MLS: 8 Things We Learned on Matchday 5
MLS Matchday 5 has ended after some exciting matches. The Chicago Fire and Toronto FC combined for five goals as the Fire earned their second straight win. Elsewhere, the Vancouver Whitecaps silenced the defending champions, the Los Angeles Galaxy, for just the second time since Vancouver entered the league.
The Portland Timbers recorded their first win of the season against FC Dallas. Timbers head coach Caleb Porter was involved in a small spat with his counterpart Oscar Pareja after the match, heightening the scrutiny on this matchup.
Sunday's games produced a goal of the week candidate and demonstrated how crucial set pieces can be in a game.
Here are eight things we learned on Matchday 5 in MLS.
Orlando City SC Needs a Fit and Clinical Striker
Orlando City SC lost back-to-back home games thanks to two late goals conceded via set pieces. However, it was Orlando's wasteful attack that cost it the game versus D.C. United. The Lions generated 17 shots, but only five were on target.
Kaka was excellent once again, setting up Cyle Larin and Kevin Molino with some glorious chances, but they squandered these opportunities. D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid was outstanding as well, but it's clear that Orlando desperately needs a clinical striker who can stay fit.
Carlos Rivas started the season up front, but he plays primarily as a winger. Bryan Rochez isn't starting because head coach Adrian Heath says he's still not fit, so he wants to ease him into the lineup, per Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel.
Now that Pedro Ribeiro is hurt, per Tenorio, it appears as if Larin will be starting, assuming Ribeiro's injury is serious.
The Canadian should be able to develop the same chemistry that Ribeiro and Kaka had prior to the Brazilian striker's injury, but if he fails to convert his chances, Orlando will be in serious trouble.
Toronto FC's Defense Needs to Get Healthy Soon
Toronto FC lost its third straight match on Saturday, while the Chicago Fire won 3-2 at Toyota Park. Right back Warren Creavalle was sent off, but the Reds were missing three starters once again.
Center backs Steven Caldwell and Damien Perquis were injured, as was full-back Mark Bloom. The latter is needed now that Creavalle is suspended.
Injuries have affected TFC this season, and it needs a fully fit back line in order to compete for a playoff spot. Toronto has a bye next week, so that will give Perquis, Caldwell and Bloom some extra time to rest.
Even with everyone available, there have been moments when Toronto's defense has been exposed in the air and down the right flank. Bloom replacing Creavalle could fix the latter issue, but Caldwell has shown signs of his age, so him being out may not be so detrimental for head coach Greg Vanney.
Dillon Powers Has to Play as a No. 10
Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni spoke to the media after the team's 2-0 loss against the New Revolution. However, when the former midfielder was asked about his current philosophy, he defended it, per the official Rapids website:
Listen, I’ve played the game for a long time. I’ve seen where we’ve started in the preseason. I’ve seen where we’ve been. I’ve seen where we were last year. And it’s incredibly difficult to express how excited I am about to the growth of this group and the potential. Because they carry the pressure. They are the ones who can’t put the ball in the net. And I can’t help them, so I can’t affect that. And all the good work that they are doing cannot be validated until the ball goes in the net. And once the ball goes in the net, we will be a very good team.
The issue is that Mastroeni can try to fix his team's attacking woes, which he's done a few times already this season, but Dillon Powers out wide and Marcelo Sarvas playing in an unfamiliar No. 10 role is not working.
Moving Powers into the center of the pitch could help generate more chances and slotting Sarvas into a deeper role will give the Rapids some penetration in the midfield.
Those two tweaks could lead to Colorado's first goal of the season. Gabriel Torres has been better recently, but until Kevin Doyle arrives in the summer, the Rapids don't have a lot of options at striker. At least they'll have a proper attacking midfielder in the system if Powers switches positions.
Houston Dynamo's Attack Lacks a Killer Edge
The Houston Dynamo severely out-shot the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. The Sounders were playing with 10 men in the final 34 minutes, but regardless, Houston had some terrific chances and failed to capitalize.
Houston had 16 shots, but just two reached the target, per the official MLS website. Thankfully for the Dynamo, Erick Torres will be arriving this summer and should solve that issue, but until then, they have to be more clinical in front of goal.
Giles Barnes had some brilliant opportunities to score, but one was shot straight into Stefan Frei's hands and the other three missed the target altogether.
The Dynamo have scored just once all season, which was in their opening match versus the Columbus Crew. If this current drought continues, Torres may not be able to bail them out.
Russell Teibert Is the Best Option to Play Beside Matias Laba
Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert did not start the previous two games due to international duty, so Matias Laba was partnered with Gershon Koffie until Saturday's game against the LA Galaxy.
Koffie and Laba have tremendous defensive qualities and are able to recover possession and start their team's attack.
However, only Deybi Flores and Russell Teibert have the ability and stamina to drive forward. Teibert was brilliant on Saturday against the Galaxy, as he provided the connection between the defense and attack.
Flores and Koffie will provide competition, but due to the way Teibert tracks back and works tirelessly on both sides of the pitch, he cannot afford to be left out of the lineup.
Caleb Porter Is MLS' New Villain
Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter has become the villain of MLS. His spat with FC Dallas' Oscar Pareja is just the latest altercation involving Porter.
Porter has riled up his counterparts more these days. He doesn't appear to be an arrogant person, yet he's been at the center of these incidents too many times.
Alexi Lalas of Fox Sports tweeted that Pareja tried to give Porter a tissue because he doesn't want coaches "crying" to the referees. Perhaps it's the 40-year-old's attitude that provokes others.
Whatever the reason is, it's clear that Porter has become a miscreant within MLS circles, and this will only add extra intensity whenever the Timbers step onto the pitch.
Real Salt Lake Has Adjusted to Its New Philosophy
Real Salt Lake began the season with two consecutive draws. It conceded too many shots against the Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union, but it managed to demonstrate its attacking prowess in the latter match.
The slow start can be attributed to head coach Jeff Cassar's switch to a 4-3-3 system this year, which is finally taking shape.
Javier Morales has been especially brilliant, which is why the new philosophy is now working. As long as the Argentinean playmaker is on the squad, RSL will be in safe hands no matter how it lines up.
The team looks fluid, and it can play a possession game or go direct if need be, thanks to Morales and Kyle Beckerman. Watch out for RSL, because the team is still a contender in the Western Conference.
The Rais M'Bolhi Situation Is out of Control
When the Philadelphia Union signed goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi, the decision was met with skepticism, given the depth that the Union had prior to the Algerian's arrival.
Not even a year has passed and M'Bolhi is already unhappy and playing poorly. Algeria's No. 1 at the 2014 World Cup is not speaking to the media, per Dave Zeitlin from the official MLS website, and his stats have been woeful.
M'Bolhi has faced 20 shots and has made just 10 saves, per MLS' official website. No one has conceded more goals than the Algerian's nine so far this season.
M'Bolhi is making around $500,000, per Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com. The Union already had a capable No. 1 in Zac MacMath, who is now on loan to the Colorado Rapids. Philadelphia also selected Jamaica international Andre Blake with the first pick of the 2014 SuperDraft.
Head coach Jim Curtin can't remove the 28-year-old from the lineup or else he'll face a backlash from his bosses. If this continues, the Union will have to admit defeat and either bench M'Bolhi or try to offload him.
Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.