MLS Best and Worst of the Weekend

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MLS Best and Worst of the Weekend
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This was a Saturday in Major League Soccer to be remembered because Landon Donovan, the best player in league history, returned to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

A lot more went on during the eight games that took place on Saturday. 

Chivas USA continued to prove that it is indeed for real this season. 

Thierry Henry notched his first goal of the season and subsequently ensured the New York Red Bulls’ first win.  

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Mike Magee scored his league-leading fifth goal.

The Montreal Impact dropped their first points of this campaign at the hands of Sporting Kansas City.

Once again, there is a lot to discuss: Nothing more important, though, than the return of the legend, Landon Donovan. 

 

The Best

Landon Donovan is Back

There are multiple reasons to be happy about Donovan’s comeback to soccer. 

Be it from the perspective of having quality players plying their trade in MLS, the prospect of Donovan joining the US men’s national team in June, or simply the fact that the best player in the history of America is playing. All are worthwhile.

All of these reasons and more came to mind during Donovan’s 30 minutes on Saturday. 

Most notably might have been his immediate return to being an agitator and player aware of exactly what he is. 

It did not take long to Donovan to get mouthy with the Toronto FC backs. Nor should it have.  Donovan has always had an edge about him. It is part of what makes him so special. To see that fire almost immediately after he entered the game was encouraging. 

 

Thierry Henry is Engaged and Motivated

If his bicycle kick attempt soon after coming into the game was not enough evidence that Henry desperately wants to win MLS Cup, then surely his celebration after netting the game-winner was.

The Frenchman entered New York’s match with Philadelphia with about 30 minutes to go and seemed poised to do just about anything to ensure his team’s first win of the season. His goal was sublime, yes, but his work defending was something rarely seen. 

David Beckham is gone and left MLS with two rings. Titi is highly competitive. He wants that last title in his career before he retires. It should be a pleasure to watch him pursue that all season. 

 

Chivas USA, Enough Said

This whole Chivas USA situation is getting serious. Another win against a team some consider to be an MLS favorite, the Vancouver Whitecaps. 

The Goats' players look very excited to be playing with one another. They reek of optimism, of teamwork and of a group unconcerned with how outsiders view them. 

Perhaps most importantly is that they have scored the ball more than anyone else so far this season. 

Chivas USA netted twice in its win over Vancouver. That gave the team a total of 10 goals on the season. The Goats are the first team to reach double-digit scoring figures in MLS this year. 

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this team is its tactics. Playing with three backs in soccer these days is like finding a unicorn in a meadow. And when it does occur, the success rate is often not very high. 

Not in Los Angeles; not yet, at least.   

 

The Worst

The Scoring in New England

The pieces exist for the New England Revolution to be able to score some goals this season. 

Honduran striker Jerry Bengston is one of the more intelligent players in CONCACAF. Lee Nguyen and Juan Toja are skillful and establish nice combination play.

Through their four games, though, they have only scored one goal. They have not been very dangerous in the process, either. 

FC Dallas nabbed the only road victory against the Revolution this weekend and had more shots than the New England outfit as well. 

The hope for Revolution fans is that the goals come from the creative players up top and that they come sooner rather than later.  

 

No Steven Lenhart and Minimal Alan Gordon

Apologies to the perfectly positioned Chris Wondolowski, but the San Jose Earthquakes simply are not the same without Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon playing alongside the reigning MVP. 

Why is the change for the team so dramatic?

Perhaps because watching Lenhart and Gordon from both a soccer perspective and a fan perspective is quite enjoyable.   

There is, of course, the “never-say-die” attitude that defined the team last year and clearly motivated both Lenhart and Gordon to score late goals.

Watching Lenhart consistently mix it up with opposing backs is excellent stuff as well. 

From a tactical lens, the Earthquakes are also clearly missing holdup play with these guys out of the lineup. Their absence limits Wondolowski and the Earthquake midfield corps.   

Combine the lack of the true No. 9 with the team missing its tendency to engage in mental warfare, and it is clear why these guys are so important to San Jose.

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