Published On: Mon, Mar 5th, 2018

Recapping the opening weekend of the 2018 MLS season

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Spring hasn’t yet officially sprung, but the 2018 MLS season certainly has, with 20 of the league’s 23 franchises kicking off a new campaign in a weekend full of action, goals, and plenty of talking points.

Here’s how the first week of the 2018 MLS season went down:

Be Humble, Toronto


Former Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat coach Pat Riley theorizes that every championship-winning team goes through a similar trajectory: First, the “Innocent Climb,” where players come together and achieve something great; then, the “Disease of Me,” where ego creeps in and those relationships fray.

Perennially the league’s whipping boys, you can forgive Toronto FC for reveling in the afterglow of its unprecedented triumphs from 2017. But it’s a new year, a fact that Sebastian Giovinco – the only player in the team who knows what it’s like to win trophies regularly – reminded his team of after a 2-0 opening loss.

The Atomic Ant said the club’s decision to parade its trio of trophies before the match against the Columbus Crew was “no good” and that his team must “change the mentality” for the rest of the season. Was this a humbling lesson the Reds needed to learn, or the start of an ego-driven decline?

Giant slayers all around


The offseason lends itself quite well to endless pontification and the crafting of 5,000-word analysis pieces, but the game isn’t played on paper – a fact that was once again made clear as MLS kicked off this new campaign. Whether it was Atlanta United‘s 4-0 drubbing to the hands of the Houston Dynamo – the result of poor central midfield cover and an atrocious display by Leandro Gonzalez Pirez – or LA Galaxy‘s commendable 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers, this opening week has produced an upside-down table in both conferences.

Does it indicate a change in fortunes across the board? Hardly. The league’s heavy-hitters will almost certainly recover and compete for top billings once again. But it ‘s a reminder that MLS is a league built on the principle of parity – anything can happen, and quite often does. Now, speaking of surprises …

Starting with a bang

Welcome to MLS, Los Angeles Football Club.

The league’s latest expansion team, decked in handsome black-and-gold kits, celebrated a 1-0 debut victory over the Seattle Sounders courtesy of a brilliant franchise-first goal scored in the 11th minute by young talent Diego Rossi.

(Video courtesy: LAFC)

Let’s break it down, shall we? No sooner did Taylor Twellman explain that star striker Carlos Vela needs the play-makers around him to open gaps to exploit than the Mexico striker played provider himself, spotting Rossi’s diagonal run and feeding a pass in the path of the Uruguayan’s preferred right foot.

Was it goal of the week? We reckon it might be.

Ciman saves the day

Rossi and Vela may have stolen the show at CenturyLink Field, but you saw Laurent Ciman‘s game-saving tackle, right?

(Video courtesy: LAFC)

The wild, wild west?

Last season’s Western Conference was decided by the slimmest of margins, as the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas finished the year with 46 points each, but only the former qualified for the post-season dance. If there was any thought to a more clear-cut ending to 2018, that script was put in doubt as the Galaxy, Earthquakes, Dynamo, and the Vancouver Whitecaps all earned wins.

The gulf in quality between the East and the West was a talking point for much of 2017, but this season promises to be a more tightly-contested affair, at least.

Successful striker swap


Former Columbus Crew striker Kei Kamara, now with the Whitecaps, opened his scoring account in a 2-1 win over Montreal, all while fellow former Crew striker Ola Kamara, now with LA Galaxy, also scored his first goal for his new club. Meanwhile, former Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes found the back of the net in his first start for his new club (you guessed it) – the Columbus Crew.

As far as conflict resolution theory goes, that’s a win-win-win for all parties.

Wakanda forever

Let’s wrap things up with the best goal celebration of the weekend, which belongs to Kamara, who gave a nod to King T’Challa with a Black Panther-inspired dance:

(Photos courtesy: Getty)



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