MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1 – LAFC stalwart leads by example

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that our defensive pick of the week comes from Los Angeles FC‘s stunning away win over Seattle Sounders. They become just the second expansion side to win their first away game in Major League Soccer history.

LAFC’s 1-0 saw an impressive collective performance. They were clean and simple on the ball and defended well when they didn’t have possession, as well as welcoming a little bit of good fortune at times.

A standout performance at the heart of the LAFC defence came from Lauren Ciman. The 2015 Defender of the Year has plenty of MLS experience under his belt and he remained calm at all times of the game. He made crucial blocks and chose to bring the backline up to press at the right time, while marshalling them to drop back and clear their lines when it was necessary.

How did Laurent Ciman perform in numbers? 

Ciman played the full 90 minutes as you’d expect from a centre half. In that time he made four interceptions to stop attacks, blocked two shots including a close-range effort, made six clearances and held a positive 75% pass accuracy.

His crucial block from a goal-bound Harry Shipp kept the score at 1-0 in the first half, which was a game-changing phase of play. Had Seattle scored at that point to level things it could have swung the momentum out of LAFC’s favour.

https://twitter.com/JogaBonito_USA/status/970434433940643840

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1

Ciman’s performance was exactly what was needed from him as a captain and the LAFC faithful will be hoping to see that continue on a weekly basis. A thoroughly good, history making weekend for the MLS new comers and one for the fans to remember.

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MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1 – Whitecaps winger steals the show

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

The Vancouver Whitecaps made a perfect start to the 2018 season, beating Montreal Impact 2-1 at BC Place in front of the largest opening-day crowd in Whitecaps history. And the 27,837 fans in attendance were treated to an outstanding performance by 17-year-old winger Alphonso Davies. The young Canadian is MLSGB’s Attacking Player of the Week for the opening weekend of the 2018 season after picking up a goal and an assist to fire Vancouver to three points.

Davies linked up well with Whitecaps winter signing Kei Kamara throughout the game and assisted the MLS veteran in the 63rd minute to give Vancouver the lead.

Then, seven minutes later and Davies netted the first MLS goal of his young career, slotting in Cristian Techera’s cross. Evan Bush got a hand to the shot but couldn’t stop it from rolling over the line. Davies wheeled away in celebration, becoming the 10th youngest scorer in league history.

He deserved his goal and showed great attacking intent throughout Sunday’s contest. He completed six of his eight dribbles on the night, emphasising his confidence on the ball as well as the confidence his teammates have in finding him.

Don’t miss – MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1

Davies is already playing in his third MLS season since making his debut for the Whitecaps as a 15-year-old back in July 2016. He has now made 35 regular season appearances (12 starts), with one goal and two assists to his name. The early signs suggest he could be one of the league’s most dangerous stars in 2018…

Narrow margins and expansion struggles: What did we learn from MLS Opening Weekend?

Week 1 of the 2017 MLS season is already in the book. After weeks of expectation and excitement, we now have some sort of form to look at – although as many questions if not more than we had before the first ball was kicked. Expansion sides Minnesota and Atlanta both suffered reality checks in their inaugural games, while there were early-season struggles in front of goal for a number of teams. So what have we learned after the first round of games?

MLS is not an easy league to come into…

Minnesota United and Atlanta United both suffered defeats in their MLS debuts. But things look a lot more promising for Atlanta than they do for the Loons after the first week’s performances. Minnesota were thumped 5-1 in Portland in Friday’s season opener, conceding twice in stoppage time to make the scoreline look a lot more concerning than it perhaps was. Although the biggest worry for Adrian Heath will be the fact Portland looked miles better than the expansion side. Yes, that’s hardly surprising given the Loons have literally just entered the league, but the fact is they’ve had a long time to build a competitive squad and we didn’t see enough from to them to quash fears that 2017 could be a long and tough season for them.

For Atlanta, things look a lot more encouraging. They might have let a one-goal lead go late on at home to the Red Bulls on Sunday night, but they played an entertaining style of play that caused New York problems throughout. They will be a tough side to face for anyone because of Tata Martino’s high-pressing style of play. Atlanta just need to ensure they have the fitness to play that way from start to finish to avoid any more late slip-ups.

It’s going to take some time for the goals to start flying in…

Last season’s opening weekend saw 36 goals scored in the ten games – a league record on opening weekend – so it was always going to be tricky to repeat that average of 3.6 goals-per-game. This year that goal rate was halved on opening weekend as there were 20 goals in the 11 games – an average of 1.8 per match. That could be down to better defending, which was certainly the case with Orlando City as 2016’s worst defensive unit started 2017 with a shutout against a wasteful NYCFC in front of a raucous crowd at the brand new Orlando City Stadium.

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New York City were one of nine sides to fire a blank in Week 1. Toronto FC and DC United missed penalties in their 0-0 draws against Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City, respectively, which proved to be costly misses from 12 yards. Montreal Impact failed to register a single shot on target in their 1-0 loss at San Jose, while Vancouver failed to score in their season opener for the first time in MLS history.

The goals will be easier to come by as the season finds its feet. Early season games are tense and teams take a while to get back into the swing of competitive league football in front of expectant crowds, it’s the same with any league in world football. Don’t be surprised if the floodgates open as early as Week 2.

It could be a long season for LA Galaxy…

We all knew that 2017 was going to be a transitional year for LA Galaxy, and they showed very little to suggest otherwise in Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to FC Dallas. Curt Onalfo is trying to get used to his squad, who themselves look a completely different unit to the one that finished third in the West last season. Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro seemed to spend more time kicking Dallas players than creating chances from deep in midfield. They did have a tough job against arguably the league’s best team but that’s a tag we usually associate with LA. Somehow, it doesn’t feel like we’ll be saying that again any time soon.

Are the Houston Dynamo this year’s Colorado Rapids?

Many people have the Dynamo down to finish at the bottom of the West once again this season. But they sent out an early statement with their 2-1 win over reigning MLS Cup Champions Seattle on Saturday night. Few people took Colorado seriously until they were top of the Western Conference for a run of weeks and challenging for the Supporters’ Shield into the final weeks of the campaign. That’s not to say the Dynamo will do that this year, but early signs suggest they will be a better team than they were in 2016.

MLS Opening Weekend: 30 interesting stats from Sunday’s ten games

The opening weekend of the 2016 Major League Soccer season is upon us, so here is a look at a few stats to be aware of ahead of what should be an excellent evening of MLS action.

Sunday 6th March

New York Red Bulls vs Toronto FC – (18:30 GMT)

  • New York Red Bulls are unbeaten against Toronto FC in their last eight home matches against the Canadian side.
  • Including the playoffs, New York Red Bulls have won 11 of their last 12 at Red Bull Arena.
  • On the other hand, Toronto FC haven’t won on the road in MLS since 4th July, a total of nine away fixtures.

For more information read our New York Red Bulls vs Toronto FC Match Preview.

New York Red Bulls vs. DC United

Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake – (19:00 GMT)

  • Orlando City finished the 2015 MLS Season on a six-game unbeaten streak, with four wins and two draws.
  • Real Salt Lake finished the 2015 MLS season on a three-game losing streak, managing just one goal in the process.
  • However, Real Salt Lake are unbeaten in six consecutive MLS opening games, with five wins and one draw.

For more information read our Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake Match Preview.

Chicago Fire vs New York City FC – (19:00 GMT) – Live on Sky Sports 1

  • Chicago Fire lost seven of their last eight matches in the 2015 season, winning the other.
  • New York City FC won only once in their last eight away games of last season, losing six of them.
  • Chicago haven’t won on the opening day for the last six seasons, as they’be endured four losses and two draws.

For more information read our Chicago Fire vs New York City FC Match Preview.

FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union – (20:00 GMT)

  • Philadelphia have never beaten FC Dallas in Major League Soccer.
  • FC Dallas have won four season openers in MLS in a row.
  • FC Dallas won the most matches at home in MLS last season, with a total of 13 out of 17.

For more information read our FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union Match Preview.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution – (20:00 GMT)

  • Houston Dynamo have lost to the New England Revolution on three consecutive occasions – run that started in April 2014.
  • Houston Dynamo have lost just once in their last ten home matches in MLS, with seven wins and two draws.
  • New England Revolution conceded 35 times on the road last season – their worst away defensive record since 1998.

For more information read our Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution Match Preview.

San Jose Earthquakes vs Colorado Rapids – (20:00 GMT)

  • San Jose Earthquakes are unbeaten in 12 consecutive matches against the Colorado Rapids, winning six and drawing six.
  • San Jose haven’t conceded at home against the Colorado Rapids since May 2013.
  • Colorado Rapids have lost four of their last five away matches in MLS, winning the other.

For more information read our San Jose Earthquakes vs Colorado Rapids Match Preview.

Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew – (21:30 GMT) – Live on Sky Sports 1

  • Including the MLS Cup Final last year, Portland Timbers are unbeaten in their last three matches against Columbus Crew.
  • Including the postseason, Portland Timbers are unbeaten in their last nine consecutive MLS matches, winning six and drawing three.
  • Columbus Crew won five of their last six 2015 MLS regular season games.

For more information read our Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew Match Preview.

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact – (22:30 GMT)

  • Vancouver had the joint best defence in Major League Soccer in 2015, conceding only 36 goals.
  • Montreal Impact won their final two matches away from home in the regular season last term but lost nine of the 15 previous road trips.
  • Octavio Rivero was the Whitecaps’ leading goalscorer with ten last season. He is only the fourth player in Whitecaps history to reach double-digits in a single season.

For more information read our Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact Match Preview.

Monday 7th March (UK Time)

Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City – (00:00 GMT)

  • Seattle Sounders haven’t won against Sporting Kansas City in their last three attempts, drawing twice and losing once.
  • At home, Sounders are undefeated in all four MLS matches against Sporting Kansas City, winning twice and drawing twice.
  • Seattle are unbeaten in their last seven MLS outings. They’ve won six of those seven, drawing the other.

For more information read our Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City Match Preview.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fans

LA Galaxy vs DC United – (03:00 GMT)

  • DC have only won once in their last eleven matches against LA Galaxy, drawing five and losing the other five.
  • LA are unbeaten in their last eight home matches against DC United, recording four wins and four draws.
  • DC United only managed to score nine away goals in the regular season in 2015 – a league low for the season.

For more information read our LA Galaxy vs DC United Match Preview.

What are you most looking forward to on the opening day of the 2016 MLS season?

MLS Power Rankings: Week 1 – Chicago fall to bottom of the pile

The first weekend of the 2015 MLS season is behind us and that means it’s time to look at the latest Power Rankings.

It’s early in the season and so teams will be changing positions a lot to begin with and decisions are based on this season’s performances alone.

The team at MLSGB have ranked all the teams based on their displays in week 1 and our order can be seen below.

The LA Galaxy remain top as they comfortably saw off the Chicago Fire on Friday night at StubHub Center with the Fire falling to bottom after a poor display.

Seattle Sounders are the only other team to stay where they were in last week’s Power Rankings as they sit in second place after a 3-0 demolition job against the New England Revolution, who fall the furthest down to 17th after a lifeless display without Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones.

Other notable changes include the Toronto FC, who are up nine places and the Houston Dynamo, who climbed eight after their win against the Columbus Crew.

The Crew fell seven places this week while the Vancouver Whitecaps dropped six places after that 3-1 home loss to Toronto.

MLS Expansion clubs Orlando City and New York City FC sit in the middle after a 1-1 draw in Florida.

MLSGB Power Rankings – Week 1

Do the Chicago Fire deserve to be bottom of the power rankings after one week?

MLS Player of the Week: Week 1 – Jozy Altidore

As the 2015 Major League Soccer is finally underway we will publish an article each week looking at the standout performer from the previous round of matches.

All 20 MLS teams were in action this weekend as the new season stormed into life with some fantastic displays.

It was difficult to choose who we think deserved to be named as player of the week but the award for week 1 goes to Jozy Altidore as the USMNT forward needed a solid display on his return to MLS, and he duly delivered that in Toronto FC’s 3-1 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Vancouver made it a hostile environment for Toronto but Altidore was able to inspire his side to victory, despite the Reds conceding the first goal as he bagged a brace in the win.

His first goal came after a great through ball by fellow new Designated Player, Sebastian Giovinco and he tucked away his second from the penalty spot late on after being fouled in the box by Pa Modou Kah.

The 25-year-old striker is already the joint top-scorer in MLS alongside Clint Dempsey and Altidore has a fine 100% conversion rate at this early stage after scoring from both of his two shots.

He also made more key passes than any of his Toronto teammates with three and it’s probably safe to say that the Reds would not have won the game in Vancouver if it wasn’t for Altidore.

Jozy Altidore stats against Vancouver Whitecaps

Jozy Altidore’s stats against Vancouver Whitecaps (via Whoscored.com)

Altidore made the most of his return to MLS after a torrid spell in England with Sunderland this weekend. He netted just one Premier League goal in 42 appearances for the Black Cats but looked back to full confidence in a Toronto shirt on Saturday night.

The US international striker will hope to pick up where he left off when Toronto take on the Columbus Crew next weekend.

What did you make of Jozy Altidore’s performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend? Was he the most impressive player in MLS in week 1?

MLS Goal of the Week: Week 1 – Vote now!

The first weekend of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is behind us and we’ve seen all 20 teams in action in what was a dramatic but exciting round of matches.

There were 16 goals scored in the ten matches this week but it’s time for you to choose what you think was the best goal of the opening weekend.

We’ve picked what we think are the five best goals from week 1 and now it’s up to you to vote for your favourite before Thursday night. Voting will close at midnight in the UK on Thursday.

Goal A: Clint Dempsey – Seattle Sounders

Goal B: Lloyd Sam – New York Red Bulls

Goal C: Giles Barnes – Houston Dynamo

Goal D: Mix Diskerud – New York City FC

Goal E: Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy

MLS Opening Weekend: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 1

The 2015 Major League Soccer season is finally upon us! MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy take on Chicago Fire at StubHub Center tonight in the first game of the new campaign and it looks set to be one hell of a year.

The league is more competitive than ever before and the addition of the two new MLS Expansion franchises, New York City FC and Orlando City bring even more quality along with stars such as Kaka and David Villa set to play their first MLS game against each other in week 1.

Other standout fixtures for the first weekend include Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders vs New England Revolution with both games taking place on Sunday after the Orlando City vs New York City game.

That’s all to come though so to fill your time before then, here are five bold predictions ahead of the first weekend of the 2015 MLS season. Lets go!

1. Chicago Fire to spoil LA Galaxy’s opening party

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The LA Galaxy are already favourites to retain their MLS Cup title come December and many see their opening game against the Chicago Fire as a relatively easy one. However, the Fire have invested heavily in the squad this offseason and have new stars in Kennedy Igboananike, Shaun Maloney and David Accam ready to pounce. Add that to the fact the the Galaxy lost their first game of last season too and you’ve got a recipe for Chicago success in the curtain raiser.

2. Fernando Aristeguieta to score at least two in debut against Colorado Rapids

The Philadelphia Union host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday and will expect to kickoff 2015 with victory, given that the Rapids have lost their last nine away games in MLS. New signing Fernando Aristeguieta should start up top and will have plenty of opportunities in and around the box to start life in MLS with goals!

3. All goals to be scored by debutants in Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC game

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Two Canadian rivals go head-to-head on Saturday night as the Vancouver Whitecaps take on a Toronto FC side set to unleash star signings Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. Vancouver have a Designated Player of their own to unleash in the shape of Octavio Rivero and all the goals in this one will be scored by debutants.

4. Kaka and David Villa to both score on their debuts

All eyes will be on Kaka and David Villa as Orlando City and New York City start their first ever MLS campaign against each other on Sunday. Both players have been given the captain’s armband and will lead by example with stellar performances that will see both stars find the net.

5. Dom Dwyer to start the new season with a hat-trick

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Sporting Kansas City welcome the New York Red Bulls on Sunday evening and two English strikers will face up against each other once again as Dom Dwyer and Bradley Wright-Phillips (last year’s two highest goalscorers) go head-to-head in Kansas City. Dom Dwyer will outshine BWP on Sunday though and the Sporting KC hero will start 2015 with a hat-trick against a Red Bulls side that has gone through serious transition.

What are your bold predictions ahead of the opening weekend of the new 2015 MLS season?