The first weekend of the 2017 MLS season is in the books. It's hard to say what a single game will mean for any of these teams or players, but it was pretty clear who enjoyed a good start.
Here are the players who impressed the most in the first week of the MLS season:
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David Guzman, Portland Timbers
The former Saprissa midfielder's responsibilities weren't the sexiest in Friday night's opening match of the season. He didn't score beautiful goals like teammates Diego Valeri or Fanendo Adi. But he was perhaps the most influential player in a resounding 5-1 thumping over Minnesota United.
His distribution was very good as he connected most of his passes and helped move the Timbers up the field. Guzman led the match in recoveries and interceptions, which offers a glimpse into how effective he was at the defensive side of controlling the central midfield too. His presence, which has the added benefit of allowing Diego Chara to push up a bit more, may be a difference-maker for Portland this year.
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Christian Ramirez, Minnesota United
The Loons got a rather harsh welcome to MLS, courtesy of the Portland Timbers. But it seemed more to do with the wrong players being on the field than an out-and-out lack of talent. When Ramirez came on the field in the 69th minute, he added a bit of a spark and it took him just 10 minutes to cut and fire the Loons' first goal in MLS history. He proved he needs to be a starter for the Loons going forward.
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Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas
He's been one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the American player pool, and he showed it on Saturday in FC Dallas' 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy. He's been used as a left back at both the youth and senior USMNT levels, but he clearly belongs in the midfield and FCD coach Oscar Pareja knows it. He netted the game-winner on a nice turn-and-strike from inside the box and he was all over the field, making contributions on both sides of the ball.
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Erick "Cubo" Torres, Houston Dynamo
Although we're only a single game into the Houston Dynamo season, Cubo looked the best he ever has in an orange kit, and that is a very good sign for the Dynamo. He scored his first-ever Dynamo goal and the Dynamo's first goal of the season off a well-taken free kick Saturday to help beat the Seattle Sounders, 2-1. But Torres played well beyond that, combining nicely with Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis in a fluid, interchanging attack.
The last time Torres looked like a star was under coach Wilmer Cabrera with Chivas USA in 2014, and now that Cubo and Cabrera are reunited, the Mexican international is off to his first good start in years.
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Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
Mark this one down as the quickest comeback of 2017. Even just last month, it wasn't clear if Dempsey would be playing again for the Sounders, let alone when. But he started on Saturday, scored a goal and played the full 90 minutes – not to mention, he looked sharp doing it. If Dempsey can continue the form he showed in the opening match of the season, the Sounders should be a contender again this year.
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Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United
Anyone who was worried the Paraguayan midfielder would need some time to adjust to the physicality of MLS is probably rethinking that. Almiron was excellent in his debut for expansion side Atlanta United – his speed, field vision and dynamic movement made him a constant threat, both in creating chances for his teammates and opportunities for himself. Atlanta did lose to the New York Red Bulls, but Almiron looked good.
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Alphonso Davies, Vancouver Whitecaps
The 16-year-old Whitecap may have caught attention due to his young age, but he has kept attention because of how good he is. He showed that in Vancouver's home opener, as his speed and creativity gave the Philadelphia Union backline fits. Defensively, he did well to track back and shut down the Union in possession. Although the match ended scoreless, Davies was a clear bright spot.
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Zack Steffen, Columbus Crew SC
He earned the Crew's starting job in the offseason after spending 2016 on loan to the Crew's lower-division affiliate club. His debut in MLS on Saturday wasn't perfect, but it was a good first start for the 21-year-old who has a long career ahead. He did concede a goal that went just past his fingertips, but made a nice diving save 10 minutes later to deny the Chicago Fire's Michael de Leeuw.