It's finally over. The long six weeks of preseason have been finished and it's time to get in the weekly routine of the MLS season. But it's still important to take an opportunity to look back on what we learned over the three big games in Portland.
-Major Improvement Comparing the first game of the week to the last game is pretty interesting. Last Sunday, FCD played AIK of Sweden to a quite tepid 0-0 draw in which the defense was good but the offense was pretty much terrible. Contrast that to Saturday night where FCD had 20 shots and played some incredibly fluid and entertaining soccer. IT's still going to be a work in progress even through the first six weeks of the year, but you want to see improvement and I think we saw that during the week.
-Cooper & Perez are struggling to gel This is probably the biggest worry for me right now as Kenny Cooper and Blas Perez just didn't work well together at all in their two starts together. It's going to be very interesting to see if these two can work it out or if Hassli will work his way into the starting pair of forwards. I thought Cooper was at his best in the third game when Perez wasn't on the field.
-The Goalkeeper battle is down to the wire Neither goalkeeper really stood out in the tournament claiming the top spot. I thought Fernandez was good in the first game, but a bit at fault on the first San Jose goal while Chris Seitz was solid but not tested much during his minutes. Schellas was asked who the #1 is after the game on Saturday and said it was still a toss up.
-This team isn't build for the diamond 4-4-2 I had heard that speculation from many people and I think we saw that against good teams, this squad just isn't built to play that formation. Castillo is not the type of winger that thrives in that system while Andrew Jacobson really needs another possession-style central mid next to him.
-Baladez isn't too far off One of the really cool things about the tournament, for me, was to see Bradlee Baladez get some extended minutes against MLS opposition. He's not there yet where he can be a viable starting candidate, but I don't think he's a long ways off. I think Baladez could be very effective in MLS reserve league matches and has the potential to be an MLS forward.
-Hassli is going to take some time While it wouldn't really surprise me to see Eric Hassli make a shock appearance in the starting lineup next Saturday, the French striker is probably a little bit behind where we thought he was a few weeks ago. Schellas said that he didn't play him in the tournament because they've been working him so hard in practice with fitness drills that it wouldn't be fair, so I guess we'll just have to see what happens through this week.