On paper, week two in Major League Soccer was possibly one of the wildest, if not most craziest weekend the league has seen in a while. Nearly every club that you expected to get a result didn't showing that anything can and will happen.
I won't get into FC Dallas' blowout loss to the Houston Dynamo. We'll beat that horse enough this week. What I will say briefly on the matter is that the result isn't that all surprising given the youth of this team and how they typically get a bad result like this each season (last year's Colorado loss at home, 4-1 loss at DCU in 2014).
Anyways, there is plenty to go over from this past week around the league.
Vieria may very well be screwing with us all
Yesterday was a rare Sunday for me in a while. Not only was it ridiculously nice out here in Dallas but it was one of those day that I was able to get a lot done and still be able to watch a game. I was pretty pumped to see that ESPN2 was showing New York City FC host Toronto FC. Both are teams that I am intrigued and slightly excited about this season.
Boy, NYCFC didn't disappoint either. Manager Patrick Vieira was rumored to debut a formation that would make your head spin and he did using a 3-4-3. At times it looked more like a 3-6-1 but given the players he has on that roster, both oddly enough made sense on the day. They still don't have a great back four, which opened up the ability to switch to a three-man line. Three center backs and cover space differently than just two.
The key in this was allowing Andrea Pirlo some room in the midfield, on the shorten field at Yankee Stadium. It also gave him the much needed defensive support behind him too. This all allowed NYCFC's attack to push forward that much more instead of sitting behind the ball like they so frequently did in 2015.
Now, I don't know if this will be sustainable for the long haul of a MLS season but boy if it isn't interesting to watch. NYCFC did get a point out of the encounter with TFC but could have nearly gotten away with the full three points if it wasn't for Sebastian Giovinco.
The Western Conference may be even more open in 2016
Just look at the results above. Portland lost. Seattle lost. LA lost to freakin' Colorado. Vancouver lost. All four team are playoff teams in my book with fringe teams like San Jose and Sporting KC picking up wins. I think these first couple of months are going to prove quickly that anything is going to happen in this conference. While I firmly believe it is a deeper and more talent conference than the East, I think it may be far harder to predict on any given week.
Let's look at the Portland loss to San Jose. Sure, there was a ridiculous goal scored by Quincy Amarikwa. If you don't believe so, just take a look:
But in all seriousness, San Jose exposed what I thought could happen early on with the Timbers. That is Portland is the defending champions, which means they're going to get everyone's best shot. San Jose's midfield absolutely owned the Timbers on Sunday evening. They dictated the tempo and the rhythm of the game. Something Dallas fans know all about after their loss to Houston.
I then look at what is going on with the Seattle Sounders too. Watching a large portion of their game at RSL showed that Sigi Schmid may have his work cut out for him this season. I know it is early on but boy did the Sounders look off their game by a lot against a Real Salt Lake team that isn't quite there yet either (I'm not at all sold on their attack so far).
No matter what, this conference is going to be a lot of fun to figure out as we go on this season.
[Edit: I say all of this right as the Timbers announce a trade for Darren Mattocks from Vancouver. How fun.]
Other thoughts from around the league
Montreal may be the best club right now - I mentioned this in the daily links this morning but the more I re-watch of their win over New York Red Bulls, the more I believe that.
DCU and New England may be stumbling a lot this season - I know both teams have good parts on their rosters, some exciting young players, and good coaches. But neither of them truly make me think either one will be contenders this season. Sure the sample size of two games isn't much to go off of but that gut feeling may be hard to shake.
Cyle Larin is a special young player MLS needs to market more - Seriously, why isn't the league building up this kid's hype more? Answer: they're probably afraid he'll be sold this summer.
Andre Blake is a beast - I've gotten to see plenty of Blake over the last two weeks now and I have to say, I'm more excited about him then a lot of other young keepers in MLS (that may even include Jesse Gonzalez).