Nearly everyone was back in action over the weekend following the international break. Only Houston and NYCFC were off in Major League Soccer during Week 5.
This weekend was more of the same around the league with a few interesting results, more red cards and plenty of talking points.
Teams seeing red
Count them up. A grand total of 16 red cards so far in MLS this season through five weeks of play. The number seems drastically high compared to previous years. Paul Carr from ESPN even stated that the current pace is set to shatter a previous record.
There were 90 red cards in the 2015 MLS regular season.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) April 3, 2016
This season is on pace for 133 red cards.
One could easily say that the league has an issue with their officials. Guys like Ted Unkle or Mark Geiger have not been great in the middle of the park this season. Fans, players and coaches all are annoyed at what is going on in games like Friday's 1-0 win by New England over New York. Or the slew of red cards we saw in other games this weekend across the league.
Some red cards are certainly justified. Others are naturally a bit harsh when you look back on them.
But is this a massive issue? In some way you could easily say it is. It makes for games that could easily go a different way had their not been a red card issued. However, in other ways I feel this is a lot like what we see in college sports where a new rule has been issued. At the start of the season it is strictly enforced, causing all sorts of panic and yelling from everyone. But once the season rolls on, the calls relax a bit and things settle back down.
I see it happening like that in MLS too. Sure, its annoying but in time, it will level itself out. Referring is no easy task, I'll say that much. It could be way worse but it could almost certainly be better. I tend to believe that over time it will improve.
If it helps to know, this time last year there were 14 red cards issued through 42 games. Things settled down last season after a while.
First points in Seattle don't mean much
Seattle finally made it onto the standings with their first win of the season Saturday night, a 1-0 win over Montreal. Lets just say it wasn't pretty. Seattle's mean of offensive once again came down to a set piece goal by none other than Clint Dempsey.
The more I see the Sounders, the more I wonder what it will actually take for them to turn things around. I'm not totally sold on this win being the factor that gets them going completely in the right direction. The fact of the matter is it comes down to the people the Sounders have in their midfield just not being creative enough to feed a team that should contend this season.
The defense was better though out of Seattle, even if it came against a Didier Drogba-less Montreal team.
Other random thoughts:
San Jose will cause fits. I caught a good bit of the San Jose-DCU game on Saturday night. One thing to keep in mind about their attack is that they have a few options right now in the midfield that will be fun to scout for FCD this weekend. At the end of the day the game plan will likely remain the same: be physical in the back, look to play a lot from the wings and then find a scrappy goal or two from guys like Chris Wondolowski.
Vancouver attack isn't working at the moment. We know the Whitecaps are going to be sound defensively, which they were in the 0-0 draw against LA. Heck, they did that despite being a man-down for 60 minutes or so. But their attack is coming up short left and right these days as they have relied almost too much on their wild ability to earn penalty kicks. If they can't keep Pedro Morales, or even Kutuka Manneh healthy for the long term (both left the game with injuries), they'll struggle in a deeper west this season.