Sunday, July 3

MLS Week One review: Mexicans mean business, Charlotte FC optimism & more


We really couldn’t have asked for a better opening week. There were goals aplenty, late drama, dream debuts and a good slice of controversy.

Shall we get into the best of the action from MLS Week One?

30 players scored in Week One. 10 percent of them were Mexican.

For Javier ‘Chofis’ Lopez, his strike was a mere consolation (despite being an equalizer) as his San Jose Earthquakes side tanked 3-1 at home to the New York Red Bulls. Chofis will score well again this year, but that Quakes backline is as leaky as ever.

But for the rest of California’s Mexican contingent, it was a very happy way to start the new season.

Carlos Vela made an early statement that he’s back to his 34-goals-in-31-games-best from 2019, netting a hat-trick in LAFC‘s 3-0 crushing of the Colorado Rapids. Honestly, Vela in this form is the best in MLS and the rest of the league will now be on red alert.

And then Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez sealed a late 1-0 win over reigning champs NYCFC for the LA Galaxy with this 90th-minute cracker:

The Mexicans mean business in 2022 and in Los Angles, especially, they could play a defining role.

Every great villain needs a redemption arc and for Dom Dwyer, it might just come in the most unlikely of places: Atlanta.

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The English-born striker hasn’t been well-liked in these parts after spending nearly five years across two spells as an Orlando City player. He wasn’t afraid of sticking the boot into the Five Stripes on or off the field during that time.

But Atlanta United needed a striker to back up and supplement Josef Martinez. Dwyer was their man and he made the perfect start to his new life with a goal to put the Five Stripes 2-0 up at half-time against Sporting Kansas City.

17-year-old Caleb Wiley even scored a debut goal late on to clinch a 3-1 scoreline in what the teenager described as a ‘dream come true‘ moment.

An all-round happy day at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Expansion seasons are always tough and Charlotte FC have had enough bad luck in the transfer market to suggest theirs will be no different.

But on the field, at least, there are a lot of positives to take from their first-ever match.

Yes, we hear you screaming ‘but they lost 3-0?!’. But the scoreline doesn’t tell the story. The Crown fell to two dreadfully unlucky goals and one questionable piece of refereeing. They also had the ball in the net themselves on 19 minutes but saw the goal ruled out for offside.

Miguel Angel Ramirez’s side played with confidence and fluidity, and controlled possession for large spells. They created a flurry of chances good enough to tie the game up themselves and you’d think they will do just that once DP striker Karol Swiderski sorts his visa issue.

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Honestly, in these opening weeks, Charlotte FC supporters can’t ask for much more than attractive, brave soccer with purpose and signs that success can come. That’s exactly what they got on Saturday.

They’ve tried a few different formulas but for their first three years in Major League Soccer, FC Cincinnati have finished rock-bottom every time.

This off-season brought more optimism than ever. A new general manager in Chris Albright, a new head coach in Pat Noonan – Jim Curtin’s former assistant, no less – and finally, some genuine defensive reinforcements. Not to mention a second full season in that gorgeous TQL Stadium.

Supporters must be feeling quite anxious after a shocking, humiliating 5-0 Week One defeat to Austin FC – themselves only in their sophomore year.

All those usual defensive lapses were there, coupled with a familiar lack of attacking incision – Luciano Acosta aside.

Of course, it’s still very, very early. Cincy might just come back and whack DC United at home next time. But in isolation, this opening 90 minutes told a familiar tale.

To make room for Charlotte FC, Nashville have had to pack their bags and move to the Western Conference this year. So far, they seem unaffected, taking down Western juggernauts Seattle Sounders in Week One.

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Gary Smith’s side put in an incredibly professional performance at Lumen Field, grinding down the Sounders with controlled possession and defensive solidity. Then, in the 80th minute when the hosts’ fuel ran dry, Nashville struck through Anibal Godoy, sealing a statement 1-0 win.

We shouldn’t be surprised, of course. Nashville entered the league in Inter Miami’s shadow but have become one of the best examples of an expansion team this league has ever seen.

On the early evidence, they won’t just be ‘fine’ in the Western Conference; they’ll be a genuine threat.

MLS Week One results:


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