MLSPR: Big-D-issapointment in Texas
Where are the fans in Dallas?
Dallas finished last season strongly and, with their biggest rivals coming to town for opening weekend, you would expect the Dallas faithful to come out in force to support their team.
Yet all they could muster was a paltry 8,000 fans.
Pizza Hut Park may not be the most centrally located stadium, but that is no excuse for such a small crowd to open the year. Real fans will travel to see their team play, and if Dallas continues to get small crowds, then maybe they don’t have enough real fans to help this team continue to grow in the league.
Pizza Hut Park is a superb facility that a team like D.C. can only dream of, but right now it is wasted on an ungrateful football community in Dallas.
MLS Cup Final in Toronto
For the second straight year, MLS officials have made the correct choice for the MLS Cup final venue.
Toronto, like Seattle last year, will provide a great atmosphere for the final and will help reward the city for doing such a good job supporting the league since it joined a few years ago.
I think we would all prefer to see the regular season champion or the higher seed host the final further down the road, but that is simply not viable now due to the scheduling problems the league would encounter.
But awarding MLS’ showcase game to a city that consistently fills its stadium every week is the next best thing. If Toronto makes it to the final, I doubt if any other club will agree with me on this though.
The best and worst of the six new coaches
Six coaches made debuts with their new teams last weekend, but only Hans Backe managed to start his reign off with a win as the Red Bulls defeated Chicago.
Backe has done enough in one game to show that the Red Bulls will not be the laughing stock of the league that they became under Juan Carlos Osorio - although having a stadium that actually has an atmosphere certainly plays a part in that too.
Curt Onalfo’s D.C. United debut was the most disappointing as his former side, Kansas City, annihilated his new team. It can’t have been easy for Onalfo to lose so poorly to the man who replaced him as Wizards coach.
What is Landon Donovan’s best position?
We have all seen Landon Donovan perform well out wide for both Everton and the national team, but I don’t believe it is his best position for the Galaxy.
Landon does well on the flanks at international level and in the Premier League because he can utilize his pace and rely on service from players who play at the same high level, but the same cannot be said of L.A.
LD is undoubtedly the Galaxy’s best player but sometimes he can get isolated out wide and be starved of quick, quality service. Landon set up the Galaxy’s winning goal at the weekend but I believe Bruce Arena would get a lot more out of his star man by playing him behind the forwards and allowing him to dictate the play.
Most natural finisher in the league
Fredy Montero had an excellent first season and, based on his performance against Philadelphia last week, his second year may be even better.
Taylor Twellman has arguably been the best finisher in MLS over the last few years, but I believe that title now belongs to Montero. The little Colombian has an incredible knack for getting himself into goal-scoring positions and never lets a missed opportunity dent his confidence.
His first step makes him an absolute nightmare to defend and he is always a threat in the 18-yard box. This may be Fredy’s last year in the league so I wouldn’t bet against him shooting the Sounders all the way to an MLS Cup win.
On to the MLS Power Rankings for this week …
1. Columbus Crew: The Crew benefitted from their recent CONCACAF fixtures as they looked a step ahead of Toronto in their victory last weekend.
2. Real Salt Lake: RSL played like a side full of confidence after their MLS cup success, but there will be bigger tests than San Jose ahead.
3. Los Angeles Galaxy: The Galaxy won their opening fixture for the first time in six years, although their performance left plenty of room for improvement.
4. Seattle Sounders: Great fans, a great coach and a great stadium. Things couldn’t really look any brighter for Seattle Sounders fans.
5. Kansas City Wizards: K.C. produced the performance of week one with a thumping victory over D.C., but do they have enough quality to build on the win?
6. New York Red Bulls: The Red Bulls are now just five victories away from surpassing their win total from all of last season.
7. Colorado Rapids: Colorado looks strong down the middle with the additions of Jeff Larentowisz and Marvell Wynne and should be much more difficult to beat this season.
8. Houston Dynamo: It’s always difficult to open the season on the road but Houston performed well and deserved at least a share of the points in Dallas.
9. FC Dallas: Dallas plays their biggest rivals in their home opener yet can only attract an attendance of 8,000. It’s a shame because Schellas Hyndman is building a team capable of competing this year.
10. Chicago Fire: It was always going to be difficult for the first team to visit Red Bull Arena, but at least the Fire showed some fighting spirit in Carlos De Los Cobos’ first game in charge.
11. New England Revolution: The Revs played without Taylor Twellman (again) and never really created enough going forward to trouble Los Angeles.
12. Chivas USA: Chivas played some attractive football in their loss to Colorado but will struggle until they develop an end product to their possession.
13. Toronto FC: Toronto’s BMO field will host the 2010 MLS Cup final but based on their opening performance, the home side doesn’t stand a chance of being a part of it.
14. Philadelphia Union: The Union looked every bit a first year franchise in their loss to Seattle and Peter Nowak looks to have a long road ahead to turn this team into a challenger.
15. San Jose Earthquakes: Frank Yallop had said he was very happy with how his side looked in preseason but I doubt he feels that way now after their woeful loss to RSL.
16. D.C. United: Curt Onalfo may have a bigger job on his hands than he initially thought as his D.C. side looked awful in their lopsided loss to Onalfo’s former club K.C.
Keith Costigan covers MLS and U.S. Soccer for FoxSoccer.com.