is DC United at Audi Field on Saturday (3:30 ET, Univision and Twitter). DC also lost last week, falling 1-2 at home to Colorado. That was one of the more ugly games of Week 1, with the conditions of the Audi Field pitch not helping things (really, XFL?). United wasn’t very dangerous going forward, partly due to Julian Gressel being played at the number 10 spot. He looked out of position and couldn’t support attacks on his own, as shown by the passing map. If Ben Olsen wants to earn that coaching license, he should put Edison Flores in his more natural attacking mid role, with Gressel on the wing. That offers some hope for DC, but all things considered, Miami should at least pick up a draw here, but I suspect that this will be a match to watch highlights of, rather than the full 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, Nashville travels to Providence Park to play the Portland Timbers (7 ET, ESPN). Portland suffered an embarrassing home 1-3 defeat to Minnesota, and anything less than a win here would mark a dreadful start to the season in Oregon. Despite two new Designated Players, the Timbers attack looked out of sorts vs Minnesota, and the defense was carved up on the counter attack. Nashville will look to capitalize on those weaknesses, via its strong backline and perhaps some luck on the break. If that description didn’t give it away, bunker time, here we come.
Chicharito, Cavallini to Open Accounts?
Neither Javier Hernandez nor Lucas Cavallini could score in their debuts, but expect that to change perhaps as soon as this weekend. The two big off-season signings meet Saturday in Carson when the LA Galaxy take on the Vancouver Whitecaps (10 ET, ESPN+).
In last week’s match, Chicharito rarely received the ball, let alone got into goal scoring opportunities in a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo. It will take time for him to adapt to the league but nonetheless, he should cause much more damage against a Vancouver side that conceded 3 goals at home to SKC. Speaking of which, the Whitecaps’s own star striker, Lucas Cavallini, struck the crossbar last week and played well but, like Chicharito, wasn’t given enough service to make a huge impact.
It would not be a surprise if both players scored this weekend, as defense is not exactly either side’s strong suit (I’m not sure what Vancouver’s strong suit is, now that I think about it). Anyway, this would be a nice follow up to the Atlanta - Cincinnati game and Chicharito, Crsitian Pavon, and Cavallini all in one game promises fireworks.
RSL, Vancouver, Need Results
Although no team wants to lose, two outfits stand out to me as especially needing at least a draw but better yet a win in Week 2.
First, Real Salt Lake, usually dominant at home, hosts the New York Red Bulls Saturday (2 PM, ESPN+). Last weekend RSL tied 0-0 with Orlando, and lacked an attack the way Orlando lacks wins against yours truly. Still, against a New Jersey side that was rather leaky against Cincinnati and conceded twice, RSL, led by Albert Rusnak and Sam Johnson, should have better luck going forward. Especially considering that it has 3 of the next 4 on the road, anything less than win would spell a disappointing start to the season in regards to RSL’s aim for the playoffs.
Another team in desire of a victory is the Vancouver Whitecaps. It was thoroughly outplayed by Sporting Kansas City last weekend, and despite adding 3 new starters, it looked just as bad as last year. A result, or at least a much better performance, at the Galaxy, will drastically boost optimism in the Canadian city. It will no doubt be a tough test for Vancouver, and keeping Chicharito, and to a greater extent Cristian Pavon, in check will be a lot to ask of Vancouver’s Swiss cheese backline.
Enjoy the 13 matches this weekend, and check out my website at https://mlsmatchreport.com if you want an in-depth recap of one MLS game each week.