MLS through untrained eyes: Week 1 thoughts and observations

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 02: Zlatan Ibrahimovic #9 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his goal in the second half against the Chicago Fire at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 02, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
CARSON, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 02: Zlatan Ibrahimovic #9 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his goal in the second half against the Chicago Fire at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 02, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

This year, I decided to follow MLS for the first time. This is my account of watching the league through untrained eyes. Here are my thoughts and observations from Week 1.

MLS has always been a mystery to me. Whenever I would see anything from the league, whether scrolling through social media or reading an article, I would always notice the electric atmospheres, especially in the playoffs, and the extensive highlight reels of absolute screamers and last-minute goals.

Predominantly, I have watched soccer in Europe, not MLS. But while I truly enjoy watching the European leagues, it’s about time I start appreciating the soccer in my own country. I think it’s fair to claim that any soccer fan, or sports fan for that matter, would find MLS intriguing. But I never took the time to watch a full game, let alone follow the league for a whole season. Given this, what better time to start following the league than now? The 2019 season is upon us and I have officially jumped on the MLS Bandwagon.

I can’t lie, I was a bit uneasy. I have little to no knowledge of MLS, in terms of the style of play, players, financial rules, so just about everything is new to me. I was initiated with a well-rounded triple header and that’s all it took to hook me. The first game I watched was the Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC and, while it wasn’t a game for the history books, I was pleasantly surprised, and not just because I saw Michael Bradley net himself a brace. One of the first things I noticed was how open the play is and the immense pace at which the game is played. Sure, this type of play can lead to some messy stretches but, for the most part, it was very entertaining.

The next game of note I watched in Week 1 was the Columbus Crew vs. the New York Red Bulls and, in my amateur opinion, it was a much better game than TFC vs. the Union. Although only two goals were scored, I had my eyes on the game for the full 90 minutes. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Columbus is quite good, they moved the ball well and were strong in their build-up and attack, especially once their new Brazilian signing, Robinho, came on. I was expecting a late winner from Columbus but the result was a fair one as New York held their own.

The last game I watched on that first matchday was the LA Galaxy vs. the Chicago Fire. Now, since I grew up in Southern California and remember the days of Landon Donovan and David Beckham, I think it’s necessary to say I have more of a connection to the Galaxy than any of the other MLS team. And, of course, as a follower of the great Zlatan Ibrahimović’s career, I want to see him succeed as well.

Now, before I get even more sidetracked, the game between the Galaxy and Fire was also very open and nothing less than exciting. I thought both teams were rather organized and gave a few glimpses of the best they have to offer, hopefully, fans will get to see those short glimpses in larger portions once the teams reach their best form.

Something else I’d like to see in larger portions is the potential lethal duo of Zlatan and the young Efrain Alvarez. It was Ibrahimović who grabbed the winning goal but most of the credit for Los Angeles’ two-goal comeback goes to the 16-year-old Alvarez, who made quite the debut with an assist, sparking his team to victory. If Alvarez’s performance against the Fire is any indication of what’s to come, I believe the Galaxy may have a star on their hands.

More from MLS Multiplex

So, after a weekend of late goals, shining debuts, and even a snow game(!), I’m very confident that MLS fans, myself included, have much to look forward to as the young season moves into Week 2.

Some quick and random observations from Week 1:

  • Every game is end to end
  • The best players on the pitch stand out, no matter the matchup
  • I enjoyed the even pacing of games throughout the matchday
  • Defenses tend to be the weakest point in most teams
  • Every team has at least one very nice kit
  • It’s very fun to watch the European legends battle it out e.x. Zlatan Ibrahimović and Bastian Schweinsteiger
  • VAR is effective yet problematic (this is true for every league that utilizes it so far, which is sort of comforting)
  • Most teams seem to have a great curva or fan section and the general atmosphere was impressive

Next. MLS Week 1: First impressions of all 24 teams. dark

Week 1 of the 2019 MLS season is in the books. I wonder what Week 2 has in store.